Frequent travelers eagerly seek out the finest air miles credit cards, considering them an indispensable asset in their travel arsenal. After all, who wouldn’t want more affordable flights, allowing you to allocate your funds to other aspects of your journey, and the convenience of earning rewards through everyday credit card spending?
The challenge, however, lies in the multitude of miles cards available, each offering different levels of benefits, making the decision-making process quite perplexing. But fear not, we’re here to streamline the process for you by outlining the top air miles credit cards to consider and explaining the rationale behind each recommendation.
So, whether you’re a seasoned jet-setter or just starting your journey towards accumulating air miles strategically, you’ll soon be on your way to maximizing your travel experiences while minimizing your expenses.
Best air miles cards in Singapore 2023
Presenting the Finest air miles credit cards in Singapore, along with valuable insights into their mechanics to help you master the art of maximizing your rewards.
1. Citi PremierMiles Card
If the idea of shelling out thousands of dollars within a short span sends shivers down your spine, you might want a card with non-expiring miles, allowing you to gradually amass them at your own pace. This is particularly beneficial for recent graduates or individuals with frugal spending habits and no imminent major expenses on the horizon. Enter the Citi PremierMiles Card!
While most cards of this nature often offer modest earn rates, the Citi PremierMiles Card stands out with its appealing reward rates: 1.2 miles for every $1 spent locally and 2 miles for every $1 spent in foreign currencies.
Until October 31, 2023, this card presents a generous welcome gift of 30,000 Citi Miles when you apply and spend $800 within the first two months. Keep in mind that there is an annual fee of $194.40, payable at the end of your initial year.
2. DBS Altitude Card
The DBS Altitude card is yet another option that allows you to amass air miles without worrying about their expiration. This card offers a rewarding structure that includes:
- 10 miles for every $1 spent on online hotel bookings through Kaligo (with a monthly cap of $5,000).
- 6 miles for every $1 spent on flight, hotel, and travel reservations made with Expedia (with a monthly cap of $5,000).
- 2.2 miles for each $1 spent on foreign transactions at the point of sale.
- 1.3 miles for every $1 spent on local purchases.
It’s evident that this card is most advantageous for those who frequently make travel bookings and international expenditures rather than domestic ones.
To sweeten the deal further, the DBS Altitude card offers additional card privileges that allow you to opt in for an extra mile on all your expenses. However, this comes at a cost of a 2% administrative fee based on your total spending. For example, if you spend $2,000 locally, on top of the 2,400 base miles you’ll earn, you can gain an additional 2,000 miles (increasing your miles earn rate to 2.2 miles per dollar) with a $40 administrative fee. When you crunch the numbers, this equates to paying $0.02 for 1 mile, which is a pretty enticing offer if you’re looking to quickly accumulate miles without significantly increasing your overall spending.
One important detail to note is that you earn miles in the form of DBS Points, which are awarded for every S$5 spent (1 DBS Point equals 2 miles) per transaction.
The annual fee for the DBS Altitude Card stands at $194.40, but it can be waived under certain circumstances. If you do choose to pay the annual fee and renew your card, you’ll gain access to a range of enticing benefits and privileges.
If your quest is for a perpetual air miles card tailored for overseas online shopping, the OCBC 90°N card emerges as a compelling choice.
In general, you’ll accrue 2.1 miles for each $1 spent in a foreign currency and 1.3 miles for each $1 spent within the local sphere. However, when it comes to bookings on Agoda, a more generous reward structure comes into play, granting you 7 miles for every $1 spent in a foreign currency and 6 miles for every $1 spent in SGD.
It’s essential to bear in mind that points are granted in blocks of $5 spent. In other words, if your local expenditure amounts to $4.90, you won’t earn any points until you reach the $5 minimum spending threshold.
Notably, the OCBC 90°N card boasts an annual fee of $54, which positions it as a more budget-friendly option compared to many other cards in this category.
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Much like the DBS Altitude, the HSBC Revolution Credit Card operates more like a rewards card rather than a traditional miles card, as it accrues points, not miles. Here’s how it functions: You earn 10X Reward points on online purchases and contactless payments, which you can later convert into miles, with a conversion rate of 4 miles for every point. In total, this results in a rather commendable earning rate of 4 miles for every $1 spent.
However, there is a caveat: To convert your points to miles, you’ll need to enroll in HSBC’s Mileage Programme, which necessitates a $40 fee (before GST) for an annual membership. The silver lining here is that this fee grants you unlimited conversions from points to miles for an entire year. The conversion rates for some popular airlines are as follows:
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 10,000 SQ KrisFlyer miles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 10,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
An additional advantage of the HSBC Revolution Credit Card is that it doesn’t carry an annual fee. So, if you intend to use this card primarily for miles, the only “annual fee” you’ll incur is the $40 Mileage Programme fee, which remains more affordable than most other miles-oriented cards.
It’s worth noting that HSBC Reward points, like the miles you can redeem them for, come with an expiration date. HSBC Rewards points earned expire after 37 months.
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The Amex KrisFlyer card is the perfect choice if you’re in the process of accumulating points for Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program. It simplifies the process as there’s no need to go through the redemption process—each month, all the miles you accumulate are automatically credited to your KrisFlyer account. Just keep in mind that KrisFlyer miles come with a shelf life of 3 years.
The standard earning rate may not be extraordinary, offering 2 miles for every $1 spent in foreign currency on eligible purchases during June and December each year, and 1.1 miles for every $1 spent on eligible local purchases. On the positive side, there are no caps limiting your earnings.
What’s particularly interesting is that they also reward you with 3.1 miles for every $1 spent on Grab in Singapore, applicable up to $200 worth of spending per month. This provides a convenient means to maintain a respectable earning rate for your daily commutes, even though the cap is somewhat limited.
The card’s welcome bonuses are rather enticing as well—you receive 5,000 free miles the first time you use your card. If you charge $12,000 or more to your card between now and June 30, 2024, you’ll also qualify for a $150 cashback with Singapore Airlines.
As for the annual fee, it stands at $178.20, and it can be waived for the first year.
6. UOB KrisFlyer Card
While most air miles cards prioritize travel spending, the UOB KrisFlyer card distinguishes itself by offering a respectable rate for everyday local expenses. This chic card provides a generous 3 KrisFlyer miles for every $1 spent on dining, online shopping, online travel, and transport card transactions.
However, there’s a condition to access this earning rate: you must spend a minimum of $800 annually on Singapore Airlines-related transactions, which includes KrisShop purchases.
Furthermore, the card rewards you with 3 miles per $1 spent on Singapore Airlines, Scoot, and KrisShop transactions, and 1.2 miles for every $1 spent on other purchases.
The card does come with an annual fee of $194.40, which can be a bit challenging to avoid. On a positive note, until September 30, 2023, you can have the first year’s annual fee waived and receive a welcome gift of up to 31,000 miles.
So, although the UOB KrisFlyer card may not offer the highest earn rates, it certainly sweetens the deal with an array of bonus miles as incentives.
7. Maybank Horizon Card
Here’s a card that tends to fly under the radar but truly shines for local expenditures. You earn a generous 3.2 air miles for each dollar spent on restaurant dining, petrol, public transport (including Grab and taxi rides), and hotel bookings at Agoda, all within your local spending.
When you venture overseas, you’ll still earn a respectable 2 miles for every dollar spent on air tickets, travel packages, and foreign currency transactions. Remarkably, this includes foreign currency spending online, even if you’re not traveling abroad.
While the earning rate for overseas spending is decent, this card truly stands out for its exceptional rates on local spending.
However, there’s a catch: you need to spend a minimum of $300 in a calendar month to qualify for the miles. This can be a drawback, especially since most air miles cards don’t impose such minimum spending requirements.
The card’s annual fee amounts to $180, which is generously waived for three years instead of the usual one year. Moreover, if you spend at least $18,000 in a year, you can have subsequent annual fee payments waived.
8. UOB PRVI Miles Card
This card stands out as one of the top choices for both general overseas and local spending, offering a commendable rate of 2.4 miles for every $1 spent abroad and 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally. Moreover, you can enjoy an impressive 6 miles for each $1 spent on Agoda, Expedia, and UOB Travel, along with 1.4 miles for every $1 spent on bus and train rides. The best part? There are no minimum spending requirements, and your miles-earning potential isn’t capped.
For specific categories like dining and hotel bookings, there might be other cards with more competitive rates due to selected accelerated earnings. However, when it comes to everyday, general spending, the UOB PRVI Miles Card excels.
This card proves particularly beneficial if you’re anticipating a significant expense like a wedding banquet, as its 1.4 miles per $1 rate is among the most lucrative you’ll find for such miscellaneous local spending, with no limits imposed.
Until August 31, 2023, UOB is further rewarding cardholders with up to 50,000 miles for spending at least $1,000 per month for two consecutive months and settling the annual card fee of $240 (before GST). While this does require a notable spending and payment commitment, the bonus mile reward is equally substantial. If you manage to have the annual credit card fee waived, you can still attain up to 30,000 miles with the same spending criteria.
If your regular expenses revolve around online transportation and food orders, the Standard Chartered Journey Credit Card could be the ideal miles card for you. Positioned as an entry-level credit card, it impressively offers a high earning rate of 3 miles for every S$1 spent on online transactions related to transportation, food delivery, and online grocery merchants. There is a cap of 3,000 miles, meaning you reach the maximum bonus rate at S$1,000 in spending.
Moreover, the SC Journey Credit Card presents competitive earn rates of 2 miles for every S$1 spent on foreign transactions and 1.2 miles for every S$1 spent locally, putting it on par with most other air miles cards in this category. All earnings are awarded in the form of 360 Rewards Points, which have the advantage of never expiring and can be redeemed for miles, cash rewards, or shopping vouchers.
In addition to the card’s promised complimentary travel insurance and two complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges annually, Standard Chartered is further enticing you with some limited-time offers. This year, you can relish a foreign transaction fee of S$0 for overseas spending made and posted in June-July 2023 and November-December 2023.
Until September 30, 2023, Standard Chartered is granting up to 45,000 miles when you sign up for the Standard Chartered Journey Credit Card. However, it’s worth noting that the criteria to unlock this welcome bonus are relatively demanding—you need to accumulate a total spend of S$10,000 and cover the S$194.40 annual fee.
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What are air miles and how do they work?
Air miles are an integral component of frequent flyer programs (FFP), with the most renowned one in this region being Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program. KrisFlyer miles can be employed across an extensive network of partner airlines, encompassing all members of the Star Alliance.
In theory, you have the option to purchase miles outright with actual cash. Some individuals opt for this approach, acquiring KrisFlyer miles when they don’t have a more compelling use for their funds.
However, why resort to that when you can earn them for free with the help of a credit card, right? By using an air miles credit card, you can amass frequent flyer miles either directly or through points accrual, which can then be converted into miles.
Once you’ve accumulated your miles, you’re all set to apply them toward the airfare for your upcoming holiday. It’s a win-win situation!
What should you look out for in a miles card?
When assessing miles cards, there are several key factors to take into account:
- Miles Expiry Date: While borders might currently be open, the unpredictability of future pandemic waves and travel restrictions necessitates a consideration of miles expiry dates. If you’re an infrequent traveler or simply prefer miles that don’t expire, cards like the Citi PremierMiles Card and DBS Altitude Card may be ideal choices. Keep in mind that KrisFlyer miles have a 3-year expiration from the date of crediting to your account. If your card requires you to accumulate and convert miles, make sure to check the expiry date to maximize the conversion window.
- Flexibility for Redeeming Miles: COVID-19 profoundly impacted travel plans, prompting many to explore alternative ways to use their miles. It’s essential to investigate whether your miles can be redeemed for purposes beyond travel. Check if you can exchange them for different rewards or opt for cashback. For instance, KrisFlyer members can use their miles to make online purchases at the KrisShop.
- Ease of Earning Miles Locally: While numerous cards offer attractive rewards for overseas spending, earning competitive rates for local and online expenditures can expedite your mile accumulation, even while you’re in Singapore. Cards like the Maybank Horizon Card are tailored for high local spending earn rates, making them a sound choice for local and online shoppers.
Use a Rewards Credit Card as a Miles Card
Before hastily committing to an air miles card, it’s crucial to recognize that rewards credit cards present a compelling alternative to air miles cards.
The secret lies in the fact that many air miles cards actually accumulate rewards points, rather than miles. What’s intriguing is that you can amass these very points with a rewards card and subsequently convert them into miles. In essence, you can view air miles cards as a subset of rewards cards since the mechanism for collecting points is often identical.
To provide a general distinction, air miles cards are geared towards rewarding travel-related spending, while rewards cards are designed to incentivize everyday local expenditures such as shopping and dining.
Premium rewards credit cards often offer substantial bonus points for these everyday categories, enabling you to amass air miles more rapidly. Take, for instance, the HSBC Revolution Credit Card mentioned earlier, which effectively earns you the equivalent of 4 miles for every $1 spent on online shopping and contactless payments.
Nonetheless, there are typically limitations or caps on these rewards. For instance, the HSBC Revolution card restricts you to 10,000 reward points per month, which may not suffice for those with more substantial spending habits. The optimal card or combination of cards largely hinges on your specific spending patterns.
In your quest for the most comprehensive approach, it’s worthwhile to explore some of the finest rewards credit cards in Singapore as well.
(Credits: mainly miles, pexels)
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