Here’s The MileLion’s review of the AMEX HighFlyer Card (also known as the AMEX Singapore Airlines Business Credit Card), the business card for SMEs that might just trigger the entrepreneur in you.
Once upon a time, this card used to represent outrageous value:
- The first year fee was waived
- You earned miles for GrabPay top-ups
- You got an Accor Plus Explorer membership with one free hotel night
I can’t overstate what a sensational deal this was. Not only did you get a free Accor Plus Explorer membership just by signing up, you could also earn miles on GrabPay top-ups and use the balance to settle any bill payment via AXS, be it income tax, corporate tax, insurance premiums, HDB expenses or MCST fees. What’s more, those GrabPay top-ups would count towards the minimum spend for your sign-up bonus, which meant more free miles- win, win, win.
Unfortunately, the good times couldn’t last forever, and the AMEX HighFlyer Card has been progressively neutered. There’s still a case to be made for it as a “one year card” thanks to the periodic acquisition offers, but it’s not quite the magic wand it used to be.
|AMEX HighFlyer Card|
|🦁 MileLion Verdict|
|☐ Take It|
☑ Take It Or Leave It
☐ Leave It
|What do these ratings mean?|
|The AMEX HighFlyer Card might be worth a one-year punt, but otherwise isn’t quite the magic wand it used to be.|
|👍 The good||👎 The bad|
|💳 Full List of Credit Card Reviews|
Overview: AMEX HighFlyer Card
Let’s start this review by looking at the key features of the AMEX HighFlyer Card.
|Income Req.||S$30,000 p.a.||Points Validity||3 years|
|Annual Fee||S$301.80||Min. Transfer||N/A|
|Miles with |
|FCY Fee||2.95%||Transfer Fee||None|
|Local Earn||1.8 mpd||Points Pool?||N/A|
|FCY Earn||1.8 mpd||Lounge Access?||Yes|
|Special Earn||Up to 8.5 mpd on SIA tickets||Airport Limo?||No|
|Cardholder Terms and Conditions|
How much must I earn to qualify for an AMEX HighFlyer Card?
The AMEX HighFlyer Card has an annual income requirement of at least S$30,000 p.a., the MAS-mandated minimum to hold a credit card in Singapore.
The real barrier isn’t the income requirement, however. Because this is a business credit card, you’ll need a valid Unique Entity Number (UEN) to apply. This means registering your business with ACRA, be it a sole proprietorship, limited liability partnership or company.
American Express does not require a minimum turnover nor number of employees. If you’re running a home business, giving tuition or engaged in some other side hustle, registering your business with ACRA would qualify you to apply.
The S$30,000 minimum income need not come from the registered business itself. For example, I could earn S$30,000 from my day job with Company A, and have a separate side hustle with my own Company B. I could then apply for an AMEX HighFlyer Card on behalf of Company B, using my income from Company A to qualify.
How much is the AMEX HighFlyer Card’s annual fee?
|Principal Card||Supp. Card|
The AMEX HighFlyer Card has an annual fee of S$301.80 for principal cards, and S$99.92 for supplementary cards.
While the first year’s fee can no longer be waived, subsequent years’ fees are waivable, subject to approval. I’ve managed to secure fee waivers for the past two years with about S$30,000-40,000 annual spend, mostly on GrabPay top-ups and donations. However, recent data points suggest that AMEX is tightening the criteria for fee waivers, so they may not be as generous as in the past.
What sign-up bonus or gifts are available?
New AMEX HighFlyer Cardholders who submit their applications between 18 September to 3 October 2023 and receive approval before 30 November 2023 will receive S$200 eCapitaVouchers when they:
- Pay the first year’s S$301.80 annual fee
- Spend at least S$1,000 within 30 days of approval
On top of this, they will be eligible to choose from one of the following two offers:
|Offer 1||Offer 2|
|Bonus||30,000 points||Samsonite Choca Spinner 68/25|
|For avoidance of doubt, the S$1,000 spend to earn the S$200 eCapitaVouchers also counts towards the minimum spend required for Offer 1 & 2|
These bonuses are on top of the regular HighFlyer points, awarded at a rate of 1.8 HighFlyer points per S$1 (i.e. 14,400 HighFlyer points for Offer 1; 9,000 HighFlyer points for Offer 2).
There is no requirement that you be new-to-AMEX, and the offer applies even if you hold an existing AMEX consumer card. Applicants who have cancelled the AMEX HighFlyer Card previously for the same company are not eligible.
How many miles do I earn?
|🇸🇬 SGD Spend||🌎 FCY Spend||⭐ Bonus Spend|
|1.8 mpd||1.8 mpd||Up to 8.5 mpd on SIA tickets|
AMEX HighFlyer Cardholders earn:
- 1.8 HighFlyer points every S$1 spent in Singapore Dollars
- 1.8 HighFlyer points every S$1 spent in foreign currency
1 HighFlyer point is worth 1 KrisFlyer mile, so that’s an equivalent earn rate of 1.8 mpd for local and overseas spend. This makes the AMEX HighFlyer Card one of the highest-earning general spend cards on the market.
|Cards||Local MPD||FCY MPD|
|UOB PRVI Miles||1.4||2.4|
|AMEX HighFlyer Card||1.8||1.8|
|OCBC 90°N Card||1.3||2.1|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend||1.2||2.0*|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card||1.1||2.0*|
|BOC Elite Miles||1.0||2.0|
|KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card||1.2||1.2|
|*June and Dec only, otherwise 1.1 mpd|
All overseas transactions are subject to a 2.95% FCY fee.
The AMEX HighFlyer Card is marketed as earning up to 8.5 HighFlyer points per S$1 on Singapore Airlines and Scoot tickets, but this figure needs some breaking down.
You actually earn only 2.5 HighFlyer points per S$1 from the AMEX HighFlyer Card itself. The remaining 6 HighFlyer points is comprised of:
- The usual 5 HighFlyer points per S$1 awarded to all HighFlyer members
- A bonus 1 HighFlyer point per S$1 awarded to HighFlyer members with the AMEX HighFlyer Card
Moreover, note that these 6 HighFlyer points per S$1 are not awarded on tickets issued in the V or K booking classes (Economy Lite). Tickets issued in the Q or N booking classes (Economy Value) will only be eligible for 50% accrual of HighFlyer points.
HighFlyer points are not earned on award redemptions, so if you’re using the AMEX HighFlyer Card to pay for taxes and surcharges on award tickets, you’ll earn just 2.5 mpd.
When are HighFlyer points credited?
HighFlyer points are credited when your transaction posts, which generally takes 1-3 working days.
How are HighFlyer points calculated?
Here’s how you can work out the HighFlyer points earned on your AMEX HighFlyer Card.
|Local Spend||Multiply transaction by 1.8, then round to the nearest whole number|
|FCY Spend||Multiply transaction by 1.8, then round to the nearest whole number|
The minimum spend to earn points is therefore S$0.28.
If you’re an Excel geek, here’s the formulas you need to calculate points:
|Local Spend||=ROUND (X*1.8,0)|
|FCY Spend||=ROUND (X*1.8,0)|
|Where X= Amount Spent|
For the full list of formulas that banks use to calculate credit card points, do refer to these articles:
What transactions aren’t eligible for HighFlyer points?
Historically speaking, the AMEX HighFlyer Card has been very liberal with awarding points, keeping its exclusions list to a bare minimum.
Sadly, those days are now over.
a) Charges processed and billed prior to the Enrolment Date or charges prepaid on any Card Account prior to the first billing statement for that Card Account following the Enrolment Date.
b) Cash Advance and other cash services.
c) Finance charges – including Line of Credit charges and Credit Card interest charges.
d) Late payment and collection charges.
e) Tax refunds from overseas purchases.
f) Balance Transfer.
g) Instalment plans, except where American Express determines otherwise.
h) Annual membership fees.
i) Amount billed for purchase of HighFlyer Points to top-up your points balance.
j) Purchase and top-up charges for EZ-Link cards using American Express Cards.
k) Bill payments and all transactions via SingPost (e.g. SAM kiosks, mobile app, online portal) (with effect from 4 April 2023);
l) Payments to insurance companies (except payments made for insurance products purchased through American Express authorized channel) (with effect from 4 April 2023);
m) Payments to Singapore Petroleum Company Limited (SPC) service stations (with effect from 4 April 2023);
n) Payments for the purpose of GrabPay top-ups (with effect from 4 April 2023);
o) Payments to utilities merchants (with effect from 4 April 2023);
p) Payments to public/restructured hospitals, polyclinics and other public/restructured healthcare institutions and facilities (with effect from 4 April 2023);
q) Charges at merchants or establishments that are excluded by American Express at its sole discretion and notified by American Express to you from time to time.
Cardholders no longer earn points for GrabPay top-ups, utilities bills, public hospitals, or insurance premiums.
For what it’s worth, you can still earn points for private healthcare facilities, donations and education transactions, provided you can find a place that accepts AMEX and its elevated merchant fees.
What do I need to know about HighFlyer points?
|❌ Expiry||↔️ Pooling||✈️ Transfer Fee|
HighFlyer points expire after 3 years on the last day of the equivalent month in which they were earned.
For example, all HighFlyer points earned from 1-31 July 2023 would expire at 2359 hours Singapore time on 31 July 2026.
This is the only credit card which earns HighFlyer points, so pooling is not relevant.
Transfer Fees & Partners
HighFlyer points earned from the AMEX HighFlyer Card are batched and automatically transferred to your HighFlyer account once per month, on your statement closing date. No transfer fees apply.
HighFlyer points can be instantly converted to KrisFlyer miles at a 1:1 ratio, also with no transfer fees. However, some restrictions apply:
- Each HighFlyer account can only be linked to a maximum of five selected KrisFlyer accounts for the purpose of converting HighFlyer points to KrisFlyer miles
- Each HighFlyer account is only allowed to convert HighFlyer points to a maximum of 150,000 KrisFlyer miles per calendar year
- Each selected KrisFlyer account may receive a maximum of 30,000 KrisFlyer miles converted from HighFlyer points per calendar year, regardless of which HighFlyer accounts the points are converted from
In the days when GrabPay top-ups still earned points, the argument went that the 30,000 miles/year cap wasn’t a dealbreaker, because it still represented 30,000 miles/year that you couldn’t otherwise earn.
But now, it’s a little different, and I think the question is whether or not you’d even spend S$16,667 (30,000/1.8 mpd) on a general spending card like this, when you could probably put most of that on 4 mpd specialised spending cards.
What else can you do with HighFlyer Points?
In addition to KrisFlyer miles redemptions, HighFlyer Points can also be used for:
- Paying for Singapore Airlines tickets and add-ons at a rate of 1,050 HighFlyer Points= S$10
- Redeeming Scoot e-vouchers at a rate of 1,050 HighFlyer Points= S$10
- Redeeming lounge passes at a rate of 5,000 HighFlyer Points= 1 lounge pass
- Redeeming KrisFlyer Elite Gold status for a 12-month period for 150,000 HighFlyer Points
You can read the full details about each redemption option below.
Other card perks
Annual spending bonuses
AMEX HighFlyer Cardholders who spend at least S$500 on Singapore Airlines or Scoot transactions within their first membership year will receive a bonus of 5,000 HighFlyer points.
AMEX HighFlyer Cardholders who spend at least S$10,000 on Singapore Airlines or Scoot transactions within any membership year will receive a bonus of 15,000 HighFlyer points.
In other words, spending S$10,000 on Singapore Airlines or Scoot transactions would earn you:
- 20,000 bonus HighFlyer points in your first membership year
- 15,000 bonus HighFlyer points in your second and subsequent membership years
Accor Plus membership
One of the highlights of the AMEX HighFlyer Card is the free Accor Plus Explorer membership, which includes one complimentary hotel night each year at participating hotels in Singapore and across Asia Pacific.
Members also get access to the periodic Red Hot Rooms sale, which can be a good opportunity to book cheap staycation or overseas hotel rates.
The other big draw of an Accor Plus membership are the dining discounts. The discount structure works like this:
- 25% off dining: 1 member only
- 50% off dining: 1 member and 1 guest
- 33% off dining: 1 member and 2 guests
- 25% off dining: 1 member and 3 guests
- 15% off drinks in Asia
Some examples of participating Accor Plus restaurants in Singapore include Prego, Mikuni and Asian Market Café at the Fairmont, SKAI, The Stamford Brasserie, and CLOVE at Swissotel and The Cliff and Kwee Zeen at the Sofitel Sentosa Resort.
In fact, should you enjoy the benefits of an Accor Plus membership, it’s still cheaper to pay the AMEX HighFlyer Card’s annual fee instead of buying an Accor Plus Explorer membership (S$418).
For those who have already received their AMEX HighFlyer Card, here’s how to go about activating your Accor Plus membership.
AMEX HighFlyer Cardholders enjoy two complimentary lounge visits per membership year via Priority Pass. These visits can be used for the cardholder or his/her guests. Any visits beyond the complimentary entitlements will be billed at US$32 each.
Two free lounge visits is par the course for entry-level cards in this segment.
|AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend||✔|
(4 per year)
|HSBC TravelOne Card||✔|
(4 per year)
|AMEX HighFlyer Card||✔|
(2 per year)
(2 per year)
(2 per year,
Visa version only)
|AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card||✖|
|BOC Elite Miles||✖|
|KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card||✖|
|OCBC 90°N Cards||✖|
|UOB PRVI Miles||✖|
KrisFlyer Elite Gold fast track
Cardholders who spend at least S$15,000 on Singaporeair.com purchases within the first 12 months of card approval will receive an automatic upgrade to KrisFlyer Elite Gold.
This benefit is only valid for the first year; subsequently, you’ll have to requalify by flying at least 50,000 elite miles in a 12-month membership period.
KrisFlyer Elite Gold confers additional benefits when flying on Singapore Airlines or Star Alliance carriers, such as:
- A 25% bonus on KrisFlyer miles
- Lounge access
- Priority check-in
- Priority boarding
- Priority luggage handling and additional 20kg allowance
For more details on KrisFlyer Elite Gold benefits, refer to the post below.
Summary Review: AMEX HighFlyer Card
|🦁 MileLion Verdict|
|☐ Take It|
☑ Take It Or Leave It
☐ Leave It
Until recently, the AMEX HighFlyer Card was a complete no-brainer to get. Why wouldn’t you, with a first year fee waiver, complimentary Accor Plus membership, and the ability to earn free miles on income tax payments, MCST fees, insurance premiums or any other bill payable on AXS?
Now, it’s much more marginal. You’ll need to pay the first year’s annual fee, there’s no more rewards for GrabPay top-ups, and the main recurring benefit is an Accor Plus membership. Unless you really want that, then this would really be a “one year card” for most people- get the sign-up offer, enjoy the membership, then so long and thanks for all the fish.