Tag Archives: miles

Cardup adds limited time member get member promotion

I’ve written previously about the startup Cardup, which charges a 2.6% fee in exchange for letting you use your credit card to make payments that normally couldn’t be made using a credit card. This means you can earn rewards points and miles on payments like rental, school fees, condo fees, insurance etc. Think of it conceptually as an opportunity to buy miles at a discounted rate.

Give $20, get $20

Cardup has launched a member get member promotion that lasts from now till 31 May 2017.

Under this promotion, any member that signs up via your referral code gets $20 off the Cardup fee for their first payment. You get $20 off your next payment for each successful referral. The maximum amount of free credit you can earn is $200 per account, or 10 referrals. Given the 2.6% fee, a $20 Cardup credit will cover the fees incurred on a ~$770 maximum value transaction.

My promo code is AARONW54, but feel free to post your own referral codes in the comments section below.

I realise the last time I wrote about this there was some confusion as to which cards earn 10X rewards points through Cardup. I have previously confirmed receiving 10X rewards points on Cardup using my DBS Woman’s World card for a transaction made in November 2016. I have not personally tested any of the following cards which offer 10X for online spending

  • HSBC Advance
  • UOB Pref Platinum Visa
  • Citibank Rewards
  • OCBC Titanium Rewards

The long and short of the matter is that there isn’t a whole lot of transparency on the back end of the banks as to how they classify transactions. There’s always a risk that you’ll not get what you were expecting. However- this member gets member promotion presents an opportunity for us to test different cards. Whether or not your 10X successfully posts, you don’t end up out of pocket, so that should lower the barrier to trying.

As a reminder, if you use a card like the UOB PRVI, you’ll get 1.4 mpd, or 1.86 cpm. You could potentially get 0.65 cpm with a 10X card, but that depends on whether you’re willing to gamble with either getting 10X or 1X (0.4 mpd).

Sharing is caring- please post the results of your field testing below. There might not be a point testing the HSBC Advance (assuming they don’t renew the 10X promotion), but I’d be interested to see what happens for other cards. Will give my Citibank Rewards card a test, if someone sends some free credit my way!

Is it time to switch to Asia Miles?

So while Aaron has been busy sitting in the dark wearing goth kid clothing (Wong, 2017) (also taking the time to do some heavy number crunching so we lazy bums don’t have to), the rest of us have been thinking about where else we could spend our credit card miles now that our beloved national carrier has effectively become (even) more expensive to fly.

Other than KrisFlyer, many Singaporean credit cards allow you to credit miles to Asia Miles, which allows you  to redeem flights on Cathay Pacific (and its partners). So, how’s the scene look over at Hong Kong’s flagship carrier?

(Caveat: I’ve rather limited experience with Asia Miles myself, so would gladly welcome any corrections / additions from readers. Just add on to the comments if you’d like to leave any feedback!)

Marco? Polo!

First things first – some of you might have heard about the Marco Polo Club, Cathay Pacific’s loyalty programme. Then there’s Asia Miles, their rewards programme. What’s the difference?

It can be a little confusing, but Marco Polo Club status refers to a member’s elite level, akin to KrisFlyer Silver, Gold, etc… Asia Miles, however, refers to their rewards programme.

For those of us with zero status with Cathay Pacific, we can sign up for a plain Asia Miles account, which suffices for what we really want to do here – redeeming flight awards using credit card points.

Earning Asia Miles

Most major Singaporean banks (exception: OCBC) allow you to transfer points to Asia Miles. The full list of financial partners can be accessed here – the ones I recognise on first glance are American Express, ANZ, Citibank, DBS, HSBC, Maybank, Standard Chartered, UOB.

There’s also the option of chalking up miles by actually flying revenue (e.g. on CX or oneworld), but who’s actually got time for that?

Flying Cathay Pacific

Looking at Cathay Pacific’s route map, two things are immediately obvious.

First, it’s got a pretty well-developed network, covering Asia, Australia, Europe and America – all the places Singaporeans love to go.

Second, if you’re based in Singapore, you’ll probably need to get to Hong Kong before going on to your next stop.

That’s great if you want to do a stopover in Hong Kong, but not at all helpful if you want to go the opposite direction (i.e. Australia). Even if it’s on the way, the added hours from the stopover can still be painful.

Probably something to consider before booking!

The Experience

We don’t have trip reports on CX right now (something I’m hoping to remedy by the end of the year…) and so I’ll point to OMAAT’s reviews as a reference:

Unfortunately for us, a fair number of the SIN-HKG flights are currently still on older hardware and offering regional Business Class hardware. If you’d like to avoid that, you can try looking out for flights operating the new A350 – though for a 4h journey that might not really be your main priority.

Comparing numbers

The Asia Miles awards chart is organised by different zones (grouped by distance) from KrisFlyer’s, which makes it difficult to directly compare against the latter’s updated award chart. Instead, I chose a few cities from Skyscanner’s 2016 list of top year-end Singaporean destinations to see how Asia Miles fares against KrisFlyer.

(Also added New York to get a sensing for trips to America. Also, in case you want to see Trump Tower in person.)

I opted to compare the equivalent of business class saver return tickets, since I’m guessing that’s what the majority of (mile) price-conscious readers will be gunning for. Take note that for Asia Miles, a one-way award costs more than half of a return, so it’s actually cheaper to redeem a return ticket.

For the value of the new airport taxes / fees charged for KrisFlyer redemptions, I’ve used the value currently under “Airport/Government taxes” and excluded “Carrier surcharges”.

Addendum: In several instances it may make even more sense to redeem Asia Miles on partner airlines; this will probably be covered in a future post!

Bangkok (BKK)

Asia Miles KrisFlyer
Price 40,000 miles + 500 HKD (~S$92)
(755 HKD if via HKG)
40,000 miles + S$66.20
Shortest 1-way Journey Time 2h 15min
(7h 45min if via HKG)
 2h 25min

Verdict: Tie (CX for possible flexibility of including HKG stopover)

Bangkok’s the only other city CX flies to directly from Singapore – it’s pretty much a tie between the two (slightly cheaper for SQ). Flying CX does give you the option of throwing in a Hong Kong stopover for cheap (about 250 HKD) , though! (TBC)

Update: I’ve had conflicting reports on whether adding a HKG stopover will increase the number of miles spent – while a comment here suggest that it does, a post on HWZ suggest otherwise. Will check with Asia Miles and update.

Hong Kong (HKG)

Asia Miles KrisFlyer
Price 50,000 miles + 630 HKD (~S$115) 55,000 miles + S$93.60
Shortest 1-way Journey Time 3h 50min  3h 45min

Verdict: CX

Asia Miles starts getting cheaper – I value 5000 miles at around S$100, so the price difference is enough to hurt. Interestingly, you can also choose to fly via BKK (a stopover is possible too, though pricier) but if you want to cover both cities it seems to make more sense to redeem it as a SIN-BKK itinerary with HKG stopover instead. (TBC)

Tokyo (NRT)

Asia Miles KrisFlyer
Price 80,000 miles + 1,011 HKD (~S$185) 86,000 miles + S$66.60
Shortest 1-way Journey Time 9h 6h 35min

Verdict: Tie (SQ for shorter journey time, CX for HKG stopover/transit)

I was expecting CX to be the clear winner here given that Japan was one of the zones more adversely affected by the SQ devaluation. However, it seems that overall pricing is evenly matched, with the extra 6000 miles for SQ fairly evenly balanced out by the additional S$120 for CX (probably due to the transit in HKG).

If you want to check out the CX lounges in HKG it can be a fun detour, but I would personally opt for a direct flight instead.

Melbourne (MEL)

Asia Miles KrisFlyer
Price 80,000 miles + 1,832 HKD (~S$335) 116,000 miles + S$143.50
Shortest 1-way Journey Time 17h 15min 7h 25min

Verdict: SQ (though I suppose CX does cost less)

Once we leave Asia we start seeing the redemption cost for CX tickets clearly taking the lead (in getting cheaper) as compared to SQ.

That said, saving 36,000 miles (~S$720) might sound great, but I’d personally rather save 10h of my time. The geography just doesn’t work out, in this case.

Addendum: It should be possible to book a Qantas direct flight using Asia Miles, though I didn’t spot any availability in my initial research. 

London (LHR)

Asia Miles KrisFlyer
Price 115,000 miles + 3,077 HKD (~S$562)
(4,334 HKD on BA)
170,000 miles + S$367.80
Shortest 1-way Journey Time 16h 30min
(12h 50min on BA)
12h 55min

Verdict: CX

Even with higher taxes, the 55,000 mile (~S$1100) difference is humungous.

It’s also possible to book British Airways directly on the Asia Miles booking system. It seems the number of miles required is the same, though taxes might differ (more expensive, in this case).

Addendum: BA business class is not all that great, from what I’ve heard. In this case I think perhaps transitting in HKG is not the worst thing in the world?

New York (JFK)

Asia Miles KrisFlyer
Price 145,000 miles + 1,716 HKD (~S$314) 184,000 miles + S$193.60
Shortest 1-way Journey Time 21h 21h 35min

Verdict: CX

Since SQ doesn’t fly to New York directly, it loses whatever edge it had over CX (though for CX, it could sometimes be noticeably  longer). The 39,000 mile difference (~S$780) fails to make up for the difference in taxes, though the overall gap is not as stark as the SIN-LHR itinerary.

Conclusion

This evaluation was done with a rather small data set, and I’ve made a few assumptions regarding the cash values that KF will be charging post-devaluation, but overall I suspect that  the figures should be indicative enough, even if not 100% accurate.

This was an interesting exercise for me – I’d started with the expectation that Asia Miles would be the clear winner, but it turns out that post-devaluation KrisFlyer still seems pretty comparable, as far as business class flights to Asia go.

For long-haul flights, Asia Miles does emerge as the clear winner, though you’d probably want to consider total journey time to see if a redemption makes sense. Ultimately, as our national carrier, SQ still offers more direct flights ex-SIN than other airlines, so that’s something else to consider in choosing which programme to use for your redemptions.


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.

cover photo via Instagram by airplanesloverr

Citibank increases minimum points/miles redemption to 10,000

Continuing with variations on a theme…

ALEXANDER TERRIBLE HORRIBLE.jpg

Citibank is revising the T&C of their rewards program effective 30 March 2017 to increase the minimum number of points that need to be transferred. The screen capture below says it all really.

I’ve got mixed feelings about Citibank. They don’t pool your points together (people have reported getting CSOs to combine ThankYou points from different cards but have been less successful getting ThankYou points combined with Premiermiles) which means you need to pay two redemption fees to redeem points from two different cards.

However, they made up for that a little bit with their flexibility. You could transfer a minimum of 500 miles/points to an airline frequent flyer program, making it a great rewards program to use if you just needed to top up your account a little bit but wanted to put the rest of your miles elsewhere (and didn’t mind paying a one time S$25 fee for that privilege)

Now that the minimum transfer amount is 10,000 miles, you lose that nimbleness. That said, Citibank does have some of the most useful partners of any Singapore bank. In addition to the usual Asia Miles and Krisflyer, you can transfer to Thai, Delta, MAS, BA, Etihad, EVA and of course, everyone’s favourite Indonesian airline Garuda.

With this change, the minimum cashout amounts by bank are as follows

  • DBS- 10,000 miles
  • UOB- 10,000 miles
  • Citibank- 10,000 miles
  • HSBC- 2,000 miles
  • ANZ- 2,000 (Asiamiles), 5,000 (Krisflyer)
  • OCBC- 10,000 miles
  • Maybank- 2,000 miles

I’m generally ambivalent about minimum transfer amounts and transfer fees because I’m in the habit of cashing out a large chunk at one go, which makes the fees more of a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. But it does seem that banks are moving towards less flexibility (see DBS’s switch from an unlimited transfer model to a per transfer model)