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Which Banks Pool Credit Card Points?

Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong

Last updated 17 August, 2023

If you have more than one credit card from a given bank, points pooling can make a big difference. Here’s why, and which banks offer it.

For anyone who has multiple credit cards from the same bank, it’s only a matter of time before you run into the issue of points pooling.

Simply put, points pooling means that points earned on different cards are combined into one single account, instead of being held in individual silos. For example, if I have:

  • Card A: 500 points
  • Card B: 300 points

Points pooling means my redemptions are made from a single pool of 800 points.

You might think: doesn’t it work like that for every bank? Sadly, the answer is no! Not every bank pools points, which has implications for conversion fees, orphan points, and the card cancellation process.

In this post, we’ll run through points pooling policies by banks, as well as some of the finer details to be aware of.

Table of contents

 

 


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Why does points pooling matter?

Before we talk about individual bank policies, it might be good to first explain why points pooling is a highly desirable feature.

Fewer conversion fees

With some limited exceptions, every time you convert bank points into frequent flyer miles, a conversion fee of ~S$25 applies.

Going back to our previous example, if your bank pools points then the 500 and 300 points from Cards A and B respectively form a single pool of 800 points, and only a single conversion fee is necessary.

If your bank does not pool points, then the 500 and 300 points from Cards A and B respectively are in stand-alone piles, and you need to pay two conversion fees. 

In other words: if points are not pooled, you pay as many conversion fees as you have cards!

Minimise orphan points

Orphan points refer to points that are “stuck” in your account, because they fall below the bank’s minimum conversion threshold.

Points pooling helps minimise orphan points because points from different cards can be combined to make up the conversion blocks.

For example, if your bank does not pool points, then the most you can convert from Card A and B is: 

  • Card A (500 points): 2x blocks of 200 points, leaving 100 orphan points
  • Card B (300 points): 1x block of 200 points, leaving 100 orphan points

If your bank does pool points, then Card A and B’s combined total of 800 points can be neatly cashed out as 4x blocks of 200 points.

Cancelling cards

Miles collectors aren’t known for their sentimentality, and periodic card cancellations are part and parcel of the game. Maybe the bank cut the formerly generous earn rates; maybe they’re refusing to waive the annual fee. Whatever the reason, points pooling makes card cancellations much more straightforward. 

If your bank pools points, then cancelling a card has no effect on your total points balance – the points earned from that card are already in a centralised pool. 

If your bank does not pool points, then cancelling a card will lead to the forfeiture of points earned from that card, as balances are tied to individual cards. You’ll need to transfer out those points before cancelling the card, which leads to issues of conversion fees and orphan points.


Which banks pool credit card points?

Now that we understand why points pooling is beneficial, here’s a quick summary of which banks offer this feature:

Bank
Pools Points?
American Express
Yes
Bank of China
No
Citibank
No
DBS
Yes
HSBC
No
Maybank
Yes
OCBC
Yes
Standard Chartered
Yes
UOB
Yes

While the table above is a good place to start, do note that there are some bank-specific quirks, which we’ll go through below.

 

DBS Bank

DBS_Bank_logo_logotype-300x105DBS is unique in that it pools points for the purposes of redemption, but not cancellation. In other words, if you have 5,000 DBS Points on your DBS Altitude Card and 10,000 DBS Points on your DBS Woman’s World Card, you can make redemptions from a combined pool of 15,000 DBS Points.

However, if you cancel the DBS Woman’s World Card, you’ll need to transfer out those 10,000 DBS Points, or else forfeit them.

This is a particular quirk of the DBS redemption system, and an exception to the rule I mentioned earlier about points pooling and card cancellations.

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OCBC Bank

OCBC Logo-01OCBC has three different points currencies, which complicates the matter of pooling

Similar points currencies will be pooled, but different points currencies will not.

For example, any OCBC$ earned on the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card can be pooled with OCBC$ earned on the OCBC Premier Visa Infinite.

However, OCBC$ earned on the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card cannot be pooled with 90°N Miles earned on the OCBC 90°N Mastercard.

 


Standard Chartered Bank

StandardCharteredLogoStandard Chartered has only one rewards currency: 360° Rewards Points. Somewhat confusingly, however, these points follow different rules depending which card you earned them on, and what you’re redeeming for!

Let me try to explain this in as simple terms as I can:

  • If you are redeeming points for hotel or airline frequent flyer programmes other than KrisFlyer, points are pooled across all StanChart credit cards
  • If you are redeeming points for KrisFlyer, then points earned on the StanChart Visa Infinite and StanChart Journey cannot be pooled with points earned on other StanChart credit cards

In case you’re wondering why the latter, that’s because points earned on the StanChart Visa Infinite/Journey follow a conversion rate of 25,000 points = 10,000 miles, while points earned on all other StanChart credit cards follow a conversion rate of 34,500 points = 10,000 miles.

Told you it was confusing!

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Enjoying free conversions courtesy of points pooling

Even though this won’t be an option for everyone, I thought I’d mention one interesting use case for pooling: taking advantage of the free conversions offered to certain cardholders.

While it’s the exception rather than the rule, some banks waive conversion fees for high-end cards. For example, UOB does not charge its usual S$25 points conversion fee to anyone holding a UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card, UOB Privilege Banking Card or UOB Reserve Card.

Since UOB points pool, you can effectively use one of these cards as a conduit to convert your entire balance without paying any conversion fees. For example, if I have 10,000 UNI$ on my UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card and 30,000 UNI$ earned on my UOB Lady’s Card, I can convert the entire 40,000 UNI$ without a fee, by virtue of my UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card!

It’s the same logic for those who hold the Maybank Visa Infinite or Maybank World Mastercard – such cardholders can convert TREATS points earned on other Maybank cards for free. 


Conclusion

Points pooling allows cardholders to save on conversion fees, minimise orphan points and cancel cards with less hassle. It’s really the sort of thing you wish all banks would offer!

That said, I wouldn’t necessarily consider the lack of points pooling to be a deal-breaker. For example, I’d argue that it’s still worth using Citi cards for the sheer number of transfer partners, and the opportunity to earn 4 miles per dollar on online transactions like the Citi Rewards Card.

As with all things, it boils down to your individual miles accumulation strategy. Pick cards based on the types of spending you incur the most, and if they pool points, all the better.

Read these next:
MileLion: 5 Credit Cards That I Use Everyday
5 Best Metal Credit Cards in Singapore
Best Air Miles Credit Cards in Singapore
Best Rewards Credit Cards in Singapore
Credit Card Promotions: Exclusive on SingSaver (2023)

Aaron founded The Milelion to teach people how to travel better for less, with credit cards, airline and hotel loyalty programmes. With 500,000 miles flown and counting, he’s keen to debunk the myth that you can’t travel in style without breaking the bank.

FINANCIAL TIP:

Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

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