Bank of China Family Card Review: Worth It For Families?

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on Bank of China's website

Bank of China Family Card

Apply Now
on Bank of China's website
The Bank of China Family Card offers one of the highest cashback rates in the market for activities with your family. But if you’re all about maximising cashback, watch out for the high minimum spend requirement given the low cashback caps per category.

Pros

  • High cashback on dining & movies
  • 3% cashback on hospital bills
  • Lower-than-average foreign transaction fee
  • 10% cashback also applies to overseas dining

Cons

  • Cashback split into 5 categories, so monitoring may be a hassle
  • Categories capped at S$25 per month
  • Few additional perks or privileges
  • Higher-than-average annual fees

The Bank Of China Family Card gives you an unmatched 10% cashback for family-friendly activities – namely, movies and dining out. You also earn between 3% to 5% in rebates for groceries, online shopping, public transport, hospital bills, and more.

Truth is though, there are better deals out there for most of these spending categories. So what makes the Bank of China Family Card worthwhile, if at all?

We’ll review this card based on: 

Eligibility Requirements

Age21 years old
IncomeS$30,000 and above for Singaporeans and PRs; S$60,000 and above for foreigners

Most young adults with a full-time job should be able to qualify for this card.

But if you’re looking for a family-oriented card that you can use across the border in Malaysia too, consider the Maybank Family & Friends Card instead. 

Fees and Charges

Annual FeesS$203.30 for principal card and S$101.65 for supplementary card, waived for the first year.
Effective Interest Rate28.88%
Late Payment ChargesS$100
Minimum Monthly Payment3% or S$50, whichever is higher
Overlimit FeeS$40
Cash Advance Fee6% per transaction or S$20, whichever is higher
Cash Advance Interest Rate28.88%
Foreign Currency Transaction Fee2% admin fee + 1% cross-border fee for Visa Cards

First off: this card’s annual fees are slightly higher than the market average for an entry-level card, with no free supplementary cards. It remains to be seen if the card benefits justify the higher annual fees.

Also, this card does not have an automatic annual fee waiver beyond the first year. Users report that applying for a fee waiver was a long, tedious process that could sometimes take over two weeks – if you were approved at all.

Cashback, Discounts, and Other Perks

Cashback
  • 10% cashback on dining out and movies, except for hotel restaurants
  • 5% cash rebate on Family Club Merchants (POPULAR bookstore, Best Denki, Watsons, etc)
  • 3% on public transport via SimplyGo
  • 3% on supermarket, online purchases and hospital bills
  • 0.3% cashback on all other purchases
Cashback Criteria
  • Minimum monthly spend of S$800 to earn bonus cashback
  • Each of the 4 bonus cashback categories is capped at S$25
  • Total monthly cashback is capped at S$100
Other BenefitsExclusive Visa Platinum dining, lifestyle and shopping privileges (Source)
Ongoing PromotionsNo ongoing promotions

Cashback Categories

There aren’t many cards that offer 10% cashback for dining and movies, so that’s a plus. Still, the S$25 cashback cap per category means it’s not great that they lumped dining and movies together – for the family unit that this card is designed for, S$250 in monthly spending is easy to exceed.

The rebates for the other categories are rather lacklustre at 3% to 5%. Because of that, it’s best to use this card in combination with other high cashback cards.

Read also: 9 Best Cashback Credit Cards for Singapore

If you don’t dine out much or simply want to get more bang for your buck across all your spending categories, consider an option like the Maybank Family & Friends instead. This offers 8% rebate globally on your choice of 5 categories, including supermarket, retail, dining, transport, and digital streaming.

Rebates for Hospital Spending and Public Transport

Besides the few unlimited cashback cards that don’t exclude hospitals, you’d be hard-pressed to find a card that gives you cashback for hospital transactions.

But keep in mind that while medical spending is hardly rewarded with cashback, there are a number of cards that offer higher cashback on public transport spending. This includes the Maybank Family & Friends Card (8%) and UOB One Card (10%). The latter does have a very high minimum spend requirement of S$2,000 though.

Notable Exclusions

This card offers 3% cashback on public transport like bus or MRT rides, but not for private transport like private-hire or taxi rides. 

Cashback is also unavailable for telco bills, utility bills, and prepaid account top-ups (EZ-Link, NETS FlashPay, GrabPay, etc).

How Does the Cashback Compare to That of Other Cards?

The closest competitors to the Bank of China Family Card would be the: 

  • OCBC 365 Card
  • Maybank Family & Friends Card
  • Citi Cash Back Card

These cards have similar cashback categories and minimum spend requirements.

Of these, is there an option that stands out? Let’s take a look:

BOC Family CardOCBC 365 CardMaybank Family & Friends CardCiti Cash Back Card
Annual FeeS$203.30S$192.60S$180S$192.60
Fee Waiver RequirementsWaived for first year. 

No subsequent waiver.
Waived for the first 2 years. 

Subsequent waiver with S$10,000 annual spending.
3 year annual fee waiver.

Subsequent waiver with S$12,000 annual spending.
Waived for first year. 

No subsequent waiver.
Cashback RatesBase: 0.3%

3-10% upon meeting minimum spend
Base: 0.3%

3-6% upon meeting minimum spend 
Base: 0.3%

8% upon meeting minimum spend
Base: 0.25%

6-8% upon meeting minimum spend
Minimum Spending for CashbackS$800/month S$800/monthS$800/monthS$800/month
Cashback CapS$100 (S$25 per category)S$80$125 (S$25 per category)S$80

BOC Family Card vs OCBC 365 Card

The OCBC 365 Card does better in three aspects:

  1. Offering cashback for recurring bill payments for telcos and electricity (3%)
  2. Has a single overall cashback cap instead of caps for specific categories
  3. Automatic fee waiver with S$10,000 annual spending

Its highest cashback rate is for dining and food delivery (6%), followed by petrol (5%). Essentially, if you spend upwards of S$1,000 on dining, food delivery, and petrol, OCBC offers you more cashback than the BOC Family Card.

Other than that, you’ll also get 3% on groceries, online travel bookings, and private hire rides, plus another 0.3% on EZ-Link and Transitlink spend.

Maybank Family & Friends Card

Suppose you’re a regional spender who shops in both Singapore and Malaysia. In that case, the Maybank Family & Friends Mastercard may be for you.

Cardholders earn 8% global cashback split across five categories of your choice. Available categories include:

  1. Groceries
  2. Restaurants & food delivery
  3. Private hire, public transport, and petrol
  4. Data communications & online TV streaming
  5. Online fashion
  6. Entertainment (including cinemas)
  7. Pharmacy
  8. Sports
  9. Retail & Pets (including POPULAR bookstore)
  10. Beauty & Wellness

The overall cashback is capped at $125/month – a higher cap than that of the BOC Family Card. Per category, cashback is still capped at S$25 though.

The Maybank Family & Friends Card also offers a fee waiver with S$12k annual spend, so it’s a better option for those with bigger budgets of S$1k per month at least.

Citi Cash Back Card

In contrast to the BOC Family Card’s focus on dining out and movies, the Citi Cash Back card offers an 8% rebate on groceries and petrol. You’ll also get up to 20.88% in fuel savings at Esso and Shell.

This is another card with an overall cashback cap instead of caps per category. 

How to Optimise Spending for Maximum Cashback & Benefits

Rewards Category GroupCashback RateRecommended Monthly SpendingCashback
Dining & Movies10%S$250S$25
Family Club Merchants5%S$500S$25
Public Transport3%S$150S$4.50
Supermarkets, Online Shopping, Hospitals3%00
Total S$900S$54.50

The BOC Family Card does have a few drawbacks. Given the $800 minimum spend to qualify for bonus cashback rates, the $25 cap per category is rather low.

And since the rebates vary, you may end up spending more on categories with low cashback rates just to hit the minimum spend.

In the example above, you’ll get $54.50 in cashback for that S$900 in spending – or a little over 6%.

If you’d charged that same $900 to another card with higher rates on the same categories, you might have gotten S$72 in cashback instead.

In short: This card’s effective cashback yield isn’t great.

Who Should Use the Bank of China Family Card?

Overall, we’d say to use this card if:

  • You shop a lot at Family Club Merchants and are sure you can accumulate S$500 in spending every month
  • Your family dines out and goes to the movies every weekend
  • You’re expecting a number of hospital bills in the coming year (for pre-natal checkups for example)