Following the recent article on the credit cards for the high income earners, there were requests for an article on Air Miles credit cards that are more affordable for the general public. This article was written with fresh graduates in mind, and with an annual fee of $30k for Singaporeans, most fresh graduates can begin their miles journey with any of the cards in this list. Do note the perks on most of the cards on this list are quite bare as compared to the more prestigious cards, but this is not unexpected considering the annual fee required is much lower in this list.
There are 4 credit cards under the AMEX KF series, and 2 of them require you to be a PPS (Priority Passenger Service) member. This is the entry level card at $30k annual income requirement as compared to the KF Ascend card which requires $50k. The best part of this card will be the large number of bonus miles given when you fulfil the requirements. Spend $3000 within the first 3 months and you will receive 5000+7500+3300 (based on 1.1 mpd on local spend)=15800 miles, which translates to 5.27 mpd. If you have never taken Grab, then pair with this card to get a bonus 500 miles. Another great feature of this card is there is no fee incurred for miles transfer to your Krisflyer account, which occurs every month when you have made a transaction. However, there is no opportunity to transfer to another frequent flyer account (FFP), and your KF 3 year expiry will start there and then.
2. Bank of China World Elite Mastercard
This card is definitely flavour of the year, as it has an enhanced package of 2 mpd for all local spend, and 5 mpd for all overseas spend, both of which are the highest earning rate in this list. Problem is that the waiting time of the card is pretty long, around 4-6 weeks, so you may not be able to ride on the current promotion. Nevertheless, at 1.5 mpd for local spend and 3 mpd for overseas spend, the rates are still the best. Do note that the Bank of China website is not updated with any information on this credit card since its launch in Jul 2018.
There are 2 Premiermiles card – Visa and AMEX. AMEX has a higher qualification of $80k per annum and a higher annual fee. Personally, I prefer the Premiermiles Visa as the perks are better. As an entry level card, it earns 1.2 mpd for local spend and 2.4 mpd for foreign currency spend (note the AMEX still earns 2 mpd), and this is at per $1 block (unlike DBS and UOB which earns at $5 blocks). I will choose to pay the annual fees of $192.60 to get the bonus 10k miles as well, and make use of the 4 free passes on the Priority Pass card during my travels. The best part of this card – the miles never expire!
This card has seen better days when there was no monthly cap of $1000 for bonus points, and one could use this card freely overseas for big ticket items like luxury handbags, clothes or shoes. Now, with the monthly cap, one has to be conscious not to exceed the $1000 cap or else the earn rate will dwindle to a measly 0.4 mpd. The points in the Master and Visa cards are accrued separately so do be mindful if you have these 2 cards.
Unlike the Citibank Premiermiles card, the DBS Altitude Visa and AMEX cards have the same requirement of $30k annual income. Otherwise, the Premiermiles card is almost the mirror of the DBS Altitude since the earn rate are the same for local spend (but for foreign currency Premiermiles is more superior at 2.4 mpd compared to 2 mpd for DBS Altitude), with no expiry date. Also the annual fee with bonus miles and the Priority Pass card are the same perks (only difference is that the 4 passes from this Priority Pass card lasts 12 months from the date of issue, unlike Citibank PP which resets per Calendar year). One nice thing about the DBS Altitude cards is that you earn 3 mpd on online hotel and flight bookings (capped at $5000 a month), which is not present in Citibank Premiermiles cards.
Most people will assume that this card is for ladies only, probably because the UOB Lady’s card is only for women. However, go ahead and apply if you want 4 mpd for your online purchases (capped at $2000 per month) – there is no gender discrimination actuallt! The downside is that the miles expire every year, so there is a need to pay $25 to transfer the miles out to your FFP annually. Anyway, get the WORLD Mastercard cause the perks are double of the green Woman’s card (wonder who will get this anyway?).
This card is mainly good for dining and entertainment at 2 mpd, since there are better cards that can earn 4mpd for online spending. The other perk will be the GV movie cards which are sold at a discount to HSBC cardmembers.
This card has made a comeback with offerings of 4 mpd for shopping and on electronics. Right now, they have a tieup with Mileslife as well where one can get 6 mpd!
Be careful of the 5x and 10x rewards as different banks have conversion rates when it comes to miles. At 1.45 mpd for dining, there are definitely better cards out there. The overseas accrual at 2.9 mpd are pretty decent. However, do note there is a cap of 20000 reward points per year, meaning a cap of $2222! There’s also the 1 for 1 Cathay Platinum Movie Suites, albeit at 5 redemptions/day.
As mentioned earlier, points (UNI$) on UOB are accrued per $5 block, so $4.99 will not earn anything and $9.99 will only earn 4 mpd. This card is great for contactless (meaning Apple pay, Samsung pay etc) since it earns 4 mpd, and you can use it at restaurants or anywhere else that accepts this mode of transaction. However, do note there is a cap of $200/month! As for online shopping and entertainment, do read the T&C properly as there are a lot of exclusions.
Right now, there is a promotion where one can get 10k bonus miles when one spends $6000 within the first 3 months of card approval (for new UOB cardmembers only). Existing UOB cardmembers will get 2000 miles instead. However, this is only for the first 2000 cardmembers who enrolled via SMS. Otherwise, the earn rate at 1.4 mpd for local and 2.4 mpd for overseas are also pretty decent.
As with the cashback cards, there is no one card that is good for everything. At the end of the day, it depends on your spending habits and kind of attitude that you have – whether you want to save up thousands of miles for a luxurious business class redemption or you prefer certain perks attached to a particular card. Most cards come with annual fee waiver for the first year at least, so it’s worthwhile trying them out!
For now, these will be the best cards for:
Local spend (anything) – Bank of China Elite World Mastercard (2 mpd)
Overseas – Bank of China Elite World Mastercard (5 mpd)
Large ticket items – AMEX Krisflyer (bonus miles with $3k spend within first 3 mths – 5.27 mpd)
Dining – UOB Preferred Platinum (contactless – 4 mpd) or HSBC Revolution if contactless unavailable (2 mpd)
Shopping – OCBC Titanium or Citibank Rewards (4 mpd)
Online expenditure – DBS Woman’s World Mastercard (4 mpd)