If you have not heard about the IHG Friends and Family Rate, you should definitely check it out (especially if you are not big on points and statuses). It basically gives you a (sometimes) hefty discount on IHG properties worldwide so long you know someone from the inside - the only proof you need is a voucher that you can download HERE and the employee's name. To get an example of how the rates will look like, check out Paul Gibbs's link HERE!
Honestly, I have forgotten all about this until this morning when I chanced upon the article on LoyaltyLobby who reveals that the advertised 15% discount may differ from property to property - this is sometimes what happens when you are too busy chasing points. Since IHG Points are worth relatively lesser in Singapore, this has got me wondering whether or not it is worthwhile to use the Friends and Family Rate for stays here instead.
For the purpose of this example, I have deliberately picked a random (non Public Holiday) weekend in July to include the newer IHG Properties that are opening. Here's a quick comparison of the Best Available Rate online versus the IHG Friends and Family Rate:
|IHG Property||Best Available Rate||Friends and Family Rate||Discount|
|Holiday Inn Express: Singapore Katong||S$128.00++||S$108.80++||15%|
|Holiday Inn Express: Singapore Clarke Quay||S$180.00++||S$153.00++||15%|
|Holiday Inn Express: Singapore Orchard Road||S$207.00++||S$175.95++||15%|
|Hotel Indigo: Singapore Katong||S$180.00++||S$153.00++||15%|
|Holiday Inn: Singapore Atrium||S$167.00++||S$141.95++||15%|
|Holiday Inn: Singapore Orchard City Centre||S$207.00++||S$175.95++||15%|
|Crowne Plaza: Changi Airport||S$261.00++||S$221.85++||15%|
Unfortunately for us folks in Singapore, the 15% off Advance Purchase and BAR does seem to hold true. While 15% is not a lot when you have a status to begin with, it will most definitely provide significant savings for the infrequent traveller who do not care for statuses and points. Remember the IHG Friends and Family Rate is not elite qualifying - you will not earn points from these!
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!
Using Chope is a great way to secure restaurant reservations in Singapore as well as major cities nearby like Bali, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Phuket and Shanghai. I have written about the opportunity to stack promotions on Mileslife and eligible credit cards previously and even though Chope has always allowed you to redeem Chope-Dollars for free restaurant vouchers or Chope Gift Cards, it has only added the option to redeem your Chope-Dollars for KrisFlyer miles from 10 November 2017.
While the ongoing mile accrual rate for most American Express credit cards in Singapore is not something to get excited about, they do have some of the best promotions that are run quite regularly. The American Express Singapore Airlines credit cards were introduced sometime in May 2016 and ever since then, multiple improvements have been made - you can earn up to 5.3 miles per dollar on mobile payments made on Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, you get double miles on Mileslife and now, there is the opportunity to earn up to 3.3 miles per dollar on all Uber and Grab rides with one of the American Express Singapore Airlines credit cards.
While Singaporeans have been able to use an eligible Mastercard for train and bus rides since 20 March 2017, UOB has just announced that customers using the PRVI Mastercard can now earn 1.4 miles per S$1 on all eligible rides in the Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) pilot with Land Transport Authority (LTA) and TransitLink. Even though the UOB PRVI Mastercard gives out 3.5 UNI$ per S$5, transactions in the ABT are processed and charged after a total of S$15 is spent on transit fares or after the charges have been accumulated for up to 5 days - whichever is earlier.
Following the rather controversial launch of the KrisFlyer UOB Savings Account back in April 2017, UOB has announced a brand new UOB Stash Account (essentially a savings account) which offers the opportunity to earn up to 1% p.a. interest. Account holders will essentially earn 0.05% p.a. interest on the whole account balance with the opportunity to earn a bonus interest (of up to 0.95% p.a.) if the Monthly Average Balance (MAB) is equal to or higher than the previous month.