Here’s the Milelion’s review of the UOB PRVI Miles Card, which UOB proudly markets as the highest earning miles card in Singapore. At least it was until the BOC Elite Miles came along in 2018, but that problem will imminently solve itself.
|💳 tl;dr: ★★★1/2|
|How much do you value an incremental 0.2-0.4 mpd? That’s the key question behind the UOB PRVI Miles Card, which earns the most miles, but comes with some very unique annoyances. Unless you’re a big spender, you might want to save yourself some hassle and go with another general spending card.|
|The good||The bad|
|This UOB PRVI Miles review forms part of my collection of credit card reviews. I’m constantly adding new ones, and you can browse the entire collection here.|
Overview: UOB PRVI Miles Card
Let’s start this review by looking at the key features of the UOB PRVI Miles Card.
|AMEX | Mastercard | Visa|
|Income Req.||S$30,000 p.a||Points Validity||2 years|
(First Year Free)
|FCY Fee||3.25%||Transfer Fee||S$25|
|Local Earn||1.4 mpd||Points Pool?||Yes|
|FCY Earn||2.4 mpd||Lounge Access?||No|
|Special Earn||6 mpd on Agoda, Expedia and UOB Travel||Airport Limo?||Yes
|Cardholder Terms and Conditions|
The UOB PRVI Miles is issued across all three card networks- American Express, Mastercard, and Visa. Earn rates and product features are generally the same, but there are a handful of differences worth highlighting. I’ll draw attention to these in the review wherever relevant.
How much must I earn to qualify for a UOB PRVI Miles Card?
Until fairly recently, the UOB PRVI Miles Card required an annual income of up to S$80,000. However, the requirement was gradually lowered, and today the card has been repositioned at the S$30,000 entry-level segment.
If you don’t meet the income requirement, you can place a S$10,000 fixed deposit with UOB and get a secured version of the card. Visit any UOB branch for further information.
How much is the UOB PRVI Miles Card’s annual fee?
|Principal Card||Supp. Card|
|First Year||Free||First 2 free, S$128.40 after|
|Subsequent||S$256.80||First 2 free, S$128.40 after|
Principal cardholders are charged S$256.80 per year, with the first year waived. There is a perpetual fee waiver for the first two supplementary cards, and a S$128.40 annual fee for the third card onwards.
Most general spending cards charge you an annual fee if you don’t hit a minimum annual spend, but award you some miles in return. UOB does the opposite, at least for the PRVI Miles AMEX.
- If you spend S$50,000 in a 12-month membership year, your annual fee will be waived and you’ll receive 20,000 miles
- If you miss the threshold, or if you hold the Mastercard or Visa version, you’ll be billed the annual fee at the start of the second year with no miles to show for it.
|⚠️ Beware the auto UNI$ deductions!|
|Do note that UOB will automatically deduct 6,000 UNI$ from your account when the PRVI Miles’ annual fee is due! It’s up to you to watch for this and request a waiver when it happens- be sure to check your e-statement. If you have insufficient UNI$, you will be charged in cash.|
What sign-up bonus or gifts are available?
No review of the UOB PRVI Miles Card would be complete without talking about UOB’s notorious sign-up bonuses and gifts.
UOB is fond of adopting “first X to do Y will get Z” language in its T&Cs. For example, back in November 2019 it ran an offer where the first 300 new Mastercard/Visa members to spend S$6,000 in 90 days got 10,000 miles.
How did you know you were in the first 300? You didn’t. You had to spend and pray that the miles would show up a few months later. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition, and you’re basically gambling.
Unfortunately, this is par the course for UOB sign-up offers. With some limited exceptions, they all follow this format, and you’re just going to have to decide if you want to roll the dice.
Here’s the current sign-up offer:
|🎁 Current Sign-Up Bonuses/Gifts|
Be among the first 400 approvals from 1 July to 31 August and spend S$1,500 within 30 days to get S$150 cashback (T&C). Must not hold any principal UOB credit card now, or in the 6 months prior to 1 July 2020
|Offer valid till 31 August 2020|
How many miles do I earn?
|🇸🇬 SGD Spending||🌎 FCY Spending||➕ Bonus Spending|
|1.4 mpd||2.4 mpd||6 mpd on Agoda, Expedia, and UOB Travel|
UOB PRVI Miles Card members earn UNI$3.5 for every S$5 spent in Singapore Dollars, and UNI$6 for every S$5 spent in foreign currency (FCY).
1 UNI$ is worth 2 airline miles, so that’s an equivalent earn rate of 1.4 mpd for local spending, and 2.4 mpd for FCY spending. This is the highest earn rate for any general spending card at the S$30,000 income level, but those S$5 earning blocks have nasty implications (see below).
|Local MPD||FCY MPD|
|UOB PRVI Miles||1.4||2.4|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card||1.1||2.0*
|BOC Elite Miles||1.0||2.0|
|KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card||1.2||1.2|
|*June and Dec only, otherwise 1.1 mpd|
When dealing with UOB cards, you need to be extra careful of SMART$ merchants. SMART$ is UOB’s card-wide cashback program, offering instant rebates at selected places. What’s wrong with instant rebates, you say? Well, you don’t earn any UNI$ at SMART$ merchants.
|Entertainment||Petrol||Shopping & Wellness|
In other words, if you spent S$50 at Cold Storage, you wouldn’t earn 70 miles- you’d earn a pathetic 0.3% rebate, or 15 cents.
This is a concern for the UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard and Visa, but not the AMEX (which doesn’t participate in the SMART$ program). Do note that SMART$ aren’t issued for online transactions- so you can use your UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard/Visa for online shopping at Cold Storage’s website if you so please.
All overseas transactions are subject to a 3.25% fee, and using your UOB PRVI Miles Card overseas represents buying miles at 1.35 cents each.
Unfortunately, there’s another UOB shenanigan here- while other banks define overseas transactions simply as those charged in currencies other than Singapore Dollars, UOB further requires that the payment gateway be overseas. As per the T&Cs:
For the avoidance of doubt, card transactions made overseas but effected/charged in Singapore dollars and online transactions effected in Singapore dollars or in foreign currencies at merchants with payment gateway in Singapore will not be treated as overseas transactions and will earn UNI$3.5 per S$5 spend
In other words, if you’re shopping on an online website which bills you US$100 (~S$140), but processes the payment within Singapore (Hotels.com is an example), you’ll earn miles at the local spending rate of 1.4 mpd.
How do you know where the payment processing is done? You don’t. This is something you’ll just have to learn as you go along, by tracking your points carefully.
This applies to bookings made by 30 April 2021, with travel by 31 July 2021. It’s a hodgepodge to be sure, but still worth remembering if your employer suddenly feels like flying you on THAI or Turkish. You can find the full T&C of this offer here.
For bookings made through this Agoda link, UOB PRVI Miles Card members will earn 6 mpd on hotel reservations made by 31 December 2020 and used by 30 June 2021. You can find the full T&C of this offer here.
For bookings made through this UOB Travel link, UOB PRVI Miles Card members will earn 6 mpd with any hotel, or the following airlines:
Bookings must be made by 31 December 2020, but travel can be any time. You can find the full T&C of this offer here.
On top of this, UOB is currently running a few bonus miles promotions on the PRVI Miles Cards:
|UOB PRVI Miles AMEX||UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard & Visa|
|Groceries, food delivery, utilities and other online transactions: 3 mpd, min S$2.5K, max S$5K. No registration needed. Ends 30-Jun-20||SimplyGo: 4.4 mpd, capped at S$80 per month. Registration is required. Ends 30-Jun-20|
|Groceries, food delivery, utilities and other online transactions: 3 mpd, min S$2K, max S$3.5K. Registration is required. Ends 31-Jul-20|
When are UNI$ credited?
UNI$ are credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.
How are UNI$ calculated?
Here’s how you can work out the UNI$ earned on your UOB PRVI Miles Card
|Local Spend||Round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 3.5. Round down to the nearest whole number|
||Round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 6. Round down to the nearest whole number|
Now there’s something unfair about the way UOB calculates UNI$. You get hit twice by rounding.
UOB first rounds your transaction down to the nearest S$5, divides it by 5 then multiplies the amount by 3.5 UNI$ (assuming it’s a Singapore Dollar transaction). This UNI$ figure is then rounded down again to the nearest whole number.
So imagine you spent S$9 on your UOB PRVI Miles Card. You might figure that’s 12.6 miles (@ 1.4 mpd), but…
- The S$9 is rounded down to S$5
- S$5 is awarded 3.5 UNI$
- 3.5 UNI$ is rounded down to 3 UNI$
You actually earn 3 UNI$, or 6 miles, yielding a mere 0.67 mpd!
This is an extreme example, of course, and the effect of rounding gets smaller as your transaction size increases. But it’s exactly why you should think twice about using your UOB PRVI Miles Card for small transactions that aren’t in S$5 blocks- in fact, the minimum spend required to earn miles is S$5.
|🚆 What about SimplyGo?|
If the minimum transaction to earn miles is S$5, then what’s the point of using the UOB PRVI Miles Card with SimplyGo? Don’t worry- for the Mastercard, SimplyGo transactions are batched and posted every 5 days, 21 transactions, or S$15, whichever comes first. For the Visa, UNI$ are awarded based on the accumulated SimplyGo spending per calendar month.
So with the exception of extreme circumstances (e.g where you take just 1-2 rides a month), you’ll definitely earn some miles.
This means that despite ostensibly having a higher headline rate, you may earn fewer miles on the UOB PRVI Miles Card in some scenarios than, say, the Citi PremierMiles (1.2 mpd on local spend). Consider the following:
|UOB PRVI Miles||Citi PremierMiles|
|$5||6 miles||6 miles|
|$9.99||6 miles||11 miles|
|$15||20 miles||18 miles|
|$19.99||20 miles||23 miles|
|$25||34 miles||30 miles|
|$29.99||34 miles||35 miles|
If you’re an excel geek, here’s the formulas you need to calculate points:
|Local Spend||=ROUNDDOWN (ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0) * 3.5,0)|
||=ROUNDDOWN (ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0) * 6,0)|
|Where X= Amount Spent
For the full list of formulas that banks use to calculate credit card points, do refer to these articles:
What transactions aren’t eligible for UNI$?
A full list of transactions that do not earn UNI$ can be found in the T&C. I’ve highlighted a few noteworthy categories below:
- Charitable Donations
- Real Estate Agents & Managers
- Government Services
- GrabPay top-ups
These exclusions mean that you can’t use the UOB PRVI Miles Card for RentHero transactions, although CardUp/ipaymy will earn points as usual.
What do I need to know about UNI$?
On the plus side, UNI$ pool across cards. If you have 10,000 UNI$ on the UOB PRVI Miles Card and 5,000 UNI$ on the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa, you can redeem 15,000 UNI$ at one shot and pay a single conversion fee. It also means that you don’t need to transfer your UNI$ out before cancelling the UOB PRVI Miles Card, assuming it’s not your last UNI$-earning card.
UOB’s marketing materials claim that you can redeem miles from “over 40 partner airlines”, but that’s flat out misrepresentation.
In reality, UOB has only two airline transfer partners- KrisFlyer and Asia Miles. Where the “over 40” claim comes from is the fact that KrisFlyer miles can be used to redeem flights on all 26 Star Alliance members, and Asia Miles on all 13 oneworld members. That’s not the same as cardholders being able to redeem Turkish Airlines or British Airways miles, both of which have their own sweet spots.
UNI$ transfer at a 1:2 ratio, with a minimum transfer block of 5,000 UNI$.
|Frequent Flyer Program||Conversion Ratio
Transfers cost S$25 per program, regardless of how many points are transferred.
UOB also has an auto-conversion option for KrisFlyer, which costs S$50 per year. UNI$ will be automatically converted on the last day of the calendar month, in blocks of UNI$2,500 (half the regular conversion block).
However, you’ll need to keep a minimum balance of UNI$15,000 (30,000 miles) in your account at all times, for reasons I do not understand. UOB gives the following explanation:
|Why must a minimum balance of UNI$15,000 be kept KrisFlyer auto conversion programme?
This is to give card members the flexibility to convert the UNI$ to other items from UOB Rewards Catalogue. Card members can still choose to convert this UNI$15,000 to KrisFlyer miles by the one time miles redemption process through UOB Rewards Catalogue, subjected to S$25 conversion fee and must be in blocks of 10,000 miles
I call BS on this, but there you have it.
You can enroll for the automatic conversion program here.
Other card perks
Buy miles with UOB PRVI Pay
UOB PRVI Pay is a “no questions asked” bill payment facility that lets you buy miles at 2 cents each. Actually, you don’t even need a bill to pay- you can buy as many miles as you want, subject to your credit limit.
How it works is you fill out this form and email it to UOB. Specify how much you’d like to charge to the facility, e.g S$5,000, and designate a bank account. UOB will then:
- Deposit S$5,000 into your designated bank account
- Charge S$5,100 to your card (S$5,000 + 2% fee)
- Award UNI$ at a rate of UNI$2.5 per S$5
- This gives you a total of 2,500 UNI$ (5,000 miles- the PRVI Pay fee doesn’t earn miles)
You take the S$5,000 they deposited to pay off your card bill, then you’re out of pocket S$100. You’ve basically bought 5,000 miles for S$100, or 2 cents per mile.
UOB periodically adjusts the price of the PRVI Pay facility, and we’ve seen prices from 1.8 to 2.1% historically. This could be a relatively cheap way of topping off your account if you’re just shy of a 5,000 UNI$ transfer block.
Complimentary airport limo (AMEX only)
By spending S$1,000 in foreign currency (excluding phone, mail or online transactions) in a calendar quarter, cardholders receive two complimentary airport limo transfers to Changi Airport (not “from”, mind- this is only for trips to the airport).
This is the lowest spending requirement of any card in Singapore, and even more generous than cards in the $120K segment.
|UOB PRVI Miles AMEX||S$1K FCY per quarter||2||2 per quarter|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||S$2K per month||1||24 per year|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||S$3K per month||2||8 per year|
|OCBC VOYAGE||S$5K per month||1||2 per month|
|Citi Prestige||S$12K per quarter||2||2 per quarter|
Limo services need to be booked at least 2 days in advance of travel. Your card will initially be charged S$45, which will be automatically reimbursed within two months after quarter ends, if the spending criteria is met.
A maximum of two free rides can be booked per quarter.
Poor complimentary travel insurance
|Accidental Death||Medical Benefits||Travel Inconvenience|
You have S$500,000 coverage for accidental death or disablement, and S$50,000 for medical evacuation. That’s it- there’s no coverage for medical expenses, or even travel inconvenience. Lost your luggage? Flight delayed? This policy won’t pay anything.
Since it’s woefully inadequate as your primary cover, you’ll almost certainly need to get separate travel insurance.
Summary Review: UOB PRVI Miles Card
How you feel about the UOB PRVI Miles Card really boils down to how much you value an incremental 0.2-0.4 mpd (the difference in earn rates compared to other general spending cards).
I mean, it’s objectively the highest-earning general spending card in Singapore (once the BOC Elite Miles kicks the bucket), has a no-questions-asked miles purchase facility, and is the only entry-level card with a limo benefit. Since UNI$ pool, it pairs well with other cards like the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa and UOB Lady’s Card.
But the thing that bugs me the most about UOB cards is the feeling that I always need to be on my toes. I’m not a fan of gotchas like:
- The S$5 earning blocks and rounding
- UOB’s automatic UNI$ deductions for annual fees
- SMART$ merchants
- The overseas payment gateway requirement for FCY bonuses
- All or nothing sign-up offers
There’s also the fact that there’s no lounge access, only a couple of transfer partners, and you don’t get any miles for paying the higher-than-average annual fee.
That’s enough to bump it into 3.5 Star territory for me. If you’re spending relatively low amounts each year (say less than S$25,000, mostly SGD), I don’t think you’ll really feel the difference in mpd.
So that’s my review of the UOB PRVI Miles Card. What do you think?
|An essential card for miles chasers, with few viable alternatives|
|A very good card, although other equally good alternatives may exist|
|A decent card to round out your collection, but not absolutely essential|
|Very limited use cases, and outperformed by most other cards|
|Paperweight. Use for picking teeth or ninja stars|