General Spending Cards

Updated: 13 July 16

The Idea

  • General spending refers to any type of spending outside of dining, online, travel, hotels and shopping (eg groceries, fuel, government payments, memberships, pharmacies, cinemas)
  • Focus on maximizing your sign up bonuses with general spending cards before chasing the category bonus of category spending cards

 The Details 

General spending refers to any spending that does not fall into the specialised category. Channeling Captain Obvious there, but that’s probably the best way of explaining this. If a transaction does not fall into any of these specialised spending categories, go with the plan highlighted below

Here’s the rundown

UOB PRVI Miles DBS Altitude Citibank Premiermiles ANZ Travel Krisflyer Credit Card Krisflyer Ascend
Versions AMEX, Visa, Mastercard AMEX, Visa AMEX, Visa Visa AMEX AMEX
S$1 local spending gives you 1.4 1.2 1.3 (AMEX) 1.2 (Visa) 1.4 1.1 1.2
$1 overseas spending gives you 2.4 2 2 1.4 (Unless AUD/NZD then 2.8) 1.1 (Unless Jun/Dec then 2) 1.2 (Unless Jun/Dec then 2)
Earning Blocks $5 $5 $1 $1 $1 $1
Other bonuses Spend $50,000 in a calendar year to get 20,000 bonus miles (AMEX version only), 10 miles per S$1 at Kaligo (Till 31 Dec 16) 3 miles per S$1 on online hotels and flights (capped at S$5,000 per month), 10 miles per S$1 at Kaligo (Till 31 Dec 16) 2 miles per S$1 spent on SQ/MI, 10 miles per S$1 with Kaligo Get 2,000 miles with S$500 spend within 30 days Get 5,000 miles with first spend, a further 3,000 miles with S$700 spend within 6 months Get 5,000 miles with first spend, a further 5,000 miles with S$1,000 spend within 6 months
Point Validity 2 years No expiry No expiry 5 years 3 years (transferred immediately to FFP) 3 years (transferred immediately to FFP)
Minimum Transfer Blocks 10,000 10,000 500 2,000 (Cathay) 5,000 (SQ) none none
Conversion Fee S$25 S$42.80 (unlimited conversions) S$25 S$25 none none
Annual Fee & Renewal Miles S$256.80 (None) S$192.60 (10,000 miles) S$192.60 (10,000 miles) S$200 (10,000 miles) S$176.55 (None) $337.05 (None)
Required Income S$80,000 S$30,000 S$50,000 S$60,000 S$30,000 S$50,000
Airline Partners SQ, Cathay SQ, Cathay, Air Asia SQ, Cathay, Thai, BA, MAS, Delta, Etihad, EVA, Garuda, Qantas, Qatar, Jetblue, KLM SQ, Cathay SQ SQ

*General note: For overseas spending you should consider the UOB Visa Signature card which offers 4 miles per S$1 spent overseas, subject to a minimum of S$1,000 spending per statement period and capped at a maximum spending of S$2,000 per statement period. Note that your statement period may not be the calendar month

That’s a lot of information! Let’s run down the rows and explain each one and why it matters

Category Remarks
Versions AMEX isn’t accepted everywhere. But it’s for that very reason that AMEX cards tend to have better rewards to compensate for this fact. For example, only the AMEX version of the UOB PRVI Miles card offers the spend $50,000 per year get 20,000 bonus miles offer
S$1 local/ S$1 overseas spending Self explanatory. Note that you’ll incur a fee for using your card overseas. Read this article and decide if it’s worth it
Earning Block This refers to how your transactions are rounded down in order to calculate how you earn points. If the block is S$5, your transaction is rounded down to the nearest S$5 before awarding points. That is, a S$5 transaction earns the same amount of miles as a S$9 transaction (and a S$4 transaction earns nothing)
Other bonuses Spending bonuses are easy wins. Take advantage of as many as possible
Point Validity Note that the validity refers to how long the points are valid on the side of the card issuer. Once you’ve converted them to Krisflyer miles, a separate timer of 3 years starts. Therefore take all the durations specified here (except for the Krisflyer AMEX, where points are automatically transferred to your FFP) and add 3 years. At a bare minimum you will have 5 year validity of miles. And to be honest, this is more than enough. If you’re not able to earn a sufficient volume of miles in 5 years to take a trip, you may be better off with a cashback card instead
Minimum Transfer (miles) This refers to the block in which you transfer points to miles. Some cards have higher lock-ins than others- i.e. if you haven’t earned at least this many points, you can’t convert anything to miles
Conversion Fee  I’ve already earned the miles, you think. Why do I need to pay extra to convert them?Well, technically you earned points. When I spend with DBS I earn DBS Rewards points, when I spend with UOB I Earn Uni$. These need to be converted to Krisflyer miles before they can be used. This isn’t an issue with “direct deposit” cards, ie those jointly issued by Singapore Airlines and Krisflyer.
Annual Fee Miles cards tend to give you bonus miles when you pay the annual fee. In general you should never pay more than 2 cents per mile. See here for details
Min Income This used to be more of an issue, but ever since DBS Altitude cut the minimum income required to S$30,000, if you can afford a credit card, you can play the miles game!
Airline Partners SQ and Cathay are pretty standard redemption options, but Citibank gives you way more freedom

Sock Drawer Cards

The following cards aren’t recommended for regular spending- your strategy here should be to apply for the card, meet the minimum spend, cash out the points into miles and then cancel the card when the annual fee comes around (cancelling immediately may incur some penalty)

American Express Rewards Card
Sign up bonus 13,333 miles with S$1,500 spend within 3 months
Min Income S$30,000
Annual Fee S$53.50

Be sure to check out what cards you need to use for specialised spend

37 thoughts on “General Spending Cards”

  1. Hey,

    Just wanted to let you know, for some reason, the yearly fee for my KrisFlyer Acend AMEX card was charged right away….so no first year waiver, for some reason….

    Thanks,

    Wolfgang

    1. Hi there- that’s strange. On the application form there should be an option you can tick where you choose between first year fee waiver OR paying the first year and being able to earn some bonus miles through your spending. If I were you I would check with customer service right away and see if they can change the offer you are on. The sooner the better. Do you remember seeing such an option when you applied?

      1. yes it is true, in the website it is not mentioned about fee waiver anymore. I have a hard time with them to request for annual waiver (they said system automatically put application in pay annual fee option), after several weeks finally they decide to waive the annual fee. After using the millenium hotel voucher, will definitely closed this card, useless somemore.

        1. that sucks. but Phil mentioned that they sign up bonus, if you can leverage it properly, isn’t half bad. Spend of $10K gets you 50K+ miles in the first 3 months. Obviously $10k is a lot of money but if you’re intending to make that spend anyway this might be a decent option…

        2. Lucky you. I was caught by the same situation, tried very hard on the waiver request but they wouldn’t budge. So in the end I asked them not to send the card to me and cancelled the application.

  2. The earning block for DBS altitude is not so straight forward.
    No rounding down transaction amount to nearest $5. Calculation is done as follows: DBS points = ‘transaction amount’ divided by 5, multiply by 3, after that round down to nearest whole number. Minimum spend is S$1.67. Each DBS point = 2 miles

    1. hi Trazora- according to the T&C for DBS points (2.3) it says that points are awarded on every block of $5. So if I spent $12 on the DBS Altitude Visa card which gives 3 DBS points for $5 on regular Singapore spending, i would get 6 DBS points in total (12 rounded down to 10, 10/5=2, 2*3=6).

      That’s my understanding at least. I should double check this again

      1. Hi, sorry if this has been addressed since then. For altitude, they round off your DBS points, not the transaction amount. So if you spend S$12, you would get 7 DBS points in total (12/5=2.4, 2.4*3=7.2, 7.2 rounded down to 7).

  3. Hey! I am currently using Kris flyer gold for general spending (due to min30k monthly).

    Is this a good card or any other better card available to choose from?

      1. As I have some basic income cards for specialised spending eg rewards for shopping, uob ppv for pay wave. Was trying to get one card for general spending that does not fit into those above.
        From what I see KF gold gives 0.625 instead of 0.4 for the above card, which is slightly better. Of course primarily getting to $5k mark for those bonus miles. Tried Citi PM card but fail due to min income not met.

        What do you think of hsbc revo? Was trying to get one for Meals. UOB PP Amex and citi clear was removed from applying.

        1. check out my latest post on this-http://milelion.com/2016/02/01/the-best-entry-level-credit-cards/

          and citi clear is still available via phone btw

  4. I’ve just called Citibank and they said the citi clear card is no longer available for signing. So I guess I’ve only got the choice of hsbc revo for FnB.

  5. Hi Aaron, do you have any idea if it’s possible to squeeze miles out of payments made over AXS online? It accepts mastercard payment but I can’t get miles from DBS World Woman’s card. Please advise.

  6. That’s a lot of cards to maintain. Considering you need conversion fee for each card to convert the mileages to FFP, does it make sense to keep so many cards for general spending? Do you also use one of these cards for health/life insurance premium payment?

    1. so unless there’s a sign up bonus you’re trying to hit i’d keep all general spending on 2 cards, either the uob prvi or the dbs altitude. i agree it doesn’t make sense to spend yourself too thin. however i am still maintaining small balances on my citibank rewards card in the hope that over the course of 5 years (the validity of the citi TY points) i’ll get some sort of critical mass. in general if you do not think you’ll spend a lot over the course of a year you might be better served focusing all on dbs/uob. dbs woman’s + dbs altitude (both the visa and amex, depending on what the sign up bonus is) or uob prvi, uob pp amex, uob pp visa, uob visa signature will help you build up a critical mass to redeem.

      i do not use credit cards for life insurance premium payment but if you want to i believe dbs and uob have bill payment arrangements with selected providers

  7. Hi Aaron, thanks for starting this. It’s really useful. I was recently rejected for a DBS Altitudes Visa Card. I managed to pull out my credit report from Credit Bureau, and it seems fine. From my understanding, the annual income requirement on their website (https://www.dbs.com.sg/personal/cards/credit-cards/dbs-altitude-cards) states SGD 30,000, which I do meet. However, Money Smart and your website states SGD 50,000. I’m unsure why I was rejected but I really need a Air Miles card at the moment because I can really earn alot from my work. As I earn between SGD 30,000 to 50,000, how do you feel about the following card: https://www.americanexpress.com/sg/content/singapore-airlines-krisflyer-credit-card/
    I would love to hear from you soon. Thank you very much!

    1. the income requirement is now $30K. i wrote an update about that here but think you’re referring to the omnibus which hasn’t been updated. will change that.

      if you’re just started working you might get rejected if you can’t show them 1 year of income through your tax statement (although this policy is really irregular- some banks are ok with 1 month’s payslip, some want 3, others are ok if you just show them your offer letter even). i’d say try again.

      i have very opinionated thoughts about the krisflyer cobranded portfolio (can read more here) but if dbs really doesn’t come through then i guess there’s no choice. might as well take advantage of the sign up bonuses

      1. Hi Aaron,

        Thanks for your swift response. Yes, I realised the income requirement has changed and it was reflected in some of your articles.

        I just applied again over the weekend and it seems there is a higher rejection rate if you do so online (very weird). Keeping my fingers crossed.

        1. really? that’s so weird. maybe if you apply in person the promoter can put a note or something in the application. although i’m not sure why that would make a big difference. let me know how it goes!

          1. So I was rejected again on my second application. I’m still unsure why. I think I will go ahead and apply for the AMEX-KF one since I don’t really have a choice.

            1. sorry to hear that and I can’t really imagine why they’d reject it given that you meet the income requirement. all I can say is that banks can be weird sometimes. are you able to get any of the $50k income limit cards eg ANZ Travel?

              1. Heh, don’t be sorry. It is what it is. I’ve managed to get an OCBC credit card and the DBS individual recommended that I show good credit rating for the next 5 – 6 months or so.

                I don’t think I should try since I don’t even meet the income requirement of any of the ANZ cards. Would you recommend me to try though?

                P.S: Is it fine if I’m spamming replies to this wonderfully good thread?

      1. I actually stopped crediting my salary from DBS and shifted it over to OCBC because of the OCBC360 account promotion. Could this be the case? That would be really weird.

  8. Hi Aaron, do u know which card can earn miles from hospital bill? Specifically at thomson medical for delivery? So far many card T&C is can only get rewards from retail spend. We dont want to test the water, and end up dont earn any miles due to T&C. Many thanks

    1. unfortunately no. there’s no special category for that, you’re resorting to general spend. the alternative is you top up your FEVO with $2k to use on the bill and at least earn 4 miles per $1 on that on your dbs woman’s.

  9. Have been on Citi’s PM for close to 10 years since it’s hassle free and with no expiry, only to realise there are better offerings out there.

    It’s not exactly broken, but should I switch?

    1. interesting you should mention that. because i’m about to post an article about how i’m thinking about switching over to citi pm. it’s really got to do with miles transfer options- citibank’s list of partners is excellent. and if i want to review products other than the usual sq/*A, i’m going to need to start thinking how to diversify my points balance.

      1. Looking forward to your post on it. Still using the PM daily; wife chuckled after I held back on a robot vac purchase and said I needed to consult the ML pocket guide.

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