Though not exactly practical for our virus-ridden times, air miles credit card are definitely the most glamorous of all the credit cards. Every time you use one you’re reinforcing your image as a jetsetter (actually nobody cares).
But more importantly, you earn frequent flyer miles at the same time. When borders finally do reopen once more, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to swap your air points for a free air ticket?
But if you just sign up for the first air miles card you see and only use it whenever you remember it exists, chances are you’ll never collect enough points to even make it to KL. Collecting air miles needs to be done strategically with the right card.
Here are the best credit cards for air miles in Singapore, plus some useful info on how they work so you can game the system.
Best air miles cards in Singapore 2021
Best air miles credit cards
Miles that don’t expire
Citi PremierMiles, DBS Altitude, OCBC 90°N
Earning KrisFlyer miles
Amex KrisFlyer, UOB KrisFlyer
UOB KrisFlyer, Maybank Horizon
UOB PRVI Miles, Amex KrisFlyer
1. Citi PremierMiles Card
- Local Spend
- S$1 = Up to 1.2 Miles
- All Foreign Currency Spend including Retail and Online
- S$1 = 2 Miles
- Selected Online Hotel Bookings
- S$1 = Up to 10 Miles
Apply and spend $200 to get: $300 Cash OR Samsung Galaxy A32 5G 128GB Smartphone (worth $428).
Apply and spend $500 to get: $350 Cash OR Apple TV HD 32GB + LUMOS RAY Home Cinema Projector (Bundle worth $658).
If the thought of spending thousands of dollars in just a couple of months makes you blanch, you need a card with miles that don’t expire so you can take your time to slowly accumulate them. This is especially the case if you’re a fresh grad or a generally frugal person without any big expenses coming up.
On the downside, the earn rate of such cards is typically not that great. Citi PremierMiles, which offers a fairly attractive earn rate for non-expiring miles, offers 4 miles for every $1 spent on food delivery and home entertainment, 2 miles for every $1 spent on foreign currency spending and 1.2 miles for every $1 of local spending.
The standout here is the 4 miles per $1 spent on food delivery and home entertainment. 4 miles per dollar is excellent in the world of air miles cards, and you can now earn it on your Netflix, Spotify, Disney+, Audible or Viu subscriptions and iTunes purchases.
The card gives you a generous welcome gift of 45,000 miles, and charges an annual fee of $192.60, payable from the end of your first year.
2. DBS Altitude Card
- Local Spend
- S$1 = 1.2 Miles
- Overseas Spend
- S$1 = 2 Miles
- Staycation bookings
- S$1 = 10 Miles
DBS Altitude is another card that lets you accumulate air miles that never expire. The card rewards you with 3 air miles for every $1 spent on online flight and hotel transactions, 2 miles for every $1 spent overseas and 1.2 miles for every $1 spent locally.
To sweeten the deal, the card also offers a much more generous earn rate of 10 miles per $1 spent o Kaligo or Agoda, and 6 miles for every $1 spent on Expedia flight and hotel bookings.
This is a card that is best used for travel bookings and overseas spending rather than locally. At moment, it’s safe to say that none of us are going anywhere, so if you don’t already have this card you should wait until you are ready to make that first travel booking before signing up.
The card’s annual fee is $192.60 but will be waived if you spend at least $25,000 over the course of a year. If you choose to pay the annual fee and renew your card, you’ll receive 10,000 miles each time.
3. OCBC 90°N Card
If you’re looking for a non-expiring air miles card to use on overseas online shopping sites, OCBC 90°N is a good candidate.
You earn 2.1 points for every $1 spent in foreign currency and 1.2 points for every $1 spent locally. The earn rate for foreign currency spending is the highest out of all the entry-level non-expiring air miles cards above.
You also get 7 points per $1 spent on Agoda bookings made in foreign currency or 6 points if you make the bookings in local currency.
On the downside, the card doesn’t have an accelerated earn rate for travel bookings other than on Agoda, so you might not want to use it to reserve your air tickets, keeping it on hand just for use online and when you’re already overseas.
The card’s annual fee is $192.60. If you decide to pay the fee and continue using the card, you get 10,000 miles each time.
4. Amex KrisFlyer Card
- Local Spend
- S$1 = 1.1 Miles
- Overseas Spend
- S$1 = 2 Miles
- Grab rides
- S$1 = 3.1 Miles
Get a Nintendo Switch Lite (worth $299) or $180 cash via PayNow when you apply and spend on your card!
This card is ideal if you’re collecting points for Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer programme. There’s no need to redeem your points — all miles accumulated each month are automatically credited to your KrisFlyer account. Just be aware that KrisFlyer miles have a shelf-life of 3 years.
The basic earn rate is nothing to shout about. You get 2 miles for every $1 spent in foreign currency on eligible purchases, and $1 spent on eligible local purchases.
But what is interesting right now is that they also reward you with 3.1 miles for every $1 spent on Grab in Singapore, valid for up to $200 worth of spending per month. Since travel isn’t possible at the moment, that’s an easy way to get a decent earn rate on your commutes, even if the cap is rather low.
The card’s welcome bonuses are also quite attractive. You get 5,000 free miles the first time you use your card, and an additional, 13,000 miles if you manage to spend $3,000 in your first 3 months. You might thus want to sign up for the card when you have a big ticket expense coming up just for those bonus miles.
The annual fee is $176.55, which makes the Amex KrisFlyer slightly cheaper than the average air miles card.
5. UOB KrisFlyer Card
Most air miles cards let you earn more on your travel spending, but since everyone’s stuck in Singapore right now, it’s better to use a card that offers a decent rate on everyday local spending.
That’s where the UOB KrisFlyer Card comes in. This stylish-looking card offers 3 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent on dining, online shopping, online travel and transport card transactions.
The catch is, to qualify for this earn rate, you must spend at least $300 per year on Singapore Airlines-related transactions (including KrisShop), and they’ll only give you the miles 2 months after your card membership anniversary, which means you’ll have to pay the annual fee or somehow get it waived before being able to get your hands on the miles.
You also get 3 miles per $1 spent on Singapore Airlines, Scoot and KrisShop purchases, and 1.2 miles per $1 on other spending.
This is a great card to use for eligible everyday spending so long as you are prepared to spend $300 at Singapore Airlines or KrisShop within the next year. If travel doesn’t restart over the next year, you can just buy stuff at KrisShop — they have all sorts of products from electronics to wine.
The card charges an annual fee of $192.60 which can be quite hard to escape. You get a bonus of 3,000 miles after making your first transaction, and another 7,000 miles if you spend $4,000 within the first 90 days.
6. Maybank Horizon Card
- 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
Here’s a card that doesn’t get much attention but is actually excellent for local spending. You earn 3.2 air miles whenever you spend on restaurant dining, petrol, public transport (including Grab and taxi) and hotel bookings at Agoda. And that’s just local spending.
When you are overseas (if that ever happens again, sniff), you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on air tickets, travel packages and foreign currency transactions. This last category includes foreign currency spending online, which you don’t need to go overseas to indulge in.
The earn rate for overseas spending is so-so, but the card offers one of the best rates for local spending.
The main drawback? You need to spend at least $300 in a calendar month in order to qualify for the miles. That’s a bummer considering most air miles cards don’t have minimum spending requirements.
The card’s annual fee is $180, but waived for 3 years instead of the usual one year. If you spend at least $18,000 in a year you can get subsequent annual fee payments waived.
7. UOB PRVI Miles Card
This card offers one of the best rates for general overseas and local spending, at 2.4 miles per $1 spent overseas and 1.4 miles per $1 spend locally. You also get 6 miles per $1 spent on Agoda, Expedia and UOB Travel.
You can get better rates from some other cards that offer accelerated earning in specific categories like dining and hotel bookings, but as far as general spending goes, this card delivers.
This card is a good one to use if you’re anticipating a big expense like a wedding banquet, as the 1.4 mile per $1 rate is the highest you’ll be able to get on such miscellaneous local spending.
Not sure if this is even worth mentioning, but when you spend at least $50,000 in a year, you get rewarded with an extra 20,000 miles. That is, however, a huge amount considering that the card’s minimum requirement is only $30,000.
Entry-level vs premium miles cards in Singapore
All of the above credit cards are entry-level ones, meaning you can sign up once your annual income hits about $30,000.
But premium air miles credit cards for rich people tend to offer better air miles earn rates and/or sign-up bonuses.
For instance, the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite X Metal Credit Card gives you a whopping 30,000 mile bonus when you sign up for the card. The catch? You must be earning at least $80,000 and prepared to fork out an annual fee of $695.50.
What are air miles and how do they work?
Air miles are part of frequent flyer programmes (FFP), the best-known one here being Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer programme. KrisFlyer miles can be used on many partner airlines, including all of Star Alliance.
Technically, you can buy miles with cold hard cash. That’s what some people do — buy KrisFlyer miles because they have nothing better to spend their money on.
But why do that when a credit card will help you earn them for free, right? When you spend on an air miles credit card, you can accumulate frequent flyer miles either directly or by earning points (which you then convert to miles).
Once you’ve got your miles, you can put them towards your next holiday’s airfare. Woohoo!
Here’s a look at the bigger and more well-known FFPs in Singapore:
Offered by all air miles cards (pay conversion fee)
Possible to earn directly (no conversion fee) with these SQ co-branded cards
Offered by many air miles cards (pay conversion fee)
Asia miles can e used with CX, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Lufthansa, Swiss and many others
Miles & More
Europe’s largest FFP, not available through air miles cards in Singapore
But most M&M airlines are under Star Alliance so you can use KrisFlyer miles
Given the current situation, nobody has any idea when travel will be possible again. Borders could open in a few months, or it could take years. So, it’s no longer enough to just go for the card with the highest earn rate.
Here are some factors you need to consider when evaluating miles cards:
- Miles expiry date – This is important since we don’t know how long it will be until we can travel again. KrisFlyer miles expire in three years from the date they are credited to your account. If your card requires you to accumulate and then convert miles, you’ll also want to check the expiry date so you can convert them as late as possible.
- Flexibility to redeem miles for other rewards – In a worst case scenario, if Covid-19 totally wrecks our ability to travel, you might want to be able to spend your miles on something else. See if you can use them to redeem other rewards or convert them to cashback. If you’re under the KrisFlyer programme, you can use your mile to make purchases at the online KrisShop.
- Ease of earning miles without travelling – Many cards reward you more handsomely for spending overseas, but given the current situation you should aim for now to use cards that give you a better earn rate for local and/or online spending.
MoneySmart tip: use a rewards credit card as a miles card
Before you rush to sign up for an air miles card, you should also know that rewards credit cards are a viable alternative to air miles cards.
So what’s the secret? Well, you actually earn rewards points (rather than miles) with many air miles cards. You can earn those same points with a rewards card as well, and later convert them to miles. In fact, you can think of air miles cards as simply a subset of rewards cards as the points-collecting mechanism is usually the same.
Broadly speaking, air miles cards reward travel-related spending, while rewards cards reward general local spending e.g. shopping and dining.
Good rewards credit cards offer high bonus points for the latter, making it possible to earn air miles more quickly – for example, $1 = 4 miles on your online shopping spending. However there are usually caps on these. The best card (or combo of cards) really depends on your actual spending habits.
So if you want to be REALLY thorough, check out some of the best rewards credit cards in Singapore as well.
Apply for the best air miles credit cards in Singapore and get attractive gifts for certain cards!