Cashback vs Miles vs Rewards: Which Is The Best Type Of Credit Card For You?

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Chase miles, earn cashback or hoard reward points? With a sea of credit cards out there, how do you compare and pick the best one for your choice of lifestyle? 

When it comes to credits cards, your spending habits and personal preferences take the front seat. Whether you enjoy travelling in style, or if you simply want cash in your pocket, there’s a card for you. Here’s a look at the 3 main types of credit cards available. 

Type of credit cardProsCons
CashbackGet a percentage of your spending back in the form of cash or rebates. It is credited back into your credit card account to offset your next purchase. To earn higher cashback rates, some credit cards require you to spend a minimum amount each month. There could also be a cap to the amount of cashback you can earn. 
MilesEarn miles for every dollar you spend. Whether in economy class or first class, these miles can be used to redeem your next flight out of Singapore. It takes time to accumulate sufficient miles to a destination outside of Southeast Asia, unless you spend big. Your miles might also expire before you have the chance to use them. 
RewardsChalk up rewards points as you spend. Rewards cards offer flexibility, allowing you to redeem your points for a reward of your choice. You can also use these reward points to redeem miles or cashback.Not all rewards catalogues offer a wide variety of gifts. The rewards you see on the catalogue today might not be the same rewards available when you finally redeem your points.

Cashback credit cards

A cashback card is the most straightforward when it comes to earning rewards for your credit card spend. With a cashback card, you get rewarded with cash credited into your credit card. These cash credits can be used to help you offset your next purchase.  

Who should get cashback cards

  • If you think cash is king. You are rewarded with cash in your credit card that can be used immediately, on your next purchase, whatever that might be. 
  • If you don’t spend much. You still enjoy cashback regardless of the size of your spending, and the cashback cap doesn’t bother you. 
  • If you prefer immediate gratification. Your cashback is credited into your credit card each month. On the other hand, miles and rewards cards require months or even years of miles/reward points accumulation before you can redeem something substantial. 
ProsCons
Get back a percentage of your spending in the form of cash backMinimum monthly spend required
High cashback rate for specific categories (e.g. grocery, dining, petrol, shopping etc.)Cap to the maximum amount you can earn in cashback each month
Receive your cashback every monthNot all categories earn high cashback rates
No redemption process required

What to consider when choosing a cashback card: 

  • Cashback rate: How much cashback will you be earning? 
  • Categories with higher cashback rate: Which category spend will give you more cashback? 
  • Minimum spend: How much will you need to spend each month to earn this cashback? 
  • Cashback cap: What’s the maximum amount you can earn in cashback for each category every month? 

What cashback credit cards should you get? 

PerksCredit cardAlternative option
No minimum spend and no cap
Citi Cash Back+

1.6% cashback on all spending 

Standard Chartered Unlimited

1.5% cashback on all spending
Highest cashback rates
CIMB Visa Signature

10% cashback on online spending, groceries, health and wellness, pet shops etc.
DBS Live Fresh Student Card
DBS Live Fresh 

Up to 10% cashback on online and Visa contactless spend
Higher cashback rates for spending in specific categories
Citi Cash Back 

8% on grocery, dining and petrol

POSB Everyday

15% cashback on online food delivery and online food catering; up to 20.1% fuel savings at SPC

Miles credit cards

A miles credit card rewards you with miles for every dollar spent. These accumulated miles can be used to redeem flights in the future, be it on economy class, business class or first class. Naturally, the further the destination, the more miles required. 

Who should get a miles card? 

  • If you love to travel. There’s nothing like redeeming your hard-earned miles for a ‘free’ flight. If you enjoy travelling, chasing miles can be a very rewarding journey. 
  • If you want to experience travelling in luxury. Can’t bear to pay the premium for a non-economy seat? A miles card could be your chance to earn yourself a first class ticket on a carrier like Singapore Airlines. Some miles credit cards also come with free lounge access
  • If you have big-ticket purchases coming up. Miles require spending in order to accumulate sufficient miles. A big-ticket purchase is a chance for you to supercharge your miles journey, especially with the bonus miles promotions some credit cards offer. 
ProsCons
Both local and overseas spending earn you miles, which can be redeemed for a flight in the future Takes time to accumulate sufficient points to redeem a flight
No minimum spend requiredNot all banks partner a wide range of frequent flyer programmes
No cap to miles you can earnThere is an expiry date to miles earned 
Additional travel benefits such as complimentary airport transfer, lounge access, travel insurance and more

What to consider when choosing a miles card: 

  • Miles earn rate / miles per dollar (mpd): How many miles will you earn per dollar spent? 
  • Categories with higher miles earn rate: Which categories will give you more miles for your spending? 
  • Annual fee: How much is the annual fee and should you pay the annual fee?  
  • Airlines partners: Which frequent flyer programmes does the bank have on board? For example, Krisflyer miles can only be used for carriers under Singapore Airlines. 

Which miles credit card should you get? 

PerksCredit cardAlternative option
Highest miles per dollar for all spend
UOB PRVI Miles

Earn 1.4 mpd for every $1 spent locally
Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Credit Card | SingSaver
Standard Chartered Visa Infinite

Earn up to 1.4 mpd on local spend (min. annual income of $150,000 required)
Welcome/bonus miles
Citi PremierMiles

Earn up to 37,300 miles when you spend S$9,000 within 3 months from card approval.

American Express Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Ascend

Receive up to 33,000 KrisFlyer miles with minimum spend of $10,000 in your first 3 months.
New-to-bank cardmembers can receive an additional 16,000 Krisflyer Miles when you spend another $10,000 in months 4 – 6 after card approval.
Most airline partners
(Citibank offers a total of 11 different frequent flyer transfer partners)

Citi PremierMiles 

Earn 1.2 Citi Miles per S$1 local spend

Citi Rewards card 

Earn 10X Rewards points on all your online purchases

Understandably, with the current COVID-19 situation, it is difficult to determine when’s the next time you can travel. Here’s how we think COVID-19 could change your miles strategy

Rewards credit cards

A rewards credit card gives you reward points for your credit card spend. These reward points can be used to redeem a gift of your choice from the rewards catalogue. You’ll find that they usually revolve around cash vouchers for department stores, supermarkets, petrol stations, restaurants and more. 

Many rewards cards also double as miles cards, allowing you to convert your points into miles from one of the bank’s frequent flyer programmes. This makes rewards cards a versatile tool for you shuttle between miles and rewards depending on your whims. 

Who should get rewards cards

  • If you prefer gifts over cash. You can use your points to directly redeem a gift for yourself from the rewards catalogue. Otherwise, redeeming vouchers allows you to reward yourself by purchasing a gift of your choice.  
  • If you are undecided about what type of reward you prefer. You can still exchange your reward points for miles or cash credits in the future. 
  • If you want a gift that can be given to others. Your reward points can be exchanged for cash vouchers to be used at participating merchants, such as restaurants, grocery stores, petrol stations and more.  
ProsCons
Freedom to choose the reward you wantLimited rewards catalogue
Flexibility to redeem only when you want to Current items in rewards catalogue might change by the time you choose to redeem your reward
Points can be used to offset your spending Miles conversion fee

What to consider when choosing a rewards card: 

  • Rewards earn rate: How many reward points will you be getting per dollar spent?
  • Categories with higher reward points given: Which categories will give you more points for your spending? 
  • Variety of rewards catalogue: How extensive is the bank’s rewards catalogue? Does it have rewards that you will want to redeem? 
PerksCredit cardAlternative option
Flexibility to choose preferred categoryUOB Lady's Card
UOB Lady’s

Choose 1 category (from 7 categories) that will earn you 10x UNI$ (20 miles) per S$5 spend

UOB Lady’s Solitaire

Choose 2 categories (from 7 categories) that will earn you 10x UNI$ (20 miles) per S$5 spend
Highest rewards earn rate
Citi Rewards Card 

Earn 10X Rewards points for every $1 spent on online purchases

OCBC Titanium

Earn 10x OCBC$ for every $1 spent on retail, in stores and online

Making credit cards work for you

Here’s a thought: there is space for more than one credit card in your wallet! 

Choosing one type of credit card doesn’t mean that you can’t hold another; the trick to maximise returns on your credit card spend is to hold multiple credit cards (responsibly), with each credit card serving a specific purpose. 

For example, you might use the Citi Rewards card for your online spend, but opt for the CIMB Visa Signature for grocery spend while using the UOB PRVI miles for all other spend. However, keep in mind that with more credit cards also comes more bills to keep track of and pay. By trying to meet the minimum requirements across all your cards, you might unknowingly be expanding your expenditure more than necessary every month, which adds up to a lot in a year.

If you are looking for a credit card that helps you optimise savings for spending in a specific category, you can check out these guides: 

SingSaver Promotion: Free Nespresso coffee machine and milk frother!

Get a Nespresso Inissia Coffee Machine with Aeroccino 4 milk frother (worth $346) for free, when you apply by 24 August 2020 for the Standard Chartered Unlimited or Standard Chartered Rewards+ credit card! To be eligible for this promotion, you will have to be a new Standard Chartered Bank cardholder. If you already have a Standard Chartered credit card, you will still be rewarded with $30 GrabFood Vouchers when you sign up.

List of cards eligible for this promotion here.

Read These Next: 
Top Credit Card Promotions And Deals On SingSaver (August 2020)
Credit Card Welcome Offer (2020): A Comparison of The Best Gifts
Best Cashback Credit Cards In Singapore 2020
Top 6 Air Miles Credit Cards In Singapore 2020
6 Credit Cards Which Give Free Access to Airport Lounges


By Ching Sue Mae
A flat white, an adventure-filled travel and a good workout is her fuel. This Manchester United fan enjoys sharing knowledge on personal finance while chasing the dream of financial independence.