In June 2022, DBS finally decided to join the $120K party with the DBS Vantage Card, its metal offering for the mass affluent segment.
The Vantage launched with a beefy 80,000 miles sign-up offer, plus 4 mpd on dining and petrol. Together with perks like an Accor Plus Explorer membership and 10 lounge visits, it was a very compelling proposition- at least for the first year.
But the honeymoon’s now over. The 4 mpd bonuses are no more, and while DBS has periodically brought back the 80,000 miles sign-up offer (with a reduced minimum spend), that’s a first-year-only perk. With the $120K segment more competitive than ever, and the inaugural batch of cardholders approaching their first year anniversary, is there a case to be made for renewal?
|DBS Vantage Card|
|🦁 MileLion Verdict|
|☐ Take It|
☑ Take It Or Leave It
☐ Leave It
|What do these ratings mean?|
|While its sign-up bonus can still be lucrative, the second year value proposition for the DBS Vantage Card is much more marginal.|
|👍 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$594||Min. |
|5,000 DBS Points|
|Miles with |
|FCY Fee||3.25%||Transfer Fee||S$27|
|Local Earn||1.5 mpd||Points Pool?||Yes|
|FCY Earn||2.2 mpd||Lounge Access?||Yes: 10x Priority Pass|
|Special Earn||6 mpd on Expedia||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 has caused a lot of confusion, so much so that DBS set up a dedicated landing page to address it.
You’ll 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.
Customers who apply for a DBS Vantage Card by 30 June 2023, spend S$4,000 within 30 days of approval and pay the first year’s S$594 annual fee will receive:
|Pay S$594 annual fee||25,000 miles||25,000 miles|
|Spend S$4,000 within 30 days||35,000 miles||15,000 miles|
|Total||60,000 miles||40,000 miles|
|❓ “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. |
The 25,000 miles for paying the S$594 annual fee will be awarded immediately (in the form of 12,500 DBS points) when the annual fee is charged.
The 15,000/35,000 miles for the sign-up bonus will be credited within 90-120 days from the date of fulfilling the qualifying spend.
It should be noted that DBS periodically upsizes this bonus to 80,000/60,000 miles for new/existing customers, so I’d recommend holding off until a similar offer comes around again.
How much is the DBS Vantage Card’s annual fee?
|Principal Card||Supp. Card|
The DBS Vantage Card has an annual fee of S$594 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 can’t take that figure in isolation- it’s necessary to factor in the other benefits of the card too.
|❓ 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||6 mpd on Expedia|
DBS Vantage Card cardholders earn:
- 3.75 DBS Points for every S$5 spent in Singapore Dollars
- 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, especially when you factor in its lack of minimum spend and rounding policy:
|SCB VI||Up to 1.4 mpd*||Up to 3 mpd*|
|UOB VI Metal Card||1.4 mpd||2.4 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^|
|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.
|DBS x Expedia|
From now till 31 March 2024, DBS Vantage Cardholders will earn 6 mpd on the first S$5,000 per calendar month spent on participating flights or hotel bookings via Expedia.
This is broken down into:
- The usual 1.5 mpd for local spending
- A bonus 4.5 mpd for Expedia transactions
Bookings must be made through a dedicated Expedia microsite, and here’s where comparison shopping is essential- these landing pages sometimes result in higher prices than searching through public channels, so make sure you aren’t paying over the odds.
When are DBS Points credited?
DBS Points will be credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.
How are DBS Points calculated?
Some people get concerned when they read 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 at point 2.6 of the T&Cs.
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 transactions are eligible to earn DBS Points.
What do I need to know about DBS Points?
|❌ Expiry||↔️ Pooling||✈️ Transfer Fee|
|3 years||Yes||S$27 per conversion|
|⬆️ Min. Transfer||✈️ No. of Partners||⏱️ Transfer Time|
|5,000 DBS Points|
|4||1-3 working days|
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. All the same, I personally don’t consider non-expiring points to be that big a factor in deciding whether or not I get a card.
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.
Partners and Transfer Fee
DBS partners with the following frequent flyer programmes, and a minimum conversion block of 5,000 points is required (let’s ignore AirAsia, because converting points there is like throwing them away):
|Frequent Flyer Programme||Conversion Ratio |
(DBS Points: Miles)
Transfers cost S$27 per programme, regardless of how many points are transferred.
Do note that the DBS Vantage, surprisingly, is not eligible for DBS’s “auto conversion programme” (I initially thought it was an oversight, but DBS’s comms team has told me that’s how it should be).
The auto conversion programme, for the uninitiated, charges a flat fee of S$43.20 per membership year, and automatically converts DBS Points to KrisFlyer miles each calendar quarter in blocks of 500 points. It is currently available to DBS Insignia, DBS Black Treasures Elite, and DBS Altitude cardholders.
DBS tells customers to expect points to be credited in 1-2 weeks, but in reality it usually takes about 1-3 working days at the very most (at least for KrisFlyer, transfer times to other programmes can be longer)
If you need your points credited instantly, you can do so via Kris+. 100 DBS Points can be transferred to 170 KrisPay miles, which can then be transferred to KrisFlyer miles at a 1:1 ratio.
|S$5 for new Kris+ Users|
|Get S$5 (in the form of 750 KrisPay miles) when you sign-up with code W644363 and make your first transaction|
Transfers are immediate, but those 100 DBS Points would normally have earned you 200 KrisFlyer miles, so you effectively take a 15% haircut.
Therefore I wouldn’t recommend taking this option, unless you need a small top-up to redeem a flight, or have an orphan DBS Points balance (<5,000 points).
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 use two visits at once.
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|
|UOB VI Metal Card||Dragon 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|
|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$418, 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.
The other big draw of an Accor Plus membership are the dining discounts. The discount structure works like this:
- 25% off dining: 1 member only
- 50% off dining: 1 member and 1 guest
- 33% off dining: 1 member and 2 guests
- 25% off dining: 1 member and 3 guests
- 15% off drinks in Asia
Some examples of participating Accor Plus restaurants in Singapore include Prego, Mikuni and Asian Market Café at the Fairmont, SKAI, The Stamford Brasserie, and CLOVE at Swissotel and The Cliff and Kwee Zeen at the Sofitel Sentosa Resort.
DBS Vantage cardholders can enjoy “members-only discounts at over 50 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.
Perhaps this programme just needs more time to mature, but a Love Dining competitor it isn’t.
Summary Review: DBS Vantage Card
|🦁 MileLion Verdict|
|☐ Take It|
☑ Take It Or Leave It
☐ Leave It
The DBS Vantage Card had a good launch year, but there’s something to be said about “second album syndrome”?
Without the cushion of a sign-up bonus, and having lost its 4 mpd on petrol and dining, the case for renewing the Vantage is hard to make. Would you pay S$594 for 25,000 miles, an Accor Plus Explorer membership and 10 lounge visits? It might be a bit of a stretch.
To put it another way, the Citi Prestige Card costs about 10% less, yet offers unlimited lounge visits for the cardholder plus a guest, an airport limo benefit, the 4th night free on hotel stays, plus GHA Titanium status, complimentary travel insurance, more transfer partners, and an excellent miles purchase facility.
The most I’d say is that the Vantage might be worth getting for one year, provided you can hop onboard one of DBS’s upsized sign-up offers (with 60,000 miles for existing DBS customers and 80,000 miles for new DBS customers). Otherwise, you might get better value elsewhere.
So that’s my review of the DBS Vantage Card. What do you think?