There's a sensational new card in town – the Standard Chartered X Card – but how does it stack against other premium cards in the market? Here's the lowdown.
Opinions expressed reflect the view of the writer (this is his story).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll no doubt have heard about the Standard Chartered X Card, which offers an unprecedented 100,000 miles sign up bonus with $6,000 spent in 60 days after approval.
Or perhaps I should say “offered”. Launched on 25 July to much fanfare, the X Card was swamped with applications, so much so that the team pulled the 100,000 miles sign up bonus more than a month early. The revised offer of 60,000 miles (which requires the same $6,000 spending) may still be one of the highest in the market, but it’s certainly a far cry from what it was before.
If you’re still considering the X Card, you should know that it doesn’t come cheap at an annual fee of $695.50. The question then is: sign-up bonus aside, how does the X Card measure up against other premium credit cards (defined as those carrying annual fees >$450) in the market?
Letdown #1: The SCB X Card’s earn rates are below par
The SCB X Card earns 1.2 mpd on local spending and 2.0 mpd on foreign currency spending, with no minimum spend required or caps. Cardholders can also opt to earn 1.2% and 2% cashback on local and foreign currency spending respectively, but I’d argue that there’s no point in paying ~$700 for a cashback card.
Here’s how those miles earning rates compare to other premium cards:
|Card||Annual Fee||Local Earn Rate||FCY Earn Rate|
|SCB Visa infinite||$588.50||1.4^||3.0^|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||$642||1.4||2.0|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||$488 (Premier)/ $650 (Regular)||1.25*||2.25*|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||$600||1.2||2.0|
|SCB X Card||$695.50||1.2||2.0|
^With spending >$2K per month, otherwise 1 mpd for both
*With spending >$50K in the previous card membership year, otherwise 1 mpd for local and 2 mpd for FCY
As you can see, the X Card’s rates are below the competition, which means it’s not really a card to use once you’ve hit your $6,000 sign up bonus spend.
Although the miles earning rates may not be the best in the market, it’s hard to argue with the range of transfer partners.
Historically, SCB has only offered points transfers to KrisFlyer. However, with the launch of the X card, an additional 11 hotel and airline loyalty programs are coming onboard
Not all transfer partners offer the same conversion ratio. For example, every $1 spent on the X Card would earn you 1.2 KrisFlyer miles, but only 0.86 Miles & More miles. That said, the selection is still significantly better than what other premium cards have to offer.
Why would you be interested in earning anything other than KrisFlyer miles? Different frequent flyer programs have different “sweet spots”, meaning that a particular destination may cost less if redeemed through Program A rather than Program B.
For example, KrisFlyer would charge 12,500 miles to fly one-way Economy within Japan on ANA, but with British Airways Avios, you could do the same on JAL from just 6,000 miles. To the extent that you earn miles at equivalent ratios in both programs, Avios represents better value than KrisFlyer in that particular scenario.
If you want to explore other frequent flyer program sweet spots, have a read on how the Citi PremierMiles Visa can help you unlock them.
Letdown #2: Only two complimentary lounge visits are included
Although entry-level credit cards like the Citi PremierMiles Visa and DBS Altitude offer a couple of complimentary lounge visits, the hallmark of a premium credit card is getting unlimited lounge access.
This, unfortunately, is an area where the SCB X Card severely underperforms. Cardholders only receive two complimentary visits each membership year through Priority Pass, and subsequent visits will cost you.
That’s simply not good enough compared to other premium cards:
|Card||Annual Fee||Lounge Visits|
|Citi Prestige||$535||Unlimited + 1 guest|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||$488 (Premier)/ $650 (Regular)||Unlimited (supplementary cardholder gets same benefit)|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||$600||Unlimited|
|SCB Visa infinite||$588.50||6 visits|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||$642||4 visits|
|SCB X Card||$695.50||2 visits|
When you’re paying close to $700 a year for a credit card, it’s not unreasonable to expect it’d come with a whole lot more than two free lounge visits!
Letdown #3: It offers little else in the way of other travel benefits
Apart from the two complimentary lounge visits, the SCB X Card really doesn’t have anything else in the way of travel benefits. That’s disappointing, considering other premium cards have little tricks of their own:
|Card||Annual Fee||Other travel benefits|
|Citi Prestige||$535||Complimentary airport limo with $20K spend per quarter|
Fourth night free on any hotel booking
GHA Black hotel elite status
|HSBC Visa Infinite||$488 (Premier)/ $650 (Regular)||Complimentary airport limo and expedited immigration clearance with $2K spend per month|
|OCBC VOYAGE||$488||Complimentary airport limo with $1.5K FCY spend per month|
Redeem VOYAGE Miles against revenue tickets on any flight and cabin
|Maybank Visa Infinite||$600||Complimentary airport limo with $3K spend per month|
|SCB Visa infinite||$588.50||N/A|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||$642||Complimentary SingTel ReadyRoam 1GB plan|
|SCB X Card||$695.50||N/A|
Some of these benefits, like the Citi Prestige’s fourth-night free offer, can help pay back for the annual fee of the card itself.
Would I pay the X Card’s $695.50 annual fee?
The SCB X Card’s $695.50 annual fee cannot be waived, which means you need to seriously evaluate whether it’s worth paying each year. Sure, the sign-up bonus is amazing, but that’s a one-time deal. After the first year is over, it’s difficult to justify paying so much for so few benefits.
So I personally wouldn’t consider renewing the card in the second year, unless SCB does a major overhaul of the X Card in time to come.
Aside from its large sign-up bonus and extensive list of transfer partners, the X Card feels strangely underpowered compared with other premium cards. If you’re in the market for a premium card, I feel there’s much better value to be had by considering a product like the Citi Prestige or OCBC VOYAGE, both of which offer benefits more in line with their price points.
Read these next:
The New KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Why Citi PremierMiles Visa May Be the Most Useful Miles Card in Singapore
OCBC FRANK Credit Card: The Perfect Card for Millennials?
Most Popular Credit Cards In Singapore 2019
Here’s How to Redeem KrisFlyer Miles On Over 30 Partner Airlines