Have you wondered which credit card gives you miles for your regular frequent flyer program, or if you have to pay a fee to redeem your miles?
Getting an air miles card is the fastest way to accelerate the accumulation of air miles without flying abroad. It’s easy to compare credit cards that give you the most miles, but what about the other fees involved? How about the frequent flyer programs they are tied to?
We’ve broken down all you need to know about air miles credit card fees in this article.
Frequent Flyer Programs & Conversion Fees
When you’ve collected enough air miles on your credit card, it’s time to reap the rewards and redeem them. Most banks charge a fee for converting the miles on your card into miles with a frequent flyer program. How does it work?
The redemption procedure for different cards depend on the following factors:
- The frequent flyer program you want to convert your points into
- The method of redemption a particular bank uses
Most credit cards aren’t tied to a sole frequent flyer program, which gives you the freedom to choose from more countries to fly to!
ANZ Travel Visa Signature Card
UOB PRVI Miles Platinum American Express Card
DBS Altitude American Express Card
Citi PremierMiles Visa Card
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card
|Frequent Flyer Programs:||
|Conversion Rate:||1 Travel$ = 1 air mile*Minimum of 2,000 miles||1UNI$ = 2 air miles*Minimum of 10,000 miles||Asia Miles and Krisflyer:1 DBS Point = 2 air miles
*Minimum of 10,000 miles
1 DBS Point = 3 air miles
*Minimum of 1,500 miles
|1 Citi Mile = 1 air mile
*Minimum of 500 miles for all programs
|Allows Cardholders to earn KrisFlyer miles directly for all purchases charged to the card|
|Conversion Fee:||S$25 per conversion||S$25 per conversion||Annual DBS Frequent Flyer Program (“FFP”) fee of S$42.80 *Per FFP you register for||S$25 per conversion||N/A|
|Expiry:||5 year validity for Travel$||2 year validity for UNI$||Does not expire||Does not expire||3 years (KrisFlyer miles expiry)|
|Method:||Online||Online||Online or by phone||Online||N/A|
|Processing Time:||14 working days||5 working days||2 weeks||14 working days||N/A|
*Expiry times for the miles are different and differ according to the FFP
Fuel Surcharges & How to Avoid Them
If you’re planning to redeem your miles for a flight, you’d also need to think about paying for fuel surcharges.
Fuel surcharges are a sneaky way airlines make money by imposing a charge on the otherwise “free” flight tickets which you get by redeeming your air miles.
In Singapore, it can be difficult to avoid this. KrisFlyer, part of the Star Alliance frequent flyer program, imposes fuel surcharges for award redemption on all of their partner airlines. All Star Alliance airlines, with the exception of United Avianca, impose fuel surcharges and do so in most markets.
But here are some ways you can pay less or avoid fuel surcharges altogether:
1. Choose airlines that do not have fuel surcharge
Some of these include Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, LAN Airlines, US Airways, United Airlines and a few more. Wherever possible, one should try and get award tickets on these airlines in order to get the most value.
Even if an airline does charge a fuel surcharge the amount of fuel surcharge varies greatly from one airline to another and on what frequent flier program a person is using.
2. Avoid particular routes
The fuel surcharge costs for certain routes are either zero or very little compared to other routes flown by the same airlines.
For example, British Airways charges a foot and leg in fuel charges depending on the countries you fly in and out of. If you avoid flying in and out of the UK, the fuel surcharge costs are usually lower than if you do when you use British Airways miles.
Also, you can save a lot of money if you book award tickets originating in Brazil or the Philippines because fuel surcharges have been made illegal there by there respective aviation authorities.
3. Check the amount of fuel surcharge before booking
The best way to see what the fuel surcharge costs on your plane ticket is to use the ITA Matrix by Google. Put in the details of the flight you want to take (origin, destination, date etc.) and you will be taken to a page where all the flights meeting your search are shown. Once you click on the flight you want, you get taken to a page where the details of the flight ticket is given.
The above picture shows the fare breakdown of an Emirates flight from Singapore to London. If you were to redeem your air miles for this ticket, the only part of the cost you would not have to pay would be the the actual fare, which in this case is S$687. The rest of the entire cost will have to be borne by you, included the highlighted area.
This is by far the most convenient way to check how you can get the most value for your air miles by choosing tickets which have a lower fuel surcharge cost.
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By Srivardhan Kejriwal
Srivardhan is a graduate from the Singapore Management University and an analyst at SingSaver.com.sg. He’s interested in personal finance and enjoys writing money saving tips.