Here’s a thought experiment.
You’re walking down the street when someone comes up to you and says “hey buddy, I’ll sell you 30,000 miles for 700 bucks, whaddya say?”
You pause and do some mental sums. That’s more than 2.3 cents per mile. Given what you know about the landscape for buying miles in Singapore, it’s a poor deal. You politely decline and walk away.
“Come on guy, I’ll sweeten the deal,” he says. “Two free lounge visits every year!”
You scoff because you know you can get that with free cards like the DBS Altitude or the Citi PremierMiles Visa. You start walking faster.
“Fullerton dining benefits! Complimentary travel insurance! Redeem your miles for statement credit at 1 cent each!” he shouts after you.
You disappear around the corner, just as he says, almost pleadingly, “Instant digital card?”
No more sign up bonus on the SCB X Card
Now here’s something that’s not so hypothetical.
Until 31 December 2019, the SCB X Card offered 30,000 miles upon paying the S$695.50 annual fee, and a further 30,000 miles upon spending S$6,000 in 60 days.
Effective 1 January 2020, the sign up bonus is gone. Cardholders will simply receive 30,000 miles for paying the annual fee.
|Nomenclature clarification: I consider a sign up bonus to be “spend $X in Y days to get Z miles”. If the card gives you miles upon the payment of the annual fee, that’s a welcome/renewal gift, not a sign up bonus.|
The landing page has been updated to reflect this change.
In other words, your S$695.50 annual fee now gets you:
- 30,000 miles
- 2 lounge visits
And that’s it. Yes, there’s complimentary travel insurance and hotel dining benefits, but these are things you could get from many other credit cards at much lower price points (e.g Love Dining with the basic AMEX Platinum).
Although the previous 60,000 miles sign up offer was nowhere as good as the 100,000 miles launch promotion, I could still justify getting the X Card if I were going to spend S$6,000 anyway. With the S$695.50 annual fee, I’d be paying 1.16 cents per mile- a pretty decent price.
But without the sign up bonus, there’s really no reason to have it. The SCB X Card’s earn rate of 1.2/2.0 mpd on local/overseas spending is easily outdone by other entry-level cards like the BOC Elite Miles (1.5/3.0) and the UOB PRVI Miles (1.4/2.4).
Come to think of it, without the sign up bonus the SCB X Card is basically a Citi PremierMiles Visa or DBS Altitude Visa, only that you pay ~S$500 more for 20,000 additional miles.
|Earn Rates (Local/FCY)||Lounge Visits||Annual Fee||Miles with AF|
|SCB X Card||1.2/2.0||2||S$695.50||30,000|
|Citi PremierMiles Visa||1.2/2.0||2||S$192.60||10,000|
|DBS Altitude Visa||1.2/2.0||2||S$192.60||10,000|
Keep in mind, the SCB X Card has a 3.5% FCY fee, so it’s slightly more expensive to use overseas than the Citi PremierMiles & DBS Altitude (3.25%).
Are there uses for the SCB X Card?
Well, if you really, really wanted to earn some exotic airline currencies, then the X Card at least offers some programs that no other bank has, like United MileagePlus, Lufthansa Miles&More and Le Club Accor.
The problem is, the transfer ratios are extremely unfavorable. The annual fee’s 30,000 miles and the 1.2/2.0 mpd earn rates only apply if you pick Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or certain other programs; otherwise, it’s much lower.
Here’s the full listing of the SCB X Card’s hotel and airline transfer partners:
|Loyalty Program||Conversion Ratio||Value of “30,000” miles||Local Earn Rate||FCY Earn Rate|
You can view a summary of bank transfer partners here.
Of course, the X Card’s utility as a paperweight only applies if you have the metal version. As it stands, new cardholders are still receiving plastic cards while SCB sorts out its metal cardstock shortage.
For a product that started so brightly, the SCB X Card has certainly lost its way. The only thing it had going for it was its sign up bonus, and now that it’s gone, who’s going to shell out ~S$700 for a very dubious return?
With the first batch of renewals coming in just over 6 months time, the X Card team has a big job on their hands if they want to retain customers. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for good news soon.
If not, a lot of people will be sporting new paperweights come July.
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