Tag Archives: dbs

Priority Banking Travel Privileges: DBS Treasures

I’m starting a new series on the types of travel privileges the different priority banking programs in Singapore have to offer. I’m sure that travel privileges aren’t the main consideration people have when deciding which bank to park their nest egg with, but if nothing else this will hopefully remind others of some benefits they may not know they had.

Introduction to DBS Treasures

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DBS Treasures is the priority banking program of DBS. You might have seen their outlets scattered around the island. To qualify, you need to have an AUM balance of at least S$350,000 with the bank.

You get a host of banking privileges, like attending such imaginatively named talks

But there’s also an add on program called DBS Travel Privileges.

To enrol in the DBS Travel Privileges program you need to go one step further and spend a minimum of S$20,000 on any DBS/POSB credit cards (multiple cards are acceptable) in 2017. That’s right, it’s not automatically extended to all members.

In practice I don’t see it very difficult to put S$20,000 on DBS cards in a year if you’re the type who can have a priority banking account. The question is- are the privileges worth diverting that kind of spend?

Asia Treasures vs Treasures

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As a first step, we need to distinguish between DBS Treasures and DBS Asia Treasures. I’ve seen many a hopeful Treasures member get turned away from the DBS Asia Treasures lounge in an awkward conversation that goes something like “but my card says Treasures on it”

Well, your card might, but this is the card you need for entry-

Because DBS Asia Treasures is a special program  extended to private (not priority) banking members. To get an Asia Treasures card, you need to be a Treasures Private Client. I believe the current qualification criteria is a minimum of S$1.5M AUM and an accumulated spend of $30,000 on DBS cards in a calendar year. There’s a whole host of banking privileges that I won’t go into here, suffice to say the benefits are a step up from the regular program. Some key highlights

  • Access to the DBS Asia Treasures lounge in T2 and T3 (it’s way better than the Krisflyer Gold lounge, believe me)

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Image result for dbs asia treasures

Image result for dbs asia treasures

  • Limo pick up service on return to Singapore
  • Expedited immigration clearance at Jakarta and Surabaya airport

Now that we’ve clarified that, what do the plebians in DBS Treasures get?

20% bonus miles on flights with SQ and MI

DBS Travel Privileges members get 20% bonus Krisflyer miles when they book flights with SQ and MI (some have suggested that you need to book flights via the concierge but I’ve confirmed that this is not required- booking regularly via the website works).

This can be a real way of accelerating your Krisflyer mile earning assuming you fly often and have KF Elite Gold/PPS (where you enjoy a further 25% tier bonus). You will of course not earn this bonus on award flights and group fares (ticket class: G). If you’re flying on a codeshare flight operated by a carrier other than SQ/MI you won’t earn anything either.

You also earn a 20% bonus on Elite miles that helps you earn Krisflyer Elite status faster. Recall that Krisflyer miles are what you redeem for flights, whereas Elite miles are what you need to build for requalification. Krisflyer Gold, for example, requires you to earn 50,000 elite miles each membership year to requalify for status. The catch here is that once you qualify as a PPS/Elite Gold member, you cease to earn the 20% bonus on Elite miles (you will still earn the regular 20% bonus on Krisflyer miles)


Krisflyer Gold Lounge Access

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I have no idea why any one would want to spend more time in the Krisflyer Gold lounge than absolutely necessary. The place is devoid of natural light (at least the T2 iteration), champagne, showers, toilets and happiness. It’s basically a place for SQ to channel the flotsam Star Gold members flying Economy.

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If you do want to go, however, there are a maximum of 30 passes available per day.  You can bring 1 guest, and the privilege is limited to whenever you’re flying with SQ/MI. You must be departing from Singapore (that is, you can’t use the lounge as an arrivals lounge (but given the lack of facilities why would you)).

Receive an ambassador welcome at Starwood hotels

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It’s important to distinguish this from the SPG Ambassador program, which is accorded to members who stay 100 nights a yera in Starwood properties (I’m only a lowly SPG-75, but Ben over at OMAAT has written about his experiences with the SPG Ambassador program if you’re interested).

What this actually is, is the Starwood Luxury Privileges program. These are special rates that can be booked through a Starwood Luxury Privileges agent. A simple Google search will find you plenty of them, so I’m not going to link to any here.

Each property has their own list of benefits which you can look up here, but in general you can expect things like

  • Daily breakfast for 2
  • Complimentary internet
  • Room upgrade (on availability)
  • Early check in/late check out (on availability)
  • US$100 welcome amenity per stay
  • Complimentary 3rd/4th night free at selected properties

A lot of the above benefits can already be enjoyed by Platinum members. The real benefit is the US$100 welcome amenity (think: F&B credit or spa credit) plus the possibility of getting the 3rd or 4th night free at certain properties.

The natural question is- how much does this rate cost to book? I don’t have personal experience doing so but I’m told it is often close to if not at the best available rate. So do the math yourselves and be aware of your options.

Leading Hotels of the World privileges

Treasures members receive a complimentary base level membership in the LHW program. The phrasing of the offer seems to suggest that you need to do one stay first before you get your membership.

Eagle-eyed readers will remember that the Leader’s Club was recently giving away its base tier membership for free (the link has since been taken down). The base tier usually costs US$150.

I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to stay at an LHW property (and probably couldn’t afford to anyway) but it can be a useful perk if you want to stay off-chain and still want some guaranteed benefits.


The full T&C for all privileges can be found here.

I think that if you’re already a frequent traveller with Elite Gold/PPS Club membership, you’re not going to get much mileage out of this apart from the 20% miles bonus. The Starwood Luxury Privileges aren’t exclusive privileges, in that they can be booked by any travel agent who has access to the program and the LHW membership isn’t anything to shout about.

What I’d really like to see a bank do is start putting their money where their mouth is and start waiving the foreign transaction fees when their priority banking members use their cards overseas. This, to me, would be a real benefit and would encourage members to swipe more often (which can only be a good thing for the bank).

I’m going to progressively add more programs to this list, so stay tuned.

What credit cards should you use for Black Friday shopping?

Black Friday is here again as Americans try to  ease the pain of too much turkey and the vagaries of the electoral college system by spending their way into a debt-fueled oblivion!

I’m not going to list any great deals here because I’m sure you’re all more than capable of sniffing them out yourselves (plus there are tons of websites dedicated just to ferreting out the best of the best offers).

Instead, I’m going to do a refresher on what options you have when deciding which credit card to put your Black Friday shopping on.

can you believe there is no online resource image of the OCBC Titanium Rewards card that doesn’t have it angled funny like this? Come on guys.

The following cards all give a bonus (4 miles per $1 to be precise) on online spending.

You might want to have a look at this crowdsourced Google Docs form to see whether the specific merchant you have in mind qualifies as “online” (because, unbelievably, sometimes even merchants you swear must be online like Taobao don’t end up qualifying as online because they manually process transactions on their backend), but safe to say that your usual Amazon, Zalora etc e-commerce sites will be a sure bet for 10X.

HSBC Advance Card

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Ah, my one stop card for all things online. If you don’t mind going through the (15 minutes really) somewhat hasslesome process of getting a card, the HSBC Advance will be your best friend (until possibly the 31st of December this year when the 10X promotion is due to expire- it’s been renewed in the past so watch this space).

You’ll get 10X points (4 miles per $1) on all your online spending. No caps, no exceptions (well, except for EZ link top ups, but that’s not a typical Black Friday purchase).

For me personally my goal is to max out everything I can from the HSBC Advance until the end of the year, then re-evaluate my strategy based on what HSBC decides to do with the 10X program.

Citibank Rewards Card

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Assuming you haven’t already busted your $12,000 annual bonus limit (applied per card, mind you, so if you have both the Mastercard and the Visa version then your bonus is capped on $24,000 of spending) on bill payments, then this is another potential option for you.

Citibank was previously running a promotion that offered an amazing 8 miles per dollar with Amazon. At the time, I said that if you didn’t have any item in mind or simply wanted to hold out for Black Friday, you could buy a giftcard to front load your miles. Hope someone listened to that!

EDIT: I was just reminded that Citibank has extended the Amazon promotion till year end. 8 miles per $1 is hard to beat so if your Black Friday plans include Amazon then I can’t recommend any other card than this

Another great point about the Citibank Rewards card is that your points are valid for 5 years, so you can accumulate a good-sized haul before transferring.

OCBC Titanium Rewards

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OCBC recently relaunched their Titanium card as the Titanium Rewards card, offering 10X on online and offline shopping.

Unfortunately since this card is the newest of the lot we don’t have a lot of data points on how OCBC is interpreting the above categories

What we do know from the T&C is that you will earn 10X at the following merchants

  • MCC 5611: Men’s and Boys’ Clothing and Accessories Stores
  • MCC 5621: Women’s Ready to Wear Stores
  • MCC 5631: Women’s Accessory and Speciality Stores
  • MCC 5641: Children’s and Infants’ Wear Stores
  • MCC 5651: Family Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5661: Shoe Stores
  • MCC 5691: Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5732: Electronics Stores
  • MCC 5699: Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Shops
  • MCC 5311: Department Stores

The maximum bonus points you can earn in a year is capped on $12,000 of spending (48,000 miles) and OCBC points are valid for 2 years.

DBS Woman’s World Card

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I find it funny that the default card image for the DBS Woman’s card has a man’s name on it

Despite its $2,000 monthly cap on 10X, the DBS Woman’s World Card is still a solid choice if you’re not intending to bust the bank on Black Friday.

DBS has an ongoing promotion for sign ups for the Woman’s Card where you can get $160 in cashback if you spend a minimum of $500 on the card within the first month from approval date. The $160 applies if you’re completely new to DBS cards. If you already own a DBS card you get $100. Still not a bad deal, I think, and no time to hit that $500 minimum spending like Black Friday.

What I dislike about the Woman’s World Card is that DBS Points are only valid for 1 year.

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa

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I’ve been historically cold towards the UOB PP Visa because it’s generally a lot stricter in its interpretation of what counts as online spending (at least, as compared to the DBS Woman’s World Card). But if you’re going down the usual e-commerce route of Amazon et al, I think it’s quite a safe call to use this card.

Now, the T&C of the UOB PP Visa say this-

The 10X UNI$ for online and Visa payWave transactions is capped at UNI$24,000 for both categories per calendar year. After which, 1X UNI$ will be awarded for every $5 spent.

I’ve read 2 interpretations of this- one school of thought says that the cap is really $13,300 because it is the 9X bonus points that are capped at 24,000 UNI$ a year. Others say that no, it’s similar to the Citibank Rewards card in that the cap on total points is 24,000 UNI$ meaning that you can spend a maximum of $12,000. Frankly. I don’t know what the right answer is, and I’ve never got close enough to the limit to find out.

UOB UNI$ are valid for 2 years.


The cards are ranked in no particular order of merit because the best card for you to use really depends on your current situation. If you’re already accumulating with DBS Altitude for your general spend you might gravitate towards the DBS Woman’s World Card. If you’re a UOB PRVI cardholder, you might go with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa etc etc.

And finally- Black Friday.

Get it?

DBS changes its mile redemption structure from annual fee to per transfer

DBS has always been a bit of an outlier when it came to conversion fees (i.e. the fees you pay when you want to convert your credit card points to airline miles). While most other banks charged fees on a per transfer basis, DBS would charge $42.80 on an annual basis, with unlimited transfers throughout the year. This fee was paid on a membership year basis, not calendar. In other words if you signed up in November 2015, your next payment would be due in November 2016.

This worked well for you if you were the kind who accumulated and used miles quickly and wanted the additional flexibility to transfer miles as frequently as necessary. It wasn’t so ideal if you preferred to build up miles over a couple of years before cashing out.

DBS has now changed their fees to come in line with other banks. With the revised structure, here’s how they stack up.

Bank Fee Fee paid
DBS $26.75 per transfer
Citibank $25 per transfer
UOB $25 per transfer
HSBC $42.80 per year
American Express (non KF cards) $20/ $40 per transfer (Amex Rewards)/ per year (Amex Platinum cards, waived)
ANZ $25 per transfer
Maybank $26.75 per transfer (waived for World MC and Visa Infinite)

It seems that most of the banks go for a $25 fee, but only some of them include GST in the $25 amount, hence leading to the $26.75 figures you see above.

I personally prefer the annual fee system because I tend to do more than 2 transfers in a year. Also, given that I accumulate miles with both Asiamiles and Krisflyer, it helps that I’m not hit with multiple fees when I transfer. Under the revised system you would pay $26.75 twice even if you redeemed both Krisflyer and Asiamiles in the same transaction.

For those of you who have already paid your $42.80 for the year, you will still enjoy unlimited transfers until your membership year is up. After that, you’ll be levied $26.75 per transfer.

It is possible to get the transfer fee waived by paying 1,700 DBS points, but that’s just dumb. 1,700 DBS points are 3,400 miles, so you’re really accepting a <0.8 cent per mile value if you do that.

There is a proper FAQ here that you can refer to.