Here’s The MileLion’s review of the DBS Altitude Card, which in many ways is a prime example of the democratisation of miles cards in Singapore.
When the DBS Altitude launched in 2007, its lofty income requirement of S$80,000 per year put it beyond the reach of most fresh graduates. But the requirement was eventually pared down to S$50,000, and then in 2016, DBS became the first bank in Singapore to offer a miles card at S$30,000 (the MAS-mandated minimum). At the time, the UOB PRVI Miles required S$80,000 and the Citi PremierMiles S$50,000!
So is it the miles card for the everyman? Let’s find out.
|🦁 MileLion Verdict|
|☐ Take It|
☑ Take It Or Leave It
☐ Leave It
|The DBS Altitude may not have the highest earn rates, but lounge access, non-expiring points and bonuses on flights & hotels make it a decent starter card.|
|👍 The good||👎 The bad|
|💳 Full List of Credit Card Reviews|
Overview: DBS Altitude Card
Let’s start this review by looking at the key features of the DBS Altitude Card:
|Income Req.||S$30,000 p.a.||Points Validity||No Expiry|
(First Year Free)
|5,000 DBS Points|
|Miles with |
|FCY Fee||3% (AMEX)|
|Local Earn||1.2 mpd||Points Pool?||Yes|
|FCY Earn||2 mpd||Lounge Access?||Yes |
|Special Earn||3 mpd on online flight and hotels, 6 mpd on Expedia, 10 mpd on Kaligo||Airport Limo?||No|
|Cardholder Terms and Conditions|
The DBS Altitude comes in two varieties: American Express, and Visa. The fees, earn rates and benefits of the two are largely similar, though I’ll draw attention to the differences where relevant.
How much must I earn to qualify for a DBS Altitude Card?
The DBS Altitude has an income requirement of S$30,000 per year.
If you don’t meet the minimum income requirement, you can place a S$10,000 fixed deposit with DBS and get a secured version of the card. Visit any DBS branch for further information.
How much is the DBS Altitude Card’s annual fee?
|Principal Card||Supp. Card|
The DBS Altitude Card has an annual fee of S$194.40 for the principal cardholder, and a S$97.20 fee per supplementary card.
The first year’s fee is waived, and subsequent year’s fees are automatically waived if you spend at least S$25,000 in a membership year (based on personal experience, you can get a fee waiver even if you spend much less than this).
Otherwise, paying the principal card’s annual fee nets you 10,000 miles, which means buying miles at ~1.93 cents each.
How many miles do I earn?
|🇸🇬 SGD Spend||🌎 FCY Spend||➕ Bonus Spend|
|1.2 mpd||2 mpd||3 mpd on online flight and hotel bookings, 6 mpd on Expedia, 10 mpd on Kaligo|
DBS Altitude Card members earn 3 DBS Points for every S$5 spent in Singapore Dollars, and 5 DBS Points for every S$5 spent in foreign currency (FCY).
1 DBS Point is worth 2 airline miles, so that’s an equivalent earn rate of 1.2 mpd for local spending, and 2.0 mpd for FCY spending. These may not be the highest miles earning rates on the market, but they’re competitive enough.
|Cards||Local MPD||FCY MPD|
|UOB PRVI Miles||1.4||2.4|
|OCBC 90°N Mastercard||1.2||2.1|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend||1.2||2.0*|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card||1.1||2.0*|
|OCBC 90°N Visa||1.0||2.0|
|BOC Elite Miles||1.0||2.0|
|KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card||1.2||1.2|
|*June and Dec only, otherwise 1.1 mpd|
All overseas transactions on the DBS Altitude AMEX and Visa Cards are subject to a 3% and 3.25% FCY fee respectively. This means that using your DBS Altitude Card overseas represents buying miles at 1.5 cents (AMEX) and 1.63 cents (Visa).
DBS Altitude Card members will earn additional DBS points for online flight and hotel transactions as follows:
- An additional 4.5 DBS Points for every S$5 of local spend (i.e. 1.8 mpd)
- An additional 2.5 DBS Points for every S$5 of FCY spend (i.e. 1 mpd)
In other words, you’ll earn a total of 3 mpd for online flight and hotel transactions, regardless of currency. This bonus rate is capped at S$5,000 per calendar month; any expenditure beyond this will be rewarded at the regular earn rate.
This makes the DBS Altitude Card a good candidate for all your flight ticket purchases (although you could use the DBS Woman’s World Card to earn 4 mpd instead), or to pay for taxes and surcharges on Singapore Airlines award tickets (but make sure to do it over the website, because entering your card details via the IVR phone system doesn’t count as an online transaction).
While almost every air ticket will be paid for online, you need to be careful with hotels. Entering your credit card number to guarantee your booking is not the same as paying with your card! If your card is subsequently swiped again at check-out to settle the amount outstanding, you won’t earn the 3 mpd rate. Therefore, it’s best to look for rates that are fully prepaid at the time of booking.
For bookings made through this Expedia link, DBS Altitude Card members will earn 6 mpd with selected hotels or the following airlines:
This applies to bookings made by 31 March 2023, and capped at S$5,000 per month.
The full T&C of this offer can be found here.
For bookings made through Kaligo, DBS Altitude Card members will earn an additional 7 mpd on hotel reservations made by 31 December 2022. This works out to a total of 10 mpd (assuming all transactions are in foreign currency), and is capped at S$5,000 per month.
The full T&C of this offer can be found here.
When are DBS Points credited?
DBS Points for local and overseas spending will be credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.
The additional DBS Points for airline and hotel spending (i.e. 4.5 DBS Points per S$5 for local spend, 2.5 DBS Points per S$5 for FCY spend) will be credited on the 16th day of the next calendar month. If the 16th is not a working day, points will be awarded on the next working day.
How are DBS Points calculated?
Some people get anxious when they read in the T&Cs that DBS Points are awarded in S$5 blocks. That’s understandable, given how UOB’s S$5 earning blocks result in a lot of lost miles from rounding, especially for small transactions.
But DBS’s calculations aren’t nearly as penalising. Here’s how DBS points on your DBS Altitude Card are calculated:
|Local Spend||Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 3. Round down to the nearest whole number|
|FCY Spend||Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 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$1.67, not S$5 as some may think (if you spend in FCY, the minimum spend is the equivalent of S$1).
To illustrate the point, here’s how the DBS Altitude compares to the UOB PRVI Miles. Note how it outperforms the ostensibly higher-earning PRVI Miles (1.4 mpd) on certain transaction sizes.
Earn rate: 1.2 mpd
|UOB PRVI Miles|
Earn rate: 1.4 mpd
|S$5||6 miles||6 miles|
|S$9.99||10 miles||6 miles|
|S$15||18 miles||20 miles|
|S$19.99||22 miles||20 miles|
|S$25||30 miles||34 miles|
|S$29.99||34 miles||34 miles|
If you’re an Excel geek, here’s the formulas you need to calculate points:
|Local Spend||=ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*3,0)|
|FCY Spend||=ROUNDDOWN ((X/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:
- Government Institutions
- Top-ups of prepaid accounts (e.g. Grab, YouTrip)
For avoidance of doubt, CardUp and RentHero transactions do earn DBS Points.
What do I need to know about DBS Points?
DBS Points normally expire after one year, but points earned on the 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 Altitude 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 Altitude 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$27 per programme, regardless of how many points are transferred.
For KrisFlyer miles specifically, DBS offers an alternative “auto conversion programme”, available to DBS Insignia, DBS Black Treasures Elite and DBS Altitude cardholders. This charges a flat fee of S$42.80 per membership year, and automatically converts DBS Points to KrisFlyer miles each calendar quarter in blocks of 500 points.
DBS tells customers to expect points to be credited in 1-2 weeks, but in reality it usually takes about 3-4 working days at the very most.
If you need your points credited instantly, you can do so via KrisPay. 100 DBS Points can be transferred to 170 KrisPay miles, which can then be transferred to KrisFlyer miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Transfers are immediate, but those 100 DBS Points would normally have earned you 200 KrisFlyer miles if transferred via the DBS Rewards portal, so you effectively take a 15% haircut.
Other card perks
DBS Altitude cardholders have the option to pay a 2% admin fee in order to earn an incremental 1 mpd on all their spend by opting into the Miles Accelerator programme.
Some illustrations are provided below.
|Local Spend||Overseas Spend|
|Base Miles||2,400 miles||6,000 miles|
|Miles Accelerator||2,000 miles||3,000 miles|
|Total Miles||4,400 miles||9,000 miles|
This represents a price of 2 cents per mile, which given the current climate, is too expensive in my book. There are many better ways of generating miles through platforms like CardUp and RentHero.
Additional miles from the Miles Accelerator will be credited within 90 days.
Income tax facility
DBS Altitude cardholders can pay their income tax via DBS’s My Preferred Payment Plan with a 2.5% fee, while earning 1.5 mpd. This works out to 1.67 cents per mile- decent, but you could derive a lower cost per mile by using a payment service like CardUp.
Two free lounge visits (Visa version only)
The Visa version of the DBS Altitude comes with two free lounge visits per year, via Priority Pass.
|BOC Elite Miles||✖|
|UOB PRVI Miles||✖|
|OCBC 90°N Mastercard||✖|
(2 per year)
(2 per year,
Visa version only)
|AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend||✔|
(4 per year)
|AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card||✖|
|KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card||✖|
Cardholders need to apply for their Priority Pass via this link. Their two visit allowance is tracked by membership year, based on when they applied for their Priority Pass.
Only the principal cardholder is entitled to this benefit. Lounge entitlements can be shared with a guest, but once you exhaust your free visits you’ll be charged US$32 per additional visit.
Summary Review: DBS Altitude Card
The DBS Altitude Card is a good general spending option to have in and of itself, and arguably even better if you’re already using the DBS Woman’s World Card. That’s because the points pool together, although you will need to cash out the Woman’s Card points (one year) on a more regular basis than the Altitude’s (evergreen).
However, I’d still lean towards the Citi PremierMiles Card because of its complimentary travel insurance, wider variety of transfer partners, and cheaper miles purchasing opportunities. It lacks the DBS Altitude’s bonus on airline and hotel spend, but that’s the sort of thing you might want to put on the DBS Woman’s World Card instead.
So that’s my review of the DBS Altitude 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|
Thank you, especially for the bit on crabhey bobups. Hope it stays that way. Could you kindly include in your reviews how these cards function for transport e.g. special rates, total transport fare pools for the month or not etc.
they earn the regular miles-earning rate for simplygo, i.e 1.2 mpd.
Reading all these reviews makes me wonder: what card are you going to use for your general spending once the AMEX Plat Charge and BOC EM offers end? It seems like you’ve gravitated towards the Citi PM.
Well I’ll be using gpmc for as much as 1k allows, then uob ppv wherever possible. That leaves a v narrow range of situations when I’ll have to use a general spending card.
1k limit of CRV you mean?
Makes sense. Make hay while the sun shines.
On the bonus miles for hotel, noted that providing card details doesnt count towards the bonus miles. I have a booking which I reserved refundable online but subsequently emailed the hotel to switch to DBS altitude card and provided my card details. Really hoping this still works but need your advice!
so long as the booking is not charged ONLINE, you don’t get any bonus miles. if your booking is refundable, it sounds like they will charge you only at check out.
The DBS Priority Pass link is not dead. Just don’t put a slash “/” behind.
Ah brilliant, thank you
On the point that DBS points are not pooled when it comes to card cancellation, may I ask if this is also applicable to OCBC Titanium cards? If I’m holding on to both the blue and pink, will I forfeit the OCBC$ earned on the blue in the event I decide to cancel it? Thanks
no, ocbc$ are pooled for redemption and cancellation. you’ll retain your points
I have just been informed by DBS (confirmed twice with different customer services staff) that MCC 7399 will not be considered eligible spend for miles rewards. That includes anything from GrabPay top ups to ipaymy tax payments. If true, that’s a real nasty piece of work by them.
It’s really odd, because as far as I can see anywhere, it doesn’t explicitly exclude this code nor mention GrabPay in their exclusions.
In the meantime, I will try to post a small amount to test it out.
well, customer service will say one thing.
in reality, however…
Hi Aaron, I have a question. Alt’s DBS Points doesn’t expire whereas WWMC’s DBS Points does after 1 year. DBS Points are pooled together. Therefore if I have both cards, does it mean that Points earned through WWMC will not expire after pooling with Alt’s points? If not, does the monthly bank statement state the expiry of certain amount of points like how UOB does it?
Nope. They still keep their original expiry. So if you go to Dbs rewards portal you’ll see your altitude points listed separately from wwmc.
They are pooled for the purposes of redemption
does airbnb count as online hotel transaction?
Hi guys, got a question:
I have a big family of 6-9 pax (parents/inlaws) and each time my air travel expenses for a holiday can rack up to ~$10k since I am offering to purchase the tickets on their behalf.
does it then make sense for me to get and utilize both dbs attitude visa and amex cards as each card bonus spend is limited to $5k only?
hi all! would anyone know if installment plan (of eligible category) will be eligible for the miles? or are they treated differently? thanks!
Does anyone know if we get more miles for booking cruises? Does that fall into hotel spend category?
Nope it doesn’t. It is still 1.2mpd. The MCC is coded as 4411 Cruise Lines.
I previously used it before on Royal Caribbean and Genting Dream / World Dream last time.
Prices on the DBS Expedia link are much higher, no wonder they are giving 6mpd
What cards are good for GrabPay top-ups then?