How I made money from my DBS card annual fee

DBS has recently been stocking promotional redemptions that give up to 2.5 cents per mile, allowing some cardholders to turn a profit on their annual fee.

In addition to airline miles, DBS cardholders can redeem their DBS Points for a range of shopping and dining vouchers, together with annual fee waivers and cash rebates. 

However, I very rarely mention these because the value is awful. For example, a S$10 Takashimaya voucher csts 800 DBS Points. 1 DBS Point is worth 2 miles, so that’s like accepting a value of 0.63 cents per mile! Want a cash rebate instead? A S$50 statement credit costs 5,000 DBS Points. Enjoy your 0.5 cents per mile!

But DBS has been running some promotions of late that offer much better value than usual,  even allowing you to turn a profit on your annual fee in some cases.

DBS Rewards promotional items

For the past couple of weeks, DBS has been offering some surprisingly good non-miles rewards on the DBS Rewards portal. We’ve seen:

  • 100 DBS Points for a S$5 Gong Cha voucher
  • 100 DBS Points for a S$5 Shopee voucher
  • 1,000 DBS Points for a S$50 eCapitaVoucher (out of stock)
  • 1,000 DBS Points for a S$50 Klook voucher (no longer listed)

The Klook and eCapitaVoucher options are the standout deals for me, especially the latter since it’s as good as cash. You’re basically getting 2.5 cents per mile, higher than most Economy Class redemptions, and approaching the value for some Business Class redemptions.

The catch is that you’re limited to five redemptions per promotional item. Redeem beyond this limit, and you’ll be “charged for any excess redemption” (DBS doesn’t state how they’ll calculate the charges, but you can assume it won’t be favourable to you).

I managed to redeem five Klook vouchers and five eCapitaVouchers, and not only is this an objectively good value to cash out your points at, some DBS cardholders can even enjoy an arbitrage opportunity.

Earn DBS Points from paying your annual fee

The following DBS cards award you with DBS Points for paying the annual fee.

CardAnnual FeeDBS Points
DBS Altitude AMEX
Apply
S$194.405,000
DBS Altitude Visa
Apply
S$194.405,000
DBS Vantage Card
Apply
S$59412,500

I hope you see where this is going: I get charged a S$194.40 annual fee on my DBS Altitude Visa, and 5,000 DBS Points are credited to my account. Assuming I redeem all 5,000 points for eCapitaVouchers, I end up paying S$194.40 for S$250 of eCapitaVouchers. That seems like a pretty good trade to me!

In fact, there’s a secondary benefit to this, as pointed out in the Telegram Group. DBS always redeems your soonest-expiring points first, so the 5,000 points that were redeemed came from my DBS Woman’s World Card. I’ve basically replaced 5,000 points that expire after one year with 5,000 points that don’t expire (yes, I know I’m supposed to be cancelling my DBS Altitude; I’ll get round to it eventually).

CardUp thought experiment

This is more of a thought experiment than anything else, but depending on which card you have, you could generate DBS Points via CardUp from 2.29 to 3.39 cents apiece (let’s ignore the DBS Altitude AMEX because the fees for AMEX cards are much higher).

CardEarn RateCost Per DBS Point
DBS Altitude Visa1.3 mpd
  • Tax (1.75%): 2.65 cents
  • Rent (1.79%): 2.71 cents
  • Recurring (1.85%): 2.79 cents
  • All payments (2.25%): 3.39 cents
DBS Vantage Card1.5 mpd
  • Tax (1.75%): 2.29 cents
  • Rent (1.79%): 2.34 cents
  • Recurring (1.85%): 2.42 cents
  • All payments (2.25%): 2.93 cents
Tax: VTAX23 Rent: SAVERENT179 Recurring: RECURRING185 All payments: GET225

1,000 DBS Points would therefore cost you S$22.90 to S$33.90, and you get a S$50 eCapitaVoucher in return. None too shabby!

Of course, there are limitations too. Since each customer is capped at five promotional redemptions, it’s not like you’ll be printing money this way. Moreover, by the time the DBS Points are credited, the promotional redemptions may have been all snapped up- so even if you see something worth redeeming on the portal, it’s probably too late to schedule a CardUp payment.

Conclusion

While it’s normally not a good idea to redeem DBS Points for anything other than miles, some of the recent promotions that DBS has been running have offered outsized value, and even an opportunity to turn a profit on your annual fee.

The best value items are currently out of stock, but it’s worth monitoring to see if DBS does a restock in the weeks to come, or adds other options.

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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QNA

MILELION’S MATH!

Kevin

good tip, cant wait for capita voucher to be back in stock soon. got 3000 points expiring in Dec 2023

emercycrite

This is one of the things I love about ML.

Kai

Well done. Would never have considered this. Thank you!

JY

I’d be wary of shopee voucher as their t&cs are not clear. e.g.e-Voucher is applicable for selected sellers only and not applicable for selected brands, Miscellaneous, Stage 1 & 2 Milk Formulas.
Who will be that selected sellers?

Jim

eCapitaVouchers and Klook are gone when I saw this blog post today… Oof

Joe

Anyone else having issues logging in to rewards.dbs.com? I had to call them and manually redeem points because they had a bug in their authentication for ‘some users’ for a few months already

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