Earning Air Miles with Your Wedding Banquet — Which Credit Card is Best?
It’s no secret that doing the whole marriage shebang in Singapore is seriously expensive, with wedding banquet table prices going up dramatically each year. As of 2019, a table at a top tier 5-star hotel will set you back about $2,000 at least. Yikes!
And that’s before factoring in the cost of your honeymoon. Seriously, why bother? Just elope and live in sin lah.
But we get it — some people really have “no choice” but to spend $50,000 on a wedding banquet, be it due to your crazy status-obsessed in-laws, peer pressure, or what-have-you.
The next best thing you can do is to pay for your wedding banquet with an air miles credit card, so that at least you can get free flights for your honeymoon.
Let’s have a look at which credit cards are best for earning miles on that idiotically expensive wedding.
First, some assumptions about your wedding
Let’s assume you’re holding a “typical” high SES wedding banquet. It’s on Saturday evening at Capella Singapore (of course), and you’re booking 30 tables (per your parents’ and in-laws’ highly aggressive requests).
At $2,458 per table, that works out to $73,740 in total.
On to the honeymoon. If you’re planning on a Europe honeymoon, you’d be looking at about $1,500 to $2,000/pax for flights on a full-service carrier (I assume you wouldn’t consider budget, since it’s a long-haul flight). So that’s about $3,000 to $4,000 total for the flights alone.
Or, if you’re on a frequent flyer programme like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, that’s 76,000 miles per person or 152,000 miles for both.
In order to save $3,000 to $4,000 on flights, you’d have to hit 15,200 miles by using the right miles card. Let’s see if it’s possible.
How many miles can you earn with your wedding banquet?
Here’s an overview of how many miles you can get with the current miles cards on the market, factoring in the current sign-up promotions.
|Credit card||Miles earn rate||Total earnings|
|Standard Chartered X Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 60,000 bonus miles*)||148,488 miles|
|BOC Elite Miles Card||$1 = 1.5 miles||110,610 miles|
|Citi PremierMiles Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 14,000* / 21,000 bonus miles)||102,488 / 109,488 miles|
|Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 20,000 bonus miles*)||108,488 miles|
|DBS Altitude Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 15,000 / 20,000 bonus miles*)||103,488 / 108,488 miles|
|UOB PRVI Card||$1 = 1.4 miles||103,236 miles|
|OCBC 90°N Credit Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 7,000 bonus miles)||95,488 miles|
|Amex KrisFlyer Card||$1 = 1.1 miles (+ 12,500 bonus miles)||93,614 miles|
|UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 3,000 bonus miles)||91,488 miles|
* Annual fee payment required.
As you can see, the most miles you can get with a single credit card is 148,488 miles (the Standard Chartered X Card), which is just shy of the 152,000 miles needed for a pair of return flights. Urgh! Infuriating.
But all is not lost. Here’s one weird little trick you can try…
Air miles hack: Split the wedding banquet bill
Presumably, both of you are earning enough money at this point to qualify for credit cards (otherwise you have no business holding a lavish Capella wedding, young man/woman!).
So nothing’s stopping you BOTH from applying for separate miles cards to pay for the wedding bill. Assuming perfect gender equality, you’d both pay half the bill each with your new miles cards: $36,870 each, which is definitely enough to hit the minimum spend needed to qualify for any sign-up bonus.
Here’s how much each miles card would garner:
|Credit card||Miles earn rate||Total earnings|
|Standard Chartered X Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 60,000 bonus miles*)||104,244 miles|
|Citi PremierMiles Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 14,000 / 21,000 bonus miles*)||58,244 / 65,244 miles|
|Amex KrisFlyer Ascend Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 20,000 bonus miles*)||64,244 miles|
|DBS Altitude Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 15,000 / 20,000 bonus miles*)||59,244 / 64,244 miles|
|Amex KrisFlyer Card||$1 = 1.1 miles (+ 12,500 bonus miles)||53,057 miles|
|OCBC 90°N Credit Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 7,000 bonus miles)||51,244 miles|
|UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card||$1 = 1.2 miles (+ 3,000 bonus miles)||47,244 miles|
* Annual fee payment required.
Potential credit card power couples are:
StanChart X Card + StanChart X Card: 104,244 miles + 104,244 miles = 208,488 miles. This gets you the most possible miles, but you have to fork out hefty annual fees — $695.50 each, or $1,391 in total. Ouch.
Alternatively, StanChart X Card + Citi PremierMiles Card (if one of you is new to Citibank): 104,244 miles + 65,244 miles = 169,488 miles. The annual fee for Citi is $192.60, so your total costs are $888.10.
Even StanChart X Card + Amex KrisFlyer Card would work. 104,244 miles + 53,057 miles = 157,301 miles. There’s a first year fee waiver whether you’re new to Amex or not, so you only need to pay the $695.50 annual fee for the X Card.
Unfortunately, going this route always entails paying the hefty annual fee on the StanChart X Card. No other card comes close in terms of miles earned, so you can’t get enough miles for your honeymoon with card combos that don’t include this card.
Or change the wedding banquet to a restaurant…
I know that most people who die-die must have hotel wedding will not consider this, but if you’re serious about chasing miles and getting the most bang for your buck (many thousand bucks, in this case) — you should think about hosting your wedding at a nice restaurant instead.
That way, you can make use of credit cards with accelerated miles for dining spending.
Wedding banquets at hotels, unfortunately, don’t count as dining spend. No, it’s not because the bride and groom don’t get to eat on their wedding day (although this is true in many cases).
It’s because the company charging $70K to your credit card is Capella or Shangri-La or whatever — it’s registered as a hotel. The credit card company doesn’t know what you actually did with that $70K.
Let’s say you opt for Peony Jade restaurant instead. A table there costs $999, so with the same 30 table booking, the total would be less than half that of Capella’s: $29,970. The following credit cards will get you these miles:
|Credit card||Miles earn rate for dining||Total miles|
|Maybank Horizon Card||$1 = 3.2 miles||94,387 miles|
|UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card||$1 = 3 miles (+ 3,000 bonus miles) have to wait a year||91,488 miles|
|HSBC Revolution Card||$1 = 2 miles||58,992 miles|
Note that for UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card, you’ll have to wait a whole year before you can get the bonus miles, so if you’re not willing to wait, just give it a miss.
The Maybank Horizon credit card has the best miles earn rate for dining spending, and as far as we know, there isn’t a super-long wait for the miles to come in. Unfortunately, due to the smaller amount that you’d spend at a restaurant, the total miles earned won’t be enough for both your return flights.
That said, you would have saved a whopping $43,770 by switching the banquet venue, so even if you fork out $2,000 to pay for one person’s Paris flights in cash, you’d still have over $40,000 left over.
What if you don’t want to spend so much on the wedding banquet?
If you are in full possession of your sanity and have no wish to splash out on a big showy dinner — good for you! — you can still pay for your wedding dinner with an air miles card.
But instead of redeeming your free flights right away, you can choose to accumulate miles with other big purchases, such as home appliances and furniture.
Choose a credit card with miles that don’t expire, and if it awards bonus miles for hitting a certain minimum spend e.g. $6,000 or so, all the better.
If you’re new to Citibank, our pick is the Citi PremierMiles Card, as you can get 21,000 bonus miles for spending $7,500 in the first 3 months. You’d have to pay a $192.60 annual fee, though, otherwise the bonus drops to a more modest 6,400 miles. Citi Miles don’t expire.
Another great alternative is the DBS Altitude Card, which again, has no-expiry miles, so the pressure of collecting enough miles to convert into a flight is off. Right now, DBS is also running a sign-up miles promotion. You get the maximum of 20,000 bonus miles if you’re new to DBS and opt to pay the annual fee, but you can still get miles if you choose not to, or if you’re an existing customer.
Do you have any other tricks for earning miles with your wedding banquet? Tell us in the comments.