I don’t normally pay attention to cards issued by banks other than DBS/UOB/Citibank (because these 3 banks have consistently provided the best miles earning cards in Singapore), but Daniel brought my attention to the revised Standard Chartered Visa Infinite sign up offer and I think it presents an interesting opportunity to buy miles cheap.
The SC Visa Infinite (S$30,000 income requirement (!) if you’re a priority/private banking customer, S$150,000 if not) has an a choice of 2 welcome gifts in exchange for a S$588.50 annual fee
- 35,000 miles
- 25,000 miles plus S$100 Uber Credit
Sidetrack: Standard Chartered keeps advertising the annual fee as S$550 (excluding GST). Someone needs to write to Standard Chartered and inform them that it’s in violation of the GST Act not to display GST-inclusive prices. Maybe it’s because I’m an accountancy grad, but nothing annoys me more than when I see places that don’t quote GST-inclusive prices. I’ve even written in to IRAS on more than one occasion to report errant merchants (looking at you, Fullerton Healthcare)
If you opt for (1), you are essentially buying miles at 1.68 cents each. This is one of the lowest rates I’ve ever seen for sign up/renewal bonuses. For comparison-
|ANZ Travel Card||$200||10,000||2.00|
|OCBC Voyage (snigger)||$488 / $3,210||15,000 (Voyage) / 150,000 (Krisflyer)*||3.25/2.14|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||$488||30,000||1.62|
*I was not aware of this new 150,000 offer. $3,210 is a lot to pay but if you already have a redemption in mind you could get a round trip business saver ticket to New York (good luck clearing the waitlist though) at about half the revenue cost (~$8K) once fuel surcharges are taken into account
What is the value of a mile? Depends on what you spend it on. I’d say that buying Krisflyer miles at or below 2 cents per mile is generally worth it if you intend to redeem for First/Business class travel, as you’ll reliably get 4-8 cents of value doing so. So if you already have a redemption in mind (and confirmed saver space is available), this may be an option for you.
The alternative offer (25,000 miles + S$100 Uber credit) is interesting because it might provide a proxy to how Standard Chartered values miles internally. 10,000 miles for S$100 implies that Standard Chartered is getting these miles for at most 1 cent each (possibly even less, if Uber is giving them some sort of discount on the credit). I’d happily buy miles at 1 cent each!
The earning rate of regular Standard Chartered cards is anemic to say the least. S$1 of local or foreign spend yields 1 mile. However, the SC Visa Infinite gives an additional bonus if at least S$2,000 is spent each month that brings the rate to
- 1.4 (1 base + 0.4 bonus) miles per S$1 of local spend
- 3 (1 base + 2.0 bonus) miles per S$1 of overseas spend
The 1.4 miles rate is on par with other cards like the ANZ Travel and UOB PRVI, neither of which requires any minimum spend. Therefore that can’t be seen as a real perk. 3 miles on overseas spend is decent, but still inferior to the UOB Visa Signature (4 miles per S$1 on overseas spend, subject to min S$1,000 spend per month and capped at S$2,000 spend per month)
The poor earning rates are another reason why you should view this card as simply a tool to buy miles- get the miles, dump the card.
A lot of the perks that SC lists here aren’t really SC Visa Infinite unique, they’re available to anyone holding a Visa Infinite card (and therefore if it’s these perks you’re after you might be better off getting the no-fee CIMB Visa Infinite card)
There are some unique ones though
- Instead of free airport transfers, SC offers 10% rebates on Uber, capped at S$400 each year. For comparison, UOB PRVI offers 2 limo transfers a quarter valued at $45 each, which is a $360 annual value. I don’t know why, but even though I take Uber a lot I’d still prefer an airport transfer…
- Priority pass with 6 complimentary visits (versus 2 for DBS Altitude, 3 for CIMB Visa Infinite, unlimited for ANZ Travel, unlimited for Citi Prestige)
- Access to the fitness centre at Fullerton Spa twice a month. I believe HSBC Visa Infinite has something similar with ESPA
I think the main problem with this card is that it doesn’t offer good stacking opportunities. Apart from the Visa Infinite, SC doesn’t really have any other persuasive rewards/miles cards. Compare this to UOB (PRVI, Pref Plat AMEX, Pref Plat Visa, Visa Signature) or DBS (Altitude, Woman’s) where you can pool your points together by carefully deciding which card to use when.
If your goal is to buy miles at 1.7 cents each, dump them out and move on, this card may be right for you. But it definitely shouldn’t be your day to day spending card.
Anyone going to jump on this? You can sign up via this link (I earn a referral fee)