The Milelion Credit Card Omnibus Week 2: DBS

The Milelion is running a new series that aims to profile every credit card available in Singapore. Each week we will cover a different bank. The appendix below will be updated weekly with hyperlinks as more banks are added, allowing you to navigate between weeks seamlessly

Week 1- OCBC
Week 2- DBS
Week 3- UOB
Week 4- Citibank
Week 5- ANZ
Week 6- American Express
Week 7- HSBC
Week 8- Standard Chartered


 

 

Week 2: DBS

As the largest bank in Singapore, it’s not surprising that DBS has one of the widest card portfolios too. DBS is a funny player in the miles game- for a while, they had the best offering on the market with the Altitude cards- offering 1.2 miles on local spend or 1.6 miles if you managed to spend >$2K per month. Then they devalued the card to 1.2 miles and removed the chauffer option, and UOB came in offering 1.6 miles on all local spend.  Then there was a long silence.

Recently DBS launched a mega promotion with the Altitude portfolio- $800 got you 12,000 miles with the Altitude Visa, and the Altitude AMEX gave you a whopping 50% bonus on all your spend for the first 6 months. These two ballsy moves are enough to put the Altitude cards front and centre in my wallet.

DBS also has the intriguing Woman’s card, a card that men can (and often do) apply for because it gives 4 miles per $1 on online spend. That’s another great tool to build your miles.

The rest of the cards are the usual insipid stuff, but there is unique value to be found in cards like the Live Fresh, which is useful to those who do not earn enough to qualify for an Altitude card (or for students even!)

Let’s take a look at the entire portfolio in detail….

Points/ Miles Cards

DBS Woman’s Card and Woman’s World Card

dbs woman's card

  • Annual Fee: $192.60 (World), $160.50 (Basic) (Both with 1 year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $80,000 (World, Singaporeans & Foreigners), $30,000 (Basic- Singaporeans), $45,000 (Basic-Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: Get 10X points for online spend with the World Mastercard version (5X for the basic version)
  • The catch: Bonus is limited to $2,000 of online spend each month, Woman’s World Card (which has this bonus) has a significantly higher income requirement than the entry level Woman’s Card
  • Sign up here

I’m a big fan of this unisex card. Why? Because it gives 10X rewards on online spending, which equates to 4 miles per $1 spent (limited to the first $2,000 spend per month). And because DBS has the most generous definition of online as any bank. Citibank has the Rewards card, which grants 4 miles per $1 spent on online shopping, but it defines shopping as purchases of bags, shoes and clothes. UOB Preferred Platinum Visa has 4 miles per $1 spent online, but has an extensive list of excluded transaction types. I’ve used the DBS Woman’s Card for things as diverse as movie tickets, Amazon, online translation services (Gengo), air tickets, hotels.com, membership fees and without fail I’ve gotten 4 miles. 

It’s also a World Mastercard, which means you can get SPG gold status with a single stay at Starwood properties in  Asia Pacific countries. The income requirement is on the high side at $80K per annum, but it never hurts to try your luck and apply. 

Remember that this card comes in 2 flavours- the Woman’s Card and the Woman’s World Card. The World Card has the higher income requirement (but also the better miles ratio), whereas the Woman’s Card is an entry level card (but still grants 2 miles for online spend and is one of the better cards you can get if you can only get the entry level cards.

As an aside, I got every colleague in my mostly male office to sign up for this card. I bet this is really screwing with DBS’s analytics team, seeing a rash in male applicants. Whee.

Yay or nay: Yay. Definitely yay, regardless of which side you swing for

DBS Altitude Visa and AMEX

altitude amex altitude visa

  • Annual Fee: $192.60 (1 year waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans and Foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: This card basically sells itself- 1.2 miles on local spend, 2 miles foreign, 3 miles on airline and hotel bookings. 50% bonus on first 6 months miles earning on the AMEX version, 12,000 bonus miles with $800 spend on the Visa version within 30 days of getting it
  • The catch: The basic earning rate is outclassed by the UOB PRVI, but that’s a problem for 6 months down the road. For the first 6 months of the AMEX version, your goal should be to put everything, and I mean everything, on the Altitude AMEX
  • Sign up here 

No secret here that these are my 2 favourite cards now, at least for a limited period. The Altitude Visa has a beefy sign up bonus where you get 12,000 miles for spending $800 within 1 month of getting the card, and the Altitude AMEX has what I think is one of the best promotions in a long while- a 50% earning bonus on all spend for the first 6 months, meaning 1.8 miles for regular spend, 3 miles for overseas and 4.5 for online flights and hotels.

How does this interact with the DBS Woman’s World Card? You should use the AMEX for all your flight bookings until you (somehow) hit $10,000, then use the DBS Woman’s Card for subsequent flight bookings for another $2,000.

Is this enough to make the Altitude my regular card? Yes- for 6 months. After which it is a bit of a tossup between the Atltiude and UOB’s PRVI Miles cards. PRVI has the edge at 1.3 miles per $1 vs 1.2 for the Altitude, but honestly I don’t think that’s going to tip things too much. On overseas spending, though, PRVI definitely has the edge at 2.4 miles per $1 vs 2 for the Altitude. So I’d use PRVI for overseas and be indifferent towards Altitude and PRVI for local.

The Altitude cards are the best cards to have right now guys- go get them both, leverage the bonuses and we’ll talk again in 6 months.

Yay or nay: Yay. Have you been reading any of the past posts?

DBS Live Fresh

dbslivefresh

  • Annual Fee: $64.20 (5 year waiver if you get this by 1 Oct 15, otherwise 2 year waiver)
  • Income Req: Singaporeans: $30,000, Foreigners: $45,000
  • Marketing Spiel: Excellent miles earning card for those who cannot afford the cards in the Altitude portfolio. For new sign ups, there is a 6% rebate on online spend till 31 Dec
  • The catch: The 6% rebate on online spend is capped at $100 per month and with min $500 spend per month.
  • Sign up here 

I rather like this card. I’ve previously profiled the Live Fresh card in my article on the best credit cards you can get for entry-level income. 3X points on online retail purchases (the phrasing of this leads me to believe that this excludes things like subscription fees, movie tickets, purchases of services (eg translation) or payment of fines) and overseas spend puts you in the 1.2 miles per $1 range, which is on par with the Altitude portfolio.

i think it’s no coincidence that DBS decided to start offering a limited time 6% rebate on online spend, given the spectacular OCBC devaluation on the Frank card. I think they’re hoping to pick up some of the churn arising from unsatisfied customers.  The 6% rebate is earned in addition to DBS points, so there’s the opportunity to double dip.

This card has a student version as well which is awesome, because when I was a student the only credit cards available to me were the non points earning sort, like the Citi Clear card. The student version earns the same points as the adult version- so if you’re studying now, get this and start building your miles!

Yay or Nay: Yay, if you’re not earning high enough for one of the Altitude cards

DBS  Black Card

DBS Black American Express black_visa

  • Annual Fee: $192.60 (1 year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $48,000 (Locals and foreigners)
  • Marketing Spiel: Get 5X points on Paywave transactions for the Visa version, equal to 1.2 miles per $1. Get 2X points on all transactions with the AMEX, or 0.8 miles per $1. Also, the card is black.
  • The catch: They’re just not very compelling cards at that income bracket, when for $50,000 annual income you could get the Altitude Cards which have superior miles earning potential
  • Sign up here 

Ah, the Black Card. Carefully marketed to evoke comparisons with The Black Card, otherwise known as the AMEX Centurion, the marketing sort of falls apart when you realise this is simply another garden variety credit card.

That doesn’t make it all bad, though. For the Visa version, Paywave transactions get you 1.2 miles per $1 until 31 Dec 2015, making it a ok card to have if you don’t meet the income requirement for the Altitude portfolio. But given that the Altitude cards require $50K min income vs $48K for the black series, you’d be in a very unique position to be one of those who can get a Black Card but not an Altitude one.

The AMEX version is not so useful- it earns 0.8 miles per $1 and takes up valuable space in your wallet. Avoid.

Oh, the Black Cards let you charter a boat at a somewhat discounted rate, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Yay or Nay: Nay to the Black Card Visa, because whatever it can do, the Altitude can do better, and for roughly the same income requirement. Nay to the Black Card AMEX, even if they released a Spinal Tap version.

Cashback Cards

posb-everyday-card

  • Annual Fee: $38.52 (2 year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: Singaporeans: $30,000, Foreigners: $45,000
  • Marketing Spiel: Get cashback at everyday merchants including Sheng Siong, Comfort, Popular, SPC etc. Enjoy 5% cashback at dining and 3% cashback for groceries until 31 Dec 15
  • The catch: As with all cashback cards, minimum spend requirements and monthly caps on cashback earnings limit the overall value proposition
  • Sign up here 

My usual caveats about cashback cards apply here. I’m not a big fan of these things, because of the caps and the minimum spends required to get significant value out of them.

The Everyday Card was big when it first launched, and there was a period when I saw colleagues using it for pretty much everything. Why, I wondered, when cashback cards are effectively games with dice loaded in favour of the banks?

Turns out that POSB did a great job of marketing the card and who it partners with. It is an impressive list- day to day stalwarts like SPC, Sheng Siong, Watsons, Popular and Comfort taxi all offer varying rebates with the Everyday Card. Even better, from now till end of year, you can get a 5% rebate on dining and 3% rebate on groceries if you spend $500 a month min. This is, of course, capped at $50 for each category per month.

Yay or Nay: This is a good card for someone who has no interest in earning miles. If you monitor the categories you spend in carefully and don’t use this for anything else than the bonus categories (because you earn 0.3% for spend elsewhere) then you could get some mileage out of this. Not for me, but then again, I’m not everyone

Co-branded Cards

DBS NUSS Visa Card

prod-comparator-220x140-dbs-nuss-visaplat

  • Annual Fee: $192.60 (Waived as long as you’re an NUSS member)
  • Income Req: $30,000 for Singaporeans, $45,000 for Foreigners
  • Marketing Spiel: Earn 2X points on dining at NUSS F&B outlets
  • The catch: Outside of NUSS, there are absolutely no benefits at all to having this card
  • Sign up here 

I’m an NUSS member. It’s a great, affordable club that gives you the benefits of a country club at a fraction of the price. The DBS co-branded card, should be avoided. The sole benefit of this is earning 0.8 miles per $1 on NUSS F& B spend. I suppose there’s SOME benefit in this, in that normally your purchases would be charged to your NUSS account which you’d pay off at the end of the month via internet banking, thereby earning 0 miles. So net net you’re somewhat better off…

But even for someone as obsessive as I am, I just don’t dine at NUSS enough to justify going through the hassle of signing up for this and setting up a GIRO account.

Yay or Nay: Nay? If you’re that committed to getting 0.8 miles on a place you hardly dine at you need to start your own site cause you’re more of a fanatic than I am

DBS Takashimaya Cards

 

dbstaka2 dbstaka

  • Annual Fee: $64.20 for the Visa version with 2 year waiver, $192.60 for the AMEX version with 1 year fee waiver
  • Income Req: $30,000 for Singaporeans, $45,000 for Foreigners for the Visa version, $50,000 for the AMEX version
  • Marketing Spiel: Earn 5-6% rebates on spending at Taka, plus free parking
  • The catch: You can get much better value using the Citibank Rewards card at Taka, free parking is a joke
  • Sign up here 

So. Takashimaya. The place with unaffordable parking. They propose to give you a 6% rebate on spending in their department store. How do they work that out? For the AMEX version of this card, $10 spending at Takashimaya gives you 2  points, 100 of which can be redeemed for a $30 Takashimaya voucher. So for every $500 you spend, you get $30 back. It’s better than a kick in the crotch, but only marginally so.

With the same $500 spend on the Citibank Rewards card you’d be looking at 2,000 miles, which, even if you redeemed them at the quite abysmal economy class rates, would be perhaps $40 of value. If you redeemed them at the proper business class rates (like you should), then you’d get closer to $80.

Oh, and about that expensive parking? $120 of spending gets you a $3 top up to your cash card. Which, when you consider that 1 hour of parking at Taka costs $2.50-$3.60, is pretty much a kick in the crotch.

For the Visa version, you get 5% rebates in the form of vouchers and the same parking “privilege”.

I have absolutely no idea why the AMEX version has a higher fee and income requirement.

Yay or Nay: Nay, the Citibank Rewards card gives much better value at department stores

DBS Esso Mastercard

dbsesso

  • Annual Fee: $85.60 (1 year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 for Singaporeans, $45,000 for Foreigners
  • Marketing Spiel: 17% off at Esso outlets, plus $70 in fuel vouchers for sign ups until 30 Sept
  • The catch: Nothing, really. There’s no reason not to take the $70 in free fuel. Or to spend any money on this card outside of Esso
  • Sign up here 

If you drive and pump with Esso, you can get 17% off your fuel purchases through this card. I don’t own a car, so I’ve not really been keeping up with what the best-in-class discount is on fuel. What I do know is that this is a further 7% off what other people would get at Esso. Apparently you earn 2.5% bonus Smiles points too, a concept which I can’t be bothered to wrap my head around.

But hello, what’s this? Till 30 Sept there’s a free money offer afoot! Sign up for the DBS Esso card and get $70 of free fuel vouchers. Remember that the 1st year fee waiver is active, so you get this effectively for free. I don’t know about you, but I’d gladly give my parents $70 in free fuel any day.

Yay or Nay: Yay, yay, yay, until 30 Sept.

DBS SAFRA Card

prod-comparator-220x140-dbs-safra-credit-card

  • Annual Fee: None, so long as you remain a SAFRA member
  • Income Req: $30,000 for Singaporeans, $45,000 for Foreigners (But how would foreigners become part of SAFRA?)
  • Marketing Spiel: 3% cash rebate on online and grocery bills
  • The catch: Cashback requires min spend of $500 and capped at $50 per month
  • Sign up here 

The SAFRA card straddles the line between a co-branded card and a cashback card, but it’s a poor card in either case. 3% rebates on online shopping and grocery bills are promised with a minimum spend of $500 per month. That’s hardly a benefit that should make you drop everything.

There is a promotion now when signing up for the card and spending $500 within 1 month of approval gets you a $50 grocery voucher, but that doesn’t meet my definition of free money. Free money means getting the money without having to do an outlay you wouldn’t otherwise have done.

Yay or Nay: Nay

DBS CapitaMall Card

credit_visa_capitacard prod-comparator-220x140-dbs-capitacard-mastercard

  • Annual Fee: $160.50 (2 year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 for Singaporeans, $45,000 for Foreigners
  • Marketing Spiel: Get rebates of up to 15% at shops in CapitaMalls, earn free parking every month for 3 hours per day
  • The catch: Free parking requires a significant spend of $1,200 per month
  • Sign up here

I remember that this was the card my dad would tell my mum to put $800 on each month so we could get free parking at CapitaMalls. That, to me, is still a really good benefit, and probably one of the most compelling reasons to bite. Because there are so many CapitaMalls out there, odds are good you’d earn back a fair deal with 3 hours free  parking every day.

But of course, like all good things, it got ruined. $800 was increased by 50% to $1,200, with the added “enhancement” of privileged parking lots for $1,800 spend (aside: I’ve never understood how the privileged parking system works- what’s to stop some random guy from parking in that lot?). Put it this way- assume you visit the mall on both weekends. In 1 month, that’s 24 hours of free parking (8 weekends * 3 hours each day). Assume you’d be paying $2.40 an hour otherwise- $57.60 in total. Call it $60. $60 rebate on $1,200 is 5%. That’s fairly decent, if your assumptions hold true. Throw in a weeknight visit to the mall for dinner and you’d be even better off.

The rebates system on this card is up to 15%, which seems fairly hefty, until you realise it’s at “participating” merchants. I’ve not actually explored this in detail, but gut instinct tells me that (1) the list of merchants opting out will be fairly comprehensive (supermarkets at CapitaMalls definitely do not qualify for this rebate, getting 0.3% at most), and (2), “up to” 15% will translate into 5-10% in most places

Yay or Nay: Really conflicted here. The free parking has the potential to be really useful, but spending $1,200 on a card that earns little in the way of rebates outside of CapitaMalls is painful. I’m leaning towards nay, but your answer may vary depending on your individual shopping patterns.

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42 Comments on "The Milelion Credit Card Omnibus Week 2: DBS"

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Hi, just wanted to check something. You mentioned that the Woman’s World card gives a 10x DBS points (which equals to 4 miles) per S$1 spent online. But isnt the conversation rate 2 miles per 1 DBS point which would result in 20 miles per S$1 spent?

Thanks!

I think the DBS Altitude Amex has reduced the 6 months 50% bonus to 3 months from Nov 2015- 🙁

When I checked. Should I wait for the next promotional miles card now?

Hi! Points earned by DBS Woman’s World MasterCard expires within 1 year (which is the fastest among the various banks). Which kinda forces you to redeem yearly, unlike UOB or Citibank where you can accumulate for a big transfer. How do you deal with it?

Any ideas if paying SQ tickets using the Woman Card on SQ website would qualify for the 10x reward? Thanks!

Given that you are a clear proponent of the Woman’s World Mastercard – perhaps you could do a slightly more indepth commentary on it?

Because i note that you have constantly stated that DBS gives the most generous definition of online spend – but i have had instances where my online spends (bought from obscure online retailer – i.e. not amazon qoo10 or whatnot, payment made online) were not credited as online spends. It seems to be due to the description on the card statement. i have already called up DBS for a review of this.

also, any idea when DBS points are actually credited into your account? is it by statement date?

Hi Aaron!

What card will you recommend for purchases on Taobao? Will it be the womens card?

Hi guys, I’m new to the miles game. Would like to understand more about the DBS system. I understand that all the DBS points goes to 1 account. Example if I own DBS Woman World MasterCard (5000 DBSpoints)and Altitude card (10000 DBS points), the points will be credited into 1 account (total 15000 DBS points). However, I understand that the DBS points for Woman MasterCard expires in 1 year and there is no expiry date for altitude card. Q1: Is there a way to redeem the 5000 DBS points for the Woman MasterCard first? Not sure if it involves logging in with the Woman MasterCard credit card no. in the website and enrolling the Woman MasterCard to the DBS frequent flyer programme. Q2: Does this mean that to redeem the 10000 DBS points for the Altitude card, I will need to enrol the Altitude card for the DBS frequent flyer… Read more »

Hi Guys, I have a few concerns that I hope can be clarified.

1. Does topping up the M1 Prepaid Mastercard earns 4miles/$ using DBS WC now?

2. I see that if you top up through AXS, there will be no top up fees charged. Has anyone tried topping up the prepaid master card via AXS online? Does it earn you 4 miles/$ as well?

Look forward looking from you guys soon.

Thanks!

DBS Woman earns you 4 miles per dollar for any transaction through e-axs via masterpass, last check in Jan 2016. You can always apply the 2 miles/dollar DBS woman for testing purposes.

Hi, I checked with DBS CSO today – Masterpass will only get you 3 DBS points per $5 instead of 10 DBS points per $5. But still better than nothing.

Hi Aaron

The enrolment form for DBS Frequent Flyer Programme includes a section for you to choose how many points to covert. Can I register to join but choose not to redeem any points yet? Or do you need to redeem yours points when you register? If you register first and redeem later must you pay $42.80 again?

Hi Aaron, not sure whether you’ve considered this, but the Taka Amex card offers additional 10% off each quarter, which may be useful if you’ve stuff to purchase.

Hi! Just wanted to ask, is the fevo trick still working in July for Aug’s bonus rewards? Thanks! (:

Hi Aaron, just wanted to check if you have any idea whether joining the Frequent Flyer Program is compulsory for new sign ups of the Altitude card, or can I choose not to sign up and just accumulate the DBS points, and only sign up when I intend to convert the points. I ask this because I foresee that I may not make any conversion in one year. Also, if you have multiple DBS credit cards, do the DBS points from each card go into a common pool, or does each card accumulate points separately, meaning that when you want to convert the DBS points, you have to pay conversion fees for each card (which I understand is how Citibank works)? Thanks.

Hi,

I just came across your blog and it has been very useful!! 🙂 From reading your posts, i’ve concluded that UOB/DBS offers the best miles currently.

Between UOB and DBS however, which would you recommend? I will be visiting America at the end of the year, and would like to chalk up as much miles as possible beforehand.

In addition, would you recommend using a combination of DBS/UOB/Citibank credit cards with the appropriate category spending to get the most miles? How does that compare to the conversion fees for each bank?

Is it more worth it to consolidate or using different cards at a go? Thank you so much for your help!!

Does anyone know if the DBS Woman’s World Card gives out the bonus points for HDB season parking renewal?

What has happened to the altitude Amex? No one seems to be talking about it anymore. No bonuses for new sign ups for quite some while too !

The list of excluded transactions for awarding of DBS points appears to have been updated/clarified. See clause 2.6 of the following (“With effect from 2 July 2017…”):

http://www.dbs.com.sg/iwov-resources/pdf/cards/rewards_programme_tnc.pdf

No more points even for ezlink topups with Altitude?

I wonder why they mentioned 2nd July when points aren’t even being awarded today already. And they are not intending to award points for spending at Takashimaya with the DBS Takashimaya card ??!? Seriously ?

The exclusions now apply to all cards (such as Altitude). Previously, the Altitude is quite broad (you can get points for Insurance and EZ Link)

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