It only takes a bit of effort and some patience, together with careful research, to accumulate the miles you need for a getaway in style. Yes you heard me right, that coveted seat in First and Business class is actually pretty accessible, provided you spare no effort channeling every single dollar spent to frequent flyer miles, through your credit cards of course. That’s not all credit cards can offer though, but I’ll save that for later.

So what then can I offer regarding credit cards that’s not already out there? I have been inspired by websites such as Milelion, One Mile at a Time, and The Points Guy, that there is so much for all of us to gain through sharing of information. Granted, you’ll still need to do your own research to find out what works best for you, but at least what you find on the web can point you in the right direction. I hope to share my personal experiences with credit cards, such as what to sign up for, and my spending strategy, in order to maximise the miles you can obtain from your credit cards. At present, I have a portfolio of 15 credit cards from DBS, UOB, Citibank, Standard Chartered, American Express, Maybank, HSBC, OCBC and ANZ.

Credit card spending can be broadly divided into 2 categories: specialised (for specific types of transactions) and general (all other transactions). In this post, I will focus on the credit cards that I personally use for the following specialised spending categories:

  1. Contactless Payments
  2. Shopping (Local and Overseas)
  3. Dining (Local and Overseas)
  4. Gas
  5. Online Transactions (Local and Foreign Currency)
  6. Travel Bookings

Best Credit Cards for Contactless Payments

You must be wondering why this is my very first consideration for at-the-counter payments: whether the merchant accepts contactless payments. Essentially, this is a pretty stringent category of spend as the transacted amount must not exceed S$100.00, and the merchant must be able to accept this mode of payment. Indeed, the following cards do not discriminate between contactless payments at shopping, dining, or any other merchant when it comes to awarding bonus miles.

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa (PPV) [up to 4 miles per dollar]

uobppv

The UOB Preferred Platinum Visa (PPV) offers 4 miles per dollar (mpd) for all Visa payWave transactions. Regardless of whether you tap your card for shopping, dining, gas, or anything for that matter, you will get 4 mpd. Do note that all other forms of contactless payments using the UOB PPV will also earn you 4 mpd, and this includes Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Andriod Pay and UOB Mighty Pay. So, just tap your way to 4 mpd! As of 3 Jul 2017, UOB has revised the cap to S$1000.00 (or UNI$2000) per month for the 4 mpd earn rate. Therefore, using this card, you can effectively earn up to 48000 miles within a year.

OCBC Titanium Rewards Card [up to 4 miles per dollar]

ocbctitanium

From now till 31 Dec 2018 4 Aug 2018, all payments made using the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card via Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay will earn you 4 mpd, up to a maximum of 48000 miles (or 120000OCBC$) for each card anniversary. Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where you have maxed out your monthly quota through tapping your UOB PPV, you can still use the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card to earn you 4 mpd when using contactless payment modes. Note that the cap of 48000 miles for this card refers to spend within each card anniversary and not the calendar year.

Best Credit Cards for Shopping

We “love” the annual Great Singapore Sale, don’t we? I actually don’t, just because I can get much better deals at the premium outlets in the US. But back to the point on local shopping, and by this I am referring to at-the-counter transactions. Just to highlight that when you shop, you must consider the merchant category. Credit card companies assign merchants with codes, or MCCs, that dictate the nature of the transaction. This is important, as the following cards do discriminate between different MCCs when it comes to award of bonus miles.

OCBC Titanium Rewards Card [up to 4 miles per dollar]

ocbctitanium

When you are shopping for clothes, shoes or bags, electronic gadgets, babies’ and children’s wear, or in any department store, using the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card will earn you 4 mpd for all shopping transactions both local and overseas, online and offline. Also, from now till 31 Dec 2018 4 Aug 2018, spend at any personal care store to earn 4 mpd as well. Note that such spending, when combined with miles earned through contactless transactions using the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card, must not exceed 48000 miles per card anniversary. You can double this cap by applying for both Blue and Pink versions of the card.

Citi Rewards Card [up to 4 miles per dollar]

image_citi_064.17_-_citi_rewards_visa_card_r1_2x_360

With this card, you’ll earn 4 mpd whenever you shop for clothes, bags or shoes, or at department stores, both online and offline, and locally or overseas. Also, valid until 31 Jul 2018, you will earn 8 mpd when you make any payments using Apple Pay. The 4 mpd earn rate is capped at 48000 miles per year, but subject to a cap of 4000 miles per month. What this means is that you will no longer be able to make large purchases on the card due to the new monthly cap introduced from 4 Oct 2018. However, just like the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card where you can apply for both Blue and Pink versions, you can double your annual cap by applying for both Visa and Mastercard versions of the card.

American Express Platinum Card [up to 7.8 miles per dollar]

amexplatinum

The only way you can earn 7.8 miles per dollar is to make purchases only at Platinum EXTRA Partners, and the full list can be found on the American Express website. All other spends will only earn you 1.25 mpd, which is far below the other cards mentioned above. That being said, the American Express Platinum Card, with its hefty annual fee, does come with loads of other perks, which I will elaborate further in future posts.

HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card [up to 4 miles per dollar]

hsbcvi

The only way you will be able to earn 4 mpd using the HSBC Visa Infinite Credit Card is if you intend to make purchases at Bang & Olufsen, Diesel, Dsquared2, Max Mara, Max&Co., TUMI, and Y-3. This list is far too limited in my opinion. All other spends will only earn you 1 mpd for the first year, and this may increase subject to certain minimum spend requirements.

Maybank World Mastercard [up to 4 miles per dollar]

worldmastercard-main

Cardholders will earn 4 mpd at T Galleria by DFS and Club 21 merchants. While I must agree that this is a somewhat limited selection, it will be useful if you have a preference for these brands.

maybank2

Best Credit Cards for Dining

Ah our favourite Singaporean past time: food. Wouldn’t it be nice to earn more miles from your dining expenditure? But then again, is there a difference between dining at a fine dining establishment, fast food outlet, food court, or even a restaurant in a hotel? You must be extra careful when deciding which credit card(s) to use when dining at these different dining establishments.

Maybank World Mastercard [up to 4 miles per dollar]

worldmastercard-main

You will be able to earn 4 mpd at all of the following restaurants, which is essentially a good deal if you love Chinese food:

maybank1

Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card [up to 3.2 miles per dollar]

maybankhorizon

Only when dining in a restaurant, using the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card will earn you 3.2 mpd. So I have been grappling with what constitutes a restaurant, given that many establishments fall in between categories, and the lines are blurred. The best answer that I got out from Maybank so far was that as long as it is ‘atas’ it should be fine. Do note that there is a minimum spend requirement of S$300.00 to earn the accelerated 3.2 mpd, otherwise you will only be getting 0.4 mpd!

OCBC Voyage Card [up to 2.3 miles per dollar]

ocbcvoyage

This card is more clear cut. You will earn 2.3 mpd for any overseas dining spend, or 1.6 mpd for any local dining spend, and this includes fast food chains and cafes. So if you’re not sure whether the restaurant that you are dining in is ‘atas’ enough, use the OCBC Voyage Card instead of the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card.

Best Credit Cards for Gas

This is one tricky spending category, since you will have to decide whether to maximise the discounts available, or to earn the most miles from your spend at the gas station. This is always a trade-off that you must make. In my opinion, notwithstanding the existing discounts available at gas stations, the following card gives the most miles for expenditure at gas stations.

Maybank World Mastercard [up to 4 miles per dollar]

worldmastercard-main

The Maybank World Mastercard will earn you 4 mpd from all gas stations islandwide. Plus, cardholders are eligible to apply for a Corporate Fuel Card that gives you up to 19.1% savings on gas, and you’ll still be able to earn 4 mpd even after applying the discount.

maybank3

Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card [up to 3.2 miles per dollar]

maybankhorizon

All spends at gas stations will earn you 3.2 mpd if you use the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card. However, try to aim to fill your tank at under $100.00 per transaction and you can earn 4 mpd using the UOB PPV payWave as mentioned above. Also note the minimum spend requirement of S$300.00 mentioned above.

Best Credit Cards for Online Transactions

Now I am personally not a big fan of shopping online (I like to try my clothes on before I buy them). But there is an increasing trend of people shopping online, given the vast number of options available, and of course the convenience. In the very rare event that I decide to shop online, the following cards should give you more bang for your buck when it comes to earning miles.

OCBC Titanium Rewards Credit Card [up to 4 miles per dollar]

ocbctitanium

As mentioned above, whether you are shopping online for clothes, shoes or bags, electronic gadgets, babies’ and children’s wear, or in any department or personal care (until 31 Dec 2018 4 Aug 2018) online store, using the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card will earn you 4 mpd for all transactions both local and overseas. Note that such online spending, when combined with miles earned through offline and contactless shopping transactions using the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card, must not exceed 48000 miles per card anniversary.

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa (PPV) [up to 4 miles per dollar]

uobppv

Only when you are making online transactions for department and retail stores, supermarkets, dining and food delivery, as well as entertainment and ticketing, use the UOB PPV and you will earn 4 mpd. As of 3 Jul 2017, UOB revised their terms and conditions regarding spending using the UOB PPV so be careful when making your online purchases.

Citi Rewards Card [up to 4 miles per dollar]

image_citi_064.17_-_citi_rewards_visa_card_r1_2x_360

With this card, you’ll earn 4 mpd whenever you shop for clothes, bags or shoes, or at department stores, both online and offline, and locally or overseas. Also, valid until 31 Jul 2018, you will earn 8 mpd when you make any payments using Apple Pay. The 4 mpd earn rate is capped at 48000 miles per year, but subject to a cap of 4000 miles per month from 4 Oct 2018.

DBS Woman’s World Mastercard

dbs wwmc

You’ll earn 4 mpd for all online transactions using this card. Unlike the other cards above, which have specific spending categories, this card is probably the most indiscriminate when it comes to spending across different online merchants. This means that you stand to earn 4 mpd from more online transactions when you use this card.

However, eligible spending that earns you 4 mpd is capped at S$2000 per calendar month, or 8000 miles. This means you could potentially earn 96000 miles per year with this card through online spending.

Oh and yes, guys can apply for this card.

Best Credit Cards for Travel Bookings

I am saving the best for last here. Travel bookings usually constitute a huge portion of my expenditure. Let’s be honest here, if I am gonna spend that much cash, I might as well do my proper research and make sure I choose the right website, together with the right credit card, to make my purchase. Also, if you are not into accumulating points from hotel chains like me, then using the cards below can help accelerate your miles earn rate considerably.

Citi Prestige Card on Kaligo [up to 12 miles per dollar]

 

Until 31 Dec 2018, earn 12 mpd when using your Citi Prestige Card for all hotel bookings on kaligo.com/citiprestige. Do bear in mind that you may be paying a premium for this accelerated earn rate, as I will explain below.

From now until 31 Jul 2018, earn 8 mpd when you use your Citibank credit cards with Apple Pay on the Expedia (US) website. For this, use your Citi Rewards card to enjoy the accelerated earn rate, as spend in foreign currency is recognised using this card for the promotion.

UOB PRVI Miles (Amex/Visa) on Expedia and Agoda [up to 6 miles per dollar]

uobprvi

Until 30 Apr 2019, all purchases made at expedia.com.sg/prvimiles will earn you 6 mpd. This includes both flights (participating airlines only) and hotels. Until 31 Dec 2018, all purchases made at agoda.com/prvimiles will also earn you 6 mpd. This applies to hotels and vacation rentals only. So, when comparing the same hotel on the same dates between Kaligo and Expedia or Agoda, you should find that you will be paying a bit more for your stay on the Kaligo site. In other words, you will have to decide whether to accept a lower earn rate of 6 mpd using your UOB PRVI Miles cards on Expedia or Agoda, or pay a bit more to be eligible for the higher earn rate of 12 mpd when using your Citi cards on Kaligo. This is a subjective call to make, and it really depends on your spending thresholds.

Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card on Agoda [up to 3.2 miles per dollar]

maybankhorizon

Earn 3.2 mpd on all purchases made at agoda.com/horizon. This is less than what you can make when using the UOB PRVI Miles cards above. So prioritise this card lower if you happen to have both cards. In addition, to my knowledge, the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card is the only card that gives 2 mpd on all bookings made at tour agencies. So if you are intending to book an all-inclusive tour, remember to use this card. When using this card for travel bookings, you should be able to satisfy the S$300.00 minimum spend requirement mentioned above to qualify for 3.2 mpd for purchases on Agoda, or 2 mpd with tour agencies.

DBS Altitude Card [up to 3 miles per dollar]

dbsaltitude1

The DBS Altitude Card only earns you 3 mpd for all online flight and hotel transactions (capped at S$5000 per month). This only works well if you are intending to make a direct transaction with airlines for flight bookings, but bear in mind the monthly cap.

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card [up to 2 miles per dollar]

amexsq

I find that the only use for this card is when making eligible purchases on all Singapore Airlines platforms, online, offline and inflight, as you will earn 2 mpd for such transactions. Otherwise, I hardly use this card at all.

Summary

The bottom line is that you must be cognisant of the nature of your spending when deciding which credit card to use. This will determine whether you get the most miles out of your credit card spend. Try your best to make every cent count towards your mile accrual strategy and you will go far. For each spend category, go for the card that gives the highest earn rate, then work your way down the list if your preferred card(s) do not qualify. I find this heuristic pretty useful.

You might have noticed that none of the cards mentioned above are cashback credit cards. This is precisely the point I wish to make: never count on cashback cards to accumulate miles, simply because they are not designed to do so. Instead, focus your efforts on the cards that matter the most when it comes to earning the miles that will find you a premium seat on your upcoming trip and beyond.

Up next: general spending with credit cards.

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