If you’re a KrisFlyer UOB Credit Cardholder, you’re probably aware of the trigger condition UOB has set in order to unlock the card’s bonus earn rates.
In short, cardholders need to meet a minimum spend on SIA Group transactions every membership year in order to earn 3 mpd on dining, food delivery, online shopping & travel and transport. Should this threshold not be met, they will earn only the regular rate of 1.2 mpd.
The minimum spend, originally set at S$500 per membership year, was temporarily lowered to S$300 during the pandemic- still a considerable barrier, considering you couldn’t set foot on a plane without quarantine.
But now that travel has returned, UOB says it’s time to pay the piper. To that end, it’s increasing the minimum SIA Group spend to S$800 per membership year, for cardholders with membership years ending from April 2023 onwards.
Here’s the details, and why I believe the move is unfair.
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card increases SIA Group minimum spend
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Cardholders will have received the following SMS from UOB:
With effect from 1 November 2022, the minimum annual spend condition for Singapore Airlines Group Related Transactions charged to your KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card will be revised to S$800. This revised condition will be applicable for Card Membership Year ending April 2023 onwards. Please visit KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card website for details.
tl;dr: for your card membership year ending from April 2023 onwards, you’ll need to spend at least S$800 on SIA Group transactions to qualify for bonus miles.
|❓ What are SIA Group transactions?|
SIA Group transactions are defined as:
This includes using your KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card to pay for taxes and surcharges on an award flight booked via KrisFlyer, or for add-on services with Scoot.
This marks the third time the minimum spend has changed in the span of two years. For clarity, here’s a summary table.
|Membership Year Ends||Min. SIA Group Spend|
|April 2021 to August 2022||S$300|
|September 2022 to March 2023||S$500|
|April 2023 onwards||S$800|
If you’re unsure of your membership year, simply check the expiry date on your card. The month refers to the month your membership year begins; if the expiry date shows 02/25, for example, your membership year runs from 1st February to 31st January each year.
Why this policy change is unfair
While UOB is perfectly entitled to adjust its T&Cs as it sees fit, I find the execution to be unfair because for some cardholders, the change comes midway through their membership year.
Basically, anyone whose card membership year began from May to September 2022 has reason to feel aggrieved, because UOB has shifted the goalposts without prior notice.
|Membership Year Begins||Membership Year Ends||Impacted?|
|April 2022 and earlier||March 2023 and earlier||No|
|May 2022||April 2023||Yes|
|June 2022||May 2023||Yes|
|July 2022||June 2023||Yes|
|August 2022||July 2023||Yes|
|September 2022||August 2023||Yes|
|October 2022 onwards||September 2023 onwards||Yes|
Here’s a simple illustration: suppose my membership year started in June 2022 (and ends May 2023). At the point my membership year began, I would have gone in with the impression that S$500 was the target to meet, and made my decisions based on that figure. Maybe it influenced my decision to pay the annual fee. Maybe it influenced my decision to use the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card for certain transactions instead of an alternative option.
Either way, the underlying basis no longer holds now that UOB says the magic number is S$800. S$300 is not a staggering increase in absolute terms, but the principle of the matter is that it’s fundamentally unfair to change the rules without prior notice.
What I find particularly disingenuous is that UOB is pretending to give a month’s notice. Think back to that SMS from earlier:
With effect from 1 November 2022, the minimum annual spend condition for Singapore Airlines Group Related Transactions charged to your KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card will be revised to S$800…
Since this SMS was sent on 1 October 2022, UOB is trying to give the impression that one month’s notice of changes has been provided.
….This revised condition will be applicable for Card Membership Year ending April 2023 onwards
But in reality, the 1 November 2022 date is meaningless since the revised terms are applicable for membership years ending April 2023 onwards.
If UOB really wanted to give one month’s notice, it would have sent out this SMS in April 2022, so that customers with membership years starting from May 2022 would have the complete facts upfront when deciding whether to renew their card or use it for their spending.
Given that UOB announced the change on 1 October 2022, it would be more fair to start the new policy for membership years ending from October 2023 onwards.
I mean, UOB certainly has no qualms about giving advance notice when it works in their favour. For their absurd miles extension perk, they sent out a notification in May 2021 about an SMS customers need to send between August 2023 to December 2024!
How do the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card bonuses work?
For those who need a quick refresher, KrisFlyer UOB Credit Cardholders who spend on dining, food delivery, online shopping & travel and transport will earn 15 KrisFlyer miles per S$5 spent, split into:
- 6 KrisFlyer miles per S$5 (1.2 mpd), credited at the end of each calendar month
- 9 KrisFlyer miles per S$5 (1.8 mpd), credited two months after the end of the membership year, provided you hit the minimum spend on SIA Group transactions
In other words, you receive 1.2 mpd upfront, and 1.8 mpd two months after your membership year ends. UOB calls the 1.8 mpd portion “Accelerated Miles”, notwithstanding the fact you need to wait up to 14 months to receive your bonus!
This delayed crediting arrangement gives rise to four problems. I’ve expounded on them in this post, but to summarise:
- You’re locked into the card, because all pending bonus miles are forfeited if you cancel.
- Reconciling bonus points will be a nightmare. It’s already hard enough to check transactions on a month to month basis. Imagine doing it for an entire year’s worth.
- Because your pending bonus miles take anywhere from 2-14 months to reach you, you’re especially exposed to devaluation risk. If Singapore Airlines announces an award chart devaluation, other cardholders can rush out to burn their miles before it happens. You can’t, because they’re in limbo.
- Your miles will age at different rates. Some will be credited each month and start their 3-year expiry countdown immediately, the rest will follow in 2-14 months
UOB will argue that this is necessary because there’s no way of knowing, at the point of transaction, whether the cardholder will go on to hit the S$500 minimum spend required for the bonus. But there surely has to be a better way of doing this, because the current mechanism holds you hostage. Cancel your card early, and lose your bonus!
UOB will be hiking the minimum SIA Group spend for KrisFlyer UOB Credit Cardholders by 60% to S$800 per membership year, for membership years ending April 2023 onwards.
Even though this isn’t a big increase in absolute terms, any cardholder whose membership year ends from May to September 2022 has reason to be upset, since UOB is changing the rules midway.
Then again, this pattern of behaviour won’t be new to anyone who’s dealt with UOB cards before. They have good cards, that’s for sure, but you need to be constantly on your guard against T&Cs gotchas like this.