After a pre-launch period with more leaks than the RMS Titanic, the DBS Vantage has finally made its debut.
This marks DBS’s first foray into the $120K segment, and the good news is that it’s an altogether better product than the leaked version we saw in February. That doesn’t mean the DBS Vantage is suddenly king of the market, but at least it’s not dead-on-arrival like the previous iteration would have been.
Compared to the leaked version, DBS has:
- Reduced the annual fee from S$736 to S$588.50
- Added airport lounge access with 10 complimentary visits
- Added 4 mpd on dining and petrol
- Removed the tiered miles earning system in favour of 1.5/2.2 mpd on all local/foreign currency transactions
- Retained the Accor Plus Explorer membership with one free hotel night
- Tacked on a sign up bonus of up to 80,000 miles (only for applications by 27 June with the code VTMILES)
I’ll be doing a full review in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, here’s what DBS Vantage cardholders can expect.
Overview: DBS Vantage
|Sign-Up Bonus T&Cs|
|Income Req.||Annual Fee||FCY Fee|
|Regular Earn||Bonus Earn||Miles with AF|
|1.5 mpd (SGD)|
2.2 mpd (FCY)
|4 mpd on dining & petrol|
(cap at S$2K per c. month)
The DBS Vantage comes in metal cardstock, with a minimum income requirement of S$120,000 p.a. and an annual fee of S$588.50.
The first year annual fee must be paid. Subsequent years’ can be waived if cardholders spend at least S$60,000 per membership year.
No annual fee applies for supplementary cards.
Welcome miles and sign-up bonus
DBS Vantage cardholders receive 25,000 miles (in the form of 12,500 DBS Points) upon paying the annual fee each year.
This puts the it roughly in the middle of the $120K pack in terms of the cost per mile, though obviously there’s much more to benefits than just miles alone.
|SCB VI||S$588.50||35K miles|
(1st yr. only)
(HSBC Premier: S$488)
(1st yr. only)
(HSBC Premier: 1.39)
|Citi Prestige||S$535||25K miles||2.14|
|DBS Vantage||S$588.50||25K miles||2.35|
|UOB VI Metal Card||S$642||25K miles||2.57|
|OCBC VOYAGE||S$488*||15K miles||3.25|
(1st yr. free)
|AMEX Plat. Reserve||S$535||None||N/A|
|*Alternative option: Pay S$3,210 for 150,000 miles|
On top of this, customers who apply with the promo code VTMILES by 27 June 2022 (with approval by 11 July 2022) and spend S$8,000 within 60 days of approval will receive further bonus miles as follows:
- New-to-bank customers: 55,000 miles
- Existing customer: 35,000 miles
New-to-bank customers are defined as those who do not currently hold any principal DBS/POSB credit cards, and have not cancelled any in the past 12 months. The bonus will be credited within 60-80 days from the date of fulfilling the qualifying spend.
This is a very decent sign-up bonus, all things considered. A new-to-bank cardholder who pays the annual fee and spends S$8,000 in local currency would be looking at 92,000 miles in total, split into:
- 25,000 welcome miles
- 55,000 sign-up bonus miles
- 12,000 base miles (S$8,000 @ 1.5 mpd)
The only catch is the short timeframe to apply (by 27 June), which is clearly a FOMO tactic- though frankly speaking, I’d rather take a short timeframe than a “first X” style offer.
The full T&Cs of the sign-up bonus can be found here. For a full rundown on how to maximise this, refer to the article below.
DBS Vantage cardholders earn 1.5 mpd on all local spend, and 2.2 mpd on all foreign currency spend. No minimum spend nor caps apply to these rates.
This is very competitive for a $120K card, with only the SCB Visa Infinite performing better- and even that requires a minimum spend of S$2,000 per statement month.
|SCB VI||Up to 1.4 mpd*||Up to 3 mpd*|
|DBS Vantage||1.5 mpd||2.2 mpd|
|OCBC VOYAGE||1.3 mpd||2.2 mpd|
|HSBC VI||Up to 1.25 mpd^||Up to 2.25 mpd^|
|UOB VI Metal Card||1.4 mpd||2 mpd|
|Citi Prestige||1.3 mpd||2 mpd|
|Maybank VI||1.2 mpd||2 mpd|
|AMEX Plat. Reserve||0.69 mpd||0.69 mpd|
|*Min. S$2,000 spend per statement month, otherwise 1 mpd for both SGD and FCY|
^Min S$50,000 spend in the previous membership year, otherwise 1 mpd (SGD) and 2 mpd (FCY)
It gets even better when you consider the tactical promotion that DBS is running till 31 December 2022, which offers 4 mpd on local and overseas dining and petrol capped at S$2,000 per calendar month.
|🍽️ Dining||⛽ Petrol|
Do note the exclusion of MCC 5814 (Fast Food), so this isn’t the card to use if the KFC craving hits. MCC 5462 (Bakeries) and MCC 5451 (Dairy Products Stores) are also excluded, so you’ll need to be careful if you’re grabbing a bite at a place that doesn’t have a waiter.
Out of the 4 mpd:
- 1.5 mpd (SGD) or 2.2 mpd (FCY) will be awarded upfront when the transaction posts
- The remaining 2.5 mpd (SGD) or 1.8 mpd (FCY) will be awarded by the 11th of the following calendar month, or the next working day if the 11th is not a working day.
Points expiry & transfer partners
DBS Vantage points expire after three years from date of accrual.
It’s slightly annoying that DBS has decided against giving the DBS Vantage non-expiring points, since even holders of the entry-level DBS Altitude don’t need to worry about expiry!
As a reminder, DBS points can be transferred to the following partners with a S$26.75 admin fee. This fee is not waived for DBS Vantage cardholders.
|Frequent Flyer Programme||Conversion Ratio |
(DBS Points: Miles)
DBS Vantage cardholders receive 10 complimentary lounge visits per membership year. While it would have been nice to have unlimited visits, 10 passes will likely be more than sufficient for the casual traveller who doesn’t have kids.
That said, it’s decidedly average compared to other $120K cards.
|Card||Lounge Network||Free Visits|
|Citi Prestige||Priority Pass||∞ + 1 guest||N/A|
|OCBC VOYAGE||Plaza Premium||∞||∞|
|Maybank VI||Priority Pass||∞||N/A|
|DBS Vantage||Priority Pass||10||N/A|
|SCB VI||Priority Pass||6||N/A|
|UOB VI Metal Card||Dragon Pass||4||N/A|
|AMEX Plat. Reserve||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Accor Plus membership
DBS Vantage cardholders receive a complimentary Accor Plus Explorer membership with one complimentary hotel night each year.
This retails for S$408, and includes benefits such as:
- Up to 50% off dining at participating Accor hotels across Asia Pacific
- 15% off drinks bill in Asia
- 10% off the best available public rate
- Access to Red Hot Room sales with up to 50% off
- Accor Live Limitless Silver status
The full list of benefits can be found below.
It’s a solid benefit for sure, though it’d be good to remember that applicants for the UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card can opt for an Accor Plus membership with 2-3 complimentary nights as their welcome gift. However, they must forgo the 25,000 welcome miles for that, whereas DBS Vantage offers 25,000 miles and Accor Plus with one complimentary night.
DBS Vantage cardholders can enjoy “members-only discounts at over 80 of Singapore’s finest dining establishments”. This is administered through a partnership with Dining City.
The discounts are mostly 15% off, which means this isn’t anything life-changing.
Is it worth it?
Here’s a rough valuation of the benefits of the DBS Vantage:
|55,000 miles |
(sign-up bonus; first year only)
|Accor Plus Explorer||S$408|
|10 lounge visits||US$299|
|Dining City discounts||S$100|
Now, we can have endless debates about the figures above, like why 10 lounge visits should be worth US$299 (a proxy figure based on the Priority Pass Standard Plus membership; but really depends on whether you’d be willing to pay US$29.90 per lounge visit), or why 1 mile should be worth 1.5 cents (see this article for more details). In the case of dining discounts, I’ve just used S$100 as a placeholder figure, and that’s completely arbitrary.
All this to say you can definitely cover the S$588.50 annual fee, but it boils down to how you value things. If you were already planning to buy an Accor Plus Explorer and Priority Pass Standard Plus membership, then it’d be cheaper to get a DBS Vantage than signing up for each of them individually. The 25,000 miles welcome gift and sign up bonus is just the icing on the cake in that case.
That’s a big if, however, so you’ll need to look at your own travel and lifestyle patterns to see if the DBS Vantage fits.
I’m personally not in the market for a $120K card since my AMEX Platinum Charge eats up my entire annual fee budget while covering much of what the DBS Vantage has to offer.
However, my overall take is that the Vantage is at the very least competitive, thanks to its earn rates, sign-up bonus and Accor Plus membership.
There are certainly things it could have done better: non-expiring points is such a low hanging fruit I’m shocked they didn’t take it, and capping lounge visits at 10 will likely be insufficient for road warriors or those who travel with family in tow.
Will it convince Citi Prestige or OCBC VOYAGE members to switch en masse? I have my doubts, but we’ll need to see. One thing’s for sure: this year’s $120K card showdown just got a whole lot more interesting.
Will you be getting a DBS Vantage?