AMEX CapitaCard gets upgraded: Double STAR$ at CapitaLand Malls

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From 1 July 2021, AMEX CapitaCards will earn up to 30 STAR$ per S$1 spent at CapitaLand Malls, double the existing rate.

American Express has refreshed the AMEX CapitaCard for the first time since it launched in 2016, making it more rewarding for spending at CapitaLand Malls.

From 1 July 2021, AMEX CapitaCard members will earn up to 30 STAR$ per S$1 spent at CapitaLand Malls, double the current 15 STAR$. This stacks with the existing bonuses for STARS Xtra Partners, yielding up to 80 STAR$ per S$1. 

It gives the card a bit more bite. but most people would still find better value from using 4 mpd cards when shopping. 

Revised earn rates for AMEX CapitaCard

From 1 July 2021, the earn rates on the AMEX CapitaCard will change as follows:

  Now From 1 July
Spend outside CapitaLand Malls 5 STAR$ per S$1 5 STAR$ per S$1
Spend at CapitaLand Malls 15 STAR$ per S$1
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)
Town: 30 STAR$ per S$1
Heartland: 20 STAR$ per S$1
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)^
Spend at STARS Xtra Partners 65 STAR$ per S$1 Town: 80 STAR$ per S$1
Heartland: 70 STAR$ per S$1
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)*
^Town and Heartland each have their own cap of S$1,200. Beyond this, the earn rate is 5 STAR$ per S$1
*Town and Heartland each have their own cap of S$1,200. Beyond this, the earn rate is 55 STAR$ per S$1

The earn rate for spending at CapitaLand Malls been increased from 15 STAR$ to 20-30 STAR$ per S$1, depending on whether the mall is classified as a town or heartland location.

  Town Heartland
Malls
  • Bugis Junction
  • Bugis+
  • Clarke Quay
  • Funan
  • Plaza Singapura
  • Raffles City
  • Bedok Mall
  • Bukit Panjang Plaza
  • IMM Mall
  • JCube
  • Junction 8
  • Lot One
  • Singpost Centre
  • Tampines Mall
  • Westgate
Eligible Merchants Link Link

For perspective, 5,000 STAR$ is worth a S$5 eCapitaVoucher, so your rebate structure looks like this:

  Now From 1 July
Spend outside CapitaLand Malls 0.5% 0.5%
Spend at CapitaLand Malls 1.5%
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)
Town: 3%
Heartland: 2%
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)
Spend at STARS Xtra Partners 6.5% Town: 8%
Heartland: 7%
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)

It’s a dismal card to use for spending outside of CapitaLand Malls, that’s for sure. Even within  CapitaLand Malls, the current proposition is marginal- with the launch of the UOB Absolute Cashback Card and its 1.7% cashback everywhere, it’s hard to justify earning 1.5% rebates in a restricted currency. I suppose that’s why AMEX felt compelled to make the change, and the revised rebates of 2-3% (albeit capped at S$1,200 per month) improve the deal somewhat. 

However, if you’re shopping at STARS Xtra Partners, a 7-8% rebate is quite tasty. The problem is the list of participating merchants is extremely restricted- just eight at the moment. 

The other way to think about this is in terms of KrisFlyer miles. Since STAR$ can be transferred to KrisFlyer miles at the following ratio…

 
9,880 STAR$ 380 miles
A maximum of 350,000 STAR$ can be transferred each calendar year

…this implies the following earn rates:

  Now From 1 July
Spend outside CapitaLand Malls 0.19 mpd 0.19 mpd
Spend at CapitaLand Malls 0.58 mpd
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)
Town: 1.15 mpd
Heartland: 0.77 mpd
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)
Spend at STARS Xtra Partners 2.5 mpd Town: 3.08 mpd
Heartland: 2.69 mpd
(Cap: S$1,200 per month)

But fundamentally, it’s not worth converting STAR$ to KrisFlyer miles in the first place. Since 1 STAR$ is worth 0.1 cents, when converting STAR$ to KrisFlyer miles you’re effectively buying 380 miles for S$9.88, or 2.6 cents per mile. 

That’s way too high a price to be buying KrisFlyer miles, let alone in a time like this. Save your STAR$ for spending at CapitaLand malls and you’ll be much happier. 

What if you need more STAR$?

If you’re invested in the CapitaStars program and need more STAR$ beyond what the AMEX CapitaCard can offer, here are your other options for accruals. 

Transfers from KrisFlyer to STAR$

KrisFlyer miles can be transferred to STAR$ at the following ratio:

 
3,000 miles 21,000 STAR$

A maximum of 30,000 KrisFlyer miles can be transferred each calendar year, and all conversions are instant

As mentioned earlier, 1 STAR$ is worth 0.1 cents, so you’re basically trading 3,000 KrisFlyer miles for S$21, yielding a value of 0.7 cents per mile. That’s extremely grim, ranking near the bottom of your options for redeeming KrisFlyer miles. 

Options for Spending KrisFlyer Miles
Redemption Option Value per mile
✈️ Award flights 2-6 cents
🏨 Shangri-La Golden Circle conversion 1.4 cents*
✈️ Pay for flights with miles 1.02 cents
🚘 KrisFlyer vRooms 0.8 cents
🛍️ KrisShop 0.8 cents
🛒 TapForMore conversion 0.73 cents
🏬 CapitaStar conversion 0.7 cents
📱 Kris+ 0.67 cents
🎡 Pelago 0.67 cents
Esso Smiles conversion 0.33- 0.67 cents
*Assumes you have GC Jade/Diamond status and use points for F&B at 10 GC points= US$1.25. If you’re a regular member, 10 GC points= US$1, i.e 1.1 cents/mile

Transfers from GrabRewards to STAR$

 
2,500 points 5,000 STAR$

STAR$ packages periodically appear in the GrabRewards catalogue, but tend to get sold out very quickly. The rate is usually 2,500 GrabRewards points= 5,000 STAR$, and since 1 GrabRewards point is worth 0.2 cents, this trade is roughly on par. 

GrabRewards recently ran a 35% pointsback sale which reduced the effective cost of 5,000 STAR$ to just 1,625 GrabRewards points- a very good deal. 

Transfers from Ascott Star Rewards to STAR$

 
10,000 points 18,750 STAR$

Ascott Star Rewards (ASR) points can be converted to STAR$ at a ratio of 10,000: 18,750. 1 ASR point has a cash value of 0.25 cents, so that’s equivalent to trading S$25 for S$18.75- a bad deal to be sure. 

In short, the only option that really makes sense is the GrabRewards route. Do look out for GrabRewards Flash Sales to maximize your value. 

Conclusion

The AMEX CapitaCard is now up to twice as rewarding for shopping at CapitaLand Malls, but I’m still of the opinion that you’d do better with a 4 mpd card instead.

Even if you’re not a miles collector, you might find the 1.7% cashback offered by the UOB Absolute Cashback Card preferable to a 2% rebate in the form of vouchers.

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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