The new KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card offers a very attractive bonus rate on things you’re most likely to spend on – but it also comes with a major caveat of a miles credit delay of up to 14 months.
Opinions expressed reflect the view of the writer (this is his story).
The big news in the miles and points world this week is that Singapore Airlines and UOB have come together to launch a new cobrand card – the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card.
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because two years ago the bank and airline teamed up to introduce the ill-fated KrisFlyer UOB Debit Card and Account, a product that promised so much but delivered so little.
The good news is that the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card is a marked improvement over its debit card brethren, although there are a few “gotcha” features that the conscientious miles chaser is going to want to take note of.
The basics of the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
The KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card is available to anyone who earns a minimum income of $30,000 per annum and carries an annual fee of $192.60. The first year’s fee is waived but paying the annual fee in subsequent years yields 10,000 miles. As this is a cobrand card, there are no transfer fees involved and your miles are automatically credited to your KrisFlyer account.
- You will earn 1.2 miles per dollar (mpd) on general spending, with a bonus rate of 3 mpd on SIA-related transactions (defined as spending on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot, and KrisShop).
- If you spend at least S$500 per card membership year on SIA-related transactions, you will also earn a bonus rate of 3 mpd on dining, online shopping and travel, and transport.
- There is no cap on the bonus miles you can earn.
New-to-bank customers who are approved by 30 June 2019 for a KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card and spend $2K within 60 days of approval will earn 12,000 bonus miles, or 5,000 bonus miles and a complimentary return ticket to Bangkok, Lombok or Penang on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir. Existing UOB customers who are approved by 30 June 2019 and spend $5 within 60 days of approval will earn 5,000 bonus miles.
Sounds great. What’s the catch?
Well, the welcome bonus will be slow to come, for one. Only 3,000 bonus miles will be credited in the month after your first spend is made. The remaining 2,000/9,000 bonus miles will be fulfilled by 31 October 2019.
More importantly, however, is the fine print surrounding the 3 mpd bonus rate on dining, online shopping and travel and transport categories. Let me be clear: 3 mpd with no cap, in and of itself, is a great benefit to have. The problem is that the 3 mpd is split into a 1.2 mpd base and 1.8 mpd bonus component, and the latter only gets credited to your account two months after your first card membership year.
In other words, if you receive approval for the card in May 2019, you’ll only get the bonus miles component in July 2020. That’s up to a 14 month delay. The T&Cs seem to anticipate the unhappiness with this policy, as it explicitly states that “expedition of accelerated miles is not allowed”.
There are three problems I can see arising from this.
You have less time to accumulate your miles
The 14 months delay is especially problematic when you consider the fact that your KrisFlyer miles are valid for 36 months. In other words, by the time you receive your bonus miles, your earliest tranches of base miles can be up to 14 months old, with less than two-thirds of their useful life left.
Assuming you’re saving up your miles to redeem for multiple people, this creates a potentially tight situation closer to the 36 month mark where your base miles would have expired before your bonus miles come in.
You’re locked into the card
If you cancel your card, whatever bonus miles have yet to be credited to your account will be forfeited. This means you’re effectively locked into the card for the first 14 months, and if your intention is to cancel the card after the first year, you need to make sure you don’t spend on any 3 mpd bonus categories in the 13 and 14th months of membership.
You’re going to have difficulty reconciling your bonus miles
In a perfect world, bonus miles would be credited without any issues whatsoever.
But experienced miles chasers know that’s just not the case. There will be instances when a merchant’s MCC (the four-digit code that tells banks the nature of a merchant’s business) will code as something unexpected, creating discrepancies between the miles you think you should get and the miles you actually get.
For example, I may charge my lunch at Jones the Grocer to my KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card thinking I’ll earn 3 mpd on dining…only for Jones to code as a grocery store, giving me no bonus at all! MCCs can be frustratingly grey. Is Amazon a bookstore? Will a Subway branch in a government hospital code as dining, or government spend? All these vagaries make reconciliation a necessary exercise.
Most other cards on the market award bonus points immediately, or at most, after a one month delay. If you think it’s hard to reconcile bonus transactions with a month’s delay, try doing it with a 14-month delay.
How does this KrisFlyer UOB card compare to the existing KrisFlyer AMEX cobrand cards?
Assuming the delayed bonus points are not a dealbreaker for you, here’s how the new KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card compares with the two AMEX incumbents:
|KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card||KrisFlyer AMEX Credit Card||KrisFlyer AMEX Ascend|
|Annual Fee||$192.60 (first year free)||$176.55 (first year free)||$337.05|
|Overseas Transaction Fee||3.25%||2.5%||2.5%|
|Local Earn Rate||1.2 mpd||1.1 mpd||1.2 mpd|
|Overseas Earn Rate||1.2 mpd||2.0 mpd in June/Dec, otherwise 1.1 mpd||2.0 mpd in June/Dec, otherwise 1.2 mpd|
|Bonus Earn Rate||3 mpd on SIA-related transactions
3 mpd on dining, transport, online shopping and travel (provided min $500 annual spend on SIA-related transactions)
|2 mpd on Singaporeair.com transactions
3.1 mpd on Grab, first $200 each month
5.1 mpd on mobile payments, $300 one-time cap
|2 mpd on Singaporeair.com transactions
3.2 mpd on Grab, first $200 each month
5.2 mpd on mobile payments, $300 one-time cap
|Sign up bonus miles||Existing: Spend $5 in 60 days to get 5K miles
New: Spend $2K in 60 days to get 12K miles
|New & Existing: Spend $10K in first 6 months to get 15K miles
New customers get bonus 5K miles
|New & Existing: Spend $20K in first 6 months to get 30K miles
New customers get bonus 5K miles
|Other Benefits||10,000 miles with payment of annual fee
Fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Silver with $5K SIA-related spend
2x $15 Changi WiFi codes
2x $15 Grab codes
$20 KrisShop rebate
|$150 cashback with $12K spending on singaporeair.com||Four lounge passes
One complimentary night at selected Hilton hotels and resorts
Hilton Silver status
Fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Gold with $15K spend on singaporeair.com
If that’s too much reading for you, here’s the TL;DR:
- AMEX cards have bigger sign up bonuses, but also require greater spending
- The UOB card earns 50% more miles than the AMEX cards on SIA-related transactions
- AMEX cards offer more miles for overseas spending, at least in June/Dec. They also have lower foreign currency transaction fees
- The AMEX Ascend card has a higher annual fee than the UOB card, but offers lounge passes, a complimentary Hilton night voucher and a fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Gold
- Apart from a small bonus on Grab, the AMEX cards do not offer any year-round category spending bonuses
It’s also relevant to mention that the UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card is a Mastercard, so it enjoys wider acceptance than the cobrand AMEX cards.
The KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card offers a very attractive bonus rate on things you’re most likely to spend on, but that comes with a major caveat of a credit delay of up to 14 months. If you’re thinking of getting this card, you need to consider whether you’re willing to be locked into the card until your bonus miles post, and how the delayed crediting affects your timelines for award redemptions.
Read these next:
Best 6 Credit Cards For Overseas Spending
AMEX KrisFlyer Blue vs Ascend: Which Is The Right Card for You?
Which Are The Best Cards to Earn Miles While Shopping?
Air Miles Cards: 8 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Card
The Best Miles Cards… May Be Rewards Cards
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.