Update (9 Jun): Would like to draw your attention to the following comment by Christopher:
I called DBS earlier this afternoon to ask about the effective date of the above changes in the T & Cs. Twice. Here are the replies I received:
1. 1st CSO claimed that the T & Cs have always been like this ie. prepaid/insurance transactions etc were all prev excluded under the clause in the last line of the old T & Cs regarding excluded AXS/EZ-Link Reload transactions etc. and that they had just updated it to spell it out specifically. I pointed out that this was not the case. She proceeded to imply that it must have just been updated to reflect the current policy hence not a rel change. Again, I refuted this, saying that the T & Cs as of yesterday as available on their website imply that certain transactions (such as topping up prepaid cards) no longer qualify for 9x bonus points whereas they previously had. As such, this is a real change. She then said perhaps the bank hadn’t yet got around to updating its customers ie. us as this may have been just updated online only. I pointed out that well, I haven’t heard from DBS so..
2. She said she would check with the relevant department regarding the effective date of the new T & Cs and get back to me within 3 working days. From the gist of the entire conversation, it sounds like DBS was planning to just update the T & Cs without prior notice and AS SUCH I would believe that the new exclusions would apply as of YESTERDAY.
3. I called again half an hour later to check on the points accrued for my April transactions, verifying that yes, all EZ-LINK IMAGINE CARD transactions had posted their 9x bonus points on 14/15/16 May. The CSO verified that they had – I got ~3700 bonus 9x points posted on 14 May (go figure) – and that I would only be able to check on the status of my bonus 9x points for May transactions (which include 2k worth of top up for one last hurrah) on/after 15 June when they post. He claimed that, as such, there was no way for him to verify if May transactions (which would be excluded under today’s T & Cs) will be awarded the bonus 9x points or not.
In conclusion, we may just have to wait until the 15/16th of June for our answer, unless someone of higher client status with DBS can get through to their card department and get the answer straight from the horse’s mouth.
For a long time, one of the best cards to use for online spending was the gender-bending DBS Woman’s World Card (WWC), which allowed you to earn the equivalent of 4 miles per $1 on almost any online transaction. Despite its name, applications were open both men and women.
Although there was a cap on bonus earning of S$2,000 spending (or 8,000 miles) per month, most people who carefully managed their spend could clock up 96,000 miles in a year from $24,000 of spending, or enough to get a one way SQ suites ticket to Europe or the USA.
If you didn’t meet the $80,000 income requirement required for the DBS WWC, you could always get the regular Women’s Card, which would still have given you 2 miles per $1 on almost any online transaction, subject to the same S$2,000 cap.
DBS has just released a new set of T&C for our beloved WWC which changes the rules of the game. Note that these changes similarly apply to the regular Woman’s Card as well. For comparison’s sake, I have included the old T&C here as well.
No prizes for spotting the big difference between the terms before and after.
Here’s the good news- the DBS WWC is still the best card to use for most of your online transactions, like general online shopping, buying movie tickets, airline tickets, Amazon, online travel agents like Expedia/Orbitz etc.
But here’s the bad news- from a certain, unspecified start date (can’t believe the new T&C don’t say when they’re effective from), the following will not earn DBS points (i.e. miles)
Let’s go through the carnage shall we?
- Payments via telephone and mail order
I would have thought these wouldn’t have qualified for bonus spend in the first place because when you give your credit card details over the phone the transaction is usually processed in an offline manner anyway.
- Payments to government institutions
No town council fees, parking fines, library fines, road tax payment, ACRA registration fees etc.
- Payments to financial institutions
No OANDA and other share trading account topups
- Payments to insurance companies
No AIA, AXA, NTUC Income etc insurance payments. An exception might apply for Prudential policies paid under the DBS Recurring Bill Payment plan, see below for details.
- Utility bill payments
No SP Services
No SGgives or Community Chest payments (I read this as one-time payments do not earn points. Recurring payments may still earn points, see below for discussion on DBS Recurring bill payments)
- Payments of funds to prepaid accounts and merchants who are categorized as “payment services providers”
This is the one that worries me the most and has big implications because it means that the 4 miles per $1 on everything FEVO trick is dead. After the loss of the Imagine card, it seems that there currently does not exist a method of getting 4 miles on general spend (unless the HSBC Advance Visa allows prepaid top ups-anyone knows?)
Another worrying thing for me- does Paypal count as a payment service provider? An initial read of the T&C suggests yes. But I’ll need to investigate this point with customer service.
- Payments to schools, hospitals, professional service providers and parking lots
No season parking renewal, international school fees, online hospital bills
- Payments made via AXS and SAM online/ibanking bill payment transactions, EZ-Reload
This term was already in the old T&C, but it kills off the whole thread of questions we’ve been getting on whether you can use the AXS machine for income tax payment/utility payment/phone bill payment/other recurring bill payments. This also removes the possibility of getting points for your recurring EZ-Reload transactions.
- Any other transactions determined by DBS from time to time
A deliberately vague term that gives DBS the leeway to exclude some of your transactions at their discretion. I really hope that they do not become liberal in the application of this term, because the wide powers it gives makes me uncomfortable.
My general analysis of the above tells me that DBS does not want to reward non-discretionary spending anymore. They want to reward you for your discretionary lifestyle spending. And from a business point of view that does make sense, no matter how annoying it is. For further analysis you might want to refer to the HWZ thread on the topic.
One caveat to the above- it is my understanding that if you are using DBS’s Recurring Bill Payment plan you will continue to earn points. Whether or not you will earn bonus points (ie the (9X on top of your 1X) I do not know though. Anyone using the recurring bill payment plan care to chime in?
Merchants covered under the recurring bill payment plan include
- SP Services
- California Fitness
- Town Councils
- Community Chest
This is hardly the end of the world and I’m not going to get rid of my DBS WWC for now. (although if Paypal transactions are excluded that is a major loss for me already). I think it’s still useful for the rest of your online transactions, especially if you’re building the rest of your miles with DBS through its Altitude offerings. However, this development should make you take a long hard look at the HSBC Advance Visa as an alternative for your online spending.
Chin up everyone. Deals come and go. I’m sure something better will come along in the future.
cover photo: credit for the cover photo goes to onthesannyside, who used this image for a completely unrelated article on bad grammar in advertising. As a proud card-carrying grammar Nazi, I completely support his views. Irregardless, please do not revert to me with a list of all the grammatical errors in this post.