Miles Credit Card Comparison: What’s Good For First-Time Miles Chasers?

Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong

Last updated 01 September, 2020

Choices are never easy. That’s why, we do the math, so you don’t have to. Compare This, a SingSaver series, is here to help make decisions a little easier for you.


Just starting to collect miles and confused about which card to get? Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of six popular miles cards on the market.

 

Although there are many great cards out there that give bonuses on dining, shopping, online transactions and travel, the miles journey for most begins by getting a good general purpose miles card. 

While this won’t be the fastest way of earning miles (the ideal strategy involves using the right card in the right situation), it’s as good a place as any to start. In this post, we’ll look at six popular general purpose miles cards, and weigh their respective pros and cons. 

Card Income Requirement Annual Fee
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card
$30,000 $176.55 (First Year Free)
Citi PremierMiles
$30,000 $192.60 (First Year Free)
DBS Altitude
$30,000 $192.60 (First Year Free)
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
KrisFlyer UOB
$30,000 $192.60 (First Year Free)
OCBC 90N
$30,000 $192.60 (First Year Free)
UOB PRVI Miles
$30,000 $256.80 (First Year Free)

Miles earning rate

First, the bread and butter question: how many miles does each card earn?

Card Local Overseas
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card 1.1 2.0
(June & December only)
Citi PremierMiles 1.2 2.0
DBS Altitude 1.2 2.0
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card 1.2 1.2
OCBC 90N 1.2 2.1
UOB PRVI Miles 1.4 2.4

In short, the UOB PRVI Miles Card boasts the best earn rates, with 1.4/2.4 miles per dollar (mpd) on local and overseas spending respectively. 

Surprisingly, it’s the co-brand AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card and KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card which do poorly here. The former earns 1.1 mpd in Singapore and 2.0 mpd overseas (only in June and December, otherwise it’s just 1.1 mpd), and the latter earns a flat 1.2 mpd both in Singapore and overseas. 

So why even bother with them? The answer lies in bonus categories. While these cards are meant for general spending, they also have some specialised bonus categories:

Card Bonus Category
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card -2 mpd for Singapore Airlines, KrisShop and SilkAir tickets
-3.1 mpd on Grab (First $200 per month)
Citi PremierMiles -7 mpd on Agoda
-10 mpd on Kaligo
DBS Altitude -3 mpd on online hotels and air tickets (First $5,000 per month)
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card -3 mpd on dining, food delivery, online shopping and travel, and transport spend (Min $500 spend on SIA-Group in a membership year)
-3 mpd on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot and KrisShop
OCBC 90N -7 mpd on Agoda
UOB PRVI Miles -6 mpd on Agoda, Expedia and UOB Travel

The KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card has the widest range of bonus categories, offering 3 mpd on dining, food delivery, online shopping and travel, and transport spend. This is provided you spend at least $500 with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir or Scoot in a 12-month membership period, and take note that only 1.2 mpd will be credited upfront. The remaining 1.8 mpd is credited 2 months after your membership year ends. 

 

 

TeamCashback-VS-TeamMiles-KV2.1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

🆚SingSaver's Cashback vs Miles Campaign (Round 2) 🆚: Are you Team Cashback or Team Air Miles?

Be one of the first 400 to receive rewards of up to +S$740 Vouchers or up to +74K Miles when you sign up for any participating Cashback or Miles Credit Card, respectively, within the promo period. The team with the most applications wins the rewards! Promo runs from 24 May, 12pm - 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Plus, get up to 31x chances to win a Pair of RETURN Business Class Tickets to Tokyo, Japan (worth 120K Max Miles) in the Grand Lucky Draw when you successfully apply for participating products. Promo runs from 24 May, 12pm - 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Enjoy the following rewards when you sign up for an HSBC TravelOne Card (Team Air Miles):

HSBC CC_KV1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⚡Flash Deal⚡: Get a PlayStation 5 Disc Version (worth S$799) or a Dyson Airwrap (worth S$859) or S$500 e-capita Vouchers when you are one of the first 500 to apply and spend a minimum of S$500 by the end of the following calendar month from the card account opening date. Remaining applicants will enjoy SingSaver Exclusive rewards. Valid till 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply

HSBC CC_KV1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

SingSaver's Exclusive Offer: Receive a Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer (worth S$699) or an Apple iPad 9th 10.2" WiFi 64GB (worth S$508.30) or S$350 eCapitaVoucher or 21K Max Miles upon activating and spending min. S$500 plus pay an annual fee of S$196.20 by the end of the following calendar month from the card account opening date. Valid till 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Pay_To_Upgrade_Rewards_Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250-1

Plus, upgrade your rewards when you top up S$200 to get a Sony Portable Theatre System HT-AX7 (worth $$759). Alternatively, top up S$1,099 for an Apple MacBook Air 13” (M3 chip) 256GB (worth S$1,599) or an Apple iPhone 15 Pro 128GB (worth S$1,664.25). Valid till 2 June 2024. T&Cs apply.



 

Miles with annual fee

No one likes paying annual fees, but some cards will give miles in return, effectively offsetting the cost. 

Card Annual Fee Miles
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card $176.55 None
Citi PremierMiles $192.60 10,000
DBS Altitude $192.60 10,000
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card $192.60 10,000
OCBC 90N $192.60 10,000
UOB PRVI Miles $256.80 None

The ‘standard offer’ here is 10,000 miles for a $192.60 annual fee, which works out to a reasonable 1.93 cents per mile. Do note, however, that neither the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card nor the UOB PRVI Miles Card offer miles for paying the annual fee.

In fact, the UOB PRVI Miles Card does things the opposite way. If you spend at least $50,000 in a membership year on the AMEX version, the annual fee will be waived and you’ll receive 20,000 bonus miles. If you don’t, you’ll pay the annual fee with no miles — kind of a win big, lose big situation I suppose. 

Points flexibility

Unless you hold a co-brand credit card like the AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card or KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card, you’re technically earning bank points, not miles per se. These can be transferred to your frequent flyer program, which may incur a fee. Here’s the breakdown between cards:

Card Transfer Partners Transfer Fee Points Expiry*
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card Singapore Airlines None 3 years
(directly transferred to KrisFlyer)
Citi PremierMiles Singapore AirlinesBritish AirwaysCathay PacificEtihad GuestEVA AirFlyingBlueMalaysia AirlinesQantasQatar AirwaysThai AirwaysTurkish Airlines $26.75 No expiry
(+2 years with KrisFlyer)
DBS Altitude Singapore AirlinesCathay PacificQantas $26.75 No expiry
(+2 years with KrisFlyer)
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card Singapore Airlines None 3 years
(directly transferred to KrisFlyer)
OCBC 90N Singapore Airlines None  No expiry
(+2 years with KrisFlyer)
UOB PRVI Miles Singapore AirlinesCathay Pacific $25 2 years
(+2 years with KrisFlyer)

The AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card, KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card and OCBC 90N do not charge any conversion fees, but on the flip side, they only allow transfers to Singapore Airlines. 

The Citi PremierMiles Card arguably has the most flexible points. Not only do these never expire, but they can be transferred to a total of 10 frequent flyer programs. Different frequent flyer programs have different sweet spots, (for example, redeeming Business Class between Singapore and Europe with Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles costs half the miles as with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer), so having access to multiple programs greatly increases your redemption options. 

Foreign currency transaction fee

Using your credit card overseas incurs an additional fee, the quantum of which depends on the bank.

Card Foreign Currency Transaction Fee
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card 2.95%
Citi PremierMiles 3.25%
DBS Altitude 3.25%
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card 3.25%
OCBC 90N 3.25%
UOB PRVI Miles 3.25%

Over the past year, we’ve seen most card issuers gravitate towards the 3.25% mark, with the exception of one: AMEX Krisflyer. 

Although AMEX acceptance may be hit and miss, their foreign transaction fee of 2.95% is 10% lower than the competition. The difference is likely to be inconsequential on smaller transactions, but may be worth noting if you’re buying a big ticket item overseas. 

Lounge access

Complimentary airport lounge access can be a lifesaver at certain overseas airports which don’t have the recreational facilities of Changi Airport. 

Miles Card Lounge Access
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card None
Citi PremierMiles 2x Priority Pass visits
DBS Altitude 2x Priority Pass visits
(Visa version only)
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card None
OCBC 90N None
UOB PRVI Miles None

Unfortunately, only two cards carry this benefit- the Citi PremierMiles, and the DBS Altitude. Do note that only the DBS Altitude Visa has lounge access; you won’t enjoy the benefit with the AMEX version. 

My personal take

I personally think that the flexible points of the Citi PremierMiles Card, coupled with its lounge access, make it a great general purpose spending card. This is provided you’re willing to get a secondary card just for online spending (e.g the Citi Rewards Mastercard, which earns 4 mpd on online transactions). 

If your preference is to use one card for everything, then the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card covers you for a wide range of day-to-day categories. Just remember that you need to spend at least $500 on SIA-Group merchants in a membership year, and that 1.8 of your 3.0 mpd will be delayed until the following year. 

While it’s important to have a good general purpose spending card, the way to really fast-track your miles is to use the right card in the right situation.

 

 

TeamCashback-VS-TeamMiles-KV2.1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

🆚SingSaver's Cashback vs Miles Campaign (Round 2) 🆚: Are you Team Cashback or Team Air Miles?

Be one of the first 400 to receive rewards of up to +S$740 Vouchers or up to +74K Miles when you sign up for any participating Cashback or Miles Credit Card, respectively, within the promo period. The team with the most applications wins the rewards! Promo runs from 24 May, 12pm - 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Plus, get up to 31x chances to win a Pair of RETURN Business Class Tickets to Tokyo, Japan (worth 120K Max Miles) in the Grand Lucky Draw when you successfully apply for participating products. Promo runs from 24 May, 12pm - 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Enjoy the following rewards when you sign up for an HSBC TravelOne Card (Team Air Miles):

HSBC CC_KV1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⚡Flash Deal⚡: Get a PlayStation 5 Disc Version (worth S$799) or a Dyson Airwrap (worth S$859) or S$500 e-capita Vouchers when you are one of the first 500 to apply and spend a minimum of S$500 by the end of the following calendar month from the card account opening date. Remaining applicants will enjoy SingSaver Exclusive rewards. Valid till 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply

HSBC CC_KV1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

SingSaver's Exclusive Offer: Receive a Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer (worth S$699) or an Apple iPad 9th 10.2" WiFi 64GB (worth S$508.30) or S$350 eCapitaVoucher or 21K Max Miles upon activating and spending min. S$500 plus pay an annual fee of S$196.20 by the end of the following calendar month from the card account opening date. Valid till 6 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Pay_To_Upgrade_Rewards_Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250-1

Plus, upgrade your rewards when you top up S$200 to get a Sony Portable Theatre System HT-AX7 (worth $$759). Alternatively, top up S$1,099 for an Apple MacBook Air 13” (M3 chip) 256GB (worth S$1,599) or an Apple iPhone 15 Pro 128GB (worth S$1,664.25). Valid till 2 June 2024. T&Cs apply.



 

Read these next:
Top 6 Air Miles Credit Cards In Singapore 2020
Why Citi PremierMiles may be the most useful miles card in Singapore
DBS Altitude Card: Fulfill Wanderlusts With Expiry-free Miles
UOB PRVI Miles Credit Card Review (2020): Entry-level Pick For Privy Travellers
6 Credit Cards Which Give Free Access to Airport Lounges

 

Aaron founded The Milelion to teach people how to travel better for less, with credit cards, airline and hotel loyalty programmes. With 500,000 miles flown and counting, he’s keen to debunk the myth that you can’t travel in style without breaking the bank.

FINANCIAL TIP:

Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

Sign up for our newsletter for financial tips, tricks and exclusive information that can be personalised to your preferences!