Back in March 2020 we were reporting how Standard Chartered had closed new applications for its Visa Infinite card, almost certainly sealing its fate amidst rumours that the product was being discontinued following the launch of the X Card in mid-2019.
Application links were removed from the Standard Chartered website, and while many of the other product details were still shown, references to its year-round 35,000 miles sign-up bonus had also been mostly removed (well you can’t get a sign-up bonus, if you can’t even sign up!).
Things had gone very quiet since than and although new applications were suspended, those of us holding the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite (SCVI) card (and in many cases the X Card too) heard nothing from the bank about any proposed changes to the arrangements.
Applications are open again: 35,000 miles sign-up bonus
It seems rumours of the SCVI’s demise were premature, with the bank re-opening applications for the card and its 35,000 miles sign-up bonus.
“The card was temporarily suspended for new sign ups since February last year. As of 05/01 the card is available for new sign ups.”Standard Chartered
The bonus is actually one of the few things about this card worth having, with 35,000 miles credited for payment of the first year annual fee of S$588.50 you’re effectively buying miles at 1.68 cents each.
Cost per KrisFlyer mile
S$588.50 / 35,000
In normal times this is a good rate to buy miles, though in the current COVID-19 climate with the timescale for return of international travel still looking uncertain, it’s certainly lost its shine.
The opportunity is only good in the first year, since there is no formal miles bonus on annual renewal with this card.
Standard Chartered usually offers 50,000 Reward Points on renewal (equivalent to 20,000 miles), but this is not an attractive proposition at 2.94 cents per mile, so you’d have to value the card’s other benefits (which are minimal) to continue to commit beyond year one.
Mainly Miles confirmed with Standard Chartered that the card has reopened for applications today (5th January 2021) and the sign-up bonus remains the same. The terms and conditions will be updated “within the next week or so”.
There isn’t much else to the card
For a S$150k income high annual fee credit card, the SCVI is pretty light on benefits.
Once you’ve received the 35,000 miles sign-up bonus (for a “reasonable” cost), its main advantage is competitive earn rates provided you spend at least S$2,000 per statement cycle:
- Local Spend: 1.4 mpd
- FCY Spend: 3 mpd
In statement months where you don’t hit the S$2,000 spend however, it’s far less attractive:
- Local Spend: 1 mpd
- FCY Spend: 2 mpd
Even the complimentary yacht hire benefit for spending at least S$75,000 on the card in a calendar year was discontinued in 2019, though Standard Chartered rather cheekily still advertises it on the product landing page.
Income tax payment
If you’re on the fence about buying 35,000 miles for 1.68 cents each, which is understandable, there’s another useful benefit of the SCVI card – generating cheap miles when paying this year’s income tax bill.
That’s because of the card’s competitive 1.6% fee for income tax payments.
The SCVI gives you 1.4 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 spent locally, assuming you have at least S$2,000 of spend on the card in the same statement month (including the income tax payment), which is a condition of the higher earning rate.
For a S$10,000 tax bill (example to keep the maths easy), the fee will set you back S$160, for 14,000 miles awarded. That means paying 1.14 cents per KrisFlyer mile, which is a great deal as we value them at 1.9 cents each if used sensibly.
Better still, Standard Chartered will pay your income tax Notice of Assessment amount directly into your bank account, for you to then arrange payment to IRAS yourself. You are under no obligation to do this, and can continue with a monthly GIRO payment instead if you prefer.
There were some excellent deals out there last year for buying miles by using a credit card to settle your annual income tax payment, but this SCVI one still came out on top, with the exception of some elusive 1.6 mpd credit cards like the DBS Insignia and Citi ULTIMA through CardUp and ipaymy.
The Visa Infinite X Card
The SCVI’s new lease of life won’t change one thing – the card sits awkwardly alongside the bank’s X Card, launched in 2019 with a great sign-up bonus but far inferior perks for its higher annual fee.
It always looked like the two products could not both exist in perpetuity, and the apparent withdrawal of the SCVI card to new applicants last year was beginning to look like the start of that process, though stangely that’s not what’s happened.
Here’s a look at how the main benefits of the SCVI and X Card sit (rather uncomfortably) alongside one another.
|Sign-up bonus||35,000 miles||30,000 miles|
|Local earn rate||1.4 mpd*||1.2 mpd|
|FCY earn rate||3 mpd**||2 mpd|
|Miles transfer fee||$26.75||$26.75|
|Income tax payment facility||1.14 cpm||1.58 cpm|
* 1 mpd if < S$2,000 spent in a statement cycle
** 2 mpd if < S$2,000 spent in a statement cycle
The best thing about the X Card? The bank waived the annual renewal fee for everyone’s second membership year, while the SCVI’s fee remains strictly non-waivable.
An unexpected ‘back from the dead’ return for a card most of us had written off early last year – the SCVI is back with its 35,000 miles sign-up bonus for a first year annual fee of S$588.50.
It’s surprising that Standard Chartered has brought the card back given the awkward disparities that still exist between the SCVI and the X Card, though the bank clearly thinks each still have a market to serve.
Most of our readers earning S$150k+ (an SCVI requirement) probably don’t need an extra 35,000 KrisFlyer miles at the moment, given the lack of redemption opportunities over the last year.
However if you’ll also use the card to tap into the opportunity to buy miles at 1.14 cents each through your 2021 income tax payment later in the year, this may be one worth considering.
(Cover Photo: Tom Grimbert)