Financial News and Advice in Singapore

Credit Card Combination: Why Pairing SCB Rewards+ And SCB Visa Infinite Or X Card Is A Good Idea

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The Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card may seem rather ordinary by itself, but pair it with a Visa Infinite or X Card and you’ve got a potent combination.

By my own admission, I’ve not paid a lot of attention to the Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card. Even though it purports to offer 10X rewards points on foreign currency spending, online shopping and groceries, and 5X rewards points on dining, it’s relatively underpowered compared to other rewards cards on the market.

Why? Because of Standard Chartered’s odd rewards system. While most other banks use a conversion ratio of 2,500 points = 1,000 airline miles, Standard Chartered uses a ratio of 3,500 points = 1,015 airline miles instead.

Therefore, while 10X points means the equivalent of 4 miles per dollar on other rewards cards (because S$1 spend= 10X points= 4 miles), it means 2.9 miles per dollar with the Standard Chartered Rewards+ (because S$1 spend = 10X points = 2.9 miles).

In that sense, it’s outperformed by other cards like the HSBC Revolution (4 miles per dollar on dining and selected online transactions) or the Citi Rewards (4 miles per dollar on online transactions).

But did you know there’s a neat little hack to turn the Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card from also-ran into wallet essential?

How it works

I should probably say upfront that this only works if you can qualify for a Standard Chartered Visa Infinite (min. income S$150,000) or Standard Chartered X Card (min. income S$80,000).

Those income requirements are significantly higher than the minimum S$30,000 that the MAS prescribes, so they won’t be an option for everyone.

But assuming that’s not an issue, you’ll be able to take advantage of Standard Chartered’s preferential rewards system. Instead of the aforementioned 3,500 points = 1,015 miles rate, these cardmembers enjoy a rate of 2,500 points = 1,000 miles.

What does this have to do with the Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card? Standard Chartered combines points across different cards, which means you can redeem all of them at the more preferable rate.

Example of pooling. Notice how the 100 points on the Rewards+ card are pooled with the 29,978 points on the X Card for a total of 30,078 points

To illustrate, suppose I spend S$500 in foreign currency on my Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card. That will earn me 5,000 rewards points, after taking into account the bonus.

Now, because I hold a Standard Chartered Visa Infinite or X Card, I’m able to convert those 5,000 points at the 2,500 points = 1,000 miles ratio, yielding me 2,000 miles. I’ve therefore earned miles at an effective rate of 4 miles per dollar.

This means the Standard Chartered Rewards+ is a great option to round out your portfolio. You use it for foreign currency spending or online spending on shopping or groceries, while using the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite or X Card for everything else.

Credit CardSCB Rewards+SCB X CardSCB Visa Infinite
Local Dining2.0 mpd1.2 mpd1.4 mpd*
FCY Spend4.0 mpd2.0 mpd3.0 mpd*
Online Shopping & Online Groceries4.0 mpd1.2 mpd1.4 mpd*
All other spending0.4 mpd1.2 mpd1.4 mpd*

*With minimum S$2,000 spend per statement month, otherwise 1 mpd

This will help you accumulate points a lot faster than had you just used the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite or X Card on its own.

To sweeten the deal, the Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card has no annual fee for the first two years, and you should be able to request a further waiver subsequently, depending on your spending volume.

battle of the rewards cards

What’s the catch?

The main catch to be aware of is that the bonus points on the Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card are capped. You can earn a maximum of 20,000 bonus points per membership year on the dining and foreign currency spending category. This means you’d max it out with:

  • S$2,222 of foreign currency spending
  • S$5,000 of local dining spending

Likewise, the bonus points for online shopping and groceries are only available up till 31 March 2021, and you’ll need to spend at the following merchants to be eligible:

ShoppingGroceries
Men’s, Women’s and Children’s Uniforms (5137)
Commercial Footwear (5139)
Department Stores (5311)
Men’s & Boys’ Clothing and Accessory Stores (5611)
Women’s Ready-to-Wear Stores (5621)
Women’s Accessory and Specialty Stores (5631)
Children’s and Infants’ Wear Stores (5641)
Family Clothing Stores (5651)
Sports and Riding Apparel Stores (5655)
Shoe Stores (5661)
Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores (5691)
Tailors, Seamstresses, Mending, Alterations (5697)
Wig & Toupee Shops (5698)
Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Stores (5699)
Luggage and Leather Goods Stores (5948)
Discount Store (5310)
Variety Stores (5331)
Miscellaneous General Merchandise (5399)
Grocery Stores and Supermarkets (5411)
Miscellaneous & Specialty Retail Stores (5999)

This is likewise capped at 20,000 bonus points for both categories, which means you’d max it out with S$2,222 of spending. Bonus points will be credited to your account by 30 June 2021, and you can find the full T&Cs here.

The caps are admittedly on the low side (for comparison’s sake, the HSBC Revolution has a S$1,000 bonus cap per month), but since points are pooled, there’s no incremental cost associated with earning points on the Standard Chartered Rewards+.

What can I do with Standard Chartered points?

In 2019, Standard Chartered enhanced its rewards program by adding 10 additional airline and hotel transfer partners. While cardmembers could previously only transfer points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, they can now choose from:

  • Accor Live Limitless
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • FlyingBlue
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Lufthansa Miles & More
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • United MileagePlus

This is significantly better than most other banks in Singapore, which usually partner with only Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. It allows you to take advantage of award chart sweet spots in other frequent flyer programs, while hedging against the risk of any particular program devaluing.

All transfers from points to frequent flyer programs will incur a S$26.75 admin fee.

Conclusion

While this hack won’t be applicable to everyone, those who qualify for a Standard Chartered Visa Infinite or X Card will find the Standard Chartered Rewards+ Card a worthy companion.

It’s an easy and (for at least the first two years) free way to boost your earn rates on certain categories of spending, while earning a range of more ‘exotic’ airline miles that aren’t available to other banks.

battle of the rewards cards

Read these next:
Most Popular Credit Cards In Singapore (2021)
6 Credit Cards Which Give Free Access to Airport Lounges
Best Air Miles Credit Cards In Singapore (2021)
Best Standard Chartered Credit Cards in Singapore (2021)
Cashback vs Miles vs Rewards: Which Is The Best Type Of Credit Card For You?

By Aaron Wong
Aaron started The MileLion to help people travel better for less and impress “chiobu”. He was 50% successful. This is his story.