Amex Krisflyer Blue Vs Ascend: Which Is the Right Card for You?

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Deciding between the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card or the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend? Let’s break it down for you.

Opinions expressed reflect the view of the writer (this is his story).

American Express offers two different KrisFlyer cobrand cards in Singapore — the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card and the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend. This can be confusing to some first-timers to the miles and points game: What’s the difference between the cards? What are the pros and cons of each?

In this post, I’m going to break down the similarities and differences between the two cards so you can decide which one is right for you.

What do they have in common?

krisflyer-vs-krisflyer-ascend

Both the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card and the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend have direct crediting agreements with Singapore Airlines. This means that whatever miles you earn from your spending are credited directly into your KrisFlyer account as soon as transactions post, with no transfer fees.

krisflyer-vs-krisflyer-ascend

Contrast this with credit cards issued by banks like DBS and UOB, where you need to manually trigger the crediting process and pay a transfer fee that’s typically around $25.

Direct crediting is great if you want to avoid transfer fees, but do note that it also means the 3-year KrisFlyer expiry countdown starts as soon as you earn your miles. In contrast, earning points with a bank-issued card gives you the option to delay your transfer until you’re ready to use your miles, thereby extending their useful life.

How are they different?

The AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card and the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend differ in terms of their income requirement, annual fee, sign up bonus, earning rates on local spending, as well as additional card benefits.

Here’s a summary table highlighting the differences:

KrisFlyer Credit Card KrisFlyer Ascend
Income Req. $30,000 $50,000
Annual Fee $176.55 (First Year Free) $337.05
Sign up bonus Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months to get 7,500 bonus miles, spend a further $3,000 in months 4-6 to get another 7,500 bonus miles

Earn 5,000 bonus miles on your first spend of any amount

Spend $6,000 in the first 3 months to get 15,000 bonus miles, spend a further $6,000 in months 4-6 to get another 15,000 bonus miles

Earn 5,000 bonus miles on your first spend of any amount

Local Spending 1.1 mpd (miles per dollar) 1.2 mpd
Overseas Spending 2.0 mpd in June/December
Specialised Spending 2.0 mpd on Singapore Airlines/ Silk Air tickets and KrisShop

3.1 mpd on the first $200 per month spent with Grab & 500 miles with first spend

Additional Benefits
  • Receive S$150 Cashback for use on your next purchase on singaporeair.com when you spend S$12,000 on eligible purchases by 30 June 2019
  • 4 lounge access vouchers per year
  • Complimentary night stay at 110 Hilton properties in Asia Pacific
  • Complimentary Hilton Silver
  • Spend $15,000 on singaporeair.com within 12 months to earn KrisFlyer Gold
  • Spend $15,000 on singaporeair.com by 30 June 2019 to earn double KrisFlyer miles accrual voucher

For a limited promotional period, AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend cardholders get to enjoy accelerated upgrade to KrisFlyer Gold status! Simply spend $9,000 between 1 March 2019 to 1 June 2019 at any authorised merchant and $3,000 on singaporeair.com to qualify, rather than the original requirement of $15,000 spend only on singaporeair.com within the first 12 months of card activation.

That’s a lot to take in! Let’s examine these aspects one by one and see how it affects your valuation of the card.

Annual Fee

The AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card has a lower annual fee ($176.55) than the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend ($337.05) and comes with a first-year fee waiver. The Ascend’s higher annual fee reflects its additional benefits, such as four lounge vouchers and a complimentary night at selected Hilton properties.

Sign Up Bonus

Sign up bonuses are a real highlight for the KrisFlyer cobrand cards. The AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card offers a total of 26,600 miles when you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months. This is broken down into:

  • 5,000 bonus miles on your first spend (only for first-time cobrand cardholders)
  • 7,500 bonus miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months of approval, and a further 7,500 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in months 4-6
  • 6,600 base miles for spending $6,000 @ 1.1 mpd

The AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend offers a total of 49,400 miles when you spend $12,000 in the first 6 months. This is broken down into:

  • 5,000 bonus miles on your first spend (only for first-time cobrand cardholders)
  • 15,000 bonus miles for spending $6,000 within 3 months of approval, and a further 15,000 bonus miles for spending $6,000 in months 4-6
  • 14,400 base miles for spending $12,000 @ 1.2 mpd

On a miles-to-spending ratio, the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card comes out on top. However, in terms of absolute miles earned, the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend is a better choice. 49,400 miles is sufficient to get you and your partner round trip tickets to Bali, with plenty to spare. Alternatively, for an additional 600 miles, you could fly round trip to Tokyo or Seoul.

Earning Rates

There’s not a lot to separate these two cards when it comes to earning rates, except that the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend earns 8% more miles (1.2 vs 1.1) than the KrisFlyer Credit Card card on general spending.

Both cards earn 2.0 mpd on overseas general spending, but that’s only for June or December. You’ll earn 2.0 mpd on Singapore Airlines/Silk Air tickets (but note that you could use the DBS WWMC for 4 mpd on the first $2K of online spending per month, or the DBS Altitude for 3 mpd on the first $5K of air ticket spending per month), or purchases on KrisShop.

This is a decent card to use for Grab, with 3.1 and 3.2 mpd for the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card and KrisFlyer Ascend respectively (you’d earn 4.0 mpd with the Citi Rewards card though).

Card Benefits

krisflyer-vs-krisflyer-ascend

Here’s what really separates the two cobrand cards. The AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card is a pretty bare-bones card (probably why they’re willing to waive the first year annual fee). The only benefit to speak of is that you get a S$150 cashback on singaporeair.com when you spend S$12,000 by 30 June 2019.

The AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend, on the other hand, packs quite a punch in this area. Here’s what you get with the annual fee:

  • Four complimentary passes each year to any participating SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore and Plaza Premium Lounges around the world
  • A complimentary night stay each year at one of over 110 Hilton Properties in Asia Pacific
  • Hilton Silver status
  • A double KrisFlyer miles accrual voucher (capped at 5,000 miles) when you spend S$15,000 or more on singaporeair.com by 30 June 2019
  • Fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Gold when you spend S$15,000 or more on singaporeair.com within 12 months of card approval

Conclusion

If you just want a bare-bones card with an easier-to-hit signup bonus, go for the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card. If you’re eyeing more benefits and a higher signup bonus, the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend might be better for you.

Find out more about both cards below:

card-krisflyer-blue

OCBC 365 Credit Card

 

american-express-krisflyer-ascend-card

Amex KF KrisFlyer Ascend Card

 

Related articles:

Accelerated Upgrade to KrisFlyer Elite Gold for AMEX Ascend Cardholders
Credit Card Signup Bonuses: How to Maximise Miles with Big Ticket Spending
Everything You Need to Know About Air Miles Credit Card Fees in Singapore
6 Credit Cards Which Give Free Access to Airport Lounges
Air Miles Cards: 8 Questions To Help You Choose the Right Card

 


By Aaron Wong
Aaron started The MileLion to help people travel better for less and impress “chiobu”. He was 50% successful. This is his story.