The newly-launched DBS Vantage Card marks DBS’s entry into the $120K premium card segment. It comes with a S$588.50 annual fee, and while there’s certainly ways of recouping that value (and then some), you’ll want to think carefully before jumping onboard.
In this review we’ll go through all the key features of the DBS Vantage Card. For an idea of how it compares to its direct peers, be sure to read the 2022 Edition of the $120K Card Showdown.
|DBS Vantage Card|
|Strong earn rates and an Accor Plus membership are good reasons to get a DBS Vantage Card, though it’s not without its drawbacks.|
|👍 The good||👎 The bad|
|Full List of Credit Card Reviews|
Overview: DBS Vantage Card
Let’s start this review by looking at the key features of the DBS Vantage Card
|Income Req.||S$120,000 p.a.||Points Validity||3 years|
|Annual Fee||S$588.50||Min. |
|5,000 DBS Points|
|Miles with |
|FCY Fee||3.25%||Transfer Fee||S$26.75|
|Local Earn||1.5 mpd||Points Pool?||Yes|
|FCY Earn||2.2 mpd||Lounge Access?||Yes: 10x Priority Pass|
|Special Earn||4.0 mpd on dining & petrol (till 31 Dec 22)||Airport Limo?||No|
|Cardholder Terms and Conditions|
The DBS Vantage comes in metal cardstock, and weighs in at 10g. That makes it one of the lighter metal cards on the market, if that sort of thing is important to you.
The card is Paywave-equipped, and can also be added to Apple, Google or Samsung Pay.
How much must I earn to qualify for a DBS Vantage Card?
The DBS Vantage Card has a S$120,000 p.a. income requirement, and for the moment, it looks like DBS is applying this very strictly.
How strict? For starters, you won’t even be able to see the DBS Vantage Card on the DBS/POSB ibanking card application portal if your income records with DBS reflect earnings of less than S$120,000. In fact, this caused a lot of confusion during the launch week, so much so that DBS set up a dedicated landing page to address it.
You will need to update your income records with DBS before you can apply for the DBS Vantage Card. DBS/POSB customers can visit this link to update their income, which will take five working days to process.
Therefore, if you haven’t hit the magic S$120,000 figure yet, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about getting approved.
How much is the DBS Vantage Card’s annual fee?
|Principal Card||Supp. Card|
The DBS Vantage Card has an annual fee of S$588.50 for the principal cardholder, and no fee for supplementary cards.
The first year’s fee must be paid. Subsequent years’ fees can be waived if cardholders spend at least S$60,000 per membership year.
Paying the annual fee gets you 25,000 miles in return, which means buying miles at ~2.35 cents each. While that sounds much higher than what a mile should be worth, you need to factor in the other card benefits when coming to a decision.
|❓ What do I get if I qualify for a waiver?|
|If you qualify for a subsequent year fee waiver, you will not receive the 25,000 miles. However, you will still receive all the other benefits, including a renewal of Accor Plus membership and 10 more lounge visits.|
How many miles do I earn?
|🇸🇬 SGD Spending||🌎 FCY Spending||➕ Bonus Spending|
|1.5 mpd||2.2 mpd||4.0 mpd on dining & petrol until 31 Dec 22, capped at S$2K per calendar month|
From 28 June to 30 September 2022, new DBS Vantage cardholders who spend S$8,000 within 60 days of approval and pay the first year’s S$588.50 annual fee will receive the following:
|Pay S$588.50 annual fee||25,000 miles||25,000 miles|
|Spend S$8,000 within 60 days|
|Total||60,000 miles||40,000 miles|
|Must apply with promo code VANMILES|
|❓ “New” Definition|
|New cardmembers are defined as customers who are currently not holding on to any Principal DBS/POSB Credit Card and have not cancelled any Principal DBS/POSB Credit Card within the last 12 months.|
You must enter the promo code VANMILES when applying. No code, no bonus! The promo code field can be found towards the bottom of the application page, under the “DBS Marketing & Promotions Materials” section.
If you applied but forgot to enter the promo code, do give DBS customer service a call. There’s no guarantee it can be fixed, but anecdotally I’ve seen a few comments from people who managed to get it rectified.
The 25,000 miles for paying the S$588.50 annual fee will be awarded immediately (in the form of 12,500 DBS points) when the annual fee is charged. This happens at the time of card approval.
The 15,000/35,000 miles for the sign-up bonus will be credited within 120-150 days from the date of fulfilling the qualifying spend (in the form of 7,500/17,500 DBS points).
DBS Vantage Card cardholders earn 3.75 DBS Points for every S$5 spent in Singapore Dollars, and 5.5 DBS Points for every S$5 spent in foreign currency(FCY).
1 DBS point is worth 2 miles, so that’s an equivalent earn rate of 1.5 mpd for local spending, and 2.2 mpd for FCY spending.
This makes the DBS Vantage among the highest-earning cards in the $120K segment; the highest, if you consider the fact it has no minimum spend requirement.
|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)
All foreign currency transactions are subject to a 3.25% fee, so using your DBS Vantage Card overseas represents buying miles at 1.48 cents each (3.25%/2.2 mpd).
The DBS Vantage allows cardholders to switch between earning DBS Points or cashback, but I’m ignoring the latter because it values your miles at an awful 1 cent each. Seriously, there’s no need to ever dabble in that.
From now till 31 December 2022, DBS Vantage Card cardholders will earn an additional 6.25 DBS Points for every S$5 spent on local dining and petrol spend, or an additional 4.5 DBS Points for every S$5 spent on foreign currency dining and petrol spend.
This works out to an overall earn rate of 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.
When are DBS Points credited?
Base DBS Points (1.5 mpd for local spend, 2.2 mpd for FCY spend) are credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.
Bonus DBS Points (an additional 2.5 mpd for local spend on dining & petrol, or 1.8 mpd for FCY spend on dining & petrol) will be credited by the 11th of the following calendar month, or the next working day if the 11th is not a working day.
How are DBS Points calculated?
Some people get concerned when they read in the T&Cs that DBS Points are awarded in S$5 blocks. That’s understandable, given how OCBC and UOB’s S$5 earning blocks result in lost miles from rounding, especially for small transactions (spend S$4.99? No points for you!).
The good news is that DBS’s calculations aren’t nearly as punitive. Here’s how you can work out the DBS Points earned on your DBS Vantage Card.
|Local Spend||Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 3.75. Round down to the nearest whole number|
|FCY Spend||Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 5.5. Round down to the nearest whole number|
Notice how the transaction is not rounded down to the nearest S$5; instead, it’s divided by 5 straight away. This means the minimum spend to earn points is:
- S$1.34, if spending in SGD
- S$0.91, if spending in FCY
If you’re an excel geek, here’s the formulas you need to calculate:
|Local Spend||=ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*3.75,0)|
|FCY Spend||=ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*5.5,0)|
|Where X= Amount Spent|
For the full list of formulas that banks use to calculate credit card points, do refer to these articles:
What transactions aren’t eligible for DBS Points?
A full list of transactions that do not earn DBS Points can be found in the T&C.
I’ve highlighted a few noteworthy categories below:
- Amaze transactions
- Charitable donations
- Government institutions and services (court cases, fines, bail and bonds, tax payment, postal services, parking lots and garages)
- Top-ups of prepaid accounts e.g. GrabPay and YouTrip
- Utilities bills
For avoidance of doubt, CardUp and RentHero transactions are eligible to earn DBS Points.
What do I need to know about DBS Points?
|❌ Expiry||↔️ Pooling||✈️ Transfer Fee|
|3 years||Yes||S$26.75 per conversion|
DBS Points expiry can be a confusing matter, because different cards apply different policies. DBS Points earned on the DBS Vantage Card expire in 3 years. This is rather disappointing, since DBS Points earned on the entry-level DBS Altitude Card never expire.
DBS Points pool across cards for the purposes of redemption. If you have 10,000 DBS Points on the DBS Vantage Card and 5,000 DBS Points on the DBS Woman’s World Card, you can redeem 15,000 DBS Points at one shot and pay a single conversion fee.
However, DBS Points are not pooled when it comes to card cancellations. If I have a DBS Vantage Card and DBS Woman’s World Card and decide to cancel the former, I’ll need to transfer my points out before cancelling or forfeit them.
DBS partners with the following frequent flyer programmes.
|Frequent Flyer Programme||Conversion Ratio |
(DBS Points: Miles)
Transfers cost S$26.75 per programme, regardless of how many points are transferred.
Other card perks
10 free lounge visits
DBS Vantage Card cardholders are entitled to 10 free lounge visits per membership year, via Priority Pass. These lounge visits can be shared with guests; for example, the cardholder could bring his wife and two children and use four visits at one go.
Only the principal cardholder is entitled to this benefit. Once free visits are exhausted, you’ll be charged US$32 per additional visit.
10 passes may be more than sufficient for the casual traveller who doesn’t have kids, but everyone else may want to consider a $120K card that has unlimited lounge access.
|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|
DBS Vantage Card cardholders receive a complimentary Accor Plus Explorer membership with one complimentary hotel night each year. This membership will be automatically renewed each year you retain the card.
This normally 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.
The free hotel night can be redeemed at participating Accor properties across the Asia Pacific region, including the Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, Mondarin Seoul Itaewon, and Sofitel Darling Harbour Sydney. Sadly, Raffles Hotel is excluded!
DBS Vantage cardholders can enjoy “members-only discounts at over 80 of Singapore’s finest dining establishments”, through a partnership with DiningCity.
Discounts range from 15-50% off, though most of them are around the 15% mark. What’s more, the two restaurants which offering 50% off (Cali at Ascott Raffles Place and Park Avenue Rochester) can also be booked at 50% off through eatigo- no expensive credit card required.
Summary Review: DBS Vantage Card
The DBS Vantage Card packs the best earn rates of any card in its category, and its 60,000 miles sign-up bonus is particularly attractive for new-to-bank customers (though they’ll be kicking themselves for missing the 80,000 miles offer when the card first launched!).
An Accor Plus membership with up to 50% off dining and one free hotel night can help recoup a good chunk of the S$588.50 annual fee too, provided you redeem that night judiciously- no ibis hotels, please.
Key misses are the lack of airport limo transfers, complimentary travel insurance, or unlimited lounge access. DiningCity discounts also look underwhelming, and certainly not a competitor to AMEX Love Dining. And it’s annoying that DBS couldn’t give evergreen points on this card, although truth be told, you should be clearing out your points every three years to avoid the inevitable devaluations.
So that’s my review of the DBS Vantage Card. What do you think?
|An essential card for miles chasers, with few viable alternatives|
|A very good card, although other equally good alternatives may exist|
|A decent card to round out your collection, but not absolutely essential|
|Very limited use cases, and outperformed by most other cards|
|Paperweight. Use for picking teeth or ninja stars|