While browsing the internet this morning, I realised that the loyalty program from Millennium Hotels and Resorts have been revamped - I'm not too sure whether this is a recent change or not since I do not generally stay with the chain, but it is really looking a whole lot better now! For starters, the previous M&C Loyalty Club is now known as My Millennium Club - finally, a better name! The usual Gold and Diamond has also been renamed as Premium and Elite respectively - see table below for a quick summary of name changes.
|Base-Tier Status||Mid-Tier Status||Highest-Tier Status|
|Old Loyalty Program||Classic||Gold||Diamond|
|New Loyalty Program||Club||Premium||Elite|
With the new My Millennium Club, you can now get guaranteed Club or Executive Lounge access when you reach the highest-tier of status - My Millennium Club Elite. You may get here by either spending 20 elite-qualifying night a year or through US$4,000 worth of eligible spend. Considering how Hilton HHonors require US$12,000 worth of eligible spend to hit top-tier Diamond, this is not too bad at all! Strangely enough, when you hit top-tier, you also get one complimentary room night stay at any participating hotel when you stay at 10 different participating hotels within the same membership year - quite difficult since there is limited footprint across the world as compared to a larger chain hotel!
|Qualification by Nights||N/A||8||20|
|Qualification by Spend||N/A||US$1,500||US$4,000|
|Room Spend||10 Points per US$1|
|Other Qualifying Spend||5 Points per US$1|
|Club/Executive Lounge Access||N/A||Twice a Year||Always|
|Birthday Treats and e-Concierge||N/A||Yes||Yes|
Both Premium and Elite membership are valid for twelve (12) months upon being upgraded or renewed to Premium or Elite status. According to the FAQ, Elite members will also receive 2 complimentary suite upgrades each year. Points can also be used to redeem for rooms although this is unclear at this moment.
Participating Properties in Asia:
- Copthorne King's Hotel Singapore
- Orchard Hotel Singapore
- Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore
- M hotel Singapore
- Studio M Hotel Singapore
- Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur
- Copthorne Orchid Hotel Penang
- Millennium Resort Patong Phuket
- The Heritage Hotel Manila
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.
There will be some upcoming changes to the number of IHG Rewards Club points required for a Reward Night this year. Additionally, a higher category of hotels will be introduced and these properties will be priced at 70,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night - this is 10,000 more points than the highest requirement of 60,000 points right now.
The Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Card comes with a S$588.50 annual fee that cannot be waived but it is one of the cheapest ways to purchase miles by paying for the card's annual fees. While existing cardholders have been given a fairly lackluster renewal offer, new card applicants can benefit from 35,000 miles when they pay for the annual fee - only S$16.81 for 1,000 miles! With the start of the new year, the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Card has scaled back some benefits but also started to offer a little more.
The beginning of every new year comes with a multitude of decisions that I have to make and one of them is essentially deciding the number of loyalty programs that I will endeavour to retain elite status with. The InterContinental Ambassador membership is an easy decision to make - it requires zero effort (even though I do stay in InterContinental properties throughout the year) and it simply requires USD 150 to renew each year (USD 200 for the first year). The benefits of being an InterContinental Ambassador can easily pay itself off in one stay and I highly recommend anyone with plans to stay in an InterContinental property to consider purchasing this membership.
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.
Following the revamp of the loyalty program back in late 2016, World of Hyatt has just announced that free night awards will count towards earning and retaining tier status from 01 January 2018. Previously only Points + Cash awards count towards tier status and allowing free nights to go towards this annual requirement is a much-welcomed change. Additionally, World of Hyatt is also extending the validity dates for certain free night awards from 120 days to 180 days from the date of issuance.
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.