The new worst way to use KrisFlyer miles: Conversions to Esso Smiles points

KrisFlyer miles can now be converted to Esso Smiles points. But just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should...

In December last year, Singapore Airlines and Esso deepened their relationship by adding double dipping on selected Esso fuels, allowing customers to earn both Esso Smiles points and KrisFlyer miles at the same time. 

While it was already possible to convert Esso Smiles points into KrisFlyer miles, plans were announced to add conversions in the opposite direction. Now it’s here, but there’s no reason to even consider converting KrisFlyer miles to Esso Smiles.

In fact, it’s the absolute worst thing you can do with them. 

Convert KrisFlyer miles to Esso Smiles

In my previous article on the partnership, I speculated that we’d see a conversion ratio of 5 KrisFlyer miles= 1 Esso Smiles point, a ho-hum rate at best. 

As it turns out, that was overly optimistic. The actual rate is 6 KrisFlyer miles= 1 Esso Smiles point, with a minimum conversion of 3,000 miles. 

 
3,000 miles500 points

A maximum of 80,000 KrisFlyer miles can be converted each calendar year, although there’s no reason why you should be converting any miles in the first place (see below). 

To make a conversion (why am I even telling you this?), you’ll need to tag your Esso Smiles account to your KrisFlyer account. Login to KrisFlyer and click on Profile > Partner Programmes. Choose “Non-airline partner” and then “Esso”, to complete the linking. 

Once the accounts are linked, you can visit this page to make transfers. Scroll down and look for the Esso bubble. 

Why this is a terrible idea

Esso Smiles points can be redeemed for both merchandise/vouchers and fuel, but either way it’s an abject choice. 

Esso Smiles Merchandise/ Vouchers Redemptions
(Examples)
Esso Smiles Fuel Redemption
PointsValueValue/Point
250 Smiles pointsS$52 cents
300 Smiles pointsS$103.3 cents
750 Smiles pointsS$304 cents

The rule of thumb is that you should always use points to redeem the program’s native reward, so let’s look at fuel. Suppose you saved up for the best value option, i.e a S$30 voucher (750 Smiles points). This nets you a value of 4 cents per Smiles point, so you’re trading 3,000 miles for S$20; or 0.67 cents per mile.

Does that figure sound familiar? It should, if you know your Kris+ rates. Spending miles through Kris+ gets you exactly the same value, which then begs the question: what exactly is the point of offering Esso Smiles conversions?

Kris+ is superior in every way (never thought I’d type those words!):

  • Kris+ has a minimum spend of just 150 miles, versus 3,000 miles if you want to convert to Esso Smiles
  • For the whole of 2021, Kris+ is offering 20% milesback on Esso spending, which boosts your value to ~0.83 cents per mile

  • Remember, you only get 0.67 cents if you opt for the S$30 fuel voucher. Your value could be as low as 0.33 cents if you take the S$10 one!

This gives Esso Smiles conversions the distinct honor of being the new worst way of using KrisFlyer miles, and trust me, there’s no lack of competition there. 

OptionValue per mile
Flight Redemptions2-6 cents
Shangri-La Golden Circle conversion1.4 cents*
Pay with miles for flights1.02 cents
KrisFlyer vRooms0.8 cents
KrisShop0.8 cents
TapForMore conversion0.73 cents
Kris+0.67 cents
Esso Smiles conversion0.33- 0.67 cents
*Assumes you have GC Jade/Diamond status and use points for F&B at 10 GC points= US$1.25. If regular member, 10 GC points= US$1, i.e value is 1.1 cents/mile

Convert KrisFlyer miles to Asia Miles

The ability to convert KrisFlyer miles to Esso Smiles points creates an interesting, if useless opportunity. Esso Smiles partners with both KrisFlyer and Asia Miles, which means you could use it as a conduit to move miles between the two programs.

But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Based on the prevailing ratios (150 Smiles: 100 miles), your 3,600 KrisFlyer miles will become 400 Asia Miles. 

  
3,600 miles600 points400 miles

That’s… well that’s not ideal. All credit cards in Singapore will earn KrisFlyer miles and Asia Miles at the same rate. Why would you take a 90% haircut by taking this route?

Conclusion

I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why anyone felt it’d be worthwhile launching Esso Smiles conversions, when it’s inferior in every way to the existing options for spending KrisFlyer miles at Esso. Even if something possessed you to spend your KrisFlyer miles on fuel, there are much better ways of going about doing it. 

Don’t touch this with a ten foot pole. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Cmdsea

Lol. So reading between the lines Aaron, I am guessing you don’t think this is a good value conversion…

Tony

Hi Aaron, what would you recommend using Grab Points for then?

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