Tag Archives: dbs

If you’re on the old DBS frequent flyer transfer scheme, beware…

Back in November 2016, DBS changed the way it charged for miles conversions from an annual fee of $42.80 with unlimited conversions to a per conversion fee of $26.75.

Cardmembers who had already paid the annual fee would be on the “old” scheme until their membership year was up. That is to say, if you paid your $42.80 on October 10 2016, you would have unlimited transactions until October 9 2017, after which you’d pay per conversion.

Download (PDF, 198KB)

In the FAQ that was provided with the program change, DBS clearly states under point 6) that-

I had not received anything from DBS, so I proceeded to do a transaction in early April to move some miles to Krisflyer.

On examining my ibanking statement, however, I saw that I had been hit with a $26.75 conversion fee. So I called DBS customer service to ask about it.

They told me that my annual membership expired end March and therefore I was on the new scheme. I reminded her about their FAQs which stated that customers would get a heads up via eDM or SMS.

Her response was that although she could see in their SMS outbox that I had not been sent anything, it was not practice for them to send out alerts about the impending expiry of your annual transfer fee.

They were not able to locate this FAQ on their side, so I’ve since sent this PDF to their customer service team for escalation, in expectation that they will refund me the fee. I will update you when this is resolved.

But in the meantime, if you are part of the old annual scheme you might want to take note that alerts are not going out. So be vigilant, check your account and let DBS know if you are charged without notice.

Putting this 1.2/1.4 mpd and rounding issue to bed

A common objection I get when I recommend UOB cards for miles earning is that these banks round your transaction down to the nearest $5, so a $9.99 transaction earns the same amount of miles as a $5 transaction ($5 @ 1.4 mpd with the UOB PRVI Miles).

Other banks, like Citibank/HSBC, award miles to the nearest $1, so that same $9.99 transaction would earn you 10.8 miles ($9 @ 1.2 mpd.

But the key question you need to ask yourself is this- what is my average/median transaction size? This determines whether or not the enhanced miles earning of a UOB PRVI Miles card (1.4 mpd) can make up for the rounding down effect.

How big a problem is rounding?

Here’s a simple table showing how you end up with transactions ranging from $4.99 to $99.99, comparing a hypothetical 1.2 mpd arrangement (Citibank Premiermiles Visa) with a 1.4 mpd arrangement (UOB PRVI Miles)

Red= you lose out with a the 1.4 mpd, rounding down card. Calculations for 1.4 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $5, calculations for 1.2 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $1

What you can see is that once your transaction goes above ~$30, the incremental 0.2 miles you earn with UOB offsets the rounding down effect. The gap only grows bigger the larger the transaction is.

Or fine, let’s take the Citibank Premiermiles AMEX (1.3 mpd) instead and see what happens.

Red= you lose out with a the 1.4 mpd, rounding down card. Calculations for 1.4 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $5, calculations for 1.2 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $1

Now, as expected, the “sweet spot” moves upwards in that transactions of ~$55 or above favor the UOB card.

My median transaction size is just under $30, but my average is $270 (it’s skewed because of large business expenses). So although 50% of my transactions are under $30 (and I’m losing out on some miles due to rounding there), I’m still winning overall by using a card like the PRVI because the marginal 0.2 mpd is being earned on some significantly large transactions. 

What you need to realise is that even if you are using the UOB PRVI and have, say, 30 transactions where you’re losing out on 2-3 miles each time, all it takes is a large single transaction of ~$300-450 to put you in the same position as if you were using a 1.2 mpd, no rounding card. And that’s what most people’s transactions will look like, right? You’ll have maybe 30 small transactions in a period and the occasional big ticket purchase.

I mean, sure, if you really wanted to there’s nothing stopping you from swapping between your Citibank Premiermiles and UOB PRVI, depending on the transaction size. But that’s a step too far, even for me.

Other considerations

Moreover, the mpd rate is no doubt important but there are other things you need to consider as well. If you’re comparing the DBS Altitude cards (1.2 mpd, rounding down to nearest $5- for more details on rounding please see the comments where johnnyboy has some excellent analysis. It’s not exactly as simple as I’m making it sound) to Citibank Premiermiles (1.2 mpd, rounding down to nearest $1) then the Premiermiles card seems to be better, but better here is in the context of miles earning potential.

Think about pooling (Citibank has two different currencies (ThankYou points and Premiermiles) that you can’t pool, which forces you to pay two conversion fees), think about transfer partners (Citibank has so many more transfer partners than DBS), think about card and mile earning promotions (like the one currently happening with the DBS Altitude Visa), think about expiry of miles, and the picture becomes a bit different.

So I’d encourage you to do a serious analysis of your own spending patterns in deciding whether the rounding issue will be a hindrance to you.

You can now use your DBS/POSB cards to pay for ERP charges

I wrote previously about being able to pay ERP charges with your credit card. This service, called EZ-Pay, was previously only available to those who had Citibank cards. There were no fees involved, and you could earn rewards points for payments made.

It was announced this week that EZ-Pay would be extended to DBS/POSB cards as well.

To recap- with EZ-Pay, your ERP charges are billed directly to your card if you have insufficient value in your cashcard or go through the gantry without a card. I don’t have a car, but if I did I’d certainly see this as a way of earning a few bonus miles, especially given the lack of top up fees. You’re not going to earn a lot of miles through ERP, obviously, as I would imagine that the amount you pay on parking would far exceed the amount spent on ERP.

And here’s where phase 2 of the project becomes interesting, because eventually the plan is that EZ-Pay will extend to parking charges as well. That’s right, you can enter and exit a carpark without needing a cashcard.

For completeness’ sake I’m going to reiterate two other options that exist for you to pay ERP charges with your credit cards-

MotorPay

DBS offers  MotorPay in conjunction with the LTA and charges $1.07 a month per vehicle. Every time you pass through a gantry, the charge is billed to your DBS credit card.

VCashCard

VCashCard  allows you to use Mastercard and Visa cards from DBS/POSB/OCBC/UOB and SCB to top up a virtual cash card. When your card balance drops below $10, it is automatically topped up. You can only top up in intervals of $50, and a $0.50 transaction fee is charged per top ups except for UOB cards.

VCashCard says payment at carparks is “coming soon”

The advantage of EZ-Pay is the lack of a transaction fee. Every little bit, right?