A couple of months ago, InterContinental Hotels Groups announced the new top-tier status on their IHG Rewards Club loyalty program - the Spire Elite. This new elite status requires 75 eligible nights in a year (approximately one in five nights). Go one level down and you will find yourself at Platinum Elite which gives the following benefits:
What does Platinum Elite Status in IHG Rewards Club give Me?
Sure, a 50% bonus on top of base points and complimentary room upgrades sound amazing but since it requires 40 eligible nights (or 40,000 elite qualifying points), chances are most of us are never going to hit it (especially if you do not travel for work).
How do I purchase the Platinum Elite Status?
The question on everyone's head is obviously how on earth do you purchase this Platinum Elite status? The way you do this is a combination of two things: the InterContinental Ambassador Programme and the IHG® Dining Rewards. You HAVE TO purchase the InterContinental Ambassador Programme first then the IHG® Dining Rewards in order to get Platinum Elite - if you do it the other way around, you'll end up with just Gold Elite which is pretty ordinary.
How Much does it Cost?
The next crucial question - how much is it going to cost me? The short answer - US$464 (approx. S$660).
Members will receive the following benefits at InterContinental brand hotels:
- Guaranteed room upgrade: enjoy an immediate upgrade to a superior room* (one category higher than purchased) each time you stay.
- Fresh fruit on arrival and mineral water (water replenished daily)
- Complimentary weekend night certificate**: valid at the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts property of your choice
- 4pm late checkout
- One complimentary pay TV film per stay
- Complimentary daily newspaper
- In-room welcome gift
- Instant checkout
- A free night at any of IHG's 4,800+ hotels
- 25% off dining and beverages
- Status upgrade in IHG® Rewards Club**
- 25% off IHG's Best Flexible rate (single use)
- 10% off IHG's Best Flexible & Advance Purchase rates
- A generous dining e-Voucher, pre-loaded to your card*
- Premium local offers at individual participating hotels
Is it worth paying S$660 for a Year of Platinum Elite Status?
Possibly, but probably not. You used to be able to get a ton of hotel status matches with just the IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status but this has reduced dramatically over the years. If you do intend to stay a bit in InterContinental Hotels around the world (especially the more expensive ones), this may be money well spent but you definitely do have to weigh your options.
Hilton Honors have undergone some changes back in 2017 where members are allowed to pool their Hilton Honors Points with up to ten members for free. Come April 2018, there will once again be changes to the Hilton Honors program to reward members who stay more often with unlimited milestone bonuses. Additionally, members who hit a number of calendar nights will be able to gift Gold and Diamond status to a fellow member.
While most of us elite status-chasers do not use Expedia much (since it does not earn you elite-qualifying nights which contribute towards elite status each year), it can sometimes make sense to consider using Expedia when you are planning to stay in a property that does not belong to a greater loyalty program or one that you have no interest in. What a lot of people do not realise is that most banks in Singapore offer a discount code for hotel reservations made via a specific landing page. At the time of writing, Citibank offers the most generous discount of 15% off all participating properties where the 'Expedia Rate' is available - there is also only a one-night minimum stay for this promo code.
While it is no secret that OCBC VOYAGE Cardholders will now earn a reduced rate of 1.6 VOYAGE Miles per dollar on dining and enjoy a higher base rate of 1.2 VOYAGE Miles per dollar on all eligible retail spend charged in SGD, what a lot of people do not realise (myself included!) is that the cardholders of the OCBC Premier VOYAGE Credit Card, OCBC Premier Private Client VOYAGE Credit Card and Bank of Singapore VOYAGE Card now earn 1.6 VOYAGE Miles per dollar on all eligible retail spend - this is extremely generous as it is in line with the highly exclusive UOB Reserve Card - a credit card for UOB Privilege Reserve Clients with S$2,000,000 in deposits/investments with the bank.
As the year comes to an end, I thought that it would be interesting to reevaluate which cards to physically hold in my wallet for the year ahead. While most of the best credit cards for 2017 (in my opinion) have made it into the 2018 list, the diffusion of innovation has seen the digitisation of many credit cards as contactless payment becomes more prominent in Singapore. This is by no means an exhaustive list of credit cards to apply for (since the recommendation varies from person to person) but rather an indication to which credit cards I am holding physically and digitally for the new year ahead.
I think it fairly clear by now that I favour earning miles over cash back on any given that. Do not get me wrong though - ultimately, cash is king and if you were to offer me a million dollars or a million miles, I would simply go for the former (I think!). The only reason I pick miles over cash back is simple - there isn't a cash back in Singapore (or perhaps anywhere in the world) that offers as much value as what a miles card can give. I tend to take Uber (or Grab) quite a bit in Singapore as well as overseas and one of the questions that I often get from friends is which credit card to use for these rides. Assuming you already have an Uber (click HERE to register otherwise) and Grab account, these are the credit cards that you should probably use for the most bang for your buck (in order of recommendation).
Following the amazing opportunity to purchase 31,200 Citi Miles for S$238, Citibank is now offering Citi PremierMiles Visa Cardholders the opportunity to earn up to 3.5 Citi Miles per dollar (S$1) on all eligible foreign currency transactions charged to this card between 01 December 2017 and 31 January 2018. Registration is absolutely necessary and enrollment needs to be done before you charge the minimum sum to your credit card.
As you may already know, there is currently the opportunity to purchase Starpoints at a 35% discount. Transactions must be completed before the end of 29 December 2017 in order for SPG members to be eligible for this discount. I must have mentioned the way to get to Japan in Business Class using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles a million times but now there is actually the opportunity to get that same flight for even lesser (provided you are traveling alone).
The OCBC VOYAGE Card will be reducing the Voyage Miles (VMs) accrual rate on dining spend from 2.3 VMs per dollar to 1.6 VMs per dollar effective 01 January 2018. Cardmembers will however be able to benefit from a boost in the base earn rate - you will soon be able to earn 1.2 VMs (instead of 1.0 VMs) per dollar on all local retail transactions. Transactions charged in foreign currency will continue to earn 2.3 VMs per dollar (in equivalent SGD).
As far as the hotel industry is concerned, 2017 has been an exciting year with plenty of new hotels that has opened in Singapore over the last eleven months or so. Unfortunately, in the new couple of years ahead, this is expected to slow down even though we will probably be seeing a number of hotels going through refurbishments. The Conrad Centennial Singapore for example, is nearing the end of its refurbishment period and the new rooms are beautiful! This is my list of new hotels in Singapore that will be opening in 2018 (as well as some notable mentions for the future).
About a week ago, I saw the new Bank of China (BOC) Zaobao Credit Card and I almost choked on the water that I was drinking. This sounds almost as ludicrous as the co-branded card with Secret Recipe and Diners Club (there's one for Long Beach too!) and upon further investigation the new BOC Zaobao (which is essentially a Chinese newspaper in Singapore in case anyone was wondering) Credit Card apparently offers up to 20% cash rebates!