UPDATE: Refer to the American Express and Singapore Airlines co-brand Credit Card guide HERE for latest information!
If you hold The American Express® Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card, some (favourable and unfavourable) changes are coming your way on 01 May 2016. As a disclaimer, the following changes will only come into effect from 01 May 2016 and at the time of publishing, these changes are still inactive. Here is a summary of the upcoming changes that will come your way:
1. Spend S$15,000 on Singapore Airlines for KrisFlyer Gold Elite (Star Alliance Gold)
The first thing you will probably notice is that you are now able to "purchase" Star Alliance Gold if you spend S$15,000 on Singapore Airlines between 01 May 2016 and 30 June 2016. Do note that if you do travel on premium cabins, this S$15,000 will go towards the S$25,000 required for PPS qualification (which gives you KrisFlyer Gold Elite too!) - click HERE to read the guide on obtaining elite status on KrisFlyer (Singapore Airlines). For a limited time only, you will also earn double miles (up to 5,000 bonus miles) if you do spend S$15,000 on Singapore Airlines.
2. Earn 1.2 Miles per S$1
You will now earn 1.2 Miles per S$1 which is on par with cards like the Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card. With that being said, the bonus 300 KrisFlyer miles for every additional S$500 (above S$1,000) you spend in the same month will be discontinued. As a consolation, American Express is offering a bump in accrual rates between the months of June 2016 and December 2016 for foreign currency spend (2 miles per S$1 of equivalent foreign currency).
3. Annual Fee Increase to S$337.05
Annual Fee will increase from S$256.80 (inclusive of GST) to S$337.05.
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.
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).
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!
The Citi Rewards Card is one of the best credit cards in Singapore to hold in my opinion - it offers 4 miles per dollar on shopping expenses (this includes spend in departmental stores as well) and from time to time it partners up with a merchant to offer 20X Rewards which is equivalent to a whooping 8 miles per S$1. From now until the end of 31 December 2017, cardholders will be able to earn 8 miles per dollar on all eligible transactions made on Lazada or via the Amazon Prime Now App.
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$15 is spent on transit fares or after the charges have been accumulated for up to 5 days - whichever is earlier.
The OCBC Titanium Rewards Card is one of the best credit cards to hold in Singapore - especially if you shop for electronics, clothing or simply use mobile payments (like Apple Pay) a lot. I have previously covered the card in detail where I have also compared it to the Citi Rewards Card which is a credit card for similar purposes. There is currently a targeted opportunity to earn up to 6 miles (15 OCBC$) per SGD on the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card. The word through the grapevine is that OCBC will be extending the 10X OCBC$ on Mobile Payments (supposed to end on 30 September 2017) and they have actually included a Lounge Key Benefit in recent months.