Things to note first
These seven miles cards all have first year annual fee waivers, which is now the industry standard for entry-level miles cards. That said, banks usually try to get you to pay the annual fee by dangling a bunch of bonus miles in front of you.
Another thing: Many of these air miles credit cards also have peripheral travel benefits, like airport lounge access and free travel insurance. But in order to compare the cards fairly, we’re only focusing on air miles benefits here. Right, now let’s compare!
Best miles cards for everyday spending:
Maybank Horizon, UOB KrisFlyer
Most miles cards are set up so you can earn miles mainly with your travel spending (see next slide) but wouldn’t it be so much better if you could earn miles with your everyday spending too? Just think about how much you spend on dining and pumping petrol every week.
The much-hyped UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card promises $1 = 3 miles on a whole bunch of regular spending: Dining, transport, online shopping as well as travel, which means you will use this card practically every day. However, UOB will withhold your miles for a year, during which you need to spend at least $500 on SQ or Scoot.
If you don’t like all these icky terms & conditions, an alternative is the Maybank Horizon Miles Card with fantastic bonus miles for local dining and petrol in particular. There’s a minimum spend requirement of $300, which is low, but it also means you need to remember to use this card quite consistently.
Best miles cards for travel spending:
OCBC 90°N, UOB PRVI Miles, UOB KrisFlyer, DBS Altitude
If you’re looking for a good miles card in preparation for your year-end travel plans, these credit cards are worthy contenders. The freshly-launched OCBC 90°N Card, in particular, has insanely generous earn rates for travel bookings and overseas spending all the way until 29 Feb 2020. If that suits your travel plans, then it’s a no-brainer to grab it while the promotion lasts.
For a more long-lasting arrangement, you may consider the UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card — though the same caveats apply above — or the DBS Altitude Card.
While the DBS Altitude‘s regular earn rates are nothing to shout about, it’s very versatile as you can earn 3 miles per $1 on practically all travel bookings, including aggregators, airlines, hotels, Airbnb, etc. That means you can still shop around for the best deal online, but just note that bonus miles are capped at $5,000/month.
For regular overseas spending e.g. shopping and dining, the UOB PRVI Miles Card has the best rate after the OCBC 90°N. But it isn’t all that great for flight and hotel bookings.
Best miles cards for one-off expenses:
Actually, there are many miles cards offering bonus miles when you sign up and spend a specific (large) amount within the first few months, as you can see in the table below. But notice that most of them require you to pay a hefty annual fee to get the miles. That’s perhaps one of the most ridiculous and oxymoronic things about miles cards: “Get eleventy zillion miles for ‘free’ when you pay the annual fee!”
So while the Amex KrisFlyer Card offers fewer bonus miles, at least there’s a first-year annual fee waiver.
Best miles cards with no expiry
OCBC 90°N, Citi PremierMiles, DBS Altitude
If the thought of spending thousands of dollars in just a couple of months makes you blanch, these are the three miles card options for beginners to slowly play the miles game.
These are especially useful if you’re a generally frugal person without any big expenses coming up; there won’t be any pressure for you to redeem miles anytime soon. That said, the non-promotional earn rates aren’t too spectacular.
Of the three, the OCBC 90°N Card beats the Citi PremierMiles and DBS Altitude cards in a few ways. Its overseas earn rate is higher (2.1 miles instead of 2), the minimum block of miles for conversion is lower (1,000 miles instead of 10,000), and conversion is free (instead of ~$25).
However, OCBC only has KrisFlyer miles as a partner, and you can’t get miles under any other frequent flyer programme. OCBC also doesn’t give you airport lounge access, while the other two do.
READ MORE: The Best Travel Credit Cards To Use For Overseas Shopping
Best miles cards with no conversion fees
Amex KrisFlyer, UOB KrisFlyer, OCBC 90°N
So maybe you don’t want to stay on top of things like your rewards points balance and making sure they don’t expire on you. Or maybe you just don’t want to pay the usual $25 fee to convert your rewards points to KrisFlyer miles.
These three credit cards allow you to earn KrisFlyer miles with minimal fuss / fees. Both the Amex KrisFlyer Card and UOB KrisFlyer card are official SQ KrisFlyer co-branded credit cards, so the miles you earn are credited directly into your KrisFlyer account, no conversion needed. Note that KrisFlyer miles expire after three years though.
The UOB KrisFlyer credit card is a lot more troublesome. It requires you to spend $500 on SQ or Scoot before UOB will release the miles, at least one year later. Steer clear if you like instant gratification.
As for the OCBC 90°N Card, you earn OCBC Travel$ and have to convert them to KrisFlyer miles the usual way. But there’s no fee and the minimum block of 1,000 miles is very small, so it’s relatively hassle-free.
READ MORE: 14 Genius Ways To Save Money While On Holiday With Your Family
What about premium air miles credit cards in Singapore?
These cards usually require you to pay an annual fee — no waivers! — but they will give you bonus miles. Some miles chasers actually do think it’s a good deal though. For example, if you’re an HSBC Premier customer and you pay your annual fee for the HSBC VI, your 35,000 miles work out to less than 1.4 cents per mile.
One thing you might find surprising is that the miles earn rates are, frankly, not THAT spectacular even though they’re for premium clientele.
However, owning one of these credit cards goes beyond just the miles. It’s like having VIP club membership. They really open doors to perks like unlimited airport lounge access, limousine transfers, free entry to spas and golf courses, and so on.
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