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The Best Air Miles Credit Cards in Singapore 2018

best air miles credit cards singapore

Clara Lim

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When I got my first air miles credit card, I didn’t do one shred of research. My thought process went like this: “Hmm, air miles… My colleague talks about those all the time. Whatever they are, they must be cool! I’ll sign up for this card.” Of course, nothing good ever came out of my card.

If you don’t want to end up like me, you’ll want to research the different air miles credit cards in Singapore. Be warned, though – there are as many rewards systems as there are cards.

To help you narrow down your search, we’ve sorted the cards into 3 income/expenditure brackets. While all the cards highlighted in this article are strong, they are each set up in slightly different ways to reward different spending behaviours.

Contents

  1. What are air miles?
  2. Entry-level air miles credit cards
  3. Mid-level air miles credit cards
  4. Premium air miles credit cards
  5. A parting note on rewards credit cards

 

1. What are air miles?

Before you even start searching for an air miles credit card in Singapore, understand that miles are inextricably linked to frequent flyer programmes, the basis on which miles cards are founded. Air miles credit cards allow you to accumulate frequent flyer miles with purchases made on your cards. You can then put these towards your next holiday’s airfare. But before we get into the frequent flyer programmes themselves, here are some key areas to understand about air miles credit cards which you will see mentioned in later sections of this article.

Air miles earn rate

Getting a good dollar-to-mile earn rate is the key to quickly accruing miles. Banks typically offer a lower earn rate on local spend and a higher one on overseas or foreign currency expenditure (which mostly relates to online shopping). Look out for partnerships with specific merchants as some banks have accelerated accrual rates when you spend on that.

Miles/points conversion

While some airline-specific cards will credit your earned miles directly into an established frequent flyer programme, certain miles credit cards award points in other types of “currency” such as DBS points or Citi Miles. Converting these points into an actual air ticket will take a longer time and may cost more.

Limitations

When people first get their air miles card, they’re so eager to go out and rack up their miles that they forget to check the little terms and conditions buried under a whole bunch of text. Make sure you’re aware of these limitations that impact how you use your credit card. These include when your miles will expire and whether there is a cap on the miles you can earn, especially when it comes to bonus accrual rates such as for online spend.

 

1.1 KrisFlyer

For most Singaporeans, our knowledge of frequent flyer programmes starts (and ends) with KrisFlyer. It’s understandable because it’s inextricably linked to our pride and joy, Singapore Airlines.

However, it doesn’t stop at SQ. KrisFlyer miles can be used with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot, Star Alliance airlines and SQ’s partner airlines. For full details on what and how to redeem your miles, refer to the KrisFlyer terms & conditions.

You can earn KrisFlyer miles with any air miles credit card in Singapore, but there are 3 KrisFlyer co-branded cards in Singapore which let you credit earned miles directly to your account. Also note that for many credit cards that are not directly linked with KrisFlyer, you will more often than not have to pay a conversion fee to change your points into KrisFlyer miles.

 

1.2 Asia Miles

Coming in a close second to KrisFlyer is Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, which has extensive coverage in the region.

Of course, the KrisFlyer-branded cards don’t allow you to earn Asia Miles, but almost all bank-issued air miles credit cards in Singapore offer Asia Miles as well as KrisFlyer miles.

The only exception is the OCBC Voyage Card. Voyage Miles only convert to KrisFlyer miles; however, you can redeem flights on other airlines without converting them to miles.

 

1.3 Miles & More

While Lufthansa’s Miles & More programme comes a distant third to KrisFlyer and Asia Miles in Singapore, it is the largest and best-known frequent flyer programme in Europe.

There is currently no credit card in Singapore that lets you earn Miles & More miles. BUT, the bulk of Miles & More’s network are Star Alliance airlines, which you can use KrisFlyer miles on.

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how do air miles work krisflyer asiamiles

 

2. Entry-level air miles credit cards in Singapore

Got your first job and want to start earning air miles right away? Here are two air miles credit cards with low minimum income requirements ($30,000 p.a.) and automatic first-year annual fee waivers.

Credit card Base rate Overseas rate Bonus miles Welcome miles
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card $1 = 1.1 miles $1 = 2 miles (Jun & Dec) $1 = 3.1 miles (Grab & Uber)

7,500 miles (first $2,500 spend)

2,000 miles (per friend referral)

5,000 miles (first spend)
DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card $1 = 1.2 miles $1 = 2 miles $1 = 10 miles (Kaligo)

$1 = 6 miles (Expedia)

$1 = 3 miles (online travel spend)

10,000 miles (if you pay $192.60 annual fee)

 

2.1 Easiest to use: American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card


Card Benefits

  • Get S$150 cashback at Singapore Airlines
  • 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
  • S$1 = 1.1 KrisFlyer miles (Local)
  • S$1 = 2 KrisFlyer miles (foreign currency spent Overseas) during June and December and for purchases made at singaporeair.com, silkair.com KrisShop and SilkAir SkyShop, both in-flight and online
  • S$1 = 3.1 KrisFlyer miles for Grab and Uber rides, capped at S$200 per month
  • Receive bonus 7,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you first charge to your card
  • Get an additional 7,500 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$2,500 within 3 months of card approval
  • Get S$150 cashback for use on your next purchase on singaporeair.com when you spend S$12,000 on your Card from now till 30 June 2018
  • Enjoy free Travel Inconvenience & Travel Accident Benefits of up to S$350,000 when you purchase your travel tickets with you card

The Amex KrisFlyer Credit Card is an ideal first air miles cards because it’s so easy to use. The miles you earn are credited directly into your KrisFlyer account, ready to use anytime – no restrictions, lead time or pesky conversion fees.

The Amex KrisFlyer comes with attainable bonus miles: 5,000 welcome miles upon first spend (any amount!), 7,500 miles if you spend $2,500 within 3 months and 2,000 miles per friend referral.

However, it has a low basic earn rate of $1 = 1.1 mile (local spend), so you will have to make full use of the bonuses to maximise this card. The fastest way to earn miles is by spending overseas in June and Dec ($1 = 2 miles) and on Grab and Uber ($1 = 3.1 miles, capped at $200/month).

Sign up if: You plan to spend $2,500 in the next 3 months.

(If you have an annual income of $50,000 and want a card with a similar setup, consider the American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card, which has slightly higher earn rates and bonuses.)

  • Singaporean Minimum Income: S$30,000
  • Non-Singaporean Minimum Income: S$60,000
  • Principal Annual Fee: $176.55 per year
  • Fee Waiver: 1 year fee waiver
  • Annual Interest Rate: 25.9%

 

2.2 Most versatile: DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card


Card Benefits

    • S$1 = 1.2 miles (Local spend)
    • S$1 = 2 miles (Overseas spend)
    • S$1 = 3 miles (Online flight & Hotel transactions)
    • 6 miles/S$1 spend at Expedia; 10 miles/S$1 spend at Kaligo
    • Get 10,000 Bonus Miles when you renew your annual membership
    • Enjoy 2 Complimentary Global Airport Lounge Access visits and get up to S$1 million travel accident insurance coverage for you and your family members

    DBS’s entry-level air miles offering has only a slightly higher earn rate than the Amex KrisFlyer, at $1 = 1.2 miles (local) and $1 = 2 miles (overseas).

    But if you travel regularly, you can maximise this card’s generous bonus miles – up to $1 = 10 miles with its travel partners Expedia and Kaligo.

    Another plus is that you’re not restricted to these two aggregators. The DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card also gives you 3 miles per dollar on ALL other online flight and hotel spend – including airlines, hotels, Airbnb, etc. – so you can hunt down the best deal online and still get bonus miles for it.

    Note that there is a bonus miles cap of $5,000 a month and you earn miles in DBS Points, which takes 1 to 2 weeks and costs $25 each time to convert to air miles.

    Sign up if: You have frequent travel expenses, whether personal or for work.

    • Singaporean Minimum Income: S$30,000
    • Non-Singaporean Minimum Income: S$45,000
    • Principal Annual Fee: $192.60 per year
    • Supplementary Annual Fee: $96.30 per year
    • Fee Waiver: 1 year fee waiver
    • Annual Interest Rate: 25.9%

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    3. Mid-level air miles credit cards in Singapore

    The majority of air miles credit cards in Singapore fall within this category, typically with a minimum income requirement of $50,000 p.a. Competition is stiff in this field, but we’ve narrowed the options down to the 3 best cards.

    Credit card Base rate Overseas rate Bonus miles Welcome miles
    UOB PRVI Miles Card $1 = 1.4 miles $1 = 2.4 miles $1 = 6 miles (Expedia, Agoda, UOB Travel) N/A
    Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card $1 = 0.4 mile $1 = 2 miles $1 = 3.2 miles (local dining, petrol, taxis, Agoda)

    $1 = 2 miles (travel spend)

    N/A
    Citi PremierMiles Visa Card $1 = 1.2 miles $1 = 2 miles 15,000 miles ($10,000 spend)

    $1 = 7 miles (Agoda)

    $1 = 3 miles (Expedia)

    15,000 (first spend & with $192.60 annual fee)

     

    3.1 Highest basic earn rates: UOB PRVI Miles Card

    UOB PRVI Miles Card

    UOB PRVI Miles Card


    Card Benefits

      • S$1 = 1.4 miles (Local spend); S$1 = 2.4 miles (Overseas spend)
      • S$1 = 6 miles for spends on major airlines and hotels booked through Expedia, UOB Travel, and Agoda
      • No minimum spend and no cap on earned miles
      • 20,000 loyalty miles every year with min. spend of S$50,000 in a year; Up to 8 complimentary airport transfers to Changi Airport in a year (Exclusively for UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card)
      • Complimentary travel insurance coverage of up to S$1,000,000. T&Cs apply.

      With an automatic first year annual fee waiver, the UOB PRVI Miles Card makes a good first foray into the world of air miles cards.

      The UOB PRVI is widely regarded as one of the best air miles credit cards in Singapore due to its high earn rates for both local ($1 = 1.4 miles) and overseas ($1 = 2.4 miles) spending, plus a generous 6 miles per dollar for Expedia, Agoda and UOB Travel.

      The downside is that you earn miles in UNI$ and there’s a $25 fee per conversion. Also, this one doesn’t come with any welcome miles or travel perks – guess the earn rates just sell themselves.

      Sign up if: You don’t anticipate any huge expenses soon, but you travel often.

      • Minimum Income: S$30,000 OR Fixed Deposit collateral of at least S$10,000
      • Principal Annual Fee: S$256.80 per year
      • Supplementary Annual Fee: S$128.40
      • Fee Waiver: 1 year fee waiver, free first 2 supplementary cards
      • Annual Interest Rate: 25.9%

      [Update: As of 2 Apr 2018, the UOB PRVI Miles Card has reduced its minimum income requirements.]

       

      3.2 Best for local spend: Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card

      Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card

      Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card


      Card Benefits

      • Get a Samsonite Orfeo 69cm Spinner (worth S$420)
      • Earn 3.2 air miles (8X TREATS Points) for every S$1 spent on dining, petrol, taxi fares and hotel bookings at Agoda.com/horizon
      • Earn 2 air miles (5X TREATS Points) for every S$1 spent on air tickets, travel packages and foreign currency transactions
      • Minimum spend: S$300/month
      • Capped at 30,000 Bonus TREATS Points per month
      • Earn 0.4 air miles (1X TREAT Point) with no minimum spend amount
      • Complimentary lounge access with minimum spend of S$400
      • Complimentary Travel Insurance up to S$1,000,000

      While the UOB PRVI has the best basic earn rates, the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature has really fantastic bonus miles centred around local spending.

      How much? We’re talking about $1 = 3.2 miles on local dining, petrol, taxis and Agoda hotel bookings. If local spending on these categories form the bulk of your expenses, then it’s a no-brainer to sign up for this card.

      The other bonus category is travel – $1 = 2 miles for spending on all flights, travel packages and overseas transactions.

      Is there a catch? Not that we know of. There’s a minimum spend requirement, but at $300 it is so low as to be almost meaningless.

      Bonus miles are earned as TREATS points and there is a monthly cap of 30,000 TREATS points, i.e. $3,750 spend in the maximum bonus categories. The usual points-to-miles conversion fee of $25+ applies.

      Sign up if: You want to earn miles with your everyday local spending.

      • Singaporean & Malaysian Minimum Income: S$50,000
      • Non-Singaporean Minimum Income: S$60,000
      • Principal Annual Fee: $180 per year
      • Supplementary Annual Fee: Free
      • Fee Waiver: Automatically waived with a total minimum spend of S$18,000 per annum
      • Annual Interest Rate: 25.9%

       

      3.3 Best sign-up bonus: Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

      Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

      Citi PremierMiles Visa Card


      Card Benefits

      • Get S$120 Cashback
      • S$1 = 1.2 Citi Miles (Local spend)
      • S$1 = 2 Citi Miles (Overseas spend)
      • Earn up to 7 Citi Miles per S$1 spent on Agoda.com/bonusmiles and 3 Citi Miles per S$1 spent on expedia.com.sg/bonusrewards
      • Citi Miles never expire
      • Priority Pass™ membership gives you access to more than 600 airport lounges twice a year
      • Receive 10,000 Citi Miles upon membership renewal and payment of annual fee
      • Complimentary Travel Accident Insurance up to S$1,000,000 coverage, Medical Assistance Programme and Travel Inconvenience Coverage

      Another one in the $50,000 annual income bracket, the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card is well known mainly because of its massive sign-up bonus of 42,000 miles:

      • 15,000 welcome miles on first spend (any amount!)
      • + 15,000 bonus miles for $10,000 spend in 3 months
      • + 12,000 miles based on local earn rate of $1 = 1.2 miles

      The catch? You have to be new to Citibank credit cards, and you must pay the annual fee of $192.60.

      [Update: As of 1 Mar 2018, the Citi PremierMiles Card is no longer running the promotion.]

      At $1 = 1.2 miles (local) and $1 = 2 miles (overseas), its earn rate is nothing to shout about. But if you travel frequently, you benefit from very good bonus miles of up to $1 = 7 miles on Agoda and Expedia.

      With this card you earn miles in Citi Miles, which can be used with a whole slew of airlines and programmes in addition to the usual KrisFlyer and Asia Miles. Conversion costs $25 each time.

      Sign up if: You plan to spend $10,000 in the next 3 months.

      • Minimum Income: S$50,000
      • Principal Annual Fee: $192.60 per year
      • Supplementary Annual Fee: Free
      • Fee Waiver: 1 year fee waiver
      • Annual Interest Rate: 26.9%

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      4. Premium air miles credit cards in Singapore

      We’ve come across several so-called premium cards that are all flashy marketing but no actual substance. Don’t fall for those!

      If you’re earning $120,000 p.a. or more and spending the corresponding amount each month, the least you could do is get some decent returns on your expenses. Here are the two best air miles cards for doing so.

      Credit card Base rate Overseas rate Bonus miles Welcome miles
      HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card $1 = 1 mile (1st year)

      $1 = 1.25 miles (2nd year onwards)

      $1 = 2 miles (1st year)

      $1 = 2.25 miles (2nd year onwards)

      N/A 40,000 miles (with $650 annual fee)
      Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Credit Card $1 = 1.4 miles (min. spend $2,000/month) $1 = 3 miles (min. spend $2,000/month) N/A 35,000 miles (with $588.50 annual fee)

       

      4.1 Best for travel benefits: HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card

      HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card

      HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card


      Card Benefits

      • Get 35,000 Air Miles
      • $1 = Up to 1.25 air miles (Local)
      • $1 = Up to 2.25 air miles (Overseas)
      • Priority Pass™ Membership card will be automatically issued to the primary Cardholder and the supplementary Cardholder(s) - Unlimited access to over 700 VIP airport lounges worldwide
      • Access to HSBC’s Infinite Travel & Lifestyle Concierge service for personalised assistance, 24/7
      • Automatic travel insurance coverage of up to US$2,000,000 (annual value worth S$988)
      • Complimentary limousine transfer and expedited immigration clearance at key airports in Asia

      We’ll be honest – the biggest selling point of this air miles card isn’t the miles. Instead, it has probably the best travel perks in the market, including unlimited airport lounge access, free limousine rides and expedited immigration clearance.

      Benefits aside, how does it fare as an air miles card?

      For a start, there’s an annual fee of $650 which comes with a massive welcome bonus of 40,000 miles. We’ll save you the trouble of doing the math – that’s a bargain 1.63 cents per mile.

      However, we’re not fans of the low earn rates nor of the tiered system. You have to spend $50,000 on the card in the first year to enjoy slightly bumped up rates in the second year.

      There’s also a $40+ annual fee to convert HSBC Rewards to miles. Depending on how often you spend your miles, that can either be better or worse than the average fee, $25 per conversion.

      The slightly more accessible air miles card of the two in this category, the HSBC Visa Infinite card is available to those with a minimum income of $120,000 – otherwise, you can also get it with a fixed deposit of $30,000.

      Sign up if: You don’t mind “buying” the welcome miles and want to enjoy VIP travel perks.

      • Minimum Income: S$120,000 OR Fixed Deposit collateral of at least S$30,000
      • Principal Annual Fee: S$488 for HSBC Premier customers OR S$650
      • Supplementary Annual Fee: Free
      • Fee Waiver: None
      • Annual Interest Rate: 25.9%

       

      4.2 Best for business travel: Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Credit Card

      If your work involves a lot of travelling, make sure the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card has a permanent place in your wallet as it has a very high earn rate of $1 = 3 miles on overseas spending – no restrictions or cap. For local spend, the earn rate is $1 = 1.4 miles, which isn’t too shabby either.

      However, you MUST charge at least $2,000 to your card every month. If you don’t, you earn only 1 mile per dollar.

      Its annual fee of $588.50 comes with a very generous welcome bonus of 35,000 miles, trailing closely behind the HSBC Visa Infinite at 1.68 cents per mile.

      Note that it costs $25+ each time you convert your rewards points to miles, and there’s an additional $20 annual fee to redeem Asia Miles.

      The Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card has a higher minimum income requirement of $150,000 or $30,000 for Priority/Private banking customers.

      Sign up if: You spend at least $2,000 to this card a month and travel overseas frequently.

      • Singaporean Minimum Income: S$150,000 OR S$30,000 (Priority/Private Banking customers)
      • Non-Singaporean Minimum Income: S$150,000 OR S$60,000 (Priority/Private Banking customers)
      • Principal Annual Fee: S$588.50
      • Supplementary Annual Fee: Free
      • Fee Waiver: None
      • Annual Interest Rate: 25.9%

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      5. A parting note on rewards credit cards

      Wait! Before you rush to sign up, you should also know that rewards credit cards are a viable alternative to air miles cards.

      Broadly speaking, air miles cards reward travel-related spending, while rewards cards reward general spending e.g. shopping, dining.

      Good rewards credit cards offer very high (up to 10X) bonus points for the latter, making it possible to earn air miles more quickly. However there are usually caps on these. Again, the best card (or combo of cards) really depends on your actual spending habits.

      We’ll cover rewards credit cards in a separate article, but standouts to consider for air miles are the DBS Woman’s World Card, UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Card and the Citi Rewards Card.

      So if you want to be REALLY thorough, check out some of the best rewards credit cards in Singapore as well.

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      best air miles credit cards singapore summary

       

      Related articles:

      The Best Credit Cards to Get You into the Top Airport Lounges All Over the World

      The Best Air Miles Credit Cards in Singapore for Frequent Flyers

      Spending $12,000 Over the Next Few Months? Here’s 4 Air Miles Credit Cards You Should Consider

      Using Your Credit Card on Holiday – Know How Much Overseas Fees You Are Incurring

      Keep updated with all the news!

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      Clara Lim

      I used to be MoneyDumb. I hung out at H&M every day and thought that a $50 lunch set was a good deal. These days, I spend my time researching the crap out of life and trying to maximise utility on micro-decisions. I'm not sure if that's an improvement.