Credit Cards, Loyalty
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A look at the UOB Krisflyer Credit Card – is it any good?

After launching the UOB Krisflyer account with some flak and tweaks down the road, UOB has most recently launched yet another co-brand card: the UOB Krisflyer credit card.

Now, UOB is only the second financial institution to launch a Krisflyer-branded card, after American Express.

The short list

  • Income requirement: S$30,000 p.a. for Singaporeans, S$40,000 p.a. for foreigners.
  • Annual fee: S$192.60, waived for first year
  • Renewal gift: 10,000 miles when annual fee is paid

Sign up bonus

The sign-up bonus is essentially in two tiers, one for all customers who apply for the card, and one for new-to-UOB customers.

For all applicants, if your card application is approved by 30 June 2019, you will receive 5,000 bonus Krisflyer miles if you spend at least $5 within the first 60 days of getting your card.

For this bonus, you will first receive 3,000 miles in your Krisflyer account within the next month after the first spend, while the remaining 2,000 miles will be posted by 31 October 2019.

If you are new to UOB (i.e. this is your first UOB credit card), you will get an additional 7,000 Krisflyer miles, or a return ticket to Bangkok, Lombok or Penang if you spend at least S$2,000 in the first 60 days of getting your card. This is on top of the 5,000 miles for all. Note that you will need to register for this promotion via SMS.

The earn rates

UOB has advertised the following earn rates:

  • 3 Krisflyer miles per dollar spent (mpd) on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot and KrisShop purchases
  • Up to 3 mpd on everyday spend, with a minimum of S$500 annual spend on Singapore Airlines Group purchases
  • 1.2 mpd on all other general spending

Well, UOB also mentions that if you have a KrisFlyer UOB account, you can earn up to 5 mpd, or 6 mpd if you credit your salary. I’m not going to go into the details, but Milelion has a very good explanation on why this is crappy.

Other perks

Of course, given that this is a co-brand card, there are no transfer fees involved to convert your UOB points to Krisflyer miles.

You will receive KrisFlyer Elite Silver status when you spend a minimum of S$5,000 on Singapore Airlines Group.

There’s also the twice-a-year $15 credit that you can use for Grab rides, as well as a twice-a-year $15 credit for wifi routers you rent from Changi Recommends.

Scoot privileges

If you book Scoot tickets through the dedicated link, you and your travelling party will receive the following perks:

  • Priority check-in and boarding with Scoot
  • Additional 5kg check-in baggage allowance, if you have purchased any check-in bags
  • Standard seat selection for you only
  • S$10 booking fee waiver for you only
  • One-time change waiver

This may be a good deal if you travel frequently on Scoot, either for leisure or (sadly) for work.

The fine print

Now for the headline that appears on about every other article published so far: you will get the bonus miles only a year later. Specifically, for the 3 miles per dollar spent on everyday spend, you will first receive base 1.2 mpd in your monthly statement. The remaining 1.8 mpd will only be awarded two months after your card anniversary, if you fulfill the minimum S$500 spend on Singapore Airlines Group.

No way to earn your bonus miles faster. In the terms and conditions, it is also explicitly stated that “Expedite of fulfillment of Award is not allowed”. If you cancel your card within the first year, tough luck — you forfeit all bonus miles.

UOB takes a broad definition of ‘everyday spend’. Everyday spend include dining (eating places, restaurants, bars and fast food restaurants), online food delivery (GrabFood, foodpanda, honestbee), online shopping, online travel and all transport cards.

All miles will be automatically credited at the end of each month to the nominated Krisflyer account. There is no conversion fee, yippee!

As with all other UOB cards, miles are earn in blocks of S$5 spend. You get the same number of miles whether you spend $5.20 or $9.80. And if you spend $4.80 in a single transaction, you don’t get a single mile.

Now the assessment

3 mpd on everyday spend is not the highest in the market, but it definitely is an attractive alternative for those who are lazy to carry multiple cards or be scrutinous on what cards to use for which transaction types.

UOB has also fortunately taken a very broad approach to the categories of merchants for each spending type, hence you do not need to worry about whether a particular you will get the full 3 mpd. For instance, under ‘dining’, bars and cafes are all included, on top of restaurants.

Some of the fringe perks, including the $15 Grab credits and $15 Changi Recommends credits for wifi routers are pretty decent.

The airline perks on the other hand is rather… lame.

First, Krisflyer Elite Silver Fast Track: if you have to spend $5,000 to get Silver, this is really nothing to be excited about. You will get 25% bonus miles, priority waitlist and standby, and some discounted service fees. Honestly, if you are like me and end up buying the cheapest economy class fare all the time which attracts 50% of mileage flown, 25% of 50% is just an additional 12.5% miles. That’s it. And also, there’s no lounge access for silver, not even a one-use pass.

$20 KrisShop rebate: I don’t get why you can only use this once a year.

$10 convenience fee waiver for Scoot bookings: While this seems pretty good, but note that they only waive it for the cardholder (i.e. you) when making a group booking. Factor in the fact that Scoot charges a $20 credit card fee (as opposed to $5 fee for AXS payments), you are effectively pay for any miles you get out of using your UOB Krisflyer card.

Final thoughts

It seems like Singapore Airlines is reserving the best perks for itself, and instead provided its partners with a range of ‘cheap perks’ in the form of Scoot privileges and discounts.

Also remember: in order to accrue miles on Krisflyer, you will also need to purchase the Perks Plus bundle so the costs eventually adds up.

What disturbs me the most is the fact that you have to wait an entire year to get your bonus miles on top of the base 1.2 mpd. I know this is probably so that UOB can calculate how much you did spend on SIA Group in order to qualify for the bonus, but this is pretty easy to overcome by requiring cardholders to spend the minimum upfront to unlock the higher earn rates.

All in all, when you look at the kind of perks they offer (i.e. mostly on Scoot) as well as some of the other perks, such as Grab vouchers in lieu of limo services, it’s very clear that this is targeted at a low- to mid-budget travellers, rather than high travel spenders.

I think there is an opportunity for UOB to launch a premium travel card to hit a segment that it has routinely missed, and given its relationship with Singapore Airlines, this might just be its perfect opportunity.

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