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DBS Vantage Card 80,000 miles sign-up bonus: Should you bite?

The new DBS Vantage Card is offering up to 80,000 miles sign-up bonus, with an S$8,000 spend in the first 60 days.

Is it worth it?

Update: Although this 80,000 miles sign-up bonus offer has now expired, DBS has a 60,000 miles deal for those applying by 31st July 2022.

DBS has joined the list of banks offering a S$120k income segment credit card, with its new DBS Vantage product, which for successful applications by the end of Monday comes with an impressive sign-up bonus of up to 80,000 miles, when you make a minimum spend of S$8,000 in the first 60 days.

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The sign-up bonus is only applicable for card account applications received by 27th June 2022, so if you’ve got the spending coming up and you’re interested in more than enough miles to fly SIA Business Class from Singapore to Sydney for the first year fee of S$588.50 – act fast.

Key features

This card accrues DBS Points, with the option to redeem as frequent flyer miles into the likes of KrisFlyer, Asia Miles and Qantas Frequent Flyer, with rates of up to 4 mpd available in some categories.

There’s also a cashback alternative for those who prefer it, with 1.5-4% on offer, though this won’t be of interest to the miles addicts.

We’ll have a full review of this card coming up soon, but for now the headline stats are as follows:

Annual fee: $588.50/yr
EIR: 26.8%
Sign-up bonus: 80,000 miles*
Local earn rate: 1.5 mpd
Overseas earn rate: 2.2 mpd
FCY transaction fee: 3.25%
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income: S$120,000/yr
* Min. S$8k spend in the first 60 days

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Other card benefits include:

  • Priority Pass membership with up to 10 free lounge visits per year (US$32 per visit thereafter)
  • Accor Plus Explorer membership, including Elite Silver status and one complimentary Asia-Pacific hotel night per year at selected brands
  • Up to 50% off local dining at over 80 Singapore restaurants (though most are ~15%)
  • The ability to switch between miles and cashback, if you wish
  • Free supplementary card

Sign-up bonus

The sign-up offer for the DBS Vantage Visa Infinite Card is worth up to 80,000 miles if you apply by 23:59h Singapore Time on 27th June 2022, and spend S$8,000 in the first 60 days of card membership. It is subject to payment of the (non-waivable) annual fee of S$588.50.

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You must enter the promo code ‘VTMILES’ when you apply, and your card must be approved by 11th July 2022, in order to qualify.

The bonus miles structure is outlined in the following table, based on whether you are an existing DBS or POSB primary cardholder or not.

  New to DBS/POSB Existing DBS/POSB
Payment of Annual Fee 25,000 miles 25,000 miles
Meet S$8,000 Spend Criteria 55,000 miles 35,000 miles
Total award 80,000 miles 60,000 miles

DBS defines ‘new-to-bank’ customers as those who:

  • do not currently hold any principal DBS/POSB credit card; and
  • have not cancelled any principal DBS/POSB credit card(s) within the last 12 months.

If you are a supplementary DBS/POSB cardholder, but not a primary cardholder on any such account, you will qualify as a new customer.



 


 

Regular earn rates are in addition

These bonus miles will be awarded in addition to the regular miles you will accrue anyway to meet the S$8,000 spend as part of the sign-up bonus.

Your total earning (including the sign-up bonus) during this promotion, will be at least 72,000 miles as an existing customer or 92,000 miles as a new customer, assuming local spend.

DBS Vantage
Total promotion earning

  New to DBS/POSB Existing DBS /POSB
Sign-up bonus 80,000 miles 60,000 miles
Miles for S$8,000 local spend
(1.5 mpd)
12,000 miles 12,000 miles
Total 92,000 miles 72,000 miles

You’ll do even better than this by tapping into the card’s overseas (2.2 mpd) and petrol / dining (4 mpd) earn rates during the first 60 days of card membership.

For example as a new-to-bank cardholder with S$3,600 of petrol and dining spend, S$400 of local retail spend and S$4,000 of FCY retail spend in the first 60 days, you’re looking at 23,680 miles for the spend itself, for a grand total of 103,680 miles.

That’s enough for a one-way saver Business Class award from Singapore to Europe, even at the devalued KrisFlyer rates from 5th July 2022.

It’s possible with the right spend profile in the first 60 days to net enough miles for a Business Class redemption from Singapore to Europe on SIA, (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Cost per mile

Here’s how the cost per mile stacks up for simply signing up for the card (no spend requirement), or for meeting the S$8,000 spend requirement in the first 60 days as either an existing or new DBS credit card customer.

DBS Vantage
Cost per mile

  Total bonus Cost per mile
Annual fee only
(no spend requirement)
25,000 miles 2.35 cents
With S$8,000 spend
(existing DBS cardholder)
60,000 miles 0.98 cents
With S$8,000 spend
(new-to-bank)
80,000 miles 0.74 cents

This is based on payment of the (non-waivable) first year annual fee of S$588.50.

It’s clearly not worth signing up for this card if you aren’t going to participate in the bonus miles for S$8,000+ spend promotion, since the 25,000 miles you’ll receive for payment of the annual fee means buying miles at 2.35 cents each (assuming you don’t place any value on the other perks).

With the bonus miles in play, however, it’s worth it in our book even if you’re an existing DBS customer, buying 60,000 miles at 0.98 cents each, or even better as a new customer, where the cost per mile drops to a highly competitive 0.74 cents each.

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Those are excellent rates to acquire KrisFlyer miles, our upper threshold to buy is currently 1.9 cents each (though there may be a slight deterioration to come owing to the latest devaluation). We typically achieve at least 2.4 cents per mile when we redeem.

At a 1.9 cents per mile the 80,000-mile bonus for new customers is worth at least S$1,500 against future Singapore Airlines redemptions, and you’re getting it here for S$588.50, even if you value the rest of this card’s perks at nothing, and of course assuming that meeting the S$8,000 spend threshold won’t be an issue for you.

Earn rate equivalent

Looking at the calculation another way, as a new-to-bank customer you’re earning 92,000 miles in total for S$8,000 spend, assuming local transactions, an excellent effective earning rate of 11.5 miles per dollar.

As we outlined above, you’ll do better than that with some foreign currency spend at the 2.2 mpd earn rate, or for petrol and dining at the 4 mpd rate.

You could break the calculation down further and say that since the first 25,000 miles require no spending at all, you are really only earning 67,000 miles for the S$8,000 in local spend as a new-to-bank customer (55,000 sign-up bonus + 12,000 regular local earn rate).

That puts the effective earning rate at 8.4 miles per dollar, though we don’t think many people will be paying the annual fee and simply settling for the 25,000 miles annual fee gift, since that comes in at a high cost of 2.35 cents per mile (S$588.50 / 25,000).

When the bonus miles are credited

The first tranche of 12,500 DBS Points, which transfer into 25,000 frequent flyer miles like KrisFlyer, will be credited as soon as your annual fee is charged.

The bonus, equivalent to an extra 55,000 miles for new-to-bank cardholders or an extra 35,000 miles for existing DBS credit card customers, will be credited within 120 to 150 days of you meeting the S$8,000 spend criteria.

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For example if you apply on 27th June 2022, are approved on 11th July 2022, and meet the minimum spend criteria right at the end of your 60-day window on 9th September 2022, you could be waiting until 6th February 2023 to see this major element of the bonus.

That’s a very long time, compared for example to the Standard Chartered X Card 100,000 miles sign-up bonus back in 2019, where the spend bonus was credited no more than a month after the eligible spend period ended.

Spend exclusions

DBS is excluding transactions which fall under its usual list of excluded spend categories when it comes to qualifying spend for the S$8,000 minimum within 60 days to trigger the bonus miles, as shown below (click to expand).

  • posted 0% Interest Instalment Payment Plan monthly transactions
  • posted My Preferred Payment Plan monthly transactions
  • interest, finance charges, cash withdrawal, balance transfer, smart cash, AXS payments, SAM online bill payments, bill payments via internet banking and all fees charged by DBS
  • payments to educational institutions
  • payments to financial institutions (including banks, online trading platforms and brokerages)
  • payments to government institutions and services (court cases, fines, bail and bonds, tax payment, postal services, parking lots and garages, intra-government purchases and any other government services not classified here)
  • payments to hospitals
  • payments to insurance companies (sales, underwriting and premiums)
  • payments to non-profit organisations
  • payments to utility bill companies
  • payments to professional service providers (including but not limited to accounting, auditing, bookkeeping services, advertising services, funeral service and legal services and attorneys)
  • any top-ups or payment of funds to payment service providers, prepaid cards, any prepaid accounts or purchase of prepaid cards/credits (including but not limited to EZ-Link, GrabPay, NETS FlashPay and Singtel Dash)
  • any betting transactions (including levy payments to local casinos, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, off-track betting and wagers)
  • any transactions related to crypto currencies
  • any transaction with transaction description “AMAZE*”
  • any other transactions determined by DBS from time to time

Note that CardUp and ipaymy spend is not excluded, so you can potentially settle large payments like property rental, insurance premiums and education fees to help you along your way to the magic S$8,000.

Annual fee bonus

If you keep the DBS Vantage Card into your second card membership year and beyond, do note that a 25,000 miles bonus is credited each year on payment of the annual fee of S$588.50 (cost per mile 2.35 cents).

The annual fee is waived if your retail spend in the previous card membership year was S$60,000+, however in this case the 25,000 bonus miles will not be awarded.

Earning rates

The sign-up bonus is the main draw for this card, but the regular earn rates aren’t too bad either.

DBS Vantage cardholders will earn 3.75 DBS Points (7.5 miles) for every S$5 in local currency spend, and 5.5 DBS Points (11 miles) for every S$5 equivalent on foreign currency transactions. That works out as:

  • Local Spend: 1.5 miles per S$1
  • Foreign Currency Spend: 2.2 miles per S$1

With an FCY fee of 3.25%, earning 2.2 mpd on overseas transactions is the equivalent of buying miles for around 1.56 cents each, compared to using cash, including a 0.3% ‘spread’ over money changer rates.

4 mpd on dining and petrol

Between now and 31st December 2022, DBS Vantage cardholders will earn an additional 6.25 DBS Points (12.5 miles) for every S$5 spend on local dining and petrol spend, or an additional 4.5 DBS Points (9 miles) for every S$5 equivalent on dining and petrol spend transacted in foreign currency.

That works out as:

  • Dining & Petrol Spend (Local or FCY): 4 miles per S$1

This bonus is applicable only on the first S$2,000 aggregate spend across these two categories per calendar month, based on the transaction date (even if the charge is posted on your statement the following month).

Dining is a useful bonus spend category for the next six months. (Photo: Artemis Singapore)

Here are the eligible MCC categories.

Dining MCCs

Eligible MCCs Category
5811 Caterers
(e.g. HappyMamaPapa Catering, Stamford Catering, Tian Wei Signature)
5812 Eating Places and Restaurants
(e.g. Chope, Deliveroo, foodpanda, Lei Garden, Les Amis, Sen-ryo, Shinji by Kanesaka, Wooloomooloo Steakhouse)
5813 Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages)
Bars, Taverns, Nightclubs, Cocktail Lounges, and Discotheques
(e.g. 1-Altitude Rooftop Bar, Brewerkz, Gibson Bar, Penicillin Bar, Zouk)

Petrol Spend MCCs

Eligible MCCs Category
5172 Petroleum and Petroleum Products
(e.g. Al Maha, Hascol, Metro Petroleum Williamtown, Vibe Jandakot)
5541 Service Stations (with or without Assistance Services)
(e.g. Caltex, Esso, Shell, Sinopec, United Petroleum)
5542 Automated Fuel Dispensers
(e.g. BHPetrol, BJS Fuel, Esso, Shell, Petronas)

The bonus DBS Points, making up the difference between the regular local or overseas earn rate (as applicable) and the total 4 mpd level, will be awarded on the 11th day of the next calendar month.

As an example, for bonus category spend in July, the bonus will post on 11th August (or the next working day).

S$5 spending blocks?

As you may notice, DBS quotes its earn rates in S$5 earning blocks, suggesting you need to spend at least S$5 to earn points, and thereafter earn in S$5 spend blocks, like you do with OCBC and UOB.

Thankfully that’s not the case.

You’ll actually earn miles for spending only S$2.00+ in local currency or S$1.00+ in FCY / or on dining / petrol. If you’re interested how the maths works, expand the box below for details.

Each transaction you make, whether in SGD or foreign currency, will first be rounded down to the next whole dollar (in SGD equivalent, if required) before DBS Points earning is assessed (e.g. S$57.99 is rounded down to S$57).

Your rounded down transaction (S$57 in the $57.99 example above) is then divided by 5 before being multiplied by the appropriate number of DBS Points applicable to the transaction.

Only whole DBS Points can be awarded for your transaction so it's another 'round down' at the end, to the next whole point.

For example, assuming a S$57.99 local transaction with the Vantage card:

  • S$57.99 rounds down to 57
  • 57 / 5 = 11.4 x 3.75 (local purchase) = 42.75
  • 42.75 rounds down to 42
  • 42 DBS Points awarded (equivalent to 84 miles, so you're getting 1.45 mpd)

Here's how it works for a S$57.99 foreign currency transaction (after conversion from the relevant FCY amount):

  • S$57.99 rounds down to 57
  • 57 / 5 = 11.4 x 5.5 (FCY purchase) = 62.7
  • 62.7 rounds down to 62
  • 62 DBS Points awarded (equivalent to 124 miles, so you're getting 2.14 mpd)

Note how in both cases the actual earn rates you're achieving fall a bit short of the 'advertised' rates, due to rounding.

Since you'll need to accrue at least 1 DBS Point to earn miles for your transaction (0.99 DBS Points rounds down to zero), the minimum spend in SGD on the DBS Vantage card to earn points is not S$5, but:

  • Local transactions: $2.00
  • FCY transactions: $1.00 (after conversion)
  • Dining & Petrol transactions*: $1.00

* Until 31st December 2022

These are quite reasonable levels, given that some credit cards including UOB and OCBC products are awarding no miles at all for transactions of less than $5.

Which FFPs?

You can transfer DBS Points into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Qantas Frequent Flyer Points.

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The minimum volume of miles you can transfer into KrisFlyer is 10,000 (i.e. 5,000 DBS Points). Thereafter they must then be transferred in blocks of 10,000 miles.

The same earning rate, transfer cost, and minimum transfer ‘blocks’ apply if you choose to credit to Asia Miles or Qantas.

You can also transfer your DBS Points to Air Asia BIG Points, here 500 DBS Points will transfer into 1,500 BIG Points (a 3:1 ratio), though it won’t be much interest to our readers – BIG Points are worth only about $0.0034 each (0.34 cents), or about a fifth of the value of a KrisFlyer mile / Asia Mile.

It’ll cost $26.75 (including GST) each time you transfer DBS Points to frequent flyer miles, regardless of the total quantity.

DBS Points to miles transfers take between 5 and 10 working days according to the bank, but in our experience when converting to both KrisFlyer and Asia Miles you’ll see the miles in your account within 2 days.

Priority Pass with 10 free visits

DBS Vantage cardholders will benefit from a Priority Pass membership, entitling them to 10 free lounge visits per year. Access is then charged at US$32 (~S$45) per visit thereafter.

While this is a decent number of lounge visits, unfortunately it falls short of the unlimited Priority Pass benefit you get with cards like the Citi Prestige.

Nonetheless with travel very much back on the agenda there’s some value to be had here, even if it does only cover a couple of trips when travelling with your partner.

Priority Pass options at Changi T3 include the Marhaba lounge, which recently reopened. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Accor Plus Explorer including free hotel night

DBS Vantage cardholders also get a complimentary Accor Plus Explorer membership, which usually costs S$408 per year.

The benefits include:

  • Accor Live Limitless Elite Silver status
  • 10% discount on best available rates
  • Up to 50% off in-hotel restaurant dining
  • 15% off drinks at in-hotel bars and restaurants

Perhaps best of all though, the membership also gives you one complimentary night at an Accor property in the Asia-Pacific region each year.

Before you get too excited, do note that there are specific property and whole brand exclusions (see here), so this isn’t a free night at Raffles or anything like that!

The Fairmont Singapore is an eligible Accor property for the free night benefit. (Photo: Accor)

While the free night is the biggest draw here, Accor Silver status also gives you a complimentary welcome drink and late checkout benefits for all stays, which can come in handy if you frequent Accor properties.

Vantage DBS Points expire after 3 years

As many of you will know, some DBS Points expire, and some don’t.

For example, if you accrue points on the DBS Altitude card they never expire, but those you pick up on the DBS Woman’s card expire on an annual basis.

The DBS Vantage Card has its own expiry policy:

  • DBS Points awarded in the first year* expire 36 months from card opening.
  • DBS Points earned in each successive year expire three years from their earned date.

* Up to 36 months from the date the card account is opened

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Once you transfer DBS Points into KrisFlyer, miles are valid for 3 years from the month of deposit.

For DBS to Asia Miles or Qantas transfers, miles will then be valid for 18 months, but any earning or redemption activity keeps all your miles alive for a further 18 months.

Points combine with other DBS cards

If you have more than one DBS card the DBS Points earned on all your cards will be aggregated for purposes of redemption of rewards, including miles transfers.

DBS Points expiring first will be used first in any redemption transaction.

If you cancel your Vantage Card however, any DBS Points accrued but not redeemed from the card will be forfeited. They cannot be transferred, for example, to your Altitude card.

Can you just ‘ditch’ the card?

Yes! If you’re only in it to accrue the bonus miles, but you have no interest in the DBS Vantage Card thereafter, you can cancel the card once the bonus DBS Points have been awarded and you’ve transferred them out to KrisFlyer, or your preferred programme.

There are a couple of points to note on this:

  • You can keep the card and its perks for no additional fee until the end of your first full membership year, then cancel before the second year annual fee is charged, which could be handy (Priority Pass, etc.).
  • If you have DBS Points accrued on another card that expire earlier (e.g. WWMC), those will be used up first in any miles transfer. You’ll therefore have to clear out your WWMC and Vantage balance in this example, before cancelling the Vantage Card.

Should you bite?

If you meet the income requirement and have at least S$8,000 spend to make in the next two months, this sign-up bonus is definitely worth it in our book.

  • Excellent cost per mile, both for new and existing DBS cardholders
  • Transfer to KrisFlyer, Asia Miles or Qantas Points
  • Useful 4 mpd categories (dining & petrol) for the rest of 2022
  • 10 lounge visits and a free hotel night you will almost certainly use, now that travel is back in full swing

At the same time, don’t underestimate the minimum spend.

S$8,000 is a large amount to commit to for many people in just 60 days, and although the likes of CardUp and ipaymy are eligible spend categories, generally speaking it’s only genuine ‘retail transactions’ included after that.

The annual fee bonus alone (25,000 miles) really isn’t worth it, if you end up falling short.

Don’t stretch yourself financially, only do this if you’re certain you will comfortably meet the spend threshold.

To us the major downsides with this card are that these DBS Points will expire after 3 years, that the bonus 4 mpd rate is only applicable till the end of 2022, and that you could be waiting into early 2023 to actually receive the bulk of the bonus miles.

Terms and conditions

Here’s the full set of terms and conditions for the DBS Vantage Card, and for the sign-up bonus promotion itself:

Cashback alternative

We’ve naturally focused on the miles-earning side of the DBS Vantage Card, but there are actually two ways to earn awards each month, as DBS Points that can be converted to miles or as an automatic cashback (statement credit) alternative:

  • 1 DBS Point to 2 miles; or
  • 1 DBS Point to S$0.02 cashback

That means, as an alternative to miles, the card is effectively offering:

  • Local Spend: 1.5% cashback
  • Foreign Currency Spend: 2.2% cashback
  • Dining & Petrol Spend*: 4% cashback

* Until 31st December 2022

These are inferior rates relative to the value of miles earned, in our opinion, and are unlikely to be of much interest to our readers (unless you value KrisFlyer miles, for example, at less than 1 cent each, in which case there are better cashback cards on the market anyway).

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