Singapore Airlines sent out a mailer today announcing the launch of KrisFlyer vRooms, a portal which allows you to book hotels and cars (I can distinctly picture the marketing team repeating the name aloud to management during the pitch and saying “get it, get it?”) with your KrisFlyer miles.
As far as FFP innovation goes, this isn’t something new per se. For example, it’s long been possible to use your American AAdvantage Miles, United Mileage Plus Miles or Delta Skypesos to book hotels and rental cars. However, it’s another step in the direction of “miles as currency” that KrisFlyer is inevitably moving towards.
Now, I’m all for having additional ways to spend KrisFlyer miles, but the valuation has to make sense. And based on what we’ve seen from other FFPs that have implemented similar portals, the odds of that are slim. Here’s how much value you get when using your KrisFlyer miles on vRooms.
The hotels section of KrisFlyer vRooms is basically an OTA that allows you to spend miles to offset the cost of your hotel room.
Here’s some rates I found for Singapore:
When you click on a particular hotel, you can select your room type and further fine tune the amount you’d like to pay with miles. You can opt for more cash and less miles…
Or less cash but more miles.
Based on my observations, you get approximately 0.8 cents of marginal value when you use your KrisFlyer miles to offset the cost (see my other post for the average value, which sometimes can be higher than 2 cents)
Do remember that if you book through KrisFlyer vRooms you will not earn any points or elite credit with the hotel’s own loyalty program.
The rental car section of KrisFlyer vRooms allows you to offset the cost of your car rental with KrisFlyer miles at “renowned car rental partners”. I chuckled a bit at the hyperbole.
For “renowned” you should read “reputable”, as pretty much every major car rental brand is represented here.
I entered some dummy dates for a rental starting and ending in SFO and got numerous options.
The system even lets you pick among several options such as GPS, full tank of fuel etc.
Finally, you’re brought to the pricing page where you can see that again the marginal value per KrisFlyer mile is 0.8 cents.
If you’re thinking about booking a rental car, be sure to check out my updated article on rental car insurance.
Other points to note
You need a minimum of 1,500 KrisFlyer miles to pay for anything on vRooms, but the minimum may be higher depending on destination and hotel.
Booking cancellations are subject to the terms and conditions of individual bookings, and it can take up to 6-8 weeks for KrisFlyer to refund your miles. In the event that cancellation fees apply, they will be charged in the same proportion as the miles and cash used for payment. For example, if a member made a booking with 50% cash and 50% miles, the cancellation fees will be charged as 50% cash and 50% miles as well.
We know from our analysis on the value of a mile that 0.8 cents is inferior value (although there are situations where you can get more), in the sense that you can get much more out of your miles when you redeem them for premium cabin flights. However, I think I agree with TPG when he says “the best redemption is one that makes you happy“. If you’re swimming in miles and want to burn some of them on hotels, sure, by all means use KrisFlyer vRooms. If you want to extract maximum value from your miles, however, save them for flight awards.