Clarified: Using CardUp rental for DBS welcome offers

While CardUp payments earn base points with DBS cards, using them for welcome offers is more complicated.

CardUp has a rather strange relationship with DBS.

On the one hand, DBS hasn’t added it to their exclusions list, and all CardUp transactions do earn base rewards with DBS cards. On the other, DBS hasn’t fully embraced it either, because CardUp transactions don’t count towards the minimum spend for welcome offers- except for rental payments.

But even within rental payments, there’s some further subtleties involved.

Here’s the tl;dr: if you’re using a DBS Vantage or DBS Altitude Visa, you’re safe (for now, anyway), as CardUp rental transactions will count towards the minimum spend for your welcome offer. However, if you’re using a DBS Altitude AMEX, you may have run into some issues. Read on for an explanation, and possible fix. 

Using CardUp with DBS cards

Let’s get the easy bit out of the way first: CardUp payments of all kinds will earn base rewards with DBS cards. That’s to say, a DBS Altitude Cardholder would earn 1.3 mpd on CardUp payments, while a DBS Vantage Cardholder would earn 1.5 mpd.

For most banks, any transaction that earns base rewards will also count towards the minimum spend for a welcome offer.

However, DBS works differently. When you look at how the T&Cs define qualifying spend for the purposes of welcome offers (example: DBS Altitude), you’ll find the following clause:


7. Qualifying Spend is based on posted local and foreign retail sales and posted recurring bill payment but excludes the following:

a. posted 0% Interest Instalment Payment Plan monthly transactions;
b. posted My Preferred Payment Plan monthly transactions;
c. interest, finance charges, cash withdrawal, balance transfer, smart cash, AXS payments, SAM online bill payments, bill payments via internet banking and all fees charged by DBS;
d. payments to educational institutions;
e. payments to financial institutions (including banks, online trading platforms and brokerages);
f. payments to government institutions and services (court cases, fines, bail and bonds, tax payment, postal services, parking lots and garages, intra-government purchases and any other government services not classified here);
g. payments to hospitals;
h. payments to insurance companies (sales, underwriting and premiums);
i. payments to non-profit organisations;
j. payments to utility bill companies;
k. payments to professional service providers (including but not limited to accounting, auditing, bookkeeping services, advertising services, funeral service and legal services and attorneys);
l. any top-ups or payment of funds to payment service providers, any prepaid accounts or purchase of prepaid cards/credits (including but not limited to EZ-Link, GrabPay, NETS FlashPay, Transit Link, Razer Pay, ShopeePay, Singtel Dash, Amaze);
m. any betting transactions (including levy payments to local casinos, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, off-track betting and wagers);
n. any transactions related to crypto currencies;
o. payments made to CardUp, FavePay, iPaymy and SmoovPay are also subject to the  exclusions listed in Clauses 7 (a) to 7 (n) above; and
p. any other transactions determined by DBS from time to time

Note point 7(o) which reads “payments made to CardUp, FavePay, iPaymy and SmoovPay are also subject to the exclusions listed in Clauses 7 (a) to 7 (n) above”.

This does not mean that CardUp, FavePay etc. are automatically excluded. Rather, it means that the exclusions mentioned in 7(a) to (n) still apply, so if you use CardUp to pay insurance or your utility bill, for example, it wouldn’t count towards minimum spend. 

However, rental payments aren’t mentioned anywhere from 7(a) to (n), and indeed, DBS has confirmed in the past that CardUp rental payments will count towards minimum spend. But there have been reports in the MileChat from cardholders who didn’t get their DBS welcome offers, and upon investigation, CardUp rental payments were the culprit.

So what’s going on here?

CardUp processes rent under two different MCCs

Rental payments under CardUp can code under two different MCCs

The problem boils down to MCCs. I’ve managed to confirm with CardUp that rental payments can code under two different MCCs, depending on card:

I want to emphasise that this is subject to change, and there’s no guarantee it’ll remain like this forever. Ultimately, it’s CardUp’s decision how they want to process transactions.

But that’s the way things are now, and it creates a problem for DBS welcome offers. 

DBS excludes MCC 7399 from welcome offers

DBS has confirmed that transactions under MCC 7399 do not count towards minimum spend for welcome offers.

The problem is: this isn’t stated explicitly in the T&Cs. DBS has never defined its exclusions list by specific MCC ranges. For example, DBS says that payments to educational institutions are excluded, but it’s left to the customer to figure out they’re referring to MCCs 8211, 8220, 8241, 8244, 8249 and 8299. Could there be others? Possibly. Only DBS knows.

This is far from best practice, really. Banks should be striving for less ambiguity, not more, and DBS presumably already screens transactions by MCCs on their backend. How hard is it to state in black and white which MCCs do and do not count?

What to do now

If you’re a DBS Altitude AMEX cardholder who’s been denied a welcome offer because of CardUp rental spending, here’s something you can do.

I’ve made the point to DBS that it’s not very fair for cardholders to miss out on their welcome offers when neither rental payments nor MCC 7399 are excluded in the T&Cs. DBS has said they’re willing to review such cases, so if you’re in this situation, follow the instructions here.

Separately, DBS has also said that it will be updating its T&Cs to list specific MCC ranges, so hopefully that will remove all ambiguity going forward.


While CardUp payments earn points with DBS cards, only rental payments will count towards the minimum spend for welcome offers- and even then, only if it falls under MCC 6513. That’s the case for the DBS Vantage and DBS Altitude Visa, but not the DBS Altitude AMEX. 

If you’re a DBS Altitude AMEX cardholder who’s been caught out by this, DBS is willing to review your case, though there’s no guarantee of a favourable outcome.

In the meantime, it may be safer to not rely on CardUp spending to meet any sort of DBS welcome offer, since there’s also no guarantee that DBS Vantage and DBS Altitude Visa transactions will always code as MCC 6513.

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

Similar Articles



Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Do you know if similar issue is faced on UOB card Welcome offers where MCC 7399 is excluded but not explicitly stated in the T&Cs?

I’m planning to use upcoming income tax payment to hit the minimum $4k amount through Card Up for the bonus miles.


hi, I just read the updated T&Cs and looks like they have changed quite a bit. Does that mean that charges to Cardup are all good for welcome qualifying spend?