Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card – MoneySmart Review 2020

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card

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 up to 42,500 miles when you spend $10,000 within the first 3 months.

Don’t confuse this credit card with the Amex KrisFlyer (no “Ascend”) credit card. The card with “Ascend” 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.

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 $1 = 3.2 miles (up to $200 per month)
Starbucks, McDonald’s & other selected merchants $1 = 3.2 miles (up to $200 per month)

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

But the card’s real strength lies in the fact that big spenders qualify for many of their bonuses, in particular the welcome bonus of 42,500 KrisFlyer miles for the first $10,000 you spend.

  • First spend on card (5,000 KrisFlyer miles)
  • Minimum spend $10,000 in first 3 months (15,000 KrisFlyer miles)
  • 1.2 KrisFlyer miles spent locally (12,000) KrisFlyer miles
  • Apply for supplementary cards (1,500 miles each up to 2 supp cards)
  • Refer your friends (7,500 miles per friend referral)

 

Are there any Amex KrisFlyer Ascend card promotions?

American Express is clearly feeling the heat from its latest competitor, the UOB KrisFlyer card, which offers 3 miles per $1 spent on everyday categories like dining, transport and online shopping.

To keep its cards competitive, Amex is now offering a promotional rate of 3.2 KrisFlyer miles per $1 on selected merchants.

  • Coffee: Starbucks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
  • Fast Food: McDonald’s, Subway
  • Food Delivery: Deliveroo, Foodpanda
  • Pharmacy: Unity, and Watsons
  • Entertainment: SISTIC
  • Grab Singapore transactions

But this selection of merchants rather pales to UOB’s bonus miles, which are awarded on categories rather than merchants. Amex’s promo is also capped at $200 of spending a month, which is kind of peanuts. Valid till 31 Mar 2020. Let’s hope Amex adds more merchants to the list.

If you’re planning to sign up, do it before 31 Jan 2020. You can get a complimentary one-night stay in Deluxe Room at Village Hotel Sentosa (worth up to $360++).

 

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 each year
  • Free upgrade to Hilton Honors Silver membership
  • Upgrade to KrisFlyer Elite Gold membership when you spend $15,000 on SingaporeAir.com within the first 12 months upon Card approval 
  • 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 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.

Maybank logo
Online Promo
on Dining, Petrol, Taxi and Hotel Bookings at Agoda
S$1 = 8X Points
on Air Tickets, Travel Packages and Foreign Currency Spend
S$1 = 5X Points
Rewards to Miles Conversion for Selected Airline Partners
1 Point = 0.5 miles
Online Promo: Get S$100 Cash Credit with Maybank Credit Cards and CreditAble! Valid till 31 Dec 2020.

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 logo
Online Promo
Earn Miles That Never Expire
Local Spend
S$1 = 1.2 Miles
Overseas Spend
S$1 = 2 Miles
Min. Spend
S$0
Online Promo: <div><!--block-->Get S$200 Cashback with no minimum spend! Use the promo code "<strong>DBSFLASH"</strong> when you apply.</div> Valid till 05 Oct 2020.

DBS Altitude Card – Conversion rate of 3 miles per $1 spent on selected 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.

UOB logo
Earn Miles on Everyday Spending
on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot and KrisShop
S$1 = 3 Miles
on dining, food delivery, online shopping and travel, and transport spend
S$1 = 3 Miles
on all other spend
S$1 = 1.2 Miles

UOB KrisFlyer Card – Get a generous 3 miles per $1 spent on everyday categories like dining, online shopping, travel and transport. A great card for daily use that also lets you earn KrisFlyer miles directly into your account, but the downside is that you have to spend $500 a year on SQ/Scoot and wait a year for your miles to come in.

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 logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
Convenience & Perks for Frequent Flyers
Local Spend
S$1 = 1.2 Miles
Overseas Spend
S$1 = 2 Miles
Grab rides
S$1 = 3.2 Miles
MoneySmart Exclusive: <div>Get an illy x7.1 Coffee Machine when you get your card approved.</div> Valid till 18 Oct 2020.

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