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Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card – MoneySmart Review 2018

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card

Joanne Poh

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The Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card is best known for its ease of use as KrisFlyer miles are credited directly to your account – no conversion needed – and big welcome bonus of 36,000 miles when you spend $10,000.

Don’t confuse this credit card with the Amex KrisFlyer (no “Ascend”) credit card, is for those who have reached greater heights in life and are now eligible for the minimum income requirement of $50,000 p.a.

Let’s see how good this credit card is for helping you accrue miles:

 

Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card terms & conditions

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
Annual fee & waiver $337
Supplementary annual fee $80.25 (waived for 1 year)
Interest free period 22 days
Annual interest rate 25.90%
Late payment fee $60
Minimum monthly repayment 3% or $50, whichever is higher
Foreign currency transaction fee 2.5%
Cash advance transaction fee 5%
Overlimit fee
Minimum income $50,000 (Singaporean) / $60,000 (non-Singaporean)
Card association American Express
Wireless payment Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay

 

How does the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card work?

The card rewards you with KrisFlyer miles for spending money, especially when overseas and on Singapore Airlines products. These miles are credited straight into your account, so hassle is kept to a minimum.

Now, let’s be honest here — the miles conversion rate isn’t great. Even some entry-level miles cards can do better than this:

Type of expenditure Earn rate
Local spending $1 = 1.2 miles
Overseas spending (Jun & Dec only) $1 = 2 miles
Singapore Airlines, SilkAir & KrisShop $1 = 2 miles
Grab & Uber rides $1 = 3.2 miles (up to $200 per month)

But the card’s real strength lies in the fact that big spenders qualify for many of their bonuses, in particular the welcome bonus for the first $10,000 you spend.

Action within first 3 months KrisFlyer miles earned
First spend (any amount) upon card activation 7,000 miles
Spend $5,000 13,000 miles
Spend another $5,000 16,000 miles
TOTAL 36,000 miles

After the introductory period of 3 months, there are a few other ways to earn bonus miles:

  • Apply for supplementary cards (1,500 miles each up to 2 supp cards)
  • Refer your friends (4,000 miles per friend referral)
  • Spend $15,000 on SingaporeAir.com (get double miles, up to 5,000 bonus miles)

 

Other benefits of the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card

Everything sounds well and good until you consider the fact that there’s no annual fee waiver – and the annual fee of $337 is considerably higher than that of average credit cards.

So what else is in it for you? To make it worth the money, the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend also gets you:

  • 1 night’s stay at a Hilton property in Asia Pacific
  • Free upgrade to Hilton Honors Silver membership
  • Upgrade to KrisFlyer Elite Gold membership when you spend $15,000 on SingaporeAir.com
  • 4 x airport lounge access to SATS Premier and Plaza Premium lounges
  • Discounted rate on annual travel insurance ($188 instead of $299)
  • Travel insurance coverage when you charge your tickets to the card
  • Discount on portable wifi routers at Changi Recommends
  • 10% discount at Hertz car rental worldwide

Of course, you can probably live without most of these… so you decide if these perks are worth the $337 annual fee.
 

Who should use the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card?

The Amex KrisFlyer Ascend card seems to be tailored towards people with a very high travel expenditure. If you’re travelling as a single or couple, these amounts can seem rather staggering.

But if you’re a family breadwinner and the one paying for your whole clan’s holidays, it shouldn’t be that difficult to shore up this much spending. One air ticket might not be too expensive, but multiply that by 3 or 5, and your heart will start to ache.

This credit card can help you make your family start earning their keep – the air miles you get can be exchanged to offset the cost of air tickets on your next holiday.

Your miles are credited automatically to your KrisFlyer account every month, so as busy a parent as you are, you won’t have to fumble with trying to convert rewards points to air miles or whatever.

Those anticipating big expenses of $10,000 coming up – like couples getting married or moving into your first home – can also make use of the big welcome bonus to help offset your honeymoon.

Another advantage of this card is that you get quite a few freebies that can improve your travel experience, even if you don’t spend a cent on the card, like airport lounge passes and a free hotel stay.

Of course, that’s assuming you’re earning enough ($50,000 a year) to get this credit card. If not, you might want to consider its “baby sister”, the Amex KrisFlyer Credit Card, for a similar bonus structure and annual fee waiver.

 

Alternatives to the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend

Let’s see how the American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card compares to similar cards.

UOB PRVI Miles Card – Get a much more generous 6 miles when you make flight and hotel bookings online (selected airlines only — Singapore Airlines is NOT one of the selected airlines) as well as 2.4 miles for every $1 spent overseas and 1.4 miles for every $1 spent in Singapore. This is much more generous than the Amex Krisflyer Ascend on all counts, UNLESS you only fly with Singapore Airlines.

Maybank Horizon Card – Another miles card for the $50,000 p.a. crowd, this credit card is good for those who don’t travel all that much, as you get a whopping 3.2 miles per $1 for local dining, petrol and taxis (and Agoda bookings). For travel spending, you get 2 miles per $1. There’s a minimum spend of $300 a month but that isn’t difficult if you consolidate your local spending on this card.

DBS Altitude Card – Conversion rate of 3 miles per $1 spent on online flight and hotel transactions up to $5,000 per month, 2 miles per $1 spent overseas and 1.2 miles per $1 spent locally. All in all, their conversion rates are more attractive than the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend’s, too.

Okay, let’s face it, when it comes to miles conversion, the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend pales in comparison to almost every serious competitor out there. You’ll only be able to unleash the card’s potential if you’re a big enough spender to earn all their bonuses.

So by all means, enjoy your lounge passes and free hotel stay in the first year, but know that to really maximise the card you’re going to need to be spending much more.

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card


Card Benefits

    • Apply through MoneySmart from 22 Mar - 19 Apr 2018 to get S$100 worth of Grab OR NTUC Vouchers. Application must be approved by 3 May 2018. Submit your (i)Contact Details and (ii)14-digit Reference Number on the Thank You Page upon completion at this link before 19 April 2018. T&Cs
    • 1.2 KrisFlyer Miles = S$1
    • 2 KrisFlyer Miles = S$1 in foreign currency spent overseas on eligible purchases in June & Dec
    • 3.2 KrisFlyer Miles = S$1 for Grab and Uber rides, capped at S$200 per month
    • Spend above S$15,000 on eligible purchases on singaporeair.com within first 12 months of Card approval and get upgraded to KrisFlyer Elite Gold Membership
    • Four complimentary lounge access to participating SATS Premier and Plaza Premium Lounge each year
    • Complimentary night's stay each year at one of over 90 participating Millennium Hotels and Resorts properties worldwide
    • Up to $1 million travel insurance coverage

    What do you or dislike about the American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card? Share your recommendations in the comments!

     

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    Joanne Poh

    In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.