Thank you, Citi, Singapore is looking sweet.

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.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Is there any way to book multi city itineraries or those including partner flights online to get the 15% discount or is that only available for Singapore metal flights?

  2. Unfortunately this is probably the end of good First/Business class availability on SQ to/from the US. It will be like LH or QF, good luck finding them.

  3. Too bad I cashed out my 3mil points over the past year. I stopped using the cards after the 5x promo ran out and cancelled my Premier. You’d think Citi would make people aware of this upcoming improvement instead of letting them jump ship.

  4. @freqchurner it’s been the MO of everyone lately. Just one day plop a bunch of changes on people Even the air mile reward charts have been giving less and less notice. I don’t expect it to get any better..most probably worse, imho.

  5. It’s all good, I’ll churn those cards yet again! I’m only bitter because I have an upcoming trip where I would have loved to burn the TY points on a suite but don’t want to waste my UR points.

  6. What about Ethihad? I thought that was another sweet spot for award booking as well as upgrades. Any expert thoughts, FM?

  7. I’m sure this has been answered elsewhere, but with the 15% discount, do you need to have the full amount and you get refunded (like Barclay Arrival miles) or could you just transfer the exact amount (85% of the award chart value) and be completely fine? Thanks

    (I just got targeted for the 150,000 amex platinum deal and am sitting on 200,000 Chase points…)

  8. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for this summary. I leave in Hawaii and my parents leave in Martinique (Caribbean). From hawaii to martinique I need to use United + Air Canada. Does that mean I can get the complete round trip for 35000 (the united flights + the air canada flight)? thanks for the confirmation.

  9. I noticed an important wrinkle with KrisFlyer miles on their website — All miles expire in 3 years regardless of account activity. If my understanding of their rules is correct, it would be unwise to build up the miles slowly in KrisFlyer account.

  10. If you are a Citi banking customer you can also earn some extra TY points from DD, BP, auto-save, having a savings account or mortgage, etc. Some of these activities are easy like moving a bill pay to your Citi account, setting up a free savings account and setting up a small auto-save amount from your checking to your savings each month. Non-CitiGold customers can easily earn 925 TY points/mo and CitiGold customers can easily earn 1,300 TY points/mo.

  11. How does it work to actually book a star alliance partner with singapore miles? I’m trying to book awards on united using krisflyer miles. The awards are showing on united’s website but the agent on singapore airlines said that they couldn’t book them. I was under the impression if there was spacing showing on united’s website for saver level awards it could be booked on singapore airlines.

    • Make sure you are logged out of your United account when you are searching. If you have a united credit card you might see space that is not bookable by partners. I had the same issue trying to make a reservation through Singapore.

    • Dina, in addition to Gaurav’s suggestion, also make sure that you’re not looking at flights on United partners that are not Star Alliance members. For example, United.com shows award space on Aer Lingus, Hawaiian Airlines and a few other partners that are not in the Star Alliance.

  12. Hey FM,

    Not specfically related to the jist of this post, BUT, a friend of mine received the 150K AMEX business card. My question, have you seen/heard of people that successfully used other individuals RSVP code for AMEX offers for themselves (my friend doesnt want to spend 15k in 3 months!)?

    • Hmm, that’s a good question. I don’t know of people doing that, but it would be worth a shot. If I were you, I’d call and tell the agent that a friend got this targeted offer, they don’t want the offer, but could they extend the offer to you? Be ready to give them the offer code.

  13. Greg, i am no expert but looking at the transfer partners listed by Citi, i could see Ethihad as a partner which i dont think any other card has except for SPG. (IHG has a horrible tfr ratio of 5:1). Whereas Singapore airlines has 3 other partners. It is very difficult to get Ethihad guest miles which will actually make it easier for upgrade to business if one has economy or upgrade to first if one has business. It would also make it easier to get award tickets with Ethihad directly using guest miles if one is short of AA miles. (Just exploring alternatives). Of course Ethihad is comparable to Singapore airlines in terms of flying experience and lack of fuel charges (not 100% sure) could help in getting better value from citi thank you points for international flights. Any thoughts?

    • I see what you mean. Singapore is a bit special in that a lot of their awards are available only for their own members, so being able to transfer to Singapore is key. I could be wrong, but I don’t think Etihad does the same. Also, in spot checking award prices for a couple of routes, Etihad doesn’t appear to be all that competitive. Still, it might be worth more investigation.

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