Standard Chartered has announced its new ongoing sign-up bonus for the X Card during 2021, amending its terms and conditions document to reflect an ongoing 30,000 miles upfront gift when taking out a new card and paying the hefty S$695.50 annual fee. The bank is also adding to its spend exclusion list for miles earning, including for charitable donations.
With an effective date range of 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2021, this now seems to be the de facto permanent sign-up gift, though that doesn’t stop the bank offering short-term spend bonuses for new cardholders from time to time, as it has done in the past and hopefully will again at some point this year.
30,000 miles sign-up bonus
The Standard Chartered X Card has had something of a chequered history. First offering a jaw-dropping 100,000 miles sign-up bonus when it launched, the bank quickly cut that to 60,000 miles before suspending new applications for the card completely.
A smaller sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles has mostly been the norm, though a higher bonus was offered during an anniversary promotion last year, with minimum spend conditions.
Luckily the bank saw sense last year, by waiving the annual renewal fee for those keeping the card into year two, which no doubt avoided a mass exodus.
Standard Chartered has retained the 30,000 miles “Upfront Gift Promotion”, for activating your X Card within 30 days and paying the annual fee of S$695.50.
Headline conditions are:
- You must activate your card within 30 days of approval date.
- No minimum spend is required for this offer.
- The X Card must, within 6 months of account opening date, be valid (not cancelled), in good standing, and conducted in a proper and satisfactory manner as determined by the Bank.
- The 30,000 miles are paid as 75,000 Standard Chartered 360° Reward Points.
Cost per mile
The cost per mile calculation is the annual fee divided by 30,000 miles (the bonus).
Cost per KrisFlyer mile
S$695.50 / 30,000
Straight away you can see this is simply a poor deal. There’s no way anyone should be paying over 2 cents per mile with a credit card sign-up bonus, unless the card has significant and valuable additional perks to account for.
As most of our readers will know, the X Card comes with hardly any additional benefits (a couple of Priority Pass lounge visits is about the only one worth mentioning), and we endorse an ‘upper limit to buy’ of 1.9 cents per mile.
Cash rewards alternative
Standard Chartered also offers the option to redeem your Rewards Points for a cash alternative rather than for airline miles. You’ll instead get 1 cent per 2.5 Rewards Points (i.e. 1 cent per mile).
That’s an effective ‘cashback’ of S$300, for example, instead of transferring the 30,000 miles sign-up bonus to KrisFlyer.
This is a very poor proposition, as you would imagine for a ‘cash-out’ option.
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 January 2021 you’ll see this bonus in your account by 2nd March 2021.
Other loyalty schemes
Apart from KrisFlyer, there are 11 other loyalty programmes you can transfer into from the X Card.
These don’t all transfer at the same 2.5:1 ratio, in many cases it’s a higher ratio 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 (in fact, there are hardly any good deals here).
|X Card Airline Partner Conversion|
|X card Hotel Partner Conversion|
|Loyalty scheme||Conversion Ratio|
As you can see in some cases the transfer ratio is double that to KrisFlyer, giving you half as many points / miles in the loyalty scheme for the same number of rewards points transferred.
For example the 75,000 360° Reward Points awarded in this sign-up bonus would transfer to only around 21,500 Qatar Airways Privilege Club Qmiles or 15,000 Accor Points.
On the plus side, Standard Chartered 360° Reward Points earned on the X Card do not expire and the bank does occasionally offer transfer bonuses into a specific programme (e.g. 100% bonus to Emirates Skywards miles, 40% bonus to Qantas Frequent Flyer, etc.).
That means it’s worth holding points at the bank side for as long as possible, in case a bonus you like the look of comes along.
Here are the latest key features of the X Card:
Annual fee: $695.50/yr
Sign-up bonus: 30,000 miles
Local earn rate: 1.2 mpd
Overseas earn rate: 2 mpd
Foreign transaction fee: 3.5%
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income: S$80,000/yr*
* Priority/Private Banking customers: S$30,000/yr (Singaporean/PR) or S$60,000/yr (Foreigner)
Full details are available in our comprehensive review.
The SCVI card is back
The new sign-up bonus for the X Card comes after the bank surprised us earlier in the month by resurrecting its Visa Infinite card, thought to be withdrawn from the lineup, which is back on offer with a 35,000 miles sign-up bonus for a lower annual fee of S$588.50.
That’s a far better proposition than the X Card for simply ‘buying’ miles if you’re interested in doing so, at a far more palatable 1.68 cents per mile.
New spend exclusions
Standard Chartered is also adding some new MCC exclusions for eligible spend on its credit cards for earning of Rewards Points.
|7349||Cleaning, Maintenance and Janitorial Services and Property Management|
|7523||Parking Lots, Parking Meters and Garages|
|8398||Charitable Social Service Organizations|
Luckily you’ll still earn miles for spending on utilities and public transport with this card. For a full list of exclusions, see the newly updated SCB X Credit Card Terms and Conditions.
Currently there is no update to the terms for other Standard Chartered credit cards, but these lists are almost always consistent across a bank’s card products, so expect those to be updated in line with the above in the coming days.
Crucially, the spend exclusions have actually been backdated! That means if you made transactions in these categories on or after 1st January 2021 they would not have earned any miles, which is more than a little cheeky of Standard Chartered now that we’re 14 days into the month!
Not great news from Standard Chartered here, with a lacklustre sign-up bonus for its X Card that won’t be enticing many (if any) people to get one, especially with a far superior offer back on the table for the SCVI product, albeit with a much higher income requirement.
It’s obviously a far cry from the 100,000 and 60,000-miles offers we saw during the (heavily botched) product launch in 2018.
There’s simply no good reason to jump in with the current X Card sign-up offer, the equivalent of paying 2.32 cents per mile through the annual fee, given that the card has so few additional perks.
There are also some brand new spend exclusions to be aware of for existing X Card (and likely all Standard Chartered) cardholders, with charitable donations, parking and cleaning / property management MCCs joining the exclusion list two weeks ago (thanks for telling us, SCB!).
If you’re interested in this card (why you would be we’re not sure), our advice is wait for a better sign-up promotion to come along!