|⚠️ Update: SCB has indeed removed applications for the Visa Infinite card from its website.|
This is interesting.
According to multiple sources, Standard Chartered will stop accepting new applications for the SCB Visa Infinite from 1 February 2020.
I’d been hearing rumours about this for a while, and my suspicions deepened in January when SingSaver, MoneySmart and GoBear all removed the SCB Visa Infinite from their offerings page.
I decided to try my luck by asking SCB customer service about SCB Visa Infinite applications, and was told the following:
I also reached out to my SCB RM and was told the same, so I’m 99% certain this is happening.
Both my RM and customer service mentioned that only the regular (brown) Visa Infinite will be discontinued; the Priority Banking (blue) version will continue.
As a reminder, here’s the main differences between the two cards:
Should I apply for an SCB Visa Infinite now?
Truth be told, the SCB Visa Infinite doesn’t have a lot going for it. Yes, the earn rates aren’t bad, if you know you’ll definitely spend more than S$2,000 per statement month, but the rest of the benefits are rather forgettable.
Cardholders only receive six complimentary lounge visits per membership year, and a free 4-hour yacht hire if they spend S$75,000 in a calendar year. Otherwise, there are no airport limo transfers, free hotel nights, dining memberships, or any of the other bells and whistles you’d expect from a card in its segment.
It says quite a bit about how out of ideas the bank was that they had to put “Instant Digital Credit Card” as one of the perks on the landing page…
That said, the SCB Visa Infinite does have one very good use case: buying miles.
In exchange for paying the first year’s S$588.50 annual fee, cardholders receive 35,000 miles. That’s 1.68 cents per mile, a good price in and of itself. This only works in the first year, however, as cardholders do not automatically receive any miles upon renewal from the second year onwards. Upon appeal, they usually get 20,000 miles, but that works out to an unappealing 2.9 cents per mile.
The other thing the SCB Visa Infinite has going for it is the ability to buy miles through its tax payment facility. Cardholders can pay taxes for a 1.6% fee, earning 1.4 miles per S$1 charged (assuming your total spend in that month is at least S$2K- fortunately, amounts charged to the tax payment facility count). This works out to 1.14 cents per mile, one of the cheapest ways of buying miles in Singapore.
So if you want a card that lets you buy miles on the cheap, by all means get the card before 1 February 2020 and hold it for a year. Otherwise, however, you’ll find that other premium credit cards offer much more compelling features.
What does this mean for the SCB X Card?
I find the potential demise of the SCB Visa Infinite to be a highly intriguing development, not because I feel particularly strongly about it, but because of what it could mean for the SCB X Card.
Now, we know the SCB X Card’s benefits aren’t anything to get excited about. Cardholders pay a S$695.50 annual fee, for which they get 30,000 miles, two lounge visits, and….that’s it. There isn’t even a sign up bonus anymore- that ended on 31 December 2019.
But hear me out here. Could it be that the bank felt constrained by the presence of the SCB Visa Infinite card?
Think about it: the SCB Visa Infinite had been on the market for more than 3 years at the time the SCB X Card launched. It would stand to reason that there’d be a good number of SCB Visa Infinite cardholders already, who’d be pretty ticked off if the “inferior” (in terms of income requirement) X Card offered better benefits.
If that’s true, then the SCB X Card couldn’t offer more than 1.4/3.0 mpd on local/overseas spend; and it couldn’t have more than six free lounge visits. It basically couldn’t have anything the SCB Visa Infinite didn’t have, and given how mediocre those benefits already were, it’s not surprising how underwhelming the eventual offering was.
The discontinuation of the SCB Visa Infinite would make the SCB X Card the bank’s top-tier offering. We already knew that despite the SCB Visa Infinite’s official S$150,000 income requirement, SCB was more than happy to offer it to those earning at least S$80,000, the same income as the SCB X Card. This suggests they see the target group as one and the same (so much for all that millennial branding, eh?), and my sense is we’ll see some higher-end perks popping up for the SCB X Card in the near future.
SCB must surely know that many X Card members won’t stick around for a second year if the benefits don’t improve substantially. Could the termination of the SCB Visa Infinite pave the way for that? I’d certainly hope so.
Watch this space.