Racking up miles isn’t about spending big; it’s about spending smart. Here are five credit cards to accelerate your miles collection.
I’ve been collecting miles for just over six years now, and in that time I’ve learned a thing or two about speeding up the process. The truth is: you don’t need to spend big to accumulate miles; you just need to spend smart.
In this post, I’ll be discussing the five credit cards I use to maximise the miles I earn on my day-to-day spending.
Basic Principle: Use specialised spending cards wherever possible
Before we talk about specific cards, it’s helpful to divide them into two categories: general spending and specialised spending:
- General spending cards earn the same rate regardless of merchant. For example, the Citi PremierMiles Card earns 1.2 miles per dollar (mpd) on all local spending.
- Specialised spending cards earn a bonus on selected categories (usually 4 mpd), but a very low rate on everything else (usually 0.4 mpd). For example, the DBS Woman’s World Card earns 4 mpd for online transactions, but 0.4 mpd otherwise.
The key to accelerating your miles collection is to use specialised spending cards wherever possible. Obviously, spending S$1,000 at an average earn rate of 4 mpd will accumulate miles a lot faster than spending S$1,000 at an average earn rate of 1.2 mpd.
While it does mean you’ll need to apply for more than one card and remember when to use which card, believe me, the rewards are worth it.
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa
Use for: Wherever mobile payments are accepted
The UOB Preferred Platinum Visa is my default card for offline spending, thanks to the fact it earns 4 mpd on all mobile payment transactions (capped at S$1,000 per month). Contactless terminals have become ubiquitous today, so whether you’re paying for dinner, getting a haircut, buying household supplies or even visiting the dentist, you’ll be able to rack up 4 mpd with just one tap.
One caveat: UOB has a separate rewards program called SMART$, which is akin to a cash rebates scheme. Transactions at SMART$ merchants do not earn UNI$ (which can be converted into miles), so avoid using UOB cards here if you wish to earn miles. The major SMART$ merchants to take note of are Cold Storage, Giant, Market Place, Bread Talk and Guardian.
DBS Woman’s World Card
Use for: Online transactions
Yes, I have a DBS Woman’s World Card, and yes, I’m perfectly secure in my masculinity. You’d be too, if you were earning 4 mpd on all online transactions (capped at S$2,000 per month).
Think about the average number of online transactions you perform in a month: Netflix and Disney subscriptions, Grab and gojek rides, foodpanda and Deliveroo orders, shopping at Lazada or Qoo10...the list goes on and on.
By charging these to the DBS Woman’s World Card, you can easily earn up to 8,000 miles each month (assuming you max out the S$2,000 monthly cap), which over the course of a year is enough to fly you to Japan and back in Business Class.
Use for: Online transactions
The Citi Rewards Card has very similar use cases to the DBS Woman’s World Card, earning 4 mpd on all online transactions (except travel), capped at S$1,000 per month.
So why bother with this card if the monthly cap is lower and there’s an additional restriction on travel? For one thing, the Citi Rewards Card has an income requirement of just S$30,000, versus S$80,000 for the DBS Woman’s World Card.
For another, Citibank has more points transfer partners than DBS. While DBS cardholders can transfer points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Qantas Frequent Flyer, Citi cardholders have all that plus EVA Air, THAI Airways, Turkish Airlines, British Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air France/KLM, and Etihad Guest. This gives you much more flexibility in choosing where to convert your points.
Use for: Dining, groceries, online/offline shopping, travel
The HSBC Revolution Card was relaunched in August last year, and the new-and-improved version is a must-have for any miles collector. Not only has HSBC permanently removed the S$160.50 annual fee, it has also widened its range of bonus categories.
The following transactions will earn 4 mpd, capped at S$1,000 per month:
To give you an example of what you could earn 4 mpd on:
- Airfare and staycation bookings
- Online shopping on websites like Amazon, Ezbuy, Lazada, Qoo10, Shopee, Taobao
- Food delivery through platforms like Deliveroo, foodpanda, GrabFood, Oodle and WhyQ
- Ridesharing apps like Grab, gojek, RYDE
- Supermarket shopping at Cold Storage, NTUC, Sheng Siong
- Taxi transactions with Comfort, Prime Taxi and SMRT Taxi
The wide range of bonus categories makes it my go-to card, at least for the first S$1,000 of spending per month.
Do note that all offline transactions must be made via contactless payments, i.e. either tapping the physical card or adding it to your mobile wallet.
Everything else: UOB Absolute Cashback Card + GrabPay Mastercard
Use for: Bill payments, insurance, donations, education expenses
Unfortunately, there is a handful of important transactions that banks don’t offer credit card rewards for - in particular, insurance premiums, government transactions, charitable donations, education expenses and other bill payments.
But there’s a nifty little workaround that I use, which involves the only cashback card on this list: the UOB Absolute Cashback Card. This offers 1.7% cashback on everything, including GrabPay top-ups. All you need to do is top-up your GrabPay wallet, then use the balance to pay your bills via AXS (select debit card, then enter your GrabPay debit card number). You’re effectively earning 1.7% cashback on your expenses, no questions asked.
The only limitation is that your GrabPay Card is limited to a maximum of S$30,000 in transactions per year. If you’ve already maxed that out, you won’t be able to make further payments through your GrabPay Card until 1 January the following year.
I mentioned at the onset that everyone should endeavour to use specialised spending cards where possible. However, don’t turn up your nose at general spending cards either!
For those with upcoming big-ticket expenses, general spending cards like the Citi PremierMiles or DBS Altitude offer lucrative sign-up bonuses that can unlock a whole chunk of miles. For example, new Citi PremierMiles cardholders who spend S$9,000 within the first three months of approval can earn up to 45,000 miles. Likewise, new DBS Altitude cardholders who spend S$6,000 within the first three months of approval can earn up to 38,000 miles.
Finally, the abovementioned cards will suit most people’s lifestyles and spending patterns (since online and mobile payments are such broad categories), but it’s always important to look at your individual spending patterns and decide which cards make sense for you.
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