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4 Great Benefits You Didn’t Know You Could Get With Airline Loyalty Programs

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Mark Cheng

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Ask any Singaporean on the street what some of their dreams are, and you are bound to run into more than a few people who mention “travel” in their answers. This might explain why air miles cards are so popular, even though they do require you to spend a significant amount of money before your miles can even bring you anywhere further than Sentosa.

But what a lot of people don’t know is that airlines have loyalty programs that also reward you for spending. Of course the ideal scenario is that you’re perpetually taking that airline everywhere, but even if you have certain airline choices for short haul flights and others for long haul ones, it still makes sense to consider these 4 things you might not know about airline loyalty programs:

 

1. It Helps You To Fly More

Just like how spending on an air miles card allows you to accrue air miles which you can then later redeem for your flights, loyalty programs often have a points redemption scheme that works in a similar way when you book flights on a specific airline.

In the case of some airlines like AirAsia, it’s even better because points are accrued using Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) as the base currency. So with their AirAsia BIG Loyalty Programme, you get 1 BIG Point for 2 MYR spent. Given the fantastic conversion rate against the Singapore Dollar currently, this makes accruing points way faster. Memberships like AirAsia BIG also have tie ups with hotel booking sites (in this case, AirAsiaGo), and partner sites like Agoda.com, so if you do happen to be booking your hotel stay as well, then you can be rewarded for that too.

 

2. You Can Earn Loyalty Points from Spending Elsewhere as Well

So, apart from having to spend on the airline itself, especially if you’re not someone that flies all that often and thinks it’s pointless, you can still chalk up points through your credit card spend, and from other rewards programs as well. This basically removes the pressure to spend huge amounts on your air miles card just to chalk up enough to save on your future travels.

For instance, banks like DBS allow cardmembers to convert their DBS Rewards Points to BIG points, and with some great multiplier deals with specific DBS credit cards, this makes it even faster to accrue loyalty points, especially if you’re not planning on redeeming your DBS Rewards Points for some kettle pot, or department store voucher. Starhub is also another provider with a rewards scheme in the form Starhub Rewards and this can also be converted.

Some airline loyalty programs like AirAsia BIG Loyalty Programme also have online retail stores exclusive for members which gives you access to over 500 global retailers across various lifestyle categories so if you do happen to be shopping there, you’ll also be rewarded with points.

 

3. Redemption is Extremely Simple and Transparent

This is perhaps one of the stronger points of loyalty programs, as compared to certain air miles cards that require a lengthy conversion process. And because it’s directly tied to the airline, the redemption process is relatively transparent as well. As opposed to credit cards where there is an initial conversion to frequent flyer miles (under which airline your miles go to), and this is not always a 1 for 1 swap, loyalty program points are directly offset from the airline. I mean, you wouldn’t be able to redeem the points on any other airline anyway, so the transaction is direct and simple. And best of all, it’s online.

For the redemption of AirAsia BIG Points, these are based on flight schedules, so you can openly see the value of your AirAsia BIG Points and how this translates to the destination of your choice when it comes to redemption. Of course, this is subject to availability of the flights, which is also a good reason to book your flights early. As with the redemption of air miles, you can also top up your flight purchase with cash in most cases if you are short of a few points.

In case you were wondering, you can do all this on AirAsia.com, you just using one login, you’re able to check your points and then go on to redeem your flights, without having to go through the usual hassle of moving from one place to another and logging in multiple times.

 

4. There Are Travel Perks With Loyalty Programs Too

Air miles cards are always promoting their peripheral services such as lounge access, limousine services (does anyone actually use this?), and loyalty programs do have their perks as well, and aren’t anything to just shrug off.

AirAsia’s tie up with a variety of Tune Hotels allows for hotel stay redemptions. But what is really tempting, and certainly the one thing that you’re going to face the stiffest competition on is the flight sales. These are the time-limited, value-for-money sales that everyone flocks to. So getting priority access to these sales, such as AirAsia’s popular Free Seats sale is certainly a huge bonus, especially if you are planning for a holiday in advance.

Oh did we mention it’s free to sign up for? If you’re interested in signing up for AirAsia’s BIG Loyalty Programme, you can do it immediately here.

Are you a member of any airline loyalty programs? What are your experiences with them? Share your experiences here!

This article was brought to you by AirAsia.

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Mark Cheng

I rant and rave a lot, but when I'm not busy doing that, I'm managing the content for MoneySmart. I love Singapore, but I also believe in helping it to improve bit by bit, and that's where MoneySmart comes in. Have some thoughts? Drop me an email at mark@moneysmart.sg.

  • Stefan Tien Po

    Your editor must be on MC today because this pretty bad. At least use Hemingway app before you put this out catapult. Sentences too long and confusing!

  • I usually like your articles but this one was below expectations. Also, there are way better examples that could be given than sticking to the BIG loyalty program.

    • Roy

      Read the bottom most line – brought to you by airasia. It’s an advertorial. :/

  • Roy

    I haven’t actually used the travel insurance feature for my cards. I know that you need to charge the air tix using the card to qualify for yourself (and spouse/children) but I’m unclear if there’s a minimum charge.

    Limo services are unarguably the most straightforward, fuss-free and value-for-money feature on most travel cards.

    For example all you need to do would be to accumulate 1500 spend on anything with anz travel card within the past 30 days and you can redeem a cab voucher to the airport even if it’s for someone else.

    I also agree that you don’t need to spend ON travel to GET more travel miles. Specifically, cards with special spend categories that give to 4miles on the dollar suit this purpose. These include ocbc titanium, Citi Rewards/Clear/premiermiles DBS ladies card in categories like entertainment, overseas spend and shopping! Side note: I feel bummed whenever I see people whip out the wrong cards like Amex krisflyer gold at supermarkets or shopping centres

    The small charge for a huge conversion of miles for these cards is definitely worth it.