In theory, amassing frequent flyer miles which you can then spend on free flights sounds like the perfect plan.
But after years of painstakingly collecting air miles, you discover that you only have enough to claim a one-way ticket to Malaysia. Grrreat.
In truth, it takes a helluva lot of air miles to redeem a decent flight. Let’s take the KrisFlyer frequent flyer programme for example, which many Singaporeans are signed up to.
Here’s how many miles you need to collect in order to redeem an Economy Saver round-trip ticket on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir.
|Destination||Economy Saver||Business Class|
Note that you have to pay a minimum of 24 USD (31 SGD) in fees and taxes each time you make a redemption with your miles. The amount changes according to the destination.
Already have your KrisFlyer miles and just want to know where you can go for free? Use MoneySmart’s miles redemption calculator to find out easily.
HOW CAN YOU MAXIMISE YOUR MILES?
Frequent travellers will notice that the number of miles needed to claim a flight to a certain destination is not always proportional to the cost of the flight.
In other words, some flights are a better deal than others when you spend your miles on them.
Here are some tips for maximising your miles.
1. DON’T WASTE YOUR MILES ON SHORT TRIPS YOU COULD MAKE CHEAPLY ON BUDGET AIRLINES
It is usually not worthwhile to use your precious miles to redeem short flights that can be enjoyed cheaply on budget airlines.
For instance, the Singapore to Bangkok route is served by many budget airlines, and you can usually get tickets for about $100.
A round-trip ticket to Bangkok costs 25,000 miles, and you will have to pay a minimum of 24 USD (31 SGD) in fees and taxes. That means that even if you pay the minimum amount of fees and taxes, you’re saving at best $70. Sure, you’ll enjoy better onboard service than you would on, say, Scoot. But is it really worth it for a 2.5 hour flight?
On the other hand, a flight to London costs 3 times the miles of a flight to Bangkok. But even the cheapest tickets to London cost at least $800. After deducting fees and taxes, you’d still be saving at least $700. That means you get 10 times the savings for 3 times the miles.
2. PICK THE MOST EXPENSIVE DESTINATIONS YOU CAN CLAIM WITH THE MILES YOU CAN AFFORD TO SPEND
Two destinations that cost the same number of miles might have very different flight prices in reality. To maximise your miles, go for the most expensive destinations that you can get for a certain number of miles.
Looking at the above chart, we can see that it costs 76,000 miles for a return trip to London, Paris and Los Angeles.
However, frequent travellers will know that tickets to London and Paris are generally significantly cheaper than tickets to LA.
While you can often snag tickets to London and Paris for as little as $800+, this is unheard of when going to LA, for which even bargain basement tickets rarely fall below the $1,000 mark. (Those that do usually require you to spend days in transit.) So you would save more by using your 76,000 miles on that flight to LA.
3. PICK THE RIGHT CREDIT CARD TO ACCUMULATE AIR MILES FASTER
Flying isn’t the only way to accumulate frequent flyer miles. Another way is to use a credit card that rewards you with air miles.
Different credit cards allow you to collect miles at different rates depending on how much you spend, what you spend on and the card itself. So do your research and find one that rewards you the most handsomely.
TOP AIR MILES CREDIT CARDS IN SINGAPORE (2019)
1. KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
The new KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card gives $1 for every 3 miles on everyday spending on dining, online shopping, online travel and transport.
But, the bonus air miles will only be credited if your spend at least $500 on Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SilkAir or KrisShop in a year, which should be easy if you travel at least once a year. Take note that you only get to see the miles 14 months later!
2. UOB PRVI Miles Card
UOB PRVI Miles Card has a generous conversion rate, with a great 2.4 miles for every $1 you spend overseas, and 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally.
You also get a cool 6 miles per $1 spent on selected online hotel and flight bookings (including bookings made on Expedia, Agoda, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Air France, amongst others).
Until 31 October 2019, you can get $150 in cash credit for the first 1,000 qualifying new-to-UOB principal credit card applicants.
3. Citi PremierMiles Visa Card
2 miles for every $1 spent overseas, 1.2 miles for every $1 spent locally.
Up to a whopping 10 miles for every $1 spent on selected online and flight bookings.
The good thing about the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card is that Citi Miles never expire.
4. Maybank Horizon Visa Signature
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature offers one of the most generous conversion rates for local spending, at 3.2 miles for every $1 spent on dining, petrol, taxi and hotel bookings on Agoda.
You also get 2 miles for every $1 worth of overseas or foreign currency spending, as well as spending on air tickets and travel packages.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.