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The biggest credit card launch of 2019 for miles collectors in Singapore was undoubtedly the Standard Chartered X Card back in July. With 100,000 bonus miles on offer for a spend of S$6,000 in the first 60 days, it was a unique opportunity to turbocharge your miles balance at a cost of just 0.7 cents per mile, assuming you had that much spending to do anyway.
It meant for the S$695.50 annual fee, you would earn enough miles for a Business Class saver award on SIA’s longest flight – from Singapore to New York, or for a return Business Class trip to Cape Town, or for five of you to fly Business Class to Bali!
Well as we all know it didn’t last long. The bank quickly pulled the deal after less than a week, and over a month early, replacing it with a less attractive 60,000 miles bonus, amidst much confusion as to whether the new deadline related to application date or approval date.
The poor CSOs clearly hadn’t been briefed on the terms, giving different answers to the many of the same questions from customers. Finally at the end of August the sign-up bonus ended, only to be resurrected in mid-October.
It’s fair to say it was one of the most botched product launches we’ve ever seen.
Here are the key features of the X Card:
Annual fee: $695.50/yr
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 miles*
Local earn rate: 1.2 miles per $1
Overseas earn rate: 2.0 miles per $1
Foreign transaction fee: 3.5%
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income: S$80,000/yr**
* Minimum S$6,000 spend applies in first 60 days
** Priority/Private Banking customers: S$30,000/yr (Singaporean/PR) or S$60,000/yr (Foreigner)
The 60,000 miles deal is ending soon
The (diluted) 60,000 miles sign-up bonus is still running, so if you didn’t dive in with this card yet there is still a good opportunity to accrue a significant quantity of miles at a reasonable cost, assuming you can meet the S$6,000 spend on qualifying transactions over the first two months or so.
Your X Card will have to be approved by 31st December 2019 in order for you to qualify for the sign-up promotion.
The sign-up offer for the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite X Card, whose cards are approved by 31st December 2019, is 60,000 miles provided you spend S$6,000 on eligible retail transactions in the first 60 days of card membership.
The miles bonus is structured in two halves; an upfront 30,000 miles for payment of the first year annual card fee, and the remaining 30,000 miles for the S$6,000 spend itself.
The structure is as follows:
- 30,000 KrisFlyer miles “Upfront Gift Promotion”: for activating your card within 30 days and paying the annual fee of S$695.50, and provided your card is approved by 31st December 2019; and
- 30,000 KrisFlyer miles “Sign-up Gift Promotion”: for spending S$6,000 on eligible retail transactions in the first 60 days from card approval date, and provided your card is approved by 31st December 2019.
Cost per mile
The cost per mile calculation is the annual fee divided by 60,000 miles (the total bonus).
Cost per KrisFlyer mile
S$695.50 / 60,000
That’s not as competitive as the 0.7 cents per mile rate originally on offer for the X Card under the short-lived 100,000 miles bonus, but it still comes in comfortably below our upper threshold to buy of 1.9 cents per mile. We tend to achieve an average of 2.4 cents per mile when we redeem, against some pretty strict valuation criteria.
Assuming a 1.9 cents per mile valuation, the 60,000-mile bonus is therefore worth at least S$1,140 against future Singapore Airlines redemptions in our opinion, and you’re getting it here for S$695.50.
When will you get your bonus?
The upfront gift of 30,000 miles will be awarded within 30 days of your X Card activation date. For example if your card is activated on 31st December 2019 you’ll see this first bonus in your account by 30th January 2020.
The additional 30,000 bonus miles will be awarded approximately a month after your 60-day qualifying transaction period ends. For those approved on the last eligible day, 31st December 2019, you’ll have to meet the qualifying spend by 29th February 2020 and will see the bonus in your account by 31st March 2020.
The upfront gift will not be notified – it just arrives in your rewards account – but the sign-up bonus from the S$6,000 spend will come with an SMS from the bank advising you that you have qualified to receive it and that it has been credited.
Other loyalty schemes
Apart from KrisFlyer, there are 11 other loyalty programmes you can transfer into from the X Card.
Though the list includes some more ‘exotic’ FFPs for Singapore-based miles collectors, do note that these don’t all transfer at the same 2.5:1 ratio.
In many cases it’s a higher ratio (e.g. Lufthansa at 3.5:1) meaning fewer points or miles in your loyalty account, so do beware if you’re going down this route that in many cases you may be losing out.
Transferring your points to miles
If you meet the S$6,000 minimum spend on the X Card in the first 60 days of card membership, you’ll actually accrue:
- 30,000 miles for the ‘Upfront Gift’
- 30,000 miles for the ‘Sign Up Gift’
- 7,200 miles for the S$6,000 spend itself (@ 1.2mpd)
- = 67,200 miles total
These will be credited as 168,000 Standard Chartered Rewards Points, which transfer at a 2.5:1 ratio into the KrisFlyer programme.
You can transfer to KrisFlyer in 2,500-point (1,000-mile) blocks up to 99,000 KrisFlyer miles, and thereafter in 25,000-point (10,000-mile) blocks, though Standard Chartered now allows you to top up to the next block size (and more if you wish), at a slightly unattractive cost of 0.8 cents per point (2 cents per mile).
In other words you’ll be able to transfer 167,500 points into 67,000 KrisFlyer miles, with 500 points left over, or top-up to the next multiple by ‘buying’ 2,000 points at S$16 to then transfer 68,000 KrisFlyer miles and have no Standard Chartered balance left in your account.
You could also achieve the next transfer threshold through additional spending if you wish.
There are also larger transfer blocks available, though the Standard Chartered rewards portal works on a rather complex basis of charging the S$26.75 transfer fee for each block size added to your cart, allowing up to 99 of each block to be added for a single fee but charging multiple times for multiple block sizes. See our full review of the X Card for details on how it works!
For the 11 new loyalty partners eligible for miles transfer, which came about when the X Card was launched but are now available to all Standard Chartered credit card holders, you can transfer in blocks of 1,000 miles or points in the loyalty programme.
Note that you cannot top up additional points at 0.8 cents each when transferring into these partner schemes.
Here’s how your 168,000 Standard Chartered rewards points would transfer into these 11 loyalty programmes, taking into account the 1,000 miles or points multiples limitation for the transfer itself:
|X card Airline Partner Conversion|
|FFP||Conversion Ratio||168,000 points equals|
|X card Hotel Partner Conversion|
|Loyalty scheme||Conversion Ratio||168,000 points equals|
The big ‘missing piece’ is Asia Miles, making Standard Chartered and OCBC the only two banks in Singapore not allowing points transfers into Cathay Pacific’s award currency.
Are you taking a hit?
There is a likely trade off here if you use this card for S$6,000 of spend in 60 days, because you probably have (or at least should have) a better miles-earning credit card for your day to day spend.
For example Eddie is using the BOC Elite Miles card for general spend in Singapore. Since that earns 1.5 miles per dollar on local spend, moving his transactions to this card would lose him 0.3 miles per dollar x 6,000 = 1,800 miles under this 60k bonus offer.
It would reduce his ‘effective bonus’ from 60,000 miles to 58,200 miles, which drives up the cost per mile to 1.20 cents each.
Worse still, if you would otherwise channel S$6,000 of spend through credit cards at 4 miles per dollar rates, which you could just about manage in two months with a DBS Woman’s World card and a Citi Rewards card, the cost per mile effectively increases further.
In that case you’re looking at a ‘hit’ of 16,800 miles (2.8 x 6,000). That reduces your ‘effective bonus’ from 60,000 miles to 43,200 miles, increasing the cost per mile taking account of the annual fee to a far less attractive 1.61 cents each.
If the best you have in your wallet is a Citi PremierMiles, AMEX Ascend or DBS Altitude card for example, you’re not taking a hit here as these all earn 1.2 miles per dollar for local spend. You should be doing better than that though, even in the general spend category.
What if you already have the SCVI card?
Holders of the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card are eligible for the X Card sign-up bonus, but do bear in mind that depending on your balance, any of the rewards points you have accrued using the SCVI card might have to be transferred to a frequent flyer programme before you can do so with your X Card points.
That’s because Standard Chartered takes the rewards points from the card account with the highest balance first when you make an FFP transfer.
It’s no problem if you just want to transfer all your accrued points in one go (SCVI + X Card), but since you’ll likely be ditching the X Card before the second year annual fee is due, any points accrued from it will then disappear if not transferred, so you might have to also transfer out your SCVI points at this stage if it represents the higher balance.
We have a few readers with over a million Standard Chartered rewards points in their account from the SCVI card, which they wish to keep there as long as possible since they don’t expire, who won’t sign up for the X Card for this exact reason.
Make sure you’ll qualify
If you do wish to sign up now and take advantage of the bonus, don’t forget your card will need to be approved by 31st December 2019 for your account to be eligible. Contact Standard Chartered if you’re in doubt about this, to ensure eligibility. Standard Chartered told us they will allow you cancel and waive the annual fee if you just miss out on the cutoff.
Secondly of course, make sure you achieve both bonuses. The annual fee of S$695.50 for the 30,000 upfront gift miles simply isn’t worth it (a cost of more than 2.3 cents per mile), so you’ll be wanting to make sure you definitely achieve the S$6,000 spend in the first 60 days.
What else does the card offer?
Not much! The X Card is light on additional perks, especially for a card with such a high annual fee, so it’s really the generous sign-up bonus that’s the attraction here.
Principal cardholders are entitled to two complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits per membership year, plus some hotel discounts and golf privileges. See our full review for details.
Will there be another bonus?
Technically both the 30,000 miles ‘Upfront Gift’ and 30,000 miles ‘Sign Up Gift’ promotions cease on 31st December 2019, though of course Standard Chartered may wish to introduce another sign-up bonus immediately, extend the existing one or add one at a later date.
There is no guarantee they they will do any of these things however, so as it stands 31st December 2019 is your last day to be approved.
Our comprehensive review of the Standard Chartered X Card has full details of the product, also including information on:
- Earning rates
- Points rounding
- Minimum spend to earn miles
- Foreign currency transaction fees
- The miles transfer process (and complexities!)
- Transfer times
- Activating your Priority Pass (there’s a bit of legwork)
- Other card benefits
Do check it out if you’re considering applying.
If you want to take advantage of the 60,000 miles sign-up bonus with the X Card then our advice is to apply now.
Your card account will have to be approved by 31st December 2019 in order for you to be eligible, but it remains one of the best sign-up promotions currently on the market in Singapore.
The card comes with very few other valuable perks, so this is very much an “achieve promotion, ditch card” scenario for most of our readers.
It’s going to be hard to justify holding on to the X Card long term, and without at least a similar sign-up offer in 2020 even harder for the bank to attract new customers. We’ll be watching closely to see what else they come up with.
(Cover Photo: Standard Chartered)