Want to Fly for Free? 4 Rules for Using an Air Miles Credit Card

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong

Last updated 25 June, 2015
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Want to Fly for Free? 4 Rules for Using an Air Miles Credit Card</span>

Why should you spend on flight tickets when you can get them for free? With an air miles credit card, you can accumulate miles without spending more.

Air miles – also called frequent flier miles or bonus miles – are a common form of credit card rewards. They are especially favoured by frequent travellers, and many people keep an air miles credit card in addition to their other lifestyle cards.

Because when used right, you can fly for free without having to do more than what you’re already doing. Here’s how to make full use of an air miles credit card in Singapore.

Best Buys Credit Cards with High base Air Miles and Attractive Bonus Miles

Per dollar spent
LocallyOverseas Bonus Miles
ANZ Travel Visa Signature Card

Highest miles given per local spend

1.4 air miles1.4 air miles2000 welcome miles for the first $500 spend; 10,000 miles upon card renewal
Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

Best miles given for spending at travel-related merchants

1.2 air miles2 air miles50% bonus miles over long weekends in 2015, cap at 3000 miles; 10,000 miles upon Card renewal; S$1 spend at Expedia, Agoda = 6 miles earned
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card

Best accelerated miles program

0.625 air miles0.625 air miles5000 welcome miles; 5,000 Bonus KrisFlyer miles with a spend of S$5,000 within the first 6 months; 50% more KrisFlyer miles with a min spend of $5,000 per calendar year; 50% additional KrisFlyer miles with a min spend of S$12,000 per calendar year, cap at 8000 miles

What an Air Miles Credit Card can Give You

If travelling around the world is part of your lifelong dream, an air miles credit card can help you accomplish that easily.

An air miles credit card rewards you with miles every time you spend – and you don’t even have to spend on travel-related products. For example, ANZ Travel Visa Signature Card gives you 1.4 miles per dollar spent locally. If you go for a S$100 dinner with your family, you’ll be rewarded with 140 miles, credited straight to your card.

Once you have accumulated sufficient miles, you can trade them for flight tickets, free airline upgrades, hotel stays or airline membership programs. Redeeming a free ticket to a destination of your choice is easily within reach if you get the right credit card.

4 Rules to Utilising an Air Miles Credit Card

Find out how much air miles you are getting for every dollar you spend

One Rule to Collecting Air Miles on a Credit Card

Air miles rewards are generally split into 2 categories: air miles per dollar spent locally and air miles per dollar spent overseas.

This means that no matter what and where you spend, you will be rewarded with air miles. Compared to a cashback or rewards credit cards, air miles credit cards are pretty straightforword, without any confusing conditions that you have to take note of.

Pay the most attention to air miles you get for every dollar spent locally. After all, it’s where you would be spending most on.

Banks tend to partner up with related travel merchants, giving you more miles when you spend with them. An example is Citi PremierMiles Visa Card, which gives you 6 miles for every dollar spent on Agoda.com or Expedia.com.

Pay attention to accelerator miles program

Before you dismiss a card due to its low air miles rate, understand that it might actually provide a good rewards program, just hidden under a complicated set of terms and conditions.

One good example is the American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card. While is base miles is the lowest, giving you only 0.625 air mile per dollar spend, its accelerator program makes it even more attractive than most cards with higher base miles. Its accelerator program has the following features for new customers:

  1. 5,000 Bonus KrisFlyer miles with a spend of S$5,000 within the first 6 months
  2. 50% more KrisFlyer miles with a min spend of S$5,000 per calendar year
  3. 50% additional KrisFlyer miles with a min spend of S$12,000 per calendar year, cap at 8000 miles/year

Here’s a simple illustration if you charge S$1000 per month to American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card:

ComputationKrisFlyer Miles earned
Welcome Bonus5,000
5000 bonus miles for the first S$5000 charged in the first 6 month5,000
Base miles with spend of S$12,000 in a year0.625 x 12,0007,500
50% more KrisFlyer miles7,500 x 0.53,750
50% additional KrisFlyer miles7,500 x 0.53,750
Total KrisFlyer miles earned25,000

Just by spending $1,000 a month in a year, you can redeem the 25,000 miles you earned for a free ticket to Tokyo or Maldives with thousands of miles to spare!

The best thing about this card is that it only requires an annual income of $30,000. Not only that, it has the lowest annual fees of $117.70 among the rest of the cards.  American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card is definitely the best card for people who are getting their first air miles credit card!

Make full use of the welcome miles

The intense competition between credit card issuers is sweetening the deal for consumers like you. Most banks provide generous welcome miles to attract people to apply for their cards.

Look out for the minimum amount you have to spend and the time period in which the spending has to occur.

A good indicator is to calculate the average amount you need to spend to be eligible for these bonus miles. The generous welcome miles won’t matter if you can’t hit the minimum required spend.

To receive renewal miles or an annual fee waiver?

When it is time for you to renew your card, you are generally given these two options: to pay the annual fee and receive renewal bonus miles or to receive an annual fee waiver.

The decision on which to choose depends on how much value you get from the renewal.

In general, 1 air mile is worth about 1 cent (98 Krisflyer miles = $1). Therefore, if the annual fees are worth more than the renewal miles they are giving away, it makes more economical sense to choose the annual fee waiver.


Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.


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