I have only recently lost my Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold status that I have gotten with just one qualifying stay when I paid for it using a World MasterCard. One of the things that I truly appreciated with SPG Gold was the 4PM guaranteed late checkout benefits at most properties. Last evening, I received my new Marriott Rewards Silver card in the mail and got the offer to buy back my Gold Elite status for 25,000 Marriott Rewards Points. Now that Marriott Rewards and SPG have integrated, buying back Gold Elite would also mean another year of SPG Status which I wouldn't mind at all. Also, as you may already know, there is currently a sale of up to 30% off on Starpoints purchases which you can in turn convert into Marriott Rewards Points in blocks of 1,000 at a conversion rate of 3:1.
For the sake of a fair comparison, assume that I have zero points in both accounts. Therefore there are three main options (the calculations below take into consideration the sale that is currently running on Starpoints):
- Purchase 25,000 Marriott Rewards Points - USD 312.50 (Approx. SGD 441)
- Purchase 9,000 Starpoints (27,000 Marriott Rewards Points) - USD 283.50 (Approx. SGD 400)
- Purchase 8,000 Starpoints (24,000 Marriott Rewards Points) and 1,000 Marriott Rewards Points - USD 264.50 (Approx. SGD 373)
The third option is definitely the most wallet-friendly option but you do get 2,000 leftover Marriott Rewards Points with the second option. If you were to value each block of 1,000 Marriott Rewards Points at USD 12.50, you will still end up with a total cost of USD 268.50 - the third option remains to be the most lucrative option.
With the sale of up to 30% off Starpoints that is currently running, buying above 20,000 Starpoints at one go seems to make more sense as it triggers the maximum bonus rate. So then perhaps the best way to buy back my Gold Elite status with SPG and Marriott Rewards is to purchase 28,000 Starpoints and 1,000 Marriott Rewards Points instead. That way, I can convert the 20,000 Starpoints to say, 25,000 Alaskan Airlines Mileage Plan miles (which will take me on two Business Class flight segments in Asia) and I will still have just enough Marriott Rewards Points to extend my Gold Elite status by one more year. All of that for USD 698.50 (approx. SGD 986) does not sound too shabby in this part of the world.
Citibank discontinued the 20X Rewards promotion with Amazon (which equates to 8 miles per S$1) last month and have just introduced Zalora as the newest partner for the 20X Rewards promotion - this will run until 31 October 2017. While this is definitely great for people who shop on Zalora (though I am not sure who in this day and age), it is certainly not as impressive as the Amazon promotion that was running prior to this.
While most banks in Singapore allow you to convert your points (or equivalent currency) earned from credit card spend into Airline or Hotel points, Citibank has one of the most comprehensive list of points transfer partners - I have previously counted the total number of partners to be at 12 but they have apparently removed Delta Skymiles from the list. There are currently 11 airline points transfer partners for Citibank if you hold an eligible credit card in Singapore.
Everyone must have heard of the extensive internet regulation and censorship in China and first-time travellers to this country do not always know what to do in order to get around the notorious Great Firewall of China. As I will be traveling to Beijing pretty soon, I have put together a short guide on getting around this regulation and also a number of things to take note of when you travel to China. The first thing any tech-savvy traveller would ask is about the availability of 4G SIM Cards in China. While it is definitely possible to pick one up at the airport (information seems to be rather limited on the internet) or in the city, it may save you a little hassle by settling this in Singapore before you go. Here are three alternatives to buying a SIM Card in China!
Transferring money between friends and families (or even businesses) has just gotten easier with the introduction of a new PayNow service which is now live across all seven participating banks - Citibank, DBS Bank, HSBC, Maybank, OCBC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and UOB Bank. All you need is the person's mobile number or NRIC number in order to make the transfer (limited to SGD transactions only).
The wait is finally over - Mileslife is now officially launched in Singapore to offer the opportunity to earn more miles on dining, lifestyle and travel spend. To celebrate this momentous occasion, it is offering 4X more miles (up to 20 miles per S$1) on all eligible transactions made on Mileslife. Remember these miles are accorded on top of whatever you earn from your credit cards so there is definitely a huge potential to rake up those miles for free flights on First Class and Business Class!
Uber has changed the way we get around on a day to day basis. While the train is the primary mode of transport for most Singaporeans, there are instances and occasions where a car ride makes a lot more sense because you are rushing for time or simply want a more comfortable journey. If you do use Uber on a very regular basis like me, there are a few things that you can do to save money on these rides - many of which do not require you to do much and simply take an additional second or two to save you money in the long run!
Using the right credit card that will earn you a lot of miles which you can then redeem for free flights is infinitely satisfying. While the HSBC Advance Platinum Visa Credit Card no longer offers 4 miles per dollar (it now offers up to 3.5% cashback) on local dining spend, there are various ways you can still earn a decent amount of miles when you use the right card and double-dip (or even triple-dip) with a number of other promotions! One easy way to do so in Singapore is to combine the use of Chope, Mileslife and the right credit card.
While we all know that the ANZ Travel Card has died a horrible death and that your accrued Travel$ will be converted into DBS Points, it has come to my attention recently that DBS has in fact provided a really good website detailing the upcoming changes and more importantly, what will happen to your existing points and credit card products.
As we mourned the death of various credit cards in the industry lately, I was surprised to find that the OCBC VOYAGE Card (which I covered in-depth HERE) has just been unveiled improved and enhanced travel and lifestyle benefits for cardholders. While I have previously mentioned that cardholders are already able to access a personal concierge service with the credit card, OCBC has just introduced a brand new medical triage service, enhanced travel perks, greater insurance coverage and new merchant partnerships that cardholders can take advantage of immediately.
As we bid farewell to Singapore's best credit card for miles earlier this month, the brand new HSBC Advance Credit Card while nowhere near as impressive as its predecessor, offers up to 3.5% cashback on all eligible purchases. With the proliferation of unlimited cashback cards in the market, this could be a strong contender in the cashback card market if you typically charge a fairly consistent range of expenses to your credit card each month.