The newly-launched DBS Vantage Card enters an already competitive premium credit card market. Can you make the S$588.50 annual fee work?
While it’s far from an official designation, the S$120K segment refers to a group of premium credit cards that offer exclusive travel and lifestyle benefits. These typically come in metal, and have income requirements of at least S$120,000 per annum (hence the name), plus annual fees around the S$500 - S$600 mark. Examples include the Citi Prestige, OCBC VOYAGE and Standard Chartered Visa Infinite.
You can now add the DBS Vantage to that list. After sitting on the sidelines for years, DBS has finally decided to throw its hat into the ring by launching a $120K card of its own. But if you only have the space (and budget) for a single S$120K card, should this be the one?
In this post, we’ll look at the key features and benefits of the DBS Vantage, as well as how they measure up to the competition.
The DBS Vantage Card has an annual fee of S$588.50, which cannot be waived in the first year. In subsequent years, a waiver will only be granted with a minimum spend of S$60,000.
|Card||Annual Fee||Fee Waiver|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||S$650
(S$488 for HSBC Premier)
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||S$642||N/A|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||S$600(1st year free)||Min. S$60K spend|
|DBS Vantage||S$588.50||Min. S$60K spend|
|Standard Chartered Visa Infinite||S$588.50||N/A|
|OCBC VOYAGE||S$488||Min. S$60K spend (S$30K spend for OCBC Premier)|
S$588.50 is a lot of money to pay, but it’s decidedly middle-of-the-road for the S$120K segment. Moreover, DSB Vantage Card cardholders receive 25,000 miles every time the annual fee is paid, which helps to offset some of the cost (I value miles at 1.5 cents each, but everyone will need to come to their own valuation)
From now till 31 July 2022, new DBS Vantage Card cardholders who spend S$8,000 within 60 days of approval and pay the S$588.50 annual fee will receive up to 60,000 miles as follows:
|Pay S$588.50 annual fee||25,000 miles||25,000 miles|
|Spend S$8,000 within 60 days||35,000 miles||15,000 miles|
|Total||60,000 miles||40,000 miles|
The promo code VANMILES must be entered during application.
We don’t often see sign-up bonuses for credit card cards in the S$120K segment, so this is an excellent opportunity particularly if you’re considered a new customer.
DBS Vantage Card cardholders earn 1.5 mpd on local spending, and 2.2 mpd on foreign currency (FCY) spending. There is no minimum spend required, nor caps on the miles that can be earned.
This already puts it at an advantageous (pardon the bad pun) position compared to other cards in the S$120K segment, as the table below shows.
|Card||Local Spend||FCY Spend|
|Standard Chartered Visa Infinite||1.4 mpd*||3.0 mpd*|
|DBS Vantage||1.5 mpd||2.2 mpd|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||1.25 mpd^||2.25 mpd^|
|OCBC VOYAGE||1.3 mpd||2.2 mpd|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||1.4 mpd||2.0 mpd|
|Citi Prestige||1.3 mpd||2.0 mpd|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||1.2 mpd||2.0 mpd|
While the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite looks to be a close competitor, cardholders must spend at least S$2,000 per statement month to unlock its 1.4/3.0 mpd rates on local/FCY spending. Fail to meet that, and it’s a mediocre 1.0 mpd for both!
Likewise, the HSBC Visa Infinite requires a hefty S$50,000 spend in the previous membership year to unlock its 1.25/2.25 mpd rates on local/FCY spending. If you fail to meet that, or if it’s the first year of membership, the earn rate is 1.0/2.0 mpd for local/FCY spending.
It gets even better when you factor in the tactical promotion that DBS is offering till 31 December 2022. All DBS Vantage Card cardholders will enjoy 4 mpd on dining & petrol, capped at S$2,000 per calendar month. This applies to transactions with the following Merchant Category Codes (MCCs):
- MCC 5811 (Caterers)
- MCC 5812 (Eating Places & Restaurants)
- MCC 5813 (Drinking Places)
- MCC 5172 (Petroleum)
- MCC 5541 (Service Stations)
- MCC 5542 (Automated Fuel Dispenser)
This is equally applicable to local and overseas expenditure, and my protip would be to try and clock as much of the S$8,000 minimum spend for the sign-up bonus on these categories.
Simply put, you won’t find a better card in the $120K segment for racking up miles.
DBS Vantage Card cardholders enjoy 10 complimentary lounge visits per membership year, courtesy of Priority Pass. Lounge visits can be shared with guests, so a cardholder could bring his wife and two children and utilise four visits at one go, for example.
This perk is limited to the principal cardholder, and once the free visits are exhausted, a fee of US$32 per visit applies.
Truth be told, 10 free lounge visits isn’t the best perk out there. There are numerous other $120K cards which offer unlimited lounge access, and it’s safe to say that anyone other than a solo casual traveller will burn through that allowance in no time flat.
|Card||Principal Cardholder||Supp. Cardholder|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Citi Prestige||Unlimited + 1 guest||N/A|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||Unlimited||N/A|
|Standard Chartered Visa Infinite||6||N/A|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||4||N/A|
DBS Vantage Card cardholders receive a complimentary Accor Plus Explorer membership each year they renew the card. This normally retails for S$408, and includes the following benefits:
- Up to 50% off dining at participating Accor hotels across Asia Pacific
- 15% off drinks bill in Asia
- 10% off the best available public rate
- Access to Red Hot Room sales with up to 50% off
- Accor Live Limitless Silver status
- One complimentary hotel night
The dining discount is based on the number of diners, and is valid at more than 1,400 restaurants including Prego, Mikuni and Asian Market Cafe.
- 1 diner enjoys 25% off
- 2 diners enjoy 50% off
- 3 diners enjoy 33% off
- 4 diners enjoy 25% off
One little trick to maximise our Accor Plus benefit is to book rooms without breakfast included, then pay at the hotel to enjoy 50% off for two pax. It’s almost always cheaper than booking the breakfast-included rate.
The complimentary hotel night can be redeemed in Singapore or overseas, and careful planning is key to maximising the benefit. It’s relatively easy to find nights at cheaper properties like Novotel and ibis, but you’ll obviously want to redeem it at a Sofitel to get your money’s worth.
Accor Plus also gives you Accor Live Limitless Silver status, which may not sound like a lot but at least secures you a pair of welcome drinks every time you stay. At some hotels, this may even include champagne!
DBS Vantage cardholders can enjoy "members-only discounts at over 80 of Singapore's finest dining establishments", through a partnership with DiningCity.
DiningCity discounts range from 15 - 50% off, though most of them are around the 15% mark. Participating venues include 1-Atico, MONTI, La Brasserie, Napoleon Food & Wine Bar, and Golden Peony.
These discounts are certainly not in the same league as American Express’ Love Dining programme, though to be fair the Accor Plus membership is probably meant to be the main dining draw of the DBS Vantage.
While the DBS Vantage Card has a solid value proposition, those desiring the following perks will need to look elsewhere.
Limo rides: Other $120K cards like the HSBC Visa Infinite, Citi Prestige and OCBC VOYAGE offer cardholders complimentary airport transfers subject to a certain minimum spend. The DBS Vantage has no such benefit.
Non-expiring points: Citi Prestige, Maybank Visa Infinite, OCBC VOYAGE and Standard Chartered Visa Infinite cardholders enjoy non-expiring points, but DBS Vantage Card cardholders must redeem their points within three years. While this is a fairly generous window, it’d obviously be much better had points been evergreen from the start.
Free points transfers: Maybank Visa Infinite and OCBC VOYAGE cardholders can enjoy fee-free transfers of points to frequent flyer programmes. DBS Vantage Card cardholders will need to pay S$26.75 per transfer.
Travel insurance: Some $120K cards offer very solid complimentary travel insurance policies. For example, the Citi Prestige and HSBC Visa Infinite offer a level of coverage comparable to a stand-alone policy, with coverage for accidental death, medical expenses (including COVID-related ones), medical evacuation and travel inconvenience. The DBS Vantage Card has no such benefit.
The DBS Vantage Card is a commendable first attempt to break into the $120K market, given its generous sign up bonus, high earn rates and Accor Plus membership. Key weaknesses would include the lack of an unlimited lounge pass, and the absence of an airport limo benefit.
In that sense, it might be a better lifestyle card than a travel one. If that’s what you’re after, however, it’s a good idea to strike while the iron’s hot and snag that 60,000 miles sign-up offer.
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