Better late than never in getting this list up! This year marks the 10th year since I first developed the habit of optimizing credit card spend to earn miles so this list is way overdue. Contrary to what many readers might expect, the overwhelming majority of the flights reviewed here come from hard-earned miles from over the years. I am not a spendthrift and do keep a close eye on my expenditures, so I’m still happy to have racked up a decent amount of miles – at least it’s enough for minimally 1 long-haul round trip flight per year. I believe that’s enough for most white-collared workers in Singapore who have enough annual leaves for perhaps 1 long trip and a few short ones.
Without further ado, these are the top credit cards in my wallet (or saved into my mobile payments) right now!
Table of Contents
For food (Tip: try to pay with paywave)
It is a cross between two cards really. Back when contactless payments weren’t the norm, I relied quite a bit on the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX card for my dining and restaurant spend. This card gives 4 miles per S$1 spend. However, it seems that UOB is not exactly offering this card anymore for new sign-ups. But fret not, there’s still another way. Whenever possible, I also try to pay for my restaurant/dining spend the contactless way using the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa (PPV). This credit card gives 4 miles per S$1 spend on contactless payments but do take note this is only valid for transactions in Singapore. For small restaurant chains, kiosks and fastfood; this is a no-brainer. Most would have their contactless card reader displayed right in front of you so all you have to do is tap. To maximize my miles, I would do this even when eating in a fine-dining / hotel restaurant. So far, I have not received any funny stares for following the restaurant staff all the way to the cash register in order to tap my phone ( I use Samsung Pay where I can stack up additional points with their own rewards platform). I still keep my UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX handy when dining overseas.
For shopping – apparel, shoes as well as department store spend
There are a few credit cards where you can earn 4 miles per S$1 on apparel/shoes/department store expenditures including the OCBC Titanium Rewards Mastercard and the Citi Rewards Visa Card but my personal preference goes to the latter simply because of the wider number of airline partners that Citibank has for redeeming miles. Most credit cards have their airline partners limited to Singapore Airlines and maybe also Cathay Pacific but with Citibank you can also redeem with Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, etc.
Again, I use Citi Rewards Card for online shopping in portals such as Lazada, EAMart, Amazon, etc. The card gives you 4 miles per S$1 for that, too. Just be careful to note that travel-related online spend such as airplane tickets and hotel bookings don’t count for 4 miles per S$1.
Travel-related online expenditures fall into a different bucket for me. I would use the DBS Women’s World Mastercard for that. In case you’re wondering, you don’t have to be female to own this card and a lot of those in the know already use this card for their travel-related spend. Just be mindful that there’s a monthly cap of S$2,000 for what will earn 4 miles per S$1. We know that air tickets tend to cost a hefty sum especially when you are booking for you and your partner / kids. Whenever I foresee that my travel spend will exceed this amount, I then split the transaction and use another card – the DBS Altitude Visa Signature – where I can earn 3 miles per S$1 for travel-related spend (including hotels).
Gadgets, phones and laptops don’t really make it into my list of frequent expenditures but whenever I find myself buying one, I end up spending S$1,000 or more so it can make sense to get the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card for that purpose. Cardholders get 4 miles per S$1 and they also provide this enhanced miles earning for apparel / department store expenses.
For everything else (including transactions below S$5)
For transactions that do not fall within the above categories or which I can’t pay using contactless methods, I use my fallback card which is the Citi Premiermiles Visa which earns 1.2 miles per S$1 spend. While other general miles cards such as UOB Prvi Miles (which earns 1.4 miles per S$1) may seem to have a higher earn rate on the surface, I still prefer using the Citi Premiermiles as it counts the spend on a per S$1 basis (means you can still earn miles for small transactions under S$5) rather than in multiples of S$5 for the UOB one and also Citi has more redemption partners. Also, the no expiring miles feature for Citi is a plus. If you don’t mind miles that expire fairly quickly (i.e. a year), you can also take a look at the BOC Elite World Mastercard which gives 1.5 miles per S$1 of local spend.
As I have not really identified one compelling card for overseas spend (most come with exorbitant FX fees or require spending S$1,000 or more per statement month), I still allocate my expenditures during trips abroad according to the above categories. The notable exception is that UOB Preferred Platinum Visa’s 4 miles per S$1 for contactless payments only stands for expenditures in Singapore. If you prefer to concentrate on just one card for your overseas spend though, you can look at the UOB Visa Signature Card which gives 4 miles per S$1 spend provided you spend a minimum of S$1,000 per statement month (up to S$2,000 per month). Alternatively, the BOC Elite World Mastercard does not require any minimum spend to earn 3 miles per S$1 but may prove difficult to apply for. In my case, I normally can’t predict how much I’d really spend during a trip so I still stick to the above categories for food, shopping, hotel, electronics, etc rather than lump everything on a single card.
What I think of cashback cards
Unlike some miles purists, I think cashback cards can still be used in parallel with miles cards. Specifically, I use my UOB One Card which gives up to 5% cashback for my rental payment or income tax bill which I’m able to pay using credit card thanks to fintech companies such as ipaymy and cardup (processing charge of just under 2% with the right promotions). To date, I can’t find any compelling miles cards to use for such payment as most of the “4 miles per S$1” cards specifically exclude these fintech companies.
What do you think of this list? Are there other cards you can recommend? Let me know!