I’ve been wanting to write this article for a long time. The beginning of flying different products in the sky stems from devising a clear-cut, credit card strategy. Credit cards are the best way to accumulate miles, with some credit cards giving you 4 miles for every dollar spent (mpd), bringing you one step closer to redeeming your dream vacation. On the other hand, you may be using a 0.4mpd card, which just slows down your miles earning capabilities and it breaks my heart.
There are more than 20 credit cards that allows you to earn miles, but which actually should you consider? Below are those that I use, and I hope it sheds light for you in this mile-chasing journey!
For General Spending: OCBC Premier Voyage
The OCBC Premier Voyage is my handy card that I use for my general spending. It’s a card that offers 1.6mpd for local spend (highest in Singapore for local spend) and 2.4mpd (till 31 Dec’19) on foreign spend, with no cap. OCBC Voyage cards employs an unconventional miles rewards system, whereby it gives VOYAGE miles which never expires. VOYAGE miles are special in the sense that it can be used for, as OCBC claims, to book any flight, on any airline with no blackout dates, with no need to start the flight from Singapore.
That’s pretty amazing, given that you have the flexibility to try out any cabin you wish, especially with the new British Airways A350’s Club World Suites set to grace the skies in September 2019. If not, VOYAGE miles can also be converted to Krisflyer miles at a 1:1 conversion rate, with ZERO processing fees, unlike most banks which charge a one-time fee of $25 each time.
I use my OCBC Premier Voyage Card for lounge access too. OCBC Voyage has partnered with Plaza Premium lounges over the world, and provides BOTH primary and supplementary cardholders unlimited lounge access. Sadly, there are only about 70+ Plaza Premium lounges (primarily in Asia) around the world, a stark comparison to the 1,200 lounges offered by Priority Pass, which most banks in Singapore have an agreement with.
Verdict: The OCBC Premier Voyage Card has a place in my wallet due to its strongest mile-earning general, local spend ability, and unlimited lounge access, which comes in handy as I travel a lot. It admittedly does command a certain level of income ($488 annual fee), so for graduates starting out in the workforce, I would recommend entry-level cards such as the DBS Altitude (with has some amazing promotions at the moment), or the Citi Premiermiles. They have first year annual fee waivers and 2 lounge passes from Priority Pass yearly.
For Contactless Transactions: UOB Preferred Platinum Visa
The UOB PPV is a hidden treasure. I only learnt about its existence a few months ago but this card is an absolute must-have. It gives you 4mpd on contactless payments, capped at $1,000 each calendar month, and 0.4mpd on everything else. Contactless payments are generally recognised as Paywave, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay.. you get the idea.
The 4mpd comes in the form of UNI$ reward points, where 1 UNI$ = 2 miles. Thus, every $5 spent gives you 10 UNI$, and therefore 20 miles. After accumulating your UNI$, you may then change it to Krisflyer/Asia Miles in blocks of 5,000 UNI$ = 10,000 miles.
Some things to take note though.. UOB has a policy of awarding miles only in blocks of $5 spent. That’s to say, you get ZERO miles for spending $4.99 or lesser. Additionally, UOB has a list of SMART merchants. You will not get 4mpd on contactless payments if you pay at these SMART merchants. That’s because UOB has a special arrangement with these merchants, where they give rebates instead. I value 4mpd over these rebates, so I use another card while paying at these SMART merchants.
Verdict: You should absolutely get this card if you haven’t. It’s seamless and there’s a ton of opportunities to pay via contactless payments and earn 4mpd. Just take note of UOB’s policy of awarding miles in blocks of $5 and their arrangement with SMART merchants.
For Online Spend: DBS Womans World Mastercard
The DBS WWMC awards 4mpd* for all online spend, capped at $2,000 per statement month, and 0.4mpd on everything else. I generally use the DBS WWMC for my air tickets and hotel stays. Take note that for hotel stays, you would have to pay the full amount online, and not over the counter after your stay, that will give you a measly 0.4mpd.
Credit cards have some weird terms and conditions and the DBS WWMC isn’t an exception. Besides awarding miles in blocks of $5 like the UOB PPV, DBS only gives its bonus miles after aggregating your total spend. Take a look at this.
To break it down, the 4mpd, in the form of DBS points, where 1 DBS point = 2 miles, is credited to your account on 2 different dates:
1X DBS Point for every $5 spent on next working day of transaction date
9X DBS Points for every $5 spent on a specific date of the next statement
To provide a simple example, what I spend on the 1st-31st June, I will only get 1 DBS point for every $5 spent. The additional 9X DBS Points will then come in one lump sum on the next statement month, which falls on the 16th July for myself. This may vary for each card member, but the principle remains the same.
In addition, DBS points accumulated on the WWMC expire one year at the end of the quarterly period they were accumulated.
Verdict: I try to keep my spending on the WWMC to big ticket-items, so that I will spend less time reconciling bonus points. It might seem a lot of trouble to accumulate points on the WWMC, but its earning capability of 4mpd on online spend is rather unmatched. One might argue that the Citi Rewards allows 4mpd on online spend too, but Citibank restricts that for travel-related expenditure.
The 3 cards listed above are my absolute must-haves, but I possess other cards in my arsenal which I use on a case-by-case basis. I recently picked up the AMEX Krisflyer in June, a good option if you are a new-to-bank customer, with its first-year annual fee waived, although they have had a new offer since July. I would also jump on the latest card that joined the market: The Standard Chartered Visa Infinite X card. With its opening offer starting at 100k miles (now reduced to 60k miles), it’s an offering that has shaken up the Singapore credit card miles market.
Any Citibank cards have to be strongly considered too given its sheer variety of airline transfer partners, which can offer serious value when redeeming miles, showing that there is indeed life beyond Krisflyer. I’ll give a shoutout too to the UOB Krisflyer Credit Card (avoid Debit card please) and the UOB’s Lady Card; both can be valuable assets if utilised properly.
Finally, as my travel expenditure picks up overseas, I see myself picking up the UOB Visa Signature (VS) card. It works similar to the UOB PPV, giving 4mpd per blocks of $5. However, you MUST spend between $1,000 to $2,000 within a statement month, where anything below $1,000 and above $2,000 will see you earning 0.4mpd. UOB allows points pooling too, so I can combine my UNI$ from the PPV and VS and convert to miles with one fee.
One card that I absolute adore is the AMEX Platinum Charge Card. It commands a $1,712 annual fee, but I believe the perks it gives offer so much more value. I haven’t cashed in yet, but here’s a post on why I believe why many should consider getting it despite its hefty annual fee.
Credit cards can be a double-edged sword; I absolutely advocate the usage of cards for daily expenses to rack up miles, but you must also be diligent in paying your bills (to avoid paying extra interest) and to not spend above your means.
If you are in this miles journey, I hope this article has been useful to you. Feel free to comment below which cards you will be using for stacking your miles! Happy miles chasing!