Which credit cards have the smallest miles conversion blocks?

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From 1 mile to 10,000 miles, the minimum conversion blocks for Singapore credit cards differ greatly. Here's how to make sense of it.

Unless you’re spending on a cobrand card like the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend or KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card, you’re technically earning bank points, not airline miles. 

This means that when the time comes to redeem your miles, you’ll need to first transfer points into your frequent flyer programme, which in turn raises the question: which cards offer the smallest conversion blocks?

💳 Credit Card FAQs

What’s the minimum conversion block?

Here’s a table summarising the minimum conversion block for every points currency in Singapore. 

✈️ Min. Conversion Blocks for KrisFlyer Miles
CurrencyPointsMilesFee
AMEX Membership Rewards450250None
AMEX Membership Rewards
(Plat. Charge, Centurion)
400250None
BOC Points45K10KS$30
Citi Miles10K10KS$26.75
Citi ThankYou Points25K10KS$26.75@
DBS Points5K10KS$26.75
HSBC Points25K10KS$42.80
(annual)
Maybank TREATS25K10KS$26.75^
OCBC$25K10KS$25*
OCBC Travel$1K1KNone
OCBC VOYAGE Miles11None
SC Rewards Points
(Visa Infinite)
2.5K1KS$26.75
SC Rewards Points
(Non-Visa Infinite)
3.5K1.015KS$26.75
UOB UNI$5K10KS$25#
@ Fee waived for Citi ULTIMA cardholders
^Fee waived for Maybank Visa Infinite and World Mastercard cardholders
*Fee waived for OCBC Premier Visa Infinite cardholders
#Fee waived for UOB Visa Infinite, Visa Infinite Metal and Privilege Banking Visa Infinite cardholders

A few things to note.

Different currency, different policy

Don’t assume a bank applies the same policy across all its cards! Some banks have multiple points currencies, each with its own minimum conversion blocks. For example:

  • OCBC Titanium Rewards Cardholders transfer OCBC$ in minimum blocks of 25,000 points (10,000 miles)
  • OCBC 90°N Cardholders transfer Travel$ in minimum blocks of 1,000 points (1,000 miles)
  • OCBC VOYAGE Cardholders transfer VOYAGE Miles in minimum blocks of 1 point (1 mile)

Even if the points currency shares a common name, the minimum conversion block may vary depending on card:

  • Standard Chartered Visa Infinite and X Cardholders transfer SC Rewards Points in minimum blocks of 2,500 points (1,000 miles)
  • All other Standard Chartered cardholders transfer SC Rewards Points in minimum blocks of 3,500 points (1,015 miles)
  • AMEX Platinum Charge and Centurion Cardholders transfer Membership Rewards Points in minimum blocks of 400 points (250 miles)
  • All other AMEX cardholders transfer Membership Rewards Points in minimum blocks of 450 points (250 miles)

Points pooling

Points pooling means that points earned on different cards with a given bank can be combined and redeemed at one go.

Which banks pool credit card points?

Obviously, points pooling makes it easier to hit a minimum conversion block. For example, DBS has a minimum conversion block of 5,000 points, and pools points. If I have 2,500 points on the DBS Altitude AMEX and 2,500 points on the DBS Altitude Visa, I can redeem one block of 5,000 points.

In contrast, Citibank has a minimum conversion block of 25,000 points, and does not pool points. If I have 12,500 points on the Citi Rewards Mastercard and 12,500 points on the Citi Rewards Visa, I cannot transfer anything until I earn a further 12,500 points on either card.

The presence of pooling can also affect the minimum conversion block required. For example, since SC Rewards Points pool together, points earned on a non-Visa Infinite card (3,500 pts:1,015 miles) can be combined with points earned on a Visa Infinite card (2,500 pts:1,000 miles), and transferred at the Visa Infinite’s conversion ratio. 

In the same way, if you have an AMEX Platinum Charge (400pts:250miles) and an AMEX Platinum Reserve (450pts:250miles), you can transfer your combined Membership Rewards stash at the Platinum Charge’s conversion ratio.

Transfer fees

Transfer fees affect how practical it is to convert small blocks of points. Since the fee is the same regardless of how many points you transfer (except BOC, but we won’t talk about that), a smaller fee makes it more worthwhile to do small top-ups. 

For example, OCBC VOYAGE cardholders can transfer as little as 1 mile to KrisFlyer, with no fees. This allows for minimal wastage- transfer exactly what you need, and nothing more. 

Other loyalty programmes

The table above assumes you’re transferring points to KrisFlyer. The minimum conversion block may differ for other loyalty programmes, as summarised below:

BOC Points
  • 6,000 Asia Miles (27,000 pts)
DBS Points
  • 1,500 airasia rewards (500 pts)
  • 10,000 Asia Miles (5,000 pts)
  • 10,000 Qantas Points (5,000 pts)
Maybank TREATS
  • 5,000 Asia Miles  (12,500 pts)
  • 5,000 Enrich Miles (12,500 pts)
  • 2,000 airasia rewards (4,000 pts)

Why do smaller conversion blocks matter?

Maintain flexibility

Points conversions are one-way; once you transfer points into a frequent flyer programme, there’s no going back. 

By not transferring more points than you have to, you can keep your options open. For example, Citi Miles can be transferred not just to KrisFlyer, but British Airways Avios, Qantas points, Etihad Guest miles and seven other loyalty programmes. It’d be a shame if you dumped everything into KrisFlyer and called it a day.

Maximise validity

Your points have “two validities”: one on the bank side, and one on the airline side.

For example, AMEX Membership Rewards points never expire. Once they’re converted into KrisFlyer miles, however, they expire in three years. UOB UNI$ expire in two years, but if you max out their life before transferring them to KrisFlyer, you get a total of five years. 

Therefore, it makes sense to keep points on the bank side until they’re needed, and smaller conversion blocks help with that. 

Avoid orphan points

In the event you need to cash out your points and close your card account, smaller minimum conversion blocks help reduce orphan points. 

For example, suppose John spends S$10,000 each on the Citi PremierMiles Card and OCBC 90°N Mastercard. At an earn rate of 1.2 mpd, he will have:

  • 12,000 Citi Miles
  • 12,000 Travel$

Now suppose he wants to close both cards. Since the minimum conversion block for Citibank is 10,000 Citi Miles, he’ll have 2,000 Citi Miles leftover (known as orphan points) which can only be spent for vouchers or cash rebates at a rather poor rate. But since the minimum conversion block for OCBC is 1,000 Travel$, he can cash out his entire balance with nothing leftover.

Breaking down conversion blocks via Kris+

If you find the default conversion blocks to be too large, it’s possible to break them up by transferring points via Kris+. 

Kris+ supports instant transfers from Citi Miles/ThankYou points, DBS Points and UOB UNI$ to KrisPay miles. KrisPay miles can then be converted into KrisFlyer miles at a 1:1 ratio. 

BankTransfer RatioMin. Transfer
Read More1 Citi Mile: 0.85 miles
1 TYP: 0.34 miles
4,000 Citi Miles
10,000 TYP
Read More1 DBS Point: 1.7 miles
100 DBS Points
Read More1 UNI$: 1.7 miles
1,000 UNI$

While Kris+ transfers are free-of-charge, there is a 15% haircut compared to the number of miles you’d receive via the bank’s transfer portal (e.g. 100 DBS Points is normally worth 200 miles via the DBS Rewards portal, but only 170 miles via Kris+).

Assuming you value a mile at 1.5 cents, a S$26.75 transfer fee would be equivalent to ~1,783 miles. Therefore, your indifference point is roughly around the 10,000 miles mark. If you’re transferring more than this, it would make more sense to go via the bank’s portal.

Other ways of doing small top-ups

If you just need a small top-off your KrisFlyer account, you can consider the options below instead of transferring credit card points:

  • Earning miles from a purchase at a Kris+ merchant
  • Transferring CapitaStars, GrabRewards points or Linkpoints
  • Converting Virgin Australia Velocity points

For the full details, refer to this post.

Quick ways of topping up a KrisFlyer miles balance

Conclusion

In an ideal world, conversion blocks would be in the hundreds of miles, if not less. It was great to see OCBC break the mould by reducing transfer blocks to as little as one mile, but unfortunately, other banks don’t seem keen to follow suit.

10,000 miles is the default that the market has settled on, unless you’re willing to earn points with American Express, OCBC or Standard Chartered. It does mean more orphan points and less flexibility, but that’s just the way it is for now. 

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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Stacy

DBS Insignia also waives the conversion fee

Voyage miles silent devaluation

off topic but i’d think miles chasers ought to know: how voyage miles have changed now in that it is no longer full availability, am finding that a lot of the first class flights that are available directly from SQ website are not showing up on the travelwithOCBC portal. (try first class flights to NRT or SYD in March 2023)

Quite important to consider as OCBC used to market heavily on how it doesn’t need awards availability but now there is a bucket that is seemingly decreasing in availability.

Voyage miles silent devaluation

True they are different providers and are potentially drawing from different buckets. I have ever had Voyage Concierge book tickets which were not available on TravelwithOCBC and also vice versa bought tickets on TravelwithOCBC which Voyage Concierge insisted flight not available. In this specific case I had not asked concierge as I have not firmed up my travel plans yet.

However I find it quite disconcerting that while ample first class flights are available direct, the travel portal is returning no results.

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