When Bank of China Elite Miles card was launched, it showed a lot of promise as a miles card. With one of the market best earning rate at 1.5 miles per dollar (MPD) locally (2 MPD till 31 December 2018) and 3 miles per dollar for foreign currency (FC) spending (5 MPD till 31 December 2018), what can go wrong? Well, I was dead wrong!
First, the infamous delay. Despite applying for the card in July 2018. I got my card eventually in December 2018 giving me only less than 1 month to accumulate miles using the promotional rate. This card was meant to be my travel card for my Shanghai trip but alas, it arrived only after my trip.
Next, the issue of applying for internet banking which can be only done at the Bank of China (BOC) branches and the need to link your Elite Miles card to your internet banking account to be able to see your transactions and reward points (mind you, we are almost 20 years into the 21st century!).
Redemption process itself was a headache. Despite having an internet banking portal, redemption can ONLY be done manually using the printed form which you can either fax in, or e-mail (of the scanned copy).
The promised sign up gift of cabin luggage also failed to arrive – small issue.
Despite that, I still gave the card a try as my main card as 1.5 MPD is still higher than my next general spending card of 1.3 MPD of Citi Prestige. More importantly, my insurance payments on this card earns miles! The 3 MPD FC spend is also superior to that of Citibank’s 2 MPD too! I even contemplated keeping this card and paying annual fee on it (despite not giving any renewal miles) just for my insurance payments!
All was well until 1 July 2019, and that was when the nightmare started. I received an SMS on that night informing me that 700 Pound Sterling was charged on my card which I knew immediately was an unauthorized transaction. I immediately called BOC hotline – and it took me almost half an hour of ‘music listening’ before I got through. I thought that was it, as my experience with DBS and Citibank on fraudulent transactions was straightforward.
Despite promises of follow ups, I received no calls from BOC. What followed was multiple calls and lost time (I spent an average 10 to 20 minutes on the phone waiting to connect each time). Each time, I had to repeat my story and every time, no one seemed to know what to do.
Each time I was told to wait for follow up call that never came. One agent told me that the whole process may take up to 3 months (which I find it an unacceptable time frame). Another advised me to make payment for the fraudulent transaction first and after investigation if it is found to be fraudulent, they will refund it to me (which I find it absurd!). Eventually they agreed to do a temporary credit limit increase to offset the fraudulent transaction so that I do not need to pay for it first.
What followed was a monthly call to them requesting for an update and once again, I was told to wait for the follow up call that never came. Meanwhile, I was promised a new card (which came 6 to 8 weeks later). Mysteriously, the flagged fraudulent transaction was reversed somewhere in August / September but once again, my request for update from them remained unanswered. I left it as it is as I still had 32k miles with them and I had a $6k insurance premium payment due in September which I wanted to charge one more time to the BOC to bring my miles up to 40k for conversion before terminating my card.
After my insurance payment and miles conversion into Krisflyer, I started chasing BOC again on the issue for closure as by then I have zero trust in the card and the bank. Despite alerting them that my annual renewal is up soon, and I have no intention of keeping the card, there seemed to be no follow up at all from BOC.
Eventually, I noticed that the temporary credit limit was finally removed in early December and I thought that it has finally been settled. I was ready to make my payment for my June 2019 usage (which was offset initially from the temporary credit limit increase and crediting back of the 700+ pound into the card). I called BOC once again to make sure that this is indeed the case but once again, no one can give me an answer. I stated my intention that I want this to be resolved ASAP as I do not want to make any annual fee payment to which the agent told me ‘BOC does not waive annual fee at all’ not once, not twice but 4 times! I had to tell her straight that I had no intention to keep the card even if BOC offers me an annual fee waiver! I am not looking for a waiver just that I want to have a closure before I am being charged an annual fee on a card that I have no intention of keeping!
For information, I had no intention of taking advantage of the situation to stall my June payment. In fact, I was more than ready to settle this ASAP as having this card became a burden to me, but BOC was not able to give me a closure.
Finally, on 18 December 2019 (24 weeks and 2 days since I first flagged the transaction), I can finally get rid of this card! If instead of 3 months, it took them almost 6 months to resolve the issue and even then, no one updated me what happened.
Good riddance …. Never again, BOC!