July 25, 2014
I’m freakin’ excited that Citbank now supports transfers of ThankYou points to airline miles. Granted, most of the transfer partners are useless, but I really like the ability to transfer to Singapore Airlines. And, I love the fact that Citi allows people to share ThankYou points with others. While other transferable points programs only allow sharing within the immediate household, Citi allows anyone to share with anyone. True, shared points need to be redeemed within 95 days, but that’s an easily handled requirement: don’t share points until you have concrete plans to use them.
Prior to this development, Singapore’s KrisFlyer program was already one of the three most polygamous loyalty programs (see “Airlines with multiple transfer partners”), but it now tops the list as the single program that is a transfer partner with all four flexible points programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and now Citi ThankYou.
All of the above means that it has suddenly become ridiculously easy to earn enough miles for almost any purpose. Singapore KrisFlyer miles can be used for Singapore Airlines flights (and you’ll save 15% of the required miles if you book online), or for any Star Alliance flights including United Airlines (but you’ll have to call to book those).
I mentioned the other day how it is possible to earn significantly more than 1 ThankYou point per dollar with various credit cards, but I also said that “The easiest option is through credit card signup bonuses.” This is even more relevant if your goal is to earn KrisFlyer miles. Here are some examples of signup bonuses available at the time of this writing that will earn points transferable to Singapore KrisFlyer miles (details of these offers can be found here):
- Chase Ink Plus: 70,000 points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 45,000 points (with addition of authorized user)
- Amex Business Gold Rewards: 50,000 points
- Amex Business Platinum card: 100,000 points (some have received targeted offers for 150,000 points!)
- Amex Platinum Mercedes-Benz card: 50,000 points
- Starwood Preferred Guest: 25,000 points
- Citi ThankYou Premier: 50,000 points (20K in year 1, 30K in year 2)
The above offers represent an absurd number of points available through signup bonuses. Each offer has its pros and cons, so I’m not recommending that you go out to get those offers (do your own research first!). Rather, I’m just pointing out how ridiculously easy it now is to earn points transferable to Singapore Airlines.
Another source of points that shouldn’t be overlooked are the “gee, I didn’t know these were special” points. Many of my friends who are not into the miles & points game (see “The game we play”), have been earning Ultimate Rewards points, ThankYou points, and Membership Rewards points for years without realizing that its possible to get much more value than redemptions for gift cards.
Using Singapore KrisFlyer miles
KrisFlyer miles can be used for regular everyday domestic flights or for round-the-world ultimate luxury (see this post, for example). One big downside is that they do charge for fuel surcharges on awards. Fortunately, their own fuel surcharges are relatively modest compared to some others (British Airways and Lufthansa are ridiculous, for example). And, not all Star Alliance airlines charge fuel surcharges, so when using KrisFlyer miles to fly those airlines your taxes and fees should be very low. Checkout this Travel Is Free guide to avoiding fuel surcharges.
For people who fly United often, but without high level elite status, Singapore is a good option for domestic awards since they have a reasonable Star Alliance award chart and very reasonable change and cancellation fees ($20 for changes, $30 for cancellations). Compared to United’s fees for general members, these prices are fantastic.
At the other end of the spectrum, KrisFlyer miles can be used to book Singapore Suites. You can actually fly in a fully enclosed suite and enjoy ridiculously over the top in-flight service. After accounting for the 15% savings for booking online, one-way prices are quite reasonable (you can find their pre-discount prices here). For example, when saver level awards are available, you could fly Los Angeles to Singapore (with a layover in Tokyo) for 91,375 miles and $327 in fees. Or, fly Los Angeles to Tokyo for 74,375 miles and $176 in fees. Or, fly JFK to Frankfurt, Germany for 57,375 miles and $222 in fees.
Pictured below is my bedroom suite when I flew from Hong Kong to San Francisco last year. Since the suites-class cabin wasn’t full, they made up my bedroom in a separate suite from my “living room.”
Another option for getting the most out of your KrisFlyer miles is to take maximum advantage of their award routing rules and zone definitions. The fact that the Caribbean and Hawaii are listed in the same zone, for example, makes it possible to do some very creative maneuvers. The Points Guy’s Jason Steele has an excellent overall guide here.