Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Credit Card Review: Standard Chartered Visa Infinite

Cover (Tom Grimbert)

Here’s our review of the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite (SCVI) credit card issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.

Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to KrisFlyer miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 27th September 2018.

Key features

image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02

Annual fee: $588.50/yr
EIR/APR: 25.9%
Sign-up bonus: 35,000 miles
Local earn rate: 1.4 miles per $1*
Overseas earn rate: 3.0 miles per $1*
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income: $150,000/yr**
* – minimum spending conditions apply, see below
** – For Priority/Private Banking customers – $30,000/yr for Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, $60,000/yr for Employment Pass holders 

APPLY HERE

Annual fee

Not one of the cheaper cards on the market – the SCVI will set you back $588.50 each year (including the first year), and it’s not optional.

Sign-up bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the SCVI card is 35,000 milesworth about $700.

Earning rates

Here’s where it gets a little complicated. The SCVI earns a guaranteed 1 mile for every $1 spent in either local or foreign currency. That’s automatically dreadful in Singapore credit card terms, but hang on…

Provided you spend at least $2,000 in any statement cycle (note – not calendar month), you’ll be entitled to an additional 0.4 miles per $1 spent locally and an additional 2 miles per $1 spent overseas, for all the spending you made (not just the amount over $2,000).

That means, provided you hit the $2,000 minimum spend each statement cycle on this card, the earning rate is actually:

  • 1.4 miles per $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and
  • 3.0 miles per $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency)

Note that you are initially awarded 1 mile per $1 on all spending, then once the monthly statement is published the extra miles (0.4 locally or 2 overseas) are then added provided the $2,000 spending criteria was met.

A note about Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)

Beware the ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ (DCC) offer you’ll often experience overseas when paying with your Visa or MasterCard. It’s very common when settling your overseas hotel bill, for example, to be offered to pay in SGD instead of local currency. This is a terrible idea, because:

a) you’ll suffer financially, even after the credit card foreign exchange fee is accounted for. If you remember the SGD amount you were offered to pay, then pay in local currency instead, once the transaction appears on your credit card statement you’ll generally find they were scamming you, you’d have paid at least 2% more using DCC.

b) you will earn credit card miles at the local spend rate if you accept DCC, because the transaction will take place in SGD, not the local currency.

In other words, you’ll pay more, and lose miles. Always insist on paying in the local currency of the country you are in.

Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?

No, in fact rather than being credited miles directly you’ll accrue ‘rewards points’ both for your sign-up bonus and your regular spending on this card. These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 2.5:1 ratio (so the sign-up bonus is actually 87,500 reward points, for example, which you can then redeem for 35,000 miles).

What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?

It’ll cost you $25+GST (i.e. $26.75) each time you transfer each ‘block’ of your points to KrisFlyer miles.

Is there a minimum transfer amount?

The minimum number of rewards points you can transfer into KrisFlyer is 2,500 (converting to 1,000 KrisFlyer miles). There are then larger blocks available for transfer and you should be aiming to accrue a decent rewards points balance before transferring as each block attracts the $26.75 transfer fee.

For example if you have 135,000 Standard Chartered rewards points you might well consider that to be transferable to 54,000 KrisFlyer miles (135,000 / 2.5). You’re not wrong, as you can add the following rewards to your ‘shopping cart’ on the rewards homepage:

  • 1 x 125,000 rewards points > 50,000 KF miles
  • 4 x 2,500 rewards points > 1,000 KF miles

You will then receive 54,000 KrisFlyer miles in your Singapore Airlines account, however you will be charged $133.75 for these 5 transfers!

Far better to just do a single 125k transfer (into 50,000 KF miles) and pay $26.75 then wait for your points to accrue to a decent level again before the next transfer.

Alternatively you can wait until you have reached the next transfer threshold (250,000 rewards points), which will transfer into 100,000 KrisFlyer miles for a single fee of $26.75.

Rewards Conversion.jpg
Beware the catch when converting SC rewards points into KrisFlyer miles. You’ll be charged for each rewards ‘block’ you convert.

The rewards blocks currently available for conversion are:

  • 2,500 rewards points > 1,000 KF miles
  • 25,000 rewards points > 10,000 KF miles
  • 75,000 rewards points > 30,000 KF miles
  • 125,000 rewards points > 50,000 KF miles
  • 250,000 rewards points > 100,000 KF miles

Remember the golden rule – if you combine more than one block in a rewards to points conversion you’ll be charged $26.75 for each one!

How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?

The official line is “5-7 working days”. The last time I converted, it took exactly a week. Not a great turnaround, there are faster cards out there when it comes to miles conversion.

Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is the sole frequent flyer program for Standard Chartered rewards points redemptions.

Pay your income tax

The SCVI is one of the few credit cards in Singapore allowing you to pay your income tax bill using your credit card and accrue the usual miles earning rate. While this facility is already available for any credit card through CardUp (see our article), the processing fee using the Standard Chartered method is 1.6%, compared to 2.6% with CardUp, so it’s therefore a much better deal to use the SCVI.

You have to set up the payment at least seven working days before your income tax due date, and of course you must have sufficient credit balance to cover the total.

For example:

  • Annual Income Tax Bill: $5,000
  • Standard Chartered 1.6% Fee: $80
  • Total Payable: $5,080
  • Miles Accrued: 7,112 (5,080 x 1.4)
  • Cost per mile: 1.1 cents (we value KF miles at 2 cents each)

I’ve paid my personal income tax bill this way for the last two years, and it’s very straightforward. You simply send Standard Chartered your Notice of Assessment along with your bank account details using the online system, and they then transfer the balance you owe to IRAS to your personal bank account.

Your credit card will be charged with the same amount, plus the 1.6% processing fee (in the above example, you’d find $5,000 credited to your bank account, and a $5,080 charge applied to your credit card account).

Note that this does not compel you to then pay your income tax to IRAS in one lump sum if you don’t wish to. I personally use the credited funds to pay the credit card statement (usually the following month), and set up a GIRO to pay my income tax in interest-free instalments over the year as normal.

Other benefits

There are a few other perks with the SCVI card, the key benefits which will be of most interest to our readers are:

  • 15% cashback on all Grab rides globally, capped at $30 cashback per month, provided you have achieved a minimum spend on the card in the same calendar month of $900 (though you should be spending $2,000+ per month using this card to generate the enhanced miles earning rates). This perk switched from a (more generous) one with Uber prior to their withdrawal from the SE Asia market in 2018.
  • For the big spenders, complimentary 4 hour yacht hire when you spend $75,000 on the card in 2018.*
  • Priority Pass membership, with six free lounge visits per year, then US$27 per visit thereafter.
  • Up to 25% Caltex fuel savings.
  • Additional points, perks and discounts at The Fullerton Hotel and Ritz-Carlton Millenia in Singapore. These include spa and dining discounts.
  • Hotel and resort discounts at selected Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, the new Andaz Singapore, selected YTL Hotels, and $100 off at theluxenomad.com if you spend over $700 on a single booking.

* – Blackout period applies, and the rental is not available on eve of public holidays and on public holidays. Income tax payments and certain other transactions do not qualify towards the minimum spend.

Yacht (YMPL)
Complimentary 4 hour yacht hire is one of the more extravagant benefits of the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite, for those spending over $75,000 a year on the card. (Photo: YMPL)

Our summary

Not a card for everyone, due to the high income requirement, the hefty annual fee, and the $2,000 monthly minimum spend to generate the high miles earning rate. The 35,000 welcome bonus miles, however, more than justifies your first year of card membership (as they have a value of around $700). Another way of looking at it is that for your $588.50 fee, you’re ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles for 1.68 cents each.

This card particularly works for me due to the 15% Grab discount, capped at $30 each month (i.e. at $200 of Grab spend), because I commute to and from work using Grab anyway. That means I hit the $30 discount limit every month without fail, which nets me $360 in rebate per annum – a large chunk of the ongoing $588.50 annual fee.

That discount of course will not apply for everyone, so you’ll have to decide whether the higher miles earning rate (especially for foreign transactions at 3 miles per $1 spent, which is almost unbeatable), and the other card benefits, make the high fee work for you.

image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02

APPLY HERE

Our recommendations for credit cards and other similar products on this site do not constitute financial advice.

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6 comments

    1. Yes I believe CardUp transactions are counted towards the minimum $2,000 monthly spend for this card (to unlock the 1.4/3.0 miles earning rates). Agreed that the income tax deal is one of the best ones out there currently – almost a no brainer especially as you can still pay your tax by GIRO if you prefer.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hello

    I have found quite a number of your articles to be instructive. I’m curious, as you rationalise that the fact that you max out the SGD 600 rebate via UBER makes the card worthwhile even after the first year. Now, that the arrangement with GRAB restricts the rebate to SGD 360 a year, has your position changed?

    With my thanks and regards

    B.V

    Like

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