|Update: SCB will be ending the 100,000 miles sign up bonus early. All X Card applicants who apply by 31 July 2019 and get approved by 31 August 2019 will still be eligible. After that, the bonus will become 60,000 miles.|
Standard Chartered has opened applications for the X Card, which offers an unprecedented 100,000 miles sign up bonus.
I’ve written a full review on the X Card here, but the tl;dr version is that although the card is absolutely worth getting for the sign up bonus alone, its other features are underwhelming compared to competitors.
For example, the X Card earns 1.2/2.0 mpd on local/foreign currency transactions (with an FCY fee of 3.5%, the highest in the market), and comes with only two complimentary lounge visits a year. This is well below what other cards with similar annual fees offer (although, to be fair, those cards don’t have a 100,000 miles sign up bonus), and therefore, there currently exists very little incentive to keep the X Card beyond the first year.
Since the 100,000 miles sign up bonus is the main draw of the X Card, it’s crucial that we properly understand how this works- in particular, what type of transactions do and do not count towards the $6,000 spending requirement.
|A quick recap of the 100K sign up bonus requirements|
If you qualify, you’ll receive 100,000 miles in two tranches:
Full T&Cs can be found here.
Let’s focus specifically on the S$6,000 spending requirement, which must be incurred on eligible retail transactions. These transactions
- must have a transaction date falling in the first 60 days from card approval date
- must be successfully posted to the X Card account within the first 60 days from card approval date
- after posted, cannot be reversed on or before the first 60 days from card approval date
It’s crucial to note the distinction between transaction date and posting date. I may make a purchase at Merchant X today, but the transaction may only post to my credit card account two days later.
In the case of the X Card, you do not want to leave your spending till the last minute! Most transactions will post within 1-3 days, but when so many miles are on the line, you shouldn’t take chances.
What counts towards the S$6,000 spending?
Standard Chartered provides an extensive list in point 57 of the T&Cs describing what does and does not count towards the S$6,000 spending threshold.
|(a) Insurance premiums, including premiums for investment-linked policies, charged to the X Card;|
(b) Bill payments (Examples of bill payment merchants include but are not limited to Telecommunications and utilities providers such as Starhub, Singtel and M1, Singapore Power);
(c) Any payment via AXS network;
(d) Any payment via SAM network;
(e) Any bill payment made using SC EasyBill programme;
(f) Payments to government agencies which include but is not limited to Land Transport Authority, Housing Development Board, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Public Utilities Board, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority and the Ministry of Manpower;
(g) Income tax payments;
(h) Tax refunds credited to the X Card;
(i) EZ-Link cards transactions;
(j) CardUp transactions
(k) ipaymy transactions;
(l) RentHero transactions;
(m) Transit Link transactions;
(n) Any top-ups or payment of funds to any prepaid cards (with exception of EZ-Reload charged to your X Card) and any prepaid accounts, payment platforms, digital wallets including but not limited to Grab, Singtel, Dash, WorldRemit Singapore, YouTrip or any other accounts as the Bank may specific from time to time, including without limitation to
the following accounts or any other accounts as we may specific from time to time
(o) Any transactions pertaining to Merchant Category Codes 6211 (Security Brokers/Dealers), 7995 (Gambling/Lotto), 4829, 6536, 6537, 6538 (Money Transfer) and 6050, 6051 (cryptocurrency/Quasi Cash);
(p) Credit Card Funds Transfers to the X Card, cash advances from the X Card, purchases via NETS and ongoing instalment payments;
(q) Any fees and charges (including but not limited to annual fees, service fees, interest charges, cheque processing fees, administrative fees, cash advance fees, finance charges and/or late payment charges and other miscellaneous fees and charges) charged to the X Card;
(r) Any amount charged to the X Card during the Promotion Period that is subsequently cancelled, voided or reversed;
(s) Any charges incurred by the X Card but not submitted or posted to the X Card during the X Card Sign Up Promotion Period;
(t) Any fraudulent transaction; and
(u) Balance owing on the X Card account from other months
As far as lists go, that’s pretty extensive. I’m not going to go through every item, because some are self-explanatory (e.g. fraudulent transactions, amounts that are cancelled/reserved), but here’s my take on what you should look out for.
Banks have drastically different policies when it comes to paying insurance premiums with credit cards.
Some (e.g. HSBC Revolution) explicitly award points for paying insurance premiums. Others (e.g. Citi Prestige & PayAll) will only award points when you pay through the bank’s dedicated bill payment platform. Still others (e.g. DBS Altitude) don’t award any points for insurance, period.
Standard Chartered has excluded all insurance payments from the S$6,000 spending requirement. Given that CardUp etc. are also excluded, there seems to be little way of getting around this. At most, you can purchase motor, pet or travel insurance via PolicyPal, which still codes as 5734, i.e. software as a service. PolicyPal does not currently support the payment of life insurance premiums.
Bill payments including telecoms and utilities
When Citi ran its incredible 8 mpd Apple Pay promotion last year, one tactic to rack up the spending was to overpay your phone bill at a SingTel Kiosk which accepted contactless payments. That won’t be possible here, sadly, as the T&C exclude payments to Starhub, SingTel and M1 (it’s safe to say that VMNOs like Circles.Life will also be excluded).
No joy for paying your power bills either, as this category is also excluded. This would presumably cover all third party electricity suppliers on the OEM too.
Payment via AXS and SAM
Any transactions made through AXS or SAM stations will not count towards the S$6,000 spending. This includes both the physical stations as well as the virtual AXS e-station. In any case, only Mastercard payments are accepted at AXS, and the X Card is a Visa Infinite, so it wouldn’t work.
SC EasyBill payments
Back in June, SCB launched EasyBill, its competitive response to Citi’s PayAll service. This allowed you to pay income taxes, rent, education, and insurance bills with your SCB credit cards, earning points for a 2% fee.
It’s interesting that SCB has opted to exclude SC EasyBill payments from the S$6,000 spending requirement, because this could have been the shot in the arm the service needed to gain traction. After all, most people are liable to set up recurring payments and forget about them, so there’d potentially still be traction after the 60 days period. Moreover, SCB has already excluded CardUp, ipaymy and RentHero (see below), so that could further nudge people towards EasyBill adoption.
Payments to Government agencies
An unsurprising, but extensive exclusion category. This covers the usual suspects, such as the LTA, HDB, IRAS, PUB, ICA, MOM, and many more acronyms that I can’t even remember. Basically, as long as you see a “.gov” in the URL, you should consider it off-limits.
When UOB decided to exclude government agencies from earning points, they provided the following specific MCCs: 9211, 9222, 9223, 9311, 9402, 9405, 9399. I think it’s safe to assume the same exclusions apply here. You can consider the following non-Kosher too:
- People’s Association & Community Centres
- Town Councils
- Government Hospitals & Polyclinics
- Public recreation such as National Library Board, Singapore Sport Council, Swimming Complexes, NParks, SAFRA
- Postal services such as SingPost, VPOST
- LTA eServices
Private doctors and dentists (e.g Q&M, Nam Seng dental) should not have any issues, but I’d be very careful with hospitals. Although wholly-private facilities like Raffles Medical should be fine, I have absolutely no idea whether restructured hospitals are excluded.
A brief search on the HWZ Credit Card spreadsheet suggests that Farrer Park Hospital, Gleneagles, Khoo Teck Puat, KK Hospital, NUH, Sengkang General and Ng Teng Fong all code as 8062, which would make them eligible, but don’t quote me on that.
Some people have asked if Parking.sg is excluded. Surprisingly, despite its GovTech roots, the MCC of Parking.sg is 7523. This suggests its ok, but in any case no one is going to reach S$6,000 of spending on parking alone.
CardUp, ipaymy, RentHero
No love for any of the three major bill payment services, as all are excluded from the S$6,000 spending requirement. Do note that all three services still earn base points on SCB cards; the X Card team has simply decided to exclude these for the purposes of computing the S$6,000 spend.
This is no doubt disappointing as it would have been the easiest way of hitting the spending requirement. From what I know, all three pay perfectly healthy MDRs to the banks, so this exclusion is probably more to do with discretionary vs non-discretionary spending rather than profitability per se.
I’d be fine with these three being excluded if SCB didn’t also exclude EasyBill transactions (see above), but these don’t count either. This was a prime opportunity for SCB to incentivize adoption of EasyBill, so it’s a shame they’ve not taken it.
Top ups to prepaid cards and accounts
With the exception of EZ-reload transactions charged to the X Card, any top-ups to prepaid accounts or digital wallets will not count towards the S$6,000 spending requirement. SingTel Dash, Grab and YouTrip are listed explicitly, but I would assume there are other exclusions too.
The exclusion of Grab is perhaps unsurprising, given the increased ubiquity of GrabPay acceptance. This does not mean that Grab rides are excluded from eligible transactions; Grab wallet topups code as GPAY Network (S) Pte Lt, while Grab rides code as GrabTaxi Pte Ltd. The latter should be safe; the former, not.
I know that the MCC of FavePay transactions depends on the underlying merchant, so my guess is it won’t fall afoul of this restriction. Remember- FavePay is not like GrabPay, in that the latter is a prepaid wallet, and the former is more of a payment facilitator. With FavePay, your card is charged at the moment of transaction; with GrabPay, you’re using credits you purchased earlier on your card.
Other grey areas
Donations are a commonly excluded category from earning points, but they’re notably absent from the X Card’s exclusion list. I can’t say if that’s oversight or design, but I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable relying on this to hit my S$6,000.
Payments to educational institutions are not excluded, and indeed, the SCB Visa Infinite regularly awards base points for these transactions. This is provided the institution is not run by the government- so Learning Lab, private higher education institutions and the like should be fine.
|Edit: The updated T&Cs have excluded education payments. Make these at your own risk now|
PayPal shouldn’t be a grey area, given that it’s a perfectly legitimate way of paying for retail purchases, but unfortunately given recent developments like Citi’s initial attempt to exclude it altogether (which it backed down from), people are understandably jittery.
I wouldn’t risk it with payments to personal PayPal accounts, or to any PayPal account associated with an excluded MCC (e.g. investment services, forex trading). However, I see no issue with using the X Card to make retail purchases on sites like Singapore Airlines, Airbnb, eBay, Skype etc., although these all accept regular cards anyway so there’s really no reason to use PayPal.
It should be fine to use PayPal on the websites of SMEs which don’t accept credit cards, but you do want to make sure that they’re Business accounts and not personal ones (e.g. some blogshop owners may be using personal PayPal accounts for simplicity).
Note: Those thinking of spending on PayPal should have a read of Hans’ comment below and decide if they’re willing to take the risk
Summing it up
Here’s my personal take of what I’m comfortable/not comfortable considering as part of the S$6,000 spending requirement. I’m going to caveat everything below by saying I’m not SCB, nor have I spoken to anyone at SCB regarding this. Therefore, there is no guarantee that things will play out as described below, so take it with an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sized liberal pinch of salt.
|Comfortable||On the fence||Not comfortable|
|Private hospitals/ clinics/ dentists||Restructured hospitals||Donations|
|FavePay, Liquidpay and other “charged at payment” platforms||SimplyGo||Personal PayPal accounts|
|Grab rides||Business PayPal accounts (see reports in comments)||Any mobile wallet where you buy credits before paying|
|Stripe transactions||Education/ tuition fees (perhaps ok for private, not ok for public)|
|NTUC vouchers, IKEA gift cards, Cold Storage vouchers, Qoo10 gift cards|
Those of you planning big ticket purchases such as weddings, hotel banquets, overseas vacations or housing renovations should rest easy- there’s no way those won’t count.
Otherwise, if you’re planning to contact customer service to confirm the eligibility of specific merchants, I’d strongly urge you to get everything in writing. There is precious little point in winding up in a “he said she said” situation when your bonus doesn’t credit.