BOC Zaobao Card Review: Up to 30.7% Savings on Petrol and More

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The BOC Zaobao Credit Card grabbed headlines when it first launched in Nov 2017. Firstly, it was a collaboration with Lianhe Zaobao, the Chinese flagship newspaper of Singapore Press Holders. That was odd as it is, but the real surprise comes when you see the whopping 30.7% on petrol purchases at Shell and SPC. When you’ve digested that, you’re told that you can get 12% off at BreadTalk 10% off dining, online spends and department store purchases! Here at BankBazaar, we look at a lot of credit cards, and these benefits certainly jump off the (web)page.

How do you get these benefits? What are the drawbacks? Read our review of the BOC Zaobao Credit Card to find out.

BOC Zaobao Card Review: Massive savings on petrol, online spends, dining and department stores

Who is the BOC Zaobao Credit Card for?

  • People who pump petrol at Shell or SPC stations.
  • People who might travel frequently to China or Singaporean entrepreneurs who transact on China-based websites often.
  • Shoppers at department stores
  • People who frequently dine or shop at establishments that accept UnionPay.

Top features of the BOC Zaobao Credit Card

  • Up to 30.7% savings on petrol transactions at Shell and SPC
  • 20% cash rebate on Zaobao and SPH newspaper subscriptions
  • 12% cash rebate at BreadTalk
  • 10% on Dining, Department Store, Online spend and at Buzz
  • 5% cash rebate on spend in Mainland China
  • 1-for-1 Movies at Shaw Theatres

To enjoy the cash rebates, you’ll need to make a minimum qualifying spend of S$600, and the cash rebates are capped at S$80/month

In addition, you’ll earn 2X BOC Rewards points with every S$1 spent overseas and 1X BOC Rewards point with every S$1 spent in Singapore

Up to 30.7% cash rebate on petrol transactions at Shell and SPC stations

You get the 23% rebate on your BOC Zaobao Card after the upfront discount at Shell or SPC. Here’s how it works:

Petrol Company Petrol Savings
Shell Shell site discount: 5%
Shell Escape Card discount: 5%
Cash rebate from BOC: 23%
SPC SPC&U member discount: 10%
OR
Non-SPC&U member discount: 5%
Cash rebate from BOC: 23%
S$300 gross petrol transactions at SPC Savings % Savings
SPC&U Card discount S$30 10%
Net Spend (less card discount) S$270
Cash rebate from BOC S$62.10 23%
Total savings S$92.10 30.7%

20% cash rebate on Zaobao and SPH newspaper subscriptions

The 20% rebate is offered only until 30 June 2018. After that, you will earn only 10%.

While this rebate is good, on an average, a newspaper subscription costs around S$30, so you’ll only be saving S$6 each month.

12% cash rebate at BreadTalk

Got your newspaper and need more bread and coffee to go with it? This rebate is a dream-come-true. I’d imagine that the average BreadTalk fan will spend about S$5 a day at most? So, in a month you could be saving S$18 a month. It’s decent, but we don’t think there are that many hardcore BreadTalk fans around to make this perk really attractive.

10% on Dining, Department Store, Online spend and at Buzz

After the petrol rebates, this looks the most interesting to us. The only problem is that the BOC Zaobao Card is a UnionPay card.

  1. We think that most Singaporeans will struggle with finding enough restaurants and cafes that accept UnionPay cards. Although the large franchises, especially the Chinese restaurants, would likely accept UnionPay.
  2. Department stores like Takashimaya, Isetan, Robinsons, Metro, OG, BHG and TANGS accept UnionPay. So this feature could really benefit cardholders. However, many of these department stores have their own loyalty programmes and co-branded credit cards, and you might find those better cause there are no caps or minimum spends involved.
  3. Online spending is more restrictive, given that smaller online merchants will probably not accept UnionPay. Even Lazada doesn’t accept UnionPay at the moment. PayPal only accepts UnionPay cards issued from China. That said, the major airlines will allow you to use your BOC Zaobao Card to book and earn rebates. That only thing to watch for the S$80 cap, which limits your flight tickets at S$800.
  4. Spend at Buzz? Unlikely.

5% cash rebate on spend in Mainland China

Apparently, it’s not that easy to find merchants in China that accept foreign credit cards, even if it’s a UnionPay card. Sounds really weird, but many people online have said this as well. The good thing is that Wechat Pay now accepts foreign credit cards. You could link your BOC Zaobao Card to Wechat Pay and make your all transactions in China, anything from roadside hawkers to shopping.

Drawbacks of the BOC Zaobao Credit Card

We mentioned this briefly above, and it’s worth mentioning again. To get ANY cash rebates, you need to spend at least S$600 using your BOC Zaobao Card in a calendar month. Beyond that, you also need to bear in mind that you have a cap of S$80 a month.

Because of this, your petrol transactions will hit the rebate limit after S$347.82. And you’ll still need to use the BOC Zaobao card to make up the minimum card spend of S$600. Doing this will give you an effective rebate of only 13%.

The BOC Zaobao page on the Bank of China website gives the following as an example to optimise your cash rebates:

Category Amount Cash Rebate Cash Rebate Earned
SPH and Zaobao newspaper subscriptions S$30 20% S$6
Petrol at SPC S$300 Up to 30.7% S$62.10
Dining S$80 10% S$8
Online Spend S$80 10% S$8
Spend in Mainland China S$150 5% S$7.50
Total Spend S$640 Total rebate earned: S$80

(Source: BOC Zaobao Credit Card webpage)

At first glance, the dining and online spend seems very low, but remember that UnionPay cards are not always accepted, so take out the BOC Zaobao Card on the few occasions in the month when you see the merchant accepting UnionPay. Alternatively, you could spend at department stores as well.

Other benefits of having a BOC Zaobao Credit Card

Sure, rebates and points are great benefits to have, but this is not all that your BOC card offers you. With the BOC Zaobao Card, you get exclusive access to talks, workshops, fairs, and other SPH Chinese Media Group (CMG) Events.

Moreover, you get discounts at over 100 International Airport duty-free shops, the flexibility to make payments in SGD or RMB, and no currency exchange fees for all RMB transactions charged to your card.

UnionPay has been doing aggressive marketing around the region to try and increase usage and to entice merchants to accept UnionPay, so having the BOC Zaobao Card would entitle you to discounts outside of the stated card features. From what we’ve seen, cities like Bangkok and Seoul often have merchants offering exclusive discounts and promotions to customers who pay with a UnionPay card.

How does the BOC Zaobao Credit Card stack up against others when it comes to petrol discounts?

We’re assuming that the petrol discount is what is most attractive to you, since every other benefit of the BOC Zaobao card comes with a bit more inconvenience than a Visa or Mastercard credit card. The BOC Zaobao definitely comes out on top, but remember that your cashback cap is reached upon spending S$347.82 on petrol transactions.

Cards Shell SPC Considerations
BOC Zaobao Card 30.7% 30.7% S$600 minimum monthly spend

S$80 cash rebate cap

Citi Cash Back Card 20.88% S$888 minimum monthly spend

S$25 (on petrol)

POSB Everyday Card 20.1% No minimum monthly spend or cap
UOB One Card 20.8% 24% S$2,000 minimum monthly spend

Related: Best Credit Cards for Petrol Discounts in Singapore

Here’s our verdict

The BOC Zaobao Credit Card’s petrol discount blows the competition out of the water. But you shouldn’t use it purely for petrol transactions. The S$600 minimum required spend means that you should plan your purchases properly, and make use of the 10% cash rebates on dining, online purchases, and department stores spends as well.

Being a UnionPay card is definitely the key reason why the cash rebate benefits are attractive, but it’s also the reason why some of us will find it difficult to use.

Nonetheless, there is a 2-year annual fee waiver and it’ll make sense to give the BOC Zaobao Card a go to see if it works out for you. Like the BOC Family Card, it’s unlikely that such high cash rebates will remain as it is forever.

BOC Zaobao Credit Card Features and Benefits Details
Annual Fee Principal card: S$190 p.a.

Supplementary card: S$95

2-year fee waiver for both cards

Effective interest rate 28.88% p.a
Eligibility 21 years old and above for Principal applicant and 18 years old and above for supplementary applicant.

Minimum annual income requirement:

  • Singaporeans and PRS: S$30,000
  • Foreigners: S$60,000
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