tl;dr: don’t ever, ever convert your Krisflyer miles to KrisPay miles. EVER.
Singapore Airlines introduced KrisPay yesterday, where Krisflyer members can use their miles to offset cash payments at a range of merchants in Singapore (lucky you, rest of the world).
This is how the marketing email sells it:
KrisPay is the new digital wallet that turns your KrisFlyer miles into instant purchases – right from your mobile phone, starting from as little as 15 miles. You can now use KrisPay for everyday spend such as your petrol purchases at selected Esso service stations^, M1, Challenger and many more participating merchants.
How bad is it?
It is… really bad. From the mechanism, to the conversion rate, to the redemption levels. Let’s look at them one by one.
First you will have to download the KrisPay app (I’ve downloaded it, so you don’t). The first bugger that annoyed the hell out of me was that the app can only be installed on iOS 11.0 or later. So if you are like me and detest updating iOSes unless absolutely necessary, this is already a sign of things to come.
Once you have successfully downloaded the app, you have to sign in with your KrisFlyer account.
To use KrisPay, you will need to first convert your KrisFlyer miles to KrisPay miles. This conversion is irreversible so please do not try it.
For the added touch of insult, the KrisPay miles are only valid for six months, as compared to three years for KrisFlyer miles. I suppose this is a feeble attempt for you to use up your soon-to-expire KrisFlyer miles if you are not intending to travel.
And once there, you pay by scanning a special QR code at the merchants, similar to how you will use GrabPay.
The conversion rate
The rate is absolutely dismal, where you can use 150 miles to offset S$1. That’s 0.67 cents per mile, which is an absolute waste of your miles even if you have too much.
Let me put this in context: a return business class ticket to Tokyo (saver award) will cost you 86,000 miles. What else can you do with 86,000 miles?
If you decide to buy Singapore Airlines tickets and pay with your Krisflyer miles in part, 86,000 miles will offset about S$877.55.
If you decide that your miles are not worth spending on SQ tickets (gasp!) and decide to use them on Krisshop, you can get S$688 in value.
But, if you decide to go crazy and use that on KrisPay, you will get… S$573.33.
What would you prefer, a return business class ticket to Tokyo or S$573.33?
The list of merchants
KrisPay launched with a list of 18 merchants spanning retail, food and beverages, beauty services and petrol. The upside is that they have got some pretty big names, such as Cedele, Esso and Gong Cha.
The bad side? Roll out is pretty patchy right now. For instance, KrisPay is only accepted at 23 out of 62 Esso stations, and a very tiny three out of 11 TWG outlets.
Also confusing are the specific terms and
confusions conditions for each merchant. For instance, Esso only allows KrisPay for fuel payment, M1 doesn’t allow you to use them for prepaid cards, etc. To add salt to the wound, payment by KrisPay will render you ineligible for other promotions and discounts. So for Singapore-based customers who are so used to 10-14% discounts at Esso, you can kiss that goodbye.
If you want the full list of merchants, click here.
So why KrisPay?
The loyalty proposition in Singapore has definitely heated up over the past couple of years and even airline loyalty is not spared.
While airlines traditionally built their loyalty programme around cultivating repeat customers and rewarding their repeated patronage with free flights, the landscape has evolved to the point today where it has gotten too easy to earn miles (or points).
This creates an increased uptake in redemptions, particularly on very lucrative routes, that will result in loss of revenue. Therefore it is in SQ’s interest to burn these points at the cheapest possible way while still retaining the overall attractiveness of the programme without having to slap on restrictive rules such as short lifetime of miles.
It will be interesting to see what’s the uptake on KrisPay and the actual number of miles being used. I suspect the number will not be that low after all.