Kaligo, a bit like Expedia, is a website allowing you to search and book hotels all over the world, but the key difference is that you are awarded airline miles, or credit card reward points for each booking – and sometimes quite a decent amount too. Kaligo has an extensive range of 550,000 hotels to choose from, which means they offer nearly all major hotels in the world.
At the time of writing, you can credit points from your Kaligo booking to an amazing selection of over 40 frequent flyer programs. The main ones we think will interest our readers are:
Apart from those six, the other frequent flyer programs you can credit to are:
A very extensive selection. In addition if you have any of the following credit cards issued in Singapore you can also credit points into their respective loyalty schemes too, which often works out as a better deal (more on that later):
- Citi PremierMiles Visa / AMEX
- Citi Prestige MasterCard
- Citi ULTIMA Visa
- DBS Altitude Visa or AMEX
- UOB PRVI Miles Visa / MasterCard / AMEX
How does it work?
Kaligo clearly can’t gift you airline miles from nothing, so how do they do it you might ask? Well, like similar websites Rocketmiles and Pointshound, Kaligo earns commission on each hotel booking made through its site, and is returning some of this to you as airline miles or reward points.
For the KrisFlyer scheme, you’ll get up to 12 miles per $1 spent, though the headline rate is not easy to secure – you’ll find it difficult to discover a hotel offering more than about 9 miles per $1, with most usually coming in at closer to 5 miles per $1.
That’s because the more commission Kaligo receive, the higher the miles rate they normally offer back to you. For example, here’s the result on two hotels for a booking in Hong Kong for a Friday night in January 2018, crediting to KrisFlyer miles.
A deluxe room at the Kowloon Shangri-La will set you back $443 ($485.41 including taxes), and comes with 2,550 KrisFlyer miles credit. A deluxe room at the Conrad is a similar amount, $440 ($482.84 including taxes), but only comes with 1,110 KrisFlyer miles.
Kaligo are getting a better commission for the Shangri-La rate, so they can give more of this back to you, in the form of miles.
How do I know if it’s a good or bad deal?
Now if that sounds too good to be true, there’s a drawback. Kaligo is not always the cheapest option for booking a hotel, quite often they are a little bit more expensive, and occasionally they are much more expensive than booking direct with the hotel, or through travel sites like Agoda or Expedia. For some airline and credit card reward schemes however, the number of miles awarded with Kaligo makes paying a little bit extra rather worthwhile.
Kudos to Kaligo for displaying the best prices from major sites like Expedia and Hotels.com alongside their own rate (you can see this in the screenshot above under “Compare rates”). It’s a quick way to see how much more their rate is likely to be, compared to the cheapest deal you could secure.
It all gets a lot better if you have one of these credit cards
Remember those credit cards we mentioned earlier? If you’ve forgotten, here they are:
Well here, Kaligo works slightly differently. Instead of the points awarded for your hotel stay being linked to the commission they receive, you get a flat rate of 10 miles for every $1 spent (including taxes). Most of the time, this works out a lot better than crediting to KrisFlyer directly.
Our recent booking
Here’s an example for our recent booking in South Africa. The Kaligo rate displayed was actually identical to the rate they showed for both Hotels.com and Expedia. In fact we did find a slightly cheaper rate for the same dates, via Agoda, so don’t totally rely on their best rate information – it’s still worth shopping around a bit first.
In this case as you can see the Agoda rate was $30 cheaper overall than Kaligo, for the same room type with the same cancellation terms. However the Kaligo booking earned us 11,300 Citi Miles, transferable into the same number of KrisFlyer miles, Asia Miles, BA Avios, Qatar QPoints, etc…
That’s because Citi miles can be transferred into any of these frequent flyer programs.
We usually transfer CitiMiles into KrisFlyer, which is a 1:1 conversion rate, and so here we are effectively ‘buying’ 11,300 KrisFlyer miles for $30 (0.27 cents each). Since we value KrisFlyer miles at 2 cents each, that’s a no-brainier as these 11,300 miles should easily save us $226 on future redemptions, potentially more as you can see at our how much is a KrisFlyer mile worth page.
The very least a KrisFlyer mile is worth is 1.02 cents per mile, because that’s what Singapore Airlines will give you off any full fare Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flight using their awful ‘part-pay with miles’ deal. We don’t recommend using them this way!
Even if you redeemed them for one of the even poorer value options – Scoot vouchers (and you definitely shouldn’t, so please don’t) – 11,300 miles would still be worth $102. You basically can’t lose out ‘buying’ at less than 1 cent per mile.
What if I don’t have one of those credit cards?
For our South Africa booking, Kaligo were offering 3,220 KrisFlyer miles. That’s still worth paying $30 extra for, but here you’re buying the miles for 0.93 cents each.
So it’s always better to credit to Citi / DBS / UOB rather than KrisFlyer?
Usually, but not always. Occasionally Kaligo offer bonus miles for the KrisFlyer scheme, which can work out at more than 10 miles per $1 spent at some hotels.
Remember also that if you choose to credit to KrisFlyer, you will also earn additional miles by using a miles-earning credit card to make the payment. To clarify, if you book a hotel using Kaligo with your Citi PremierMiles card using the Citi 10 miles per $1 rate, you will not receive the extra 1.2 miles per $1 for making the payment (that’s included in the 10 miles rate already).
However if you choose to credit to KrisFlyer and then pay with your Citi PremierMiles card, you’ll net an extra 1.2 points per $1 spent (into Citi Miles) for the transaction, on top of the KrisFlyer miles themselves.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that by crediting your booking to KrisFlyer the miles will be directly deposited into your account from Kaligo with no fee, whereas you will usually have to pay the transfer fee of $25 to move your credit card points into KrisFlyer.
Are there any other sites offering miles for hotel nights?
Kaligo isn’t the only site which works this way, there’s also Rocketmiles which allows credit to KrisFlyer among others, however we never seem to get as good a deal when searching there (generally it’s fewer miles, and the choice of hotels is much more limited).
Pointshound is another option, but currently they do not allow credit to KrisFlyer.
For the Hong Kong night we tested at the beginning of the article, Rocketmiles were offering 190 hotels, whereas Kaligo had 338 hotels. Rocketmiles only offered 1,000 KrisFlyer miles for Shangri-La (2,550 miles with Kaligo), and they were charging $31.55 more. Also, their rate was non-refundable, whereas the Kaligo rate was fully refundable up to 4 days prior to arrival. Rocketmiles did not offer the Conrad.
Agoda PointsMAX is another miles-earning option, and also allows credit to KrisFlyer, but again we rarely find a deal where the miles rate is better than Kaligo. For the Hong Kong Shangri-La night the only rate which came with any credit, 1,050 KrisFlyer miles, was $46.81 more than Kaligo (2,550 miles), and was non-refundable. For the Conrad it was $80.69 more than Kaligo, with 1,100 KrisFlyer miles (1,150 with Kaligo).
No Citi, DBS or UOB Card? Don’t dismiss Changi Rewards
As you can see from the following example using our Friday night in Hong Kong search, you won’t get much benefit from crediting your points to Changi Rewards instead of KrisFlyer at the Conrad. As Changi Rewards convert to KrisFlyer miles at a 3:1 ratio, it’s basically the same (3,400 points becomes 1,133 KrisFlyer miles).
For the Kowloon Shangri-La though, it’s a different story. Here you’ll net 9,700 points if you choose to credit to Changi Rewards, which would convert to 3,233 KrisFlyer miles, over 25% better than the direct to KrisFlyer rate.
Be aware though, Changi Rewards have to be transferred to KrisFlyer miles in blocks of 1,500 (each block credits 500 KrisFlyer miles), which is much less flexible. Also, they expire (points earned between 1 April and 31 March have to be redeemed by 30 June). In the worst case, if the points credited to your Changi Rewards account on 31 March, that gives you just 3 months to redeem them.
This might be useful if you are a regular Changi shopper and accumulate a good number of Changi Rewards points through the year, as the conversion block limit and points expiry will be less of an impact for you.
Having said that, in the above example if you booked the Shangri-La with credit to Changi rewards, and that was your only activity with the scheme, you could still transfer six blocks of 1,500 points to KrisFlyer (9,000 Changi Rewards points in total), netting you 3,000 KrisFlyer miles which is still 450 miles more than the direct method. If the remaining 700 Changi Rewards points in your account then went unused and expired, it wouldn’t really be a big deal.
What about my hotel status benefits?
The major drawback of Kaligo. If you’re booking a chain hotel and you hold status in their loyalty scheme, or are trying to attain or improve your status level / points balance, remember that you won’t get any points or status credits in the hotel loyalty scheme for your Kaligo booking.
This makes Kaligo more useful if you’re staying at an independent property, or at a chain you don’t bother collecting points / status with.
Some hotels will still give you your status benefits during your stay though. Arguably if you have already secured the status level you desire with a particular hotel chain, Kaligo may make more sense for your booking if the miles deal works out much better than the hotel points, provided the hotel will still honour your status perks during your stay.
As far as we know Marriott and Ritz-Carlton will honour your status benefits regardless of how you booked your room, Hyatt sometimes do and sometimes don’t, while Starwood and Hilton usually will not (though there’s still no harm in asking).
A test on three hotels in Singapore
Let’s look at a ‘staycation’ option in Singapore for two nights in January 2018 (12th-14th). We’ll check the Mandarin Oriental, the Sofitel So and, for those really splashing the cash, the Fullerton Bay.
Firstly to assess whether it’s worth using a site like Kaligo or Rocketmiles, as their prices are likely to be a bit higher, we need to check the best available rate. We used KAYAK to check what the lowest total cost would be for these two nights:
- Mandarin Oriental (Double Standard Ocean View) – $873.76
- Sofitel So (So Cosy, King Bed) – $583.79
- Fullerton Bay (Double Deluxe) – $1,320.32
Now here’s how the Kaligo and Rocketmiles prices and miles / points rewards came out:
As you can see, all three hotels can be reserved cheaper using a basic price-comparison hotel search tool like KAYAK. The Mandarin Oriental came out best here, $65.15 less than the Rocketmiles rate. For the Sofitel So, KAYAK’s cheapest rate was only $2.81 better than the Kaligo rate, and for the Fullerton Bay it was only $8.91 less.
In all cases it makes the most sense to go with Citi miles (and the same awards also apply when crediting to the other approved DBS and UOB credit cards), as these will give you by far the most miles, even though they will have to be converted across to KrisFlyer at a future date, with a $25 fee.
What if I don’t have one of those credit cards?
If you don’t have one of the credit cards, Rocketmiles had the poorest miles earning potential for these three hotels, though their rate for the Mandarin Oriental was $10 cheaper than Kaligo.
For both the Sofitel So and the Fullerton Bay, it was better to credit to Changi rewards then convert to KrisFlyer (bearing in mind the limitations we mentioned earlier in the article). Finally the direct to KrisFlyer option came out poorest, but still well worth paying the small amount extra for at these two hotels.
It is not worth going down the miles earning route at the Mandarin Oriental unless you use the Citi / DBS / UOB credit card method, as otherwise the extra cost means ‘buying’ the miles at over 3 cents each.
We really like Kaligo, and we always check their rates first once we have decided on a destination or specific hotel for a trip. If you’re really lucky, you’re getting a lot of miles for free, most of the time you’re effectively ‘buying’ them at a decent rate, but some of the time it’s just not worth it so golden rule – always shop around before committing.
Check Rocketmiles as well (Pointshound does not credit to KrisFlyer currently), to find the best deal for you, though if you have a Singapore-issued Citi PremierMiles / Prestige / ULTIMA, DBS Altitude or UOB PRVI Miles card, it’s unlikely the points will come out better than using Kaligo.
Cover Photo: Park Hyatt Saigon (Credit: Hyatt Corporation)