It’s been a while since I got excited over a new air miles card – not since the BOC Elite Miles Card since 2019 – and even longer since I felt any positive emotion towards UOB.
But now that our favourite local bank has launched the UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card, I’m definitely sitting up and taking notice.
And yes, I do think the UOB KrisFlyer Card might just be the best new credit card for miles in Singapore… even after reading UOB’s (notoriously awful) T&Cs!! #notsponsored, okay?
Here’s a digest of five key facts about this powerful new miles card.
1. Earn KrisFlyer miles directly, no conversion needed
Who doesn’t hate boring admin tasks like tracking when your UNI$ expire and converting them into miles – not to mention the ~$25 fee each time you do so – right?
Before the UOB KrisFlyer credit card, the only way you could get miles credited directly to your KrisFlyer account was through either the Amex KrisFlyer card or (its big sister) the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend card. (Or the UOB KrisFlyer debit card, but that’s another story.)
The UOB KrisFlyer credit card works similarly to the Amex cards. You simply link it to your KrisFlyer account and the miles you earn will be credited at the end of each calendar month.
That makes the UOB card a great new option for those who like this hassle-free method of earning miles, but find American Express cards too restrictive. (The UOB KrisFlyer credit card is a Mastercard, which is more widely accepted.)
But all this ease of use is not without its caveats. KrisFlyer miles have a shelf life of three years, so you have to use them up before then. Whereas if you earn bank points, the three-year period starts only after you convert your points to miles.
Also earning KrisFlyer miles direct means, well duh, you can’t switch to another programme like Asia Miles or even choose to redeem vouchers. But if you’re super loyal to Singapore Airlines, that shouldn’t be an issue.
UOB KrisFlyer vs Amex KrisFlyer: Both allow you to earn KrisFlyer miles directly, so it’s a tie.
2. You get a high $1 = Three miles on everyday spending
But The REAL reason to get your hands on the UOB KrisFlyer credit card is the crazy-good $1 = Three miles earn rate (awarded for blocks of $5) on almost all your daily expenses.
The normal earn rate is $1 = 1.2 miles, but for the following categories you earn three miles instead.
- Dining: “Eating places and restaurants, bars and fast food restaurants.” Includes food delivery (GrabFood, Deliveroo, Foodpanda, WhyQ).
- Online shopping: “Fashion websites that sells clothes, shoes, jewellery, accessories and bags as its main business activity.”
- Online travel: Agoda, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Kaligo, Traveloka, Trip.com, UOB Travel
- Transport: Local public bus & MRTs, taxis, Grab, Gojek
That’s almost all your daily expenses, right? Even those weekend getaways are covered thanks to the online travel category.
This is in stark contrast to most other miles cards on the market, where earning miles is a slow and painful process unless you’re already a jet-setter, racking up sky-high room service bills at the Hilton or whatever.
That’s because the main way to earn miles quickly with other cards is with overseas spending, which, you know, isn’t something you can do much of while chained to a desk.
Earning miles with your regular local spending is actually nothing new, it’s just that the cards that let you do so are usually disguised as rewards cards. Here’s a quick and easy summary of the UOB KrisFlyer against other such cards:
|Rewards / miles card||Benefits||Income requirement|
|UOB Preferred Platinum Card||$1 = 4 miles on online shopping (no travel), contactless payment||$30,000|
|DBS Woman’s World Card||$1 = 4 miles on most online spending||$80,000|
|OCBC Titanium Card||$1 = 4 miles on online & offline shopping||$30,000|
|Maybank Horizon Card||$1 = 3.2 miles on local dining, petrol, taxis, Agoda||$50,000|
|UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card||$1 = 3 miles on most online spending, dining, transport||$30,000|
|HSBC Revolution Card||$1 = 2 miles on most online spending, dining, entertainment||$30,000|
|DBS Woman’s Card||$1 = 2 miles on most online spending||$30,000|
As you can see, the UOB KrisFlyer card isn’t the best-best, but it’s got a powerful combination of low income requirement + good miles earn rate + wide range of categories + ability to earn KrisFlyer miles directly (which none of the others have).
UOB KrisFlyer vs Amex KrisFlyer: In obvious retaliation against UOB, Amex now lets you earn 3.1 miles per $1 spent on Grab transactions. But, not only is it a rather plebeian spending category, it’s also capped at an absurd $200 a month. So UOB KrisFlyer wins.
3. … But there’s a catch – you have to wait at least a year
Before you get too carried away doing mental sums for how many miles you can earn on your spending, I must warn you that it’s not exactly all sunshine and roses here.
First, the bonus miles for dining, online and transport will only be credited if you meet this condition: You need to spend at least $500 on Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SilkAir or KrisShop in a year.
“Chey! $500 only,” you scoff. OK lah, it’s no problem at all for most middle-class Singaporeans. You can easily hit that with the Scoot tickets you were planning to get for that upcoming long weekend anyway.
But more importantly, you will only see those bonus KrisFlyer miles in your account 14 months later.
That’s because, for some reason, UOB has decided to withhold the miles for a year, until they check that you confirm guarantee chop got spend $500 on SQ or Scoot. Don’t ask me why they’re so tight-fisted over that $500; the point is that you won’t get to use those bonus miles immediately.
And don’t even think about calling UOB up with some sob story about how you really need the miles urgently for your long-overdue Europe trip, okay?
Quoth the UOB T&Cs: “For avoidance of doubt, Accelerated Miles will be awarded within two (2) months after the card membership year. Expediton of Accelerated Miles is not allowed.”
UOB KrisFlyer vs Amex KrisFlyer: In terms of giving cardholders less bullshit to deal with, the fuss-free Amex KrisFlyer credit cards clearly win.
4. Obviously, you get bonus miles for spending on Singapore Airlines
Lest you complain that I left out the obvious – yes, with the UOB KrisFlyer credit card, you earn miles faster ($1 = three miles) whenever you buy tickets direct from Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot, or shop on KrisShop.
I mean, some things no need to say one right? This is practically an SQ loyalty card after all, to keep you locked into their ecosystem.
If you’re a true patriot then surely you won’t mind. Besides, you have to spend at least $500 on flights anyway, so it’s good to know that you’ll be earning accelerated miles on those.
It also means that when you book flights in the future, you’ll probably want to come back to SQ, SilkAir or Scoot for those sweet, sweet bonus miles – otherwise, very bo hua leh. Yup, you’ll be locked into the system all right.
UOB KrisFlyer vs Amex KrisFlyer: There’s no such requirement with the Amex KrisFlyer cards, so if you’re not interested in the convoluted business of paying for flights in order to get free flights (as some air miles purists are!) then definitely stick with Amex.
5. It’s not that great for one-off expenses though
The UOB KrisFlyer credit card is definitely one of the best miles cards to use if you want to earn miles with your daily spending.
But what if you want to charge upcoming big expenses to it? For example, certain highly pragmatic Singaporeans do charge wedding-related expenses to miles cards, with the idea that they’d earn enough miles for a free honeymoon.
Unfortunately, with this kind of expenditure, you earn just the regular base rate of $1 = 1.2 miles, which is merely average. Even UOB’s own PRVI Miles card offers a better rate of $1 = 1.4 miles. When you’re talking about a $50,000 wedding banquet, that makes a pretty big difference!
Of course nothing is stopping you from charging your crazy Yanxi Palace-themed banquet and theatrical production to this credit card; my point is that the UOB KrisFlyer credit card is simply designed to be optimal for everyday expenses.
UOB KrisFlyer vs Amex KrisFlyer: Pick the Amex KrisFlyer or KrisFlyer Ascend credit card if you’re expecting $10,000 or $20,000 of expenses soon, because their sign-up bonuses are way more generous than that of UOB KrisFlyer’s.
A compilation of other UOB KrisFlyer perks & promotions
In the unlikely event that you’re still not convinced, I’ll enumerate UOB KrisFlyer card’s benefits.
If you’re a budget traveller, you’ll probably appreciate the Scoot benefits which apply to bookings made on the dedicated site (flyscoot.com/KrisFlyerUOB) under the card holder’s name:
- One-time flight date/time OR passenger name change (no change fee will be charged)
- Free standard seat selection for principal cardmember only
- Get free 5kg upgrade with minimum 35kg luggage allowance purchased
- Free priority check-in and boarding for the whole group
Other annual perks for the penny-pinching credit card users among us are:
- 2 x Grab promo codes worth $15 for rides to/from Changi Airport
- 2 x Changi Wifi promo codes worth $15
- $20 rebate off minimum spend $100 on KrisShop (one-off each year)
- Free (but limited, personal accident & emergency evacuation only) travel insurance up to $500,000
- Free extension of KrisFlyer Miles
I wouldn’t say these perks are super amazing compared to Amex KrisFlyer’s, for example, but if you’re going to get this card anyway, why not try your luck, right?
This article was first published in MoneySmart.