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. 

CardIncome RequirementAnnual 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)
$30,000$192.60 (First Year Free)
$30,000$256.80 (First Year Free)

Miles earning rate

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

AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card1.12.0
(June & December only)
Citi PremierMiles
DBS Altitude1.22.0
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card1.21.2
OCBC 90N1.22.1
UOB PRVI Miles1.42.4

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:

CardBonus 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. 

Miles with annual fee

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

CardAnnual FeeMiles
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card$176.55None
Citi PremierMiles$192.6010,000
DBS Altitude$192.6010,000
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card$192.6010,000
OCBC 90N$192.6010,000
UOB PRVI Miles$256.80None

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:

CardTransfer PartnersTransfer FeePoints Expiry*
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit CardSingapore AirlinesNone3 years
(directly transferred to KrisFlyer)
Citi PremierMilesSingapore AirlinesBritish AirwaysCathay PacificEtihad GuestEVA AirFlyingBlueMalaysia AirlinesQantasQatar AirwaysThai AirwaysTurkish Airlines$26.75No expiry
(+2 years with KrisFlyer)
DBS AltitudeSingapore AirlinesCathay PacificQantas$26.75No expiry
(+2 years with KrisFlyer)
KrisFlyer UOB Credit CardSingapore AirlinesNone3 years
(directly transferred to KrisFlyer)
OCBC 90NSingapore AirlinesNone No expiry
(+2 years with KrisFlyer)
UOB PRVI MilesSingapore AirlinesCathay Pacific$252 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.

CardForeign Currency Transaction Fee
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card2.95%
Citi PremierMiles3.25%
DBS Altitude3.25%
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card3.25%
OCBC 90N3.25%
UOB PRVI Miles3.25%

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 CardLounge Access
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit CardNone
Citi PremierMiles2x Priority Pass visits
DBS Altitude2x Priority Pass visits
(Visa version only)
KrisFlyer UOB Credit CardNone
OCBC 90NNone
UOB PRVI MilesNone

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.

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.