Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Why DBS’s ‘more miles’ promo still isn’t worth it at a reduced 2% fee

Buying KrisFlyer miles for 2 cents each isn't sensible. Moreover, it isn't necessary.

EXPIRED This article relates to an offer or promotion which has now expired.

Cover More Miles 2

In October last year DBS added a new promotion for the DBS Altitude cards, allowing customers to register and earn up to 4 miles per dollar spent. That’s 1 extra mile per dollar over your usual earning rates.

Unfortunately the bad news was to get that additional mile per dollar you’d pay a 2.2% ‘administrative fee’. It didn’t take a genius to calculate that what they were actually asking was for you to pay them 2.2 cents each for the extra miles.

The offer has been tweaked slightly for the last six months of 2019, running from now until 31st December 2019, with a reduced admin fee of a flat 2%, a cost of 2 cents each per extra mile.

As before, you’ll get 2.2 miles per dollar earned locally (1.2 base + 1 bonus), 3 miles per dollar for overseas transactions (2 base + 1 bonus) and 4 miles per dollar for online hotel and flight transactions (3 base + 1 bonus), if you choose to participate.


The cost

As mentioned, all DBS asks for you to be eligible for this additional mile per dollar compared with your usual rate on the Altitude card is a 2% ‘administrative fee’.

Here’s their worked example of how you can pay S$140 for 7,000 extra miles with this ‘promotion’:

More Miles Example 2019.jpg
(Image: DBS)

Our regular readers will know that until last month, when we finally got round to revaluing a KrisFlyer mile following a rate hike in January 2019, we didn’t endorse ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles at anything above 2 cents each.

Last month in our comprehensive valuation update we reached a new conclusion, that our upper limit to buy at, and the upper limit we would recommend our readers to buy at, is now 1.9 cents per mile.

That’s not to say a KrisFlyer mile is worth exactly 1.9 cents, if you’re redeeming sensibly you should be achieving much better than that. If you’re having a bad day and not thinking straight while blindly booking an award ticket, you could well be achieving a lot less than that, as we showed.

The point is we maintain an upper limit to buy of 1.9 cents per mile for good reasons – read our ‘what’s a mile worth’ page to find out why.

The point is, even with this reduction in the admin fee for this DBS offer, 2 cents per mile is above our recommendation to speculatively accrue KrisFlyer miles, so we can’t recommend it.

If you know you can always achieve much better than 2 cents per mile then by all means consider it, but be careful to ensure you are valuing your miles fairly against realistic alternatives, and build in contingency for future devaluations!

Remember DBS Points also transfer into Asia Miles and Qantas Frequent Flyer points. We don’t make a valuation on either of these in comprehensive detail, but it’s safe to say they are probably worth a similar amount per mile / point as KrisFlyer miles.

The details of the DBS Altitude ‘more miles’ offer, including full terms and conditions and frequently asked questions, are available here. It is open to the first 10,000 cardholders to register (we’d be amazed if they reach that, but you never know).


What if you signed up before?

If you signed up for this ‘more miles’ offer with your DBS Altitude card on or before 30th June 2019 at the previously offered 2.2% fee rate, don’t worry. DBS will automatically reduce your administrative fee to 2% for any retail spend from 1st July 2019 onwards, which is fair and reasonable (did we just say that about a bank?!).

DBS Building (DBS)
(Photo: DBS)

Cheaper alternatives

If you’re a DBS Altitude cardholder and are tempted by this offer to boost your miles balance, hold fire. Here are seven current credit card sign-up offers alone you can consider to ‘buy’ a decent stash of miles at a much lower cost right now.

Citi Rewards Visa or Mastercard

Citi Rewards Card 2019

  • Fee-free for the first year
  • 10,800 miles bonus for spending S$3,000 in the first 3 months from card approval.

Cost per bonus mile: 0.00 cents (no annual fee in year one)

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer American Express card


  • Fee-free for the first year
  • 5,000 miles welcome bonus (you must be a brand new applicant for a co-branded American Express Singapore Airlines credit card)
  • 7,500 miles bonus for spending S$5,000 in the first 3 months from card approval.

Cost per bonus mile: 0.00 cents (no annual fee in year one)

American Express Rewards card


  • Annual fee S$53.50
  • 11,666 miles bonus if you spend S$1,500 per month in the first 3 months.

Cost per bonus mile: 0.46 cents

Citi PremierMiles Visa card


  • Annual fee S$192.60.
  • 21,000 miles bonus if you spend S$7,500 in the first 3 months.

Cost per bonus mile: 0.92 cents


  • Zero annual fee.
  • 6,000 miles bonus if you spend S$3,000 in the first 3 months.

Cost per bonus mile: 0.00 cents (no annual fee)

Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card


  • Annual fee $588.50.
  • 35,000 miles welcome bonus with no minimum spend.

Cost per bonus mile: 1.68 cents

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer American Express Ascend card


  • Annual fee $337.05.
  • 5,000 miles welcome bonus (you must be a brand new applicant for a co-branded American Express Singapore Airlines credit card)
  • 15,000 miles bonus for spending S$10,000 in the first 3 months from card approval.

Cost per bonus mile: 1.69 cents

HSBC Visa Infinite card


  • Annual fee $650.00.
  • 35,000 miles welcome bonus with no minimum spend.

Cost per bonus mile: 1.86 cents


OCBC Voyage Payment Facility

If you hold (or successfully apply for) the OCBC Voyage card you have access to their OCBC Voyage Payment Facility.

We talked in detail about it in when it was launched in April this year, but in summary you can buy ‘unlimited’ miles (subject to your credit limit) for 1.95 cents each using this scheme (1.9 cents each if you request a whopping S$150,000 or more).

Voyage Payment Facility.jpg
(Image: OCBC)

Now this method still comes in higher than our upper limit to buy of 1.9 cents per mile, so we are by no means recommending it, but if you did want to use the DBS Altitude ‘more miles’ promotion at 2 cents per mile you should certainly consider this one as an alternative cheaper way to accrue the balance you need.

Better still, unlike the DBS Altitude deal, you don’t actually have to have any significant spend to make in order to generate a healthy number of miles through the OCBC Payment Facility. Your only outgoing is the 1.95% fee itself.

Do bear in mind though that the OCBC Voyage card has an annual fee of S$488 and a high minimum income requirement of S$120,000/yr, so this method is probably only useful to those who already hold the card, or wanted to get it anyway.


CardUp, ipaymy, RentHero

Those are just some credit card options for ‘buying’ miles, remember you can relatively easily generate thousands of additional miles per month paying your rent using your credit card (from 1.07 cents per mile using RentHero with our promo code, for example), and for other bills too with the likes of CardUp and ipaymy.

Many of these options come in far cheaper than 2 cents per mile, and indeed our 1.9 cents per mile purchase limit.

Is the DBS Altitude offer any use?

In our opinion – not really. We’re giving this one a miss and so should you. 2 cents per mile is too high a price to pay for KrisFlyer miles and as we’ve shown there are a raft of cheaper options out there, unless you already hold every credit card under the sun.

For the sake of simplicity however if you hold a DBS Altitude card, don’t have an OCBC Voyage card (nor wish to apply for one), need extra miles relatively quickly and are willing to pay a rate we would label ‘a little over the odds’ at best, you can perhaps justify this.

Never say never but that’s a lot of conditions to satisfy and as before when the deal first launched, we’d urge you to consider the cheaper options carefully first.

Altitude Card.jpg


(Cover Image: DBS)


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