Credit Cards

Exploring the lesser-known KrisFlyer AMEX cards for PPS and Solitaire PPS members

PPS and Solitaire PPS members get special co-brand AMEX cards of their own- but are these necessarily better than the mass market versions?

Ask someone to name a couple of co-brand Singapore Airlines American Express cards, and chances are you’ll get the KrisFlyer Ascend and the KrisFlyer Blue (formally known as the KrisFlyer Credit Card).

But there are actually four co-brand AMEX cards in total; it’s just that two of them keep a very low profile. The PPS and Solitaire PPS credit cards are reserved for Singapore Airlines’ top-tier elite members, and since they aren’t open to the public, they’re understandably less well known

Although I write a fair bit about the KrisFlyer Ascend and KrisFlyer Credit Card, I’ve hardly said a thing about the PPS/Solitaire PPS versions. So whether you’re a Lifetime Solitaire PPS who’s seen it all, or an entry-level KrisFlyer member who’s curious about life behind the curtain, let’s take a closer look at the features and benefits of these two cards- does membership really have its perks?

Overview: PPS & Solitaire PPS Credit Cards

Here’s a quick summary of the key features of both cards.

At a glance


Annual Income Req. S$30K S$30K
Annual Fee S$551.05 (first year free) S$551.05 (first year free)
Local MPD
First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd
Above S$3.8K 1.4 mpd Above S$3.8K 1.5 mpd
Overseas MPD
First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd
Above S$3.8K 2.0 mpd Above S$3.8K 2.4 mpd
Special MPD -2 mpd on Singapore Airlines tickets
-3.3 mpd on first S$200 of Grab spending/month
-3.3 mpd on first S$200 of Daily Essentials/month
Double KrisFlyer miles accrual voucher
50% off KrisFlyer miles redemption voucher
One sector upgrade from Business to First Class voucher  

Income requirements are low…



Annual Income Req. S$30K S$30K

Surprisingly enough, even though the PPS and Solitaire PPS credit cards are positioned above the KrisFlyer Ascend (S$50K/year), their income requirements are lower (S$30K/year). I suppose the implicit thinking is that if you’re able to qualify for the PPS membership, your income isn’t really an issue.

…but annual fees are high

Annual Fee S$551.05 (first year free) S$551.05 (first year free)

The PPS and Solitaire PPS credit cards have an annual fee of S$551.05, which puts them in the wheelhouse of the S$120K card segment. That’s tough to justify, given that S$120K cards typically offer perks like an unlimited Priority Pass (yes, you get lounge access as a PPS member but only to SilverKris and Singapore Airlines partner lounges), airport limo transfers, and miles for paying the annual fee, all of which are missing here.

The publicity materials state that a first year fee waiver is available for both cards, but this only applies if you do not currently hold any other co-brand Singapore Airlines American Express cards. So if you’re upgrading from the KrisFlyer Ascend to the PPS Credit Card (aren’t you moving up in life!) for example, you’ll have to pay the first year’s annual fee.

Local earn rates are decent



Local MPD
First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd
Above S$3.8K 1.4 mpd Above S$3.8K 1.5 mpd

As far as local spending goes, both cards offer competitive rates. You earn 1.3 mpd on the first S$3,800 per month, more than the 1.2 mpd you find on most mass market cards.

For spending above S$3,800, you’ll earn 1.4 mpd on the PPS Credit Card and 1.5 mpd on the Solitaire PPS Credit Card. In other words, if you spend S$4,000 on the PPS Credit Card, you’ll earn S$3,800 x 1.3 + S$200 x 1.4 miles. These are among the highest general spending rates you’ll find for cards in Singapore.

Two major caveats, however:

  1. Local and foreign currency spending is not cumulative. That’s to say, you’ll need to spend more than S$3,800 in local currency alone to unlock the 1.4/1.5 mpd rate
  2. Purchases made on singaporeair.com and KrisShop do not count towards the S$3,800 spending

I find these rules really stingy. After all, the SCB Visa Infinite allows you to earn 1.4/3.0 mpd on local/foreign currency spending so long as you spend more than S$2,000 per statement period in local or foreign currency spending combined. And given that 2.0 mpd on Singapore Airlines tickets is already underwhelming, I don’t see why those transactions shouldn’t count towards your S$3,800 target.

How are points calculated on the PPS/Solitaire PPS credit cards?
For the PPS and Solitaire PPS credit cards, KrisFlyer miles are calculated and awarded in blocks of S$10 on a cumulative basis at the end of each calendar month. The T&C don’t state whether spending is rounded down to the nearest S$10, but even if it is, you’ll only lose a very small number of miles a month.

This is different from the KrisFlyer Ascend and KrisFlyer Credit Card, where miles are awarded per transaction and rounded to the nearest whole mile (e.g a S$13 transaction on the Ascend will earn 13*1.2≈  16 miles). I’m guessing the difference is because they need to wait till the end of the month to see if you hit the all-important S$3,800 figure.

Curious how banks round credit card points, and how that affects your total miles haul? Check out this post, which summarizes the policy for each card.

Foreign currency earn rates are indecent



Overseas MPD
First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd First S$3.8K 1.3 mpd
Above 2.0 mpd Above 2.4 mpd
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You may remember that the KrisFlyer Ascend and KrisFlyer Credit Card award 2.0 mpd on foreign currency spending, provided you spend in June or December.

I’ve always thought that’s a silly distinction (I get that June and December are peak travel periods for Singaporeans, but why does this have to be the only card that doesn’t offer the same earn rate year round?), so I’m glad that the PPS and Solitaire PPS credit cards don’t copy it.

However, that’s not to say they don’t have hoops of their own to jump through. You earn just 1.3 mpd on the first S$3,800 of foreign currency spending per month. Subsequently, you earn 2.0 mpd on the PPS Credit Card and 2.4 mpd on the Solitaire PPS Credit Card. In other words, if you spend S$4,000 on the PPS Credit Card, you’ll earn S$3,800 X 1.3 + S$200 X 2.0 miles.

The fact that your first S$3,800 of foreign currency spending only earns 1.3 mpd means your blended rate is going to be very underwhelming.

Weighted Average MPD for FCY Spending
S$3,000 FCY Spend 1.3 mpd 1.3 mpd
S$5,000 FCY Spend 1.47 mpd 1.56 mpd
S$10,000 FCY Spend 1.73 mpd 1.98 mpd

Note that the same caveats apply to foreign currency spending as they do local- you’ll need to spend S$3,800 in foreign currency alone to unlock the higher earn rate, and purchases made on singaporeair.com/KrisShop don’t count.

It’s hard to accept this when the UOB PRVI Miles allows you to earn 2.4 mpd on foreign currency spending from the get-go, without any minimum spending. Heck, take the BOC Elite Miles (therapy not included) for 3.0 mpd, or jump on the OCBC 90N for 4.0 mpd (until 29 Feb 2020). Any of these would be much better.

How are the sign up bonuses?

Spend Bonus Spend Bonus
First Spend Bonus Any amount 5K Any amount 5K
Months 1-3 S$10K 16K S$10K 16K
Base Miles 13K (S$10K @ 1.3 mpd) 13K (S$10K @ 1.3 mpd)
Total Spend S$10K S$10K
Total Miles 34K 34K

Sign up bonuses have historically been strong points of the KrisFlyer AMEX cobrand cards, and these are no exception.

Both the PPS and Solitaire PPS credit cards offer the same sign up bonus. Cardholders who spend S$10K in the first 3 months of approval will get 16K bonus miles and 13K base miles. They’ll also receive 5K bonus miles upon their first spend, so all in all they’re spending S$10K for 34K miles.

Unfortunately, there’s no MGM option for either card (i.e you can’t sign up via someone’s MGM link), so your total miles haul is actually worse than that of the KrisFlyer Ascend or KrisFlyer Credit Card.

Total miles for KrisFlyer Ascend and KrisFlyer Credit Card assume you apply via the MGM program

In my workings I’ve assumed that your S$10K spending is evenly spread across 3 months, so you don’t hit the S$3,800 required to unlock the 1.4/1.5 mpd level on the PPS/Solitaire PPS credit cards. However, even if you hit S$10K in a single month blowout, you’d only earn an additional 1,240 base miles, hardly changing the picture.

What about the special Singapore Airlines perks?

Double KrisFlyer miles voucher  
50% off KrisFlyer miles redemption voucher
One sector upgrade from Business to First Class voucher  

OK, so we’ve established that the earn rates and sign up bonuses of these cards leave a lot to be desired. But could the unique Singapore Airlines perks these cards bring justify the hefty annual fee?

Double KrisFlyer miles voucher

PPS Credit Card members who spend at least S$15,000 on Singapore Airlines tickets via singaporeair.com from 1 July to 30 June each year of membership will receive a double KrisFlyer miles accrual voucher.

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As the name suggests, this voucher allows members to double the KrisFlyer miles they earn on eligible flights, capped at 10,000 miles. For example, if a V class ticket normally allows you to earn 10% of the miles, you’ll earn a further 10% (hardly the best way to use this!)

This voucher can only be used by the cardmember, and is valid on bookings with a maximum of two flight segments. Both segments must include Singapore as a departure or arrival point, and the flights must be operated by Singapore Airlines.

Here’s an illustration of how the benefit works:

Do note that only KrisFlyer miles are doubled- elite miles and PPS value stay the same.

While it’s always nice to earn some bonus miles, I certainly wouldn’t consider this benefit to be a game changer. In fact, I’d view it as “compensation” for missing out on 4 mpd opportunities when using the PPS Credit Card to buy Singapore Airlines tickets.

S$15,000 of spending means an opportunity cost of up to 30,000 miles (based on a 2 mpd differential), so 10,000 miles doesn’t even begin to make up for it.

50% off KrisFlyer miles redemption voucher

PPS or Solitaire PPS credit card members who spend at least S$75,000 from 1 July to 30 June each year of membership will receive a voucher that allows them to save 50% off the miles required for a redemption booking in any class. The savings are capped at 50,000 miles.

The voucher can be used for the cardholder or a redemption nominee, but is only valid for a single passenger. Bookings can have a maximum of two flight segments, and both must include Singapore as the arrival or departure point.

You can only use the voucher for flights operated by Singapore Airlines- it’s not valid for Star Alliance or other partner redemptions. The voucher cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion, so you can’t use it on a Spontaneous Escapes award, for example.

Here’s an illustration of how the benefit works:

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Although this sounds great (50,000 miles would be worth about S$900), S$75,000 is a massive amount of spending and you need to consider opportunity cost once more. Assuming all that S$75,000 could have been put on 4 mpd cards, the total miles foregone is 202,500 miles! (2.7 mpd * S$75,000).

Granted, not all your spending will qualify for 4 mpd opportunities, but if at least 25% of it (S$18,519) does, then you’re much better off going down that route instead. You’ll then be able to use the miles earned for Star Alliance or partner awards, or even transfer them to FFPs other than KrisFlyer.

One sector Business to First Class upgrade voucher

Solitaire PPS Credit Card members who spend at least S$50,000 on Singapore Airlines tickets via singaporeair.com from 1 July to 30 June each year of membership will receive an upgrade voucher from Business to First Class.

This voucher can be used for a one-sector upgrade for one person from Business to Suites/First Class. This only applies if the original commercial (ie. not redemption) ticket is booked in the J, C, U or Z booking classes, and only for flights operated by Singapore Airlines.

An upgrade is a nice treat, but having to spend S$50,000 on Singapore Airlines tickets to unlock it? I’m sure members of other frequent flyer programs are shaking their heads right now- while Emirates Skywards and Cathay Marco Polo elite members enjoy regular upgrades, Singapore Airlines elites really have to earn theirs the hard way.

Are these perks worth having?

Quite frankly, I don’t think any of these vouchers are worth earning.

It’d be one thing if they came free with the annual fee, but the fact that you have to pay the (substantial) annual fee and spend as much as S$75K to earn a voucher…it’s just a really bad proposition. The opportunity cost of spending alone would offset most if not all of the benefit, and it’s not like other premium credit cards where you can enjoy the full range of benefits without needing to spend.

To put it another way: you’ll pay more than the cost of a Citi Prestige to get in the door, and then you’ll have to spend an eyewatering amount to earn vouchers which save you miles you could have more than earned by channeling your spending elsewhere!

To put it yet another way: if you’re willing to pay S$551.05 for a credit card, why not just get one from the S$120K segment and enjoy the benefits without having to spend inordinate amounts of money?

Conclusion

If you’re willing to put in the legwork to come up with a credit card game plan and optimise your spending, you won’t find much use for the PPS or Solitaire PPS credit cards. Even if you’re a die-hard “one card” person, you’ll arguably find better value elsewhere.

I can see potential use cases for the KrisFlyer Credit Card and KrisFlyer Ascend, because the former packs a good sign up bonus with a first year fee waiver, and the latter offers a sign up bonus plus lounge vouchers and a free Hilton night with the annual fee- no spending required.

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With the PPS and Solitaire PPS cards, it’s much harder to find a good use case (and if you have, please sound out below because I’d love to hear it). If you fly in Singapore Airlines’ premium cabins enough to earn PPS/Solitaire PPS status, you could be raking in a ton of miles with the right cards- in other words, not these.


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Other Phill
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Other Phill

On a largely theoretical point because it doesn’t do much to change your conclusion, the PPS card analysis should take into account the vouchers are cumulative, ie spend $75k and you get vouchers worth 60k #nitpick As an aside, given sq’s general approach to upgrades (I have no status but still I am 0% on upgrades with SQ. Meanwhile, similarly no status but I am 100% on upgrades with air France (1 from 1)), was amused at a promotion sq ran recently – buy return bkk-sin economy tickets with MasterCard (can’t remember if it had to be flex or any… Read more »

Alian
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Alian

Having the AMEX platinum charge card offsets the annual fee so if you have the charge card then no annual fee and if you earn less the 120k then this is an option

Wil
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Wil

Seem to me that this more of a status symbol card. Look I am PPS and I am qualified for this card

Ben
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Ben

Look I earn more than $x a year and I qualified for the AMEX Platinum. And the list goes on. Doh.

Best for petrol
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Best for petrol

This is not a status symbol card if you have a car. PPS AMEX is a platinum Amex card. This has been the best option for petrol in Singapore. SPC 21% off and 1.3mpd. No need to collect points (like Shell), no need to use apps, no need to watch total monthly spends, no orphan points because of automatic mile conversion so no need to feel pressured to add non-petrol spend on this card. And you can give 2 free supplementary cards to family members so cheaper petrol for everyone and more miles for the principal. And no annual fee… Read more »

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