I've been seeing ads for the DBS Visa Debit Card at Somerset MRT station for quite some time now, and their promise of 5% cashback sounded too attractive to ignore. Considering how my cashback on my current credit card has only been in the $20+ range for the past few months, getting twice of that amount for my spending was a huge lure.

But as usual, the main question in my head was: What's the catch?

I'm usually skeptical as most cashback promotions operate in a similar fashion - they offer you a high cashback at the beginning to lure you to sign up, then after a few months, the cashback promotion is no longer valid.

Take for example the UOB Delight credit card. When it was launched in 2014, it offered a 10% rebate. Wow! Fast forward to today, and the highest rebate has dropped to 8%. What's more, it comes with a whole bunch of conditions, including:

  • Minimum $800 monthly spending (or your rebate drops to only 3% if you spend between $400 - $799 including recurring bills)
  • Limited to expenses at Cold Storage, Market Place, Jasons, Giant & Guardian
  • Rebate is in SMART$, not cash

Suddenly, the UOB Delight credit card doesn't seem that attractive anymore. 

Back to the DBS Visa Debit Card, which is what I'm interested in today. After studying the terms, these are the key pointers I highlighted:

:( Your transactions are on debit (not credit).

In other words, you can't spend on this and then use the bill payment to meet one of your "Pay Other Bill" criteria for OCBC 365 or UOB One savings account. 

:( Your transactions have to be via contactless payment.

Specifically, either through Visa payWave (my favourite), Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay. Note that transactions on some mobile apps (such as Grab) which allow for In-App Android Pay do not count.

You can also use this debit card for NETS payment or to take public transport using NETS FlashPay, but you won't be able to chalk these spending up to get the 5% cashback rebate.

The cashback is also not valid for online spending, ATM or AXS transactions, foreign currency transactions and bill payments. 

:| You have to limit your cash withdrawals to 3 times or less each month.

For those who use POSB / DBS as your default "spending account" (like me), this means you have to now limit your number of withdrawals. If you have a joint account, a bank withdrawal will count as cash withdrawal for both account holders, while an ATM withdrawal will only be for the person who used the card. 

Well, this isn't too difficult. We could either switch to designate another account as our spending account now, or simply withdraw cash in larger tranches each time (and deposit back the excess at the end of the month, although that tends to be a mammoth task because we tend to spend with less restraint when we have cash in our wallet). 

However, here's the catch! If you (accidentally) make more than 3 withdrawals - whether by ATM or branch withdrawals - in the month, you will not be eligible for any cashback at all. If you're not careful in monitoring your habits for this part, you'll be forfeiting your cashback.

:| Cashback is capped at $50 a month.

At this level, you'll be spending $1000 a month. 

This is generally good for most of us, since our usual spending range from $400 - $800, but may not be as attractive anymore for those in their 30s or 40s who tend to spend higher amounts on their credit cards (based on the Credit Bureau credit card report statistics. Get your free credit report here! There's no catch, I've already gotten mine).

:) Get $20 cashback by charging $100 to your card in the first month.

Easy peasy! Just head out with your friends or family for a meal, and pay for the bill first via payWave to meet this criteria.

You can read the rest of the T&Cs for this card here if you're thinking of signing up. 

Credits: 123rf

TLDR / My verdict:

If you're considering whether to switch from credit cards to this debit card just for the higher cashback, this may not the best choice.

There are too many conditions tied to the card, and you risk losing your entire cashback if you're not careful in monitoring your withdrawals. Or, if you're someone who spends more on online shopping, or over $1000 a month on other stuff, this card may not offer the best cashback for your lifestyle habits.

If you're a student OR have problems meeting the minimum monthly spend on your credit card and prefer using debit cards anyway, this may be the best cashback card in the market right now.

As for me, I'll be giving it a miss and stick to my credit cards now, while I leave POSB as my designated spending and withdrawal account. I'm far too used to withdrawing only $50 each time! The ads definitely made this card seem a lot more attractive than it actually is, but at this moment I'll conclude that it isn't the card for me. I had initially thought I stumbled upon a holy grail card for more cashback, but apparently that's not the case.

With love,
Budget Babe


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