Credit Cards

Which KrisFlyer cobrand card should you get?

Comparing the AMEX KrisFlyer Blue and the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend.

Unlike bank-issued cards, cobrand cards have a direct crediting agreement with a particular airline. This means that whatever miles you earn from your spending are credited directly into your frequent flyer program as soon as transactions post.

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Whether you find this feature helpful depends on your circumstances. On the one hand, there’s no need to pay a transfer fee, and you’re able to act quickly on whatever award space you see. On the other, your three year expiry period starts straight away.

American Express offers two cobrand KrisFlyer cards in Singapore- the KrisFlyer Credit Card (which I call the KrisFlyer Blue, for obvious reasons), and the KrisFlyer Ascend. These cards may not offer the 4 mpd earning rates that you can get with specialized spending cards, but their sign up bonuses make them an essential part of any miles collecting strategy.

Comparing the KrisFlyer Blue and Ascend

In this post, I’m going to compare the KrisFlyer Blue and KrisFlyer Ascend to help you understand which one suits you better. To start with, here’s a summary table of the two cards:

KrisFlyer BlueKrisFlyer Ascend
Income Req.$30,000$50,000
Annual Fee$176.55 (First Year Free)$337.05
Sign up bonus (first 3 months)Spend $3,000, get 15,800 miles (including 5,000 first spend bonus)Spend $10,000, get 43,000 miles (including 5,000 first spend bonus)
Local Spending1.1 mpd1.2 mpd
Overseas Spending2.0 mpd in June/December
Specialized Spending2.0 mpd on Singapore Airlines/ Silk Air tickets
3.1 mpd on Grab, first $200 per month & 500 miles with first spend
Additional Benefits
  • Receive S$150 Cashback for use on your next purchase on singaporeair.com when you spend S$12,000 on eligible purchases by 30 June 2019
  • 4 lounge access vouchers per year
  • Complimentary night stay at 110 Hilton properties in Asia Pacific
  • Complimentary Hilton Silver
  • Spend $15,000 on singaporeair.com within 12 months to earn KrisFlyer Gold
  • Spend $15,000 on singaporeair.com by 30 June 19 to earn double KrisFlyer miles accrual voucher
SingSaver Sign Up Gift$150$150

Please remember to fill out the SingSaver rewards form after you apply

Income Requirement

The KrisFlyer Blue is an entry level credit card with a $30,000 income requirement, while the Ascend is positioned slightly higher at $50,000 income per annum.

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Are they strict about this requirement? Anecdotal evidence suggests no- I understand some people who were slightly shy of the $50,000 mark can still get approval, depending on their history with American Express.c

Annual Fee

The KrisFlyer Blue has a lower annual fee ($176.55) than the Ascend ($337.05), and waives the first year’s fee. The Ascend’s higher annual fee reflects its additional benefits, such as lounge vouchers and a complimentary night at selected Hilton properties.

When it comes to annual fee waivers, I’ve heard it is possible to get a waiver (either 50% or 100%, depending on your spending patterns) for the Ascend, but if it’s waived you  shouldn’t expect to get the free hotel night and lounge vouchers. I say “expect” because some people report getting the lounge vouchers, but this is a classic YMMV situation. 

Sign Up Bonus

Sign up bonuses are a real highlight for the KrisFlyer cobrand cards. If you think about sign up bonuses on a miles to dollar spent ratio, then the KrisFlyer Blue actually comes out ahead- you get 15,800 miles for spending $3,000. That’s broken down into

  • 5,000 bonus miles on your first spend (only for first-time cobrand cardholders)
  • 7,500 bonus miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months of approval
  • 3,300 base miles for spending $3,000 (1.1 mpd)

If you think about sign up bonuses in terms of absolute miles earned, then the KrisFlyer Ascend comes out ahead- you get 43,000 miles for spending $10,000. That’s broken down into

  • 5,000 bonus miles on your first spend (only for first-time cobrand cardholders)
  • 26,000 bonus miles for spending $10,000 within 3 months of approval
  • 12,000 base miles for spending $10,000 (1.2 mpd)

Miles Earning Rates

^June and December only, @ Until 31 Dec 18, after which 2.0 * Until 31 Dec 18, after which 1.5 and 3.0 for local/overseas respectively

There’s not a lot to separate these two cards when it comes to earning rates, except that the Ascend earns 8% more miles (1.2 vs 1.1) than the Blue card on general spending.

Both cards earn 2.0 mpd on overseas general spending, but that’s only for June or December (something I think AMEX could really improve on for this card). You’ll earn 2.0 mpd on Singapore Airlines/Silk Air tickets (but note that you could use the DBS WWMC for 4 mpd on the first $2K of online spending per month, or the DBS Altitude for 3 mpd on the first $5K of air ticket spending per month), and 3.1/3.2 mpd on the Blue/Ascend for the first $200 of Grab transactions each month.

Card Benefits

Here’s what really separates the two cobrand cards. The KrisFlyer Blue is a pretty bare bones card (probably why they’re willing to waive the first year annual fee). The only benefit to speak of is that you get a S$150 cashback on singaporeair.com when you spend S$12,000 by 30 June 2019.

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The KrisFlyer Ascend, on the other hand, packs quite a punch in this area. Here’s what you get

  •  4 complimentary access each year to any participating SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore and Plaza Premium Lounge around the world
  • Complimentary night stay each year at one of over 110 Hilton Properties in Asia Pacific
  • Hilton Silver status
  • A double KrisFlyer miles accrual voucher (capped at 5,000 miles) when you spend S$15,000 or more on singaporeair.com by 30 June 2019
  • Fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Gold when you spend S$15,000 or more on singaporeair.com within 12 months of card approval

Hilton Silver is just one step above base membership, but crucially it gives you the 5th night free on award redemptions. If you’re in the market to buy Hilton points (Conrad Maldives for US$396 a night anyone?), then this is definitely something you want to have (or get Hilton Gold by signing up for the AMEX Platinum Charge card)

Conrad Bangkok

The complimentary night stay is for selected Hilton properties in the Asia Pacific region, which unfortunately does not include the Conrad Maldives (it does include the Conrad Bangkok though).

SingSaver sign up gifts

Regardless of which card you pick (you can only apply for one or the other), you’re entitled to a $150 sign up gift from SingSaver. Please remember to fill out the rewards claim form after you apply, or else there’s no way to give you your gift. There’s a further $20 NTUC voucher provided by AMEX if you use the MyInfo feature from SingPass to apply.

Conclusion

Which cobrand card you prefer depends on what you’re looking for. If you just want a bare bones card with an easier-to-hit sign up bonus, go for the KrisFlyer Blue. If you’re eyeing the benefits and higher sign up bonus of the KrisFlyer Ascend, then the SingSaver sign up gift should go some way to offsetting the non-waivable annual fee.

Apply for the KrisFlyer Blue here
Apply for the KrisFlyer Ascend here

*Remember to fill out the rewards form after applying to get your gift

P.S: I realise the UOB KrisFlyer debit card technically counts as a cobrand card. Let’s, er, let’s pretend it doesn’t exist.


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Mel Sim
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Mel Sim

If one has had the Blue card before and cancelled it, is there a time interval before one is eligible for the sign up bonus again or is that one-off bonus a forever one-off thing?

Xersion
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Xersion

spoke to cso before. amex take 12 mth before consider you as new customer but the first spend is forever in record

Yar
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Yar

the first spend jointly applies to both cards. i.e. if you had the ascend before, cancelled, when got the blue card, you also don’t get the first spend 5k. (lesson I learn the hard way)

freedom
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freedom

Need 12 months to be eligible?

Just applied through singsaver for the bonus miles. Cancelled around 6 months ago.

Manny
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Manny

The 15k fast track to kfeg is only for ex-sin travel.

Ted
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Ted

So Aaron, do you have any of these cards?

KrisFlyerFan
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KrisFlyerFan

Can your next review on KrisFlyer include other banks…not limited to Amex only?

freedom
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freedom

Correct me if I am wrong. Amex is the only one issuing krisflyer co-brand cards.

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[…] SingSaver has continued its $150 sign up gift for the KrisFlyer AMEX cobrand cards for November. Can’t figure out which card is right for you? Have a read of our comparison article of the KrisFlyer Blue versus KrisFlyer Ascend.  […]