Which credit cards don’t charge miles conversion fees?

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No one likes paying miles conversion fees. So which credit cards let you avoid them?

Unless you’re spending on a cobrand card that credits miles directly to your frequent flyer account, at some point you’re going to have to do a conversion from bank points into miles.

This usually incurs an administrative fee, and in this post, we’ll look at how much banks charge, and which cards offer it for free. 

💳 Credit Card FAQs

How much are conversion fees?

There are two main models for conversion fees:

  • Per conversion: Pay a flat fee every time you convert miles
  • Annual option: Pay a flat fee that covers unlimited conversions in a 12-month period

Here’s how much various banks normally charge for points conversions to frequent flyer programs (note that exceptions apply, be sure to read this in conjunction with the rest of the article):

IssuerPer ConversionAnnual Option
S$20N/A
S$30N/A
S$26.75N/A
S$26.75S$42.80*
N/AS$42.80
S$26.75N/A
S$25N/A
S$26.75N/A
S$25S$50^
*Automatic conversions in blocks of 500 DBS points (1,000 miles) each quarter. Addition ad-hoc redemptions can be done for free
^Automatic conversions in blocks of UNI$2,500 (5,000 miles) each month for balances above UNI$15,000. Additional ad-hoc redemptions cost S$25

With the exception of Bank of China (naturally), the conversion fee is the same regardless of how many points you transfer. In other words, it costs the same to transfer 5,000 DBS points (10,000 miles) as it does 500,000 DBS points (1,000,000 miles), provided you do it in a single transfer.

Bank of China caps the maximum number of points you can transfer in a single conversion to 10 blocks (i.e 60,000 Asia Miles or 100,000 KrisFlyer miles). If you want to transfer more than this, you’ll need to pay a second conversion fee. It’s ridiculously arbitrary, but hey, it wouldn’t be BOC if it weren’t. 

Which cards don’t charge conversion fees?

Cobrand Cards

Any cobrand Singapore Airlines card will batch and credit miles earned directly into the cardholder’s KrisFlyer account each month. 

This saves on conversion fees, but on the flip side, your three-year expiry countdown starts immediately, and you don’t have any other choice of transfer partner.

Cobrand Cards
CardIncome Req. Annual Fee. 
KrisFlyer UOB Credit CardS$30KS$192.60
(FYF)
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit CardS$30KS$176.55
(FYF)
AMEX KrisFlyer AscendS$50KS$337.05
AMEX PPS CardS$30KS$551.05
(FYF)
AMEX Solitaire PPS CardS$30KS$551.05
(FYF)

Non-Cobrand Cards

Regardless of the bank’s overall policy, some credit cards offer waivers of miles conversion fees. 

Non-Cobrand Cards
CardIncome Req. Annual Fee. 
OCBC 90°N VisaS$30KS$53.50
OCBC 90°N MastercardS$30KS$53.50
OCBC Premier Visa InfiniteS$30K
(min. S$200K AUM)
Waived
UOB Privilege Banking Visa InfiniteS$30K
(min. S$350K AUM)
S$1,926
(waived if min. AUM is met)
OCBC Premier Banking VOYAGES$30K
(min. S$200K AUM)
S$488
AMEX Platinum Credit CardS$80KS$321
Maybank World MastercardS$120KS$240
(FYF)
Maybank Visa InfiniteS$120KS$600
(FYF)
OCBC VOYAGES$120KS$488
AMEX Platinum ReserveS$150KS$535
AMEX Platinum ChargeS$200KS$1,712
Citi ULTIMAS$500KS$4,160
UOB ReserveS$500KS$3,852

Unfortunately, most of these cards require you to earn a substantial income, or have a privilege banking relationship.

The exception is the OCBC 90N Visa/Mastercard, which has an income requirement of just S$30,000. If you’re looking for an entry-level bank card that offers free transfers, this is your best bet.

Do conversion fees really matter?

I get it. No one likes paying conversion fees. They seem arbitrary, and in the case of Bank of China, opportunistic.

At the same time though, I don’t think you should get too hung up about them. Of course you should minimize fees where you can, but the odd S$25 fee here and there is more annoyance than dealbreaker.

The average person will transfer miles maybe once a year, and if you’re using a multi-card strategy, you’ll pay two, perhaps three fees which will add up to less than S$100. Put it another way: no one ever grumbled about conversion fees when he/she sat down in a Business Class seat for the first time.

If conversion fees really bother you, try and spread your spending across different cards within a bank that pools points, like UOB. For example, you might use the UOB PRVI Miles Visa as a general spending card, with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa for Paywave. When the time comes to transfer points, you’ll only pay a single transfer fee as all your UNI$ are pooled together.

In contrast, Citibank does not pool points. If you use the Citi PremierMiles Card as a general spending card, with the Citi Rewards Card for online spending, you’ll need to pay two separate transfer fees as your points are kept in silos.

Conclusion

Conversion fees aren’t anything to lose sleep over, although you obviously want to minimize them wherever possible. My hope is that we’ll see these progressively phased out over the next few years, as more banks introduce products like the OCBC 90N.

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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CyberMew

Ocbc 90N don’t pool points also

Adam

So, if you have cards from a bank that pools points, and one of your cards do not charge conversion fees, does that mean you don’t have to pay conversion fees from all cards from that bank? For example, if you have UOB PPV, PRVI, Lady’s, and VI, you can just convert all your UNI$ using the VI and avoid paying any conversion fees?

Raymond Wee

That’s the way for Maybank. 🙂

Matthew

For UOB yes. If you e.g hold PPV PRVI and Priv Banking VI/VI. Your transfers will be fee free.

freedom

Now the question is where to transfer? Asia Miles is going to remove stopover on one-way ticket. So it is dead to me. There are plenty for KrisFlyer.

What’s the next best place to transfer to?

Bankrupt

I’d wait 6 months as the airline and points landscape is likely to be very different. I hope the value of my stash of Citi points doesn’t go down the toilet. I’m pretty sure the value of my KF miles will.

freedom

KrisFlyer should be okay. Post crisis, there will be periods that KrisFlyer is going to offer large discount to fill the seats. That will be the time to burn KrisFlyer miles.

ithh

The OCBC Premier Visa Infinite card also gives free transfers for OCBC$ which are pooled with OCBC$ earned with other cards.

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