Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Credit Card Review: Citi PremierMiles Card

Here’s our review of the Citi PremierMiles credit card issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.

Note April 2020: Newly issued Citi PremierMiles cards have now switched from the Visa network to the Mastercard network. Terms and conditions remain the same.

Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to Citi Miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 1st October 2020.

Fast Facts

CardMC2019

Annual fee: $192.60/yr (first year free)
EIR:
26.9%
Sign-up bonus:
6,400 / 26,500 miles*
Local earn rate:
1.2 miles per $1
Overseas earn rate:
2 miles per $1**
Foreign transaction fee:
3.25%
Minimum Age:
21
Minimum income:
$30,000/yr (Singaporean / PR)
Minimum income:
$42,000/yr (Foreigner)
* Subject to a minimum spend in the first 3 months

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Annual fee

The first great advantage of this card is the relatively low annual fee of $192.60 per year. Not only will that make you eligible for any sign-up bonus, but at each annual renewal 10,000 Citi Miles are credited to your account, transferable into one of 11 frequent flyer schemes (including KrisFlyer) at a 1:1 ratio.

As we value KrisFlyer miles at 1.9 cents each, those 10,000 miles are worth at least $190.00 against future redemptions, so the card is effectively almost paying for itself, even if you don’t use it much.

There is usually an option to waive the annual fee and hold this card free for the first year, but this typically means you won’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus, or will get a smaller one instead. Often it’s actually worth paying, depending on the deal offered at the time.

Sign-up bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Citi PremierMiles card is 26,500 miles provided you meet a minimum $9,000 spending in the first 3 months from card approval date (in fact you get up to the end of the calendar month, 3 full months after the month in which the card is approved).

For example, if you are approved for the card on 7th October 2020, the qualifying spend period is from that date until 31st January 2021 (three full calendar months from the end of October 2020).

Bonus miles are awarded within two months of meeting the spend criteria.

Spend-Period-Sep20

As you can see you’ll get the remainder of the month in which your card was approved plus three full calendar months thereafter to meet the spend threshold.

Pro Tip: Get approved towards the beginning of the month to give yourself almost four months to meet the spend threshold.

This 26,500 miles sign-up bonus is subject to payment of the $192.60 annual fee.

265k Jul20

Full terms and conditions for the 26,500 miles sign-up bonus are available here.

There is a different offer for those with less spending coming up, which also includes first year fee waiver. Spend S$3,000 in the same three full calendar months from card approval date and instead receive 6,400 bonus miles.

64k Jul20

Full terms and conditions for the 6,400 miles sign-up bonus are available here.

If you already hold another Citi credit card, for example the Citi Rewards or Citi Prestige, or you had a Citi credit card account which was terminated within the last 12 months and therefore don’t qualify as a ‘new’ Citi credit cardholder, there is a third alternative offer.

You can choose either from first year fee-waiver, or provided you spend S$9,000 from card approval to the end of the third full calendar month following the month card approval (as defined above):

  • 10,000 Citi Miles on approval and payment of the annual fee (S$192.60).
  • An additional 3,500 Citi Miles (13,500 miles total) and a S$100 Kaligo.com e-voucher.

Remember both bonuses are subject to meeting the S$9,000 spend in the required time, including the 10,000 Citi Miles for payment of the annual fee.

Pro Tip: If the one year anniversary of your last Citi credit card cancellation comes up partway through this promotion period, wait until a year has passed then sign up for the full 26,500 miles bonus.

Existing Jul20

Full terms and conditions for the existing Citi cardholder sign-up bonus are available here.

In all cases the standard earning rates for this card will apply for the $9,000 / $3,000 spend (as applicable) on top of the bonus miles awarded. The sign-up promotions are offered until 31st October 2020.

Earning rates

The Citi PremierMiles card earns:

  • 1.2 miles for every $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD)
  • 2 miles for every $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency)

Eligible transactions

All retail transactions made using the Citi PremierMiles card are eligible to earn Citi Miles, with the exception of:

  • Annual fees, interest charges, late payment charges, GST, cash
    advances, instalment/easy/extended/equal payment plans, preferred
    payment plans, balance transfers, cash advances, quasi-cash
    transactions, all fees charged by Citibank or third party, miscellaneous
    charges imposed by Citibank (unless otherwise stated in writing by
    Citibank)
  • Funds transfers using the card as source of funds
  • Bill payments (including via Citibank Online or via any other channel or agent)
  • Payments to educational institutions
  • Payments to government institutions and services (including but not limited to court cases, fines, bail and bonds, tax payment, postal services, parking lots and garages, intra-government purchases)
  • Payments to insurance companies (sales, underwriting, and premiums)
  • Payments to financial institutions (including banks and brokerages)
  • Payments to non-profit organizations
  • Betting or gambling (including lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, offtrack betting, and wagers at race tracks) through any channel
  • Top-ups or payment of funds to payment service providers, prepaid cards and any prepaid accounts
  • Transit-related transactions
  • Transactions performed at establishments/businesses/merchants that fall within an excluded Merchant Category or a merchant that has been excluded by the bank, as set out in www.citibank.com.sg/rwdexcl

This list may be updated from time to time, so check the Citi PremierMiles Cardmembers Agreement for the latest information.

Note that education, insurance and tax payments are specifically excluded from miles earning.

How much is a Citi Mile worth?

Anything from 0.6 cents (if you use them as a cash rebate against your statement balance, or ‘Pay with Miles’ to offset individual transactions) to 1.9 cents (if you convert them to airline miles, like KrisFlyer miles).

Clearly the 0.6 cents option is unattractive, and represents a poorer return than you would expect to achieve from many cashback cards, so we don’t recommend that.

Pay with Miles
Pay with Miles example

In this example over 13,200 Citi Miles are required to offset a transaction of $80.06. Those miles would be worth over $250 against future flight redemptions in the KrisFlyer programme.

Conversion into airline miles is the best deal, and as the name suggests is in fact the purpose of this card.

What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?

It’s the same for all 11 frequent flyer schemes which are part of the programme, $25 each time you transfer Citi Miles to airline miles (like KrisFlyer miles).

Note: Citi is increasing its transfer cost into airline partner programmes and hotel loyalty schemes to $26.75 with effect from 17th May 2020, to take account of GST.

Is there a minimum transfer amount?

Yes, since March 2017 the minimum amount of Citi Miles you can transfer into airline miles is 10,000, and they must then be in blocks of 10,000. Previously, much more flexible 500-mile block transfers were possible.

For example, if you have 99,999 Citi Miles, and you don’t have time to tick it over by making a small purchase (miles from purchases tend to reflect in your account within a few days), you’ll only be able to transfer 90,000 miles across to KrisFlyer (and will then be left with 9,999 in your Citi Miles account).

Do Citi Miles expire?

Here’s a plus – Citi Miles never expire, so unless you have an urgent or specific redemption need, there should be no harm in letting them accumulate.

How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?

The official line is “up to 5 working days”. In reality the last few times I converted, it took 24-48 hours on each occasion. That’s not a bad turnaround, especially if you are looking to jump on a flight redemption that’s currently available.

Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?

One of the best things about Citi Miles in Singapore is the wide range of transfer partners compared with other bank loyalty points.

You can transfer your miles into 11 different frequent flyer programmes (FFPs), plus into IHG points on the hotel loyalty side.

Citi Miles credit to the following loyalty schemes:
KF Logo trans

AM Logo trans

BAEC

EYtrans

TGtrans

BR

QRtrans

AFKLtrans

MHtrans

QFF

TKtrans

IHG

Citi Miles transfer at the same 1:1 ratio into all these programmes, giving you a wide range of flight redemption options including oneworld and SkyTeam carriers.

Since Citi Miles never expire and also transfer to most FFPs relatively quickly, there’s no rush to commit to a specific programme and transfer regularly. Simply transfer when you need to travel, into the scheme that works best for your preferred redemption.

Points rounding

Every eligible transaction you make using the Citi PremierMiles card is rounded down to the nearest Singapore dollar (after conversion from foreign currency if applicable), before Citi Miles are then assessed.

Example:

  • $21.49 rounds down to $21
  • $21.99 rounds down to $21

The appropriate multiplier of Citi Miles is then applied to the transaction, depending on its nature, then rounded to the nearest whole mile.

Example (regular earn rate):

  • $21 x 1.2 (local) = 25.2 Miles (rounds to 25 Miles)
  • $21 x 2.0 (overseas) = 42 Miles

Minimum spend to earn points

Since every amount you spend is rounded down to the nearest dollar before Citi Miles are accounted for, $1.00 is the minimum transaction amount in order to earn points.

Forex fee / cpm overseas

The Citi PremierMiles card has a 3.25% foreign currency transaction fee, which is among the highest on the market in Singapore.

With a relatively standard regular overseas earn rate of 2 miles per dollar, that means it’s certainly not the best card to use as it is equivalent to paying 1.71 cents per mile when spending in foreign currency.

There are better cards than that for overseas spend, and you should be looking at the BOC Elite Miles or Standard Chartered Visa Infinite for much better rates, not just in cost per mile terms but miles per dollar too.

Cost per mile on overseas credit card transactions by card
(Best to worst, March 2020)

Card Fee Miles per $ Cost per mile
Card.pngBOC EM 3.0% 3.0 1.06¢
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.pngSCVI 3.5% 3.0 1.22¢
AscendCC.pngKF Ascend 2.5% 2.0 1.36¢
Card Trans.pngUOB PRVI Miles 3.25% 2.4 1.43¢
Card.pngMaybank Horizon Visa 2.75% 2.0 1.48¢
Card.jpgOCBC Voyage 3.25% 2.3 1.49¢
HSBCviNEW2HSBC VI 2.8% 2.0 1.50¢
CardOCBC 90°N
3.25% 2.1 1.63¢
CardMC2019Citi PM
3.25% 2.0 1.71¢
Altitude Card.jpgDBS Altitude 3.25% 2.0 1.71¢
CardX Card 3.5% 2.0 1.83¢
Card 2KrisFlyer UOB 3.25% 1.2 2.86¢

Cost per mile also accounts for an additional 0.3% ‘spread’ over money changer currency rates, though this doesn’t apply to all banks and all foreign currencies, so is a worst-case scenario.

Lounge access

The Citi PremierMiles card comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership, which entitles you to two free lounge visits per year. Any subsequent visits are then charged US$32 each thereafter.

Seats Booth and Plant 2
Priority Pass gives you access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide, with 11 at Changi alone including the Plaza Premium in Terminal 1. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Note that any lounge entry with an accompanying guest will use up your second complimentary visit allowance, or be treated as an additional visit.

Citi PayAll

The Citi PremierMiles card participates in the bank’s ‘PayAll’ programme, a facility allowing you to pay a fee to use your card and still earn miles on a range of payment types that would otherwise be excluded from miles earning or not usually possible with a credit card.

PayAll Logo

At the time of writing, PayAll supports:

  • Tax payments to IRAS
  • Rent payments to your landlord in Singapore
  • Education payments to a school or tuition centre in Singapore
  • Condo Management Fees
  • Electricity payments in Singapore

Citi charges a 2% service fee for PayAll transactions, so you are ‘buying’ miles for 1.67 cents each when using your PremierMiles card at the local earn rate for these payments.

Example, for a $4,000 rental payment:

  • Total Spend: S$4,000
  • PayAll Fee (2%): S$80
  • Total Spent: S$4,080
  • Miles Earned: 4,800 (4,000 x 1.2)
  • Cost per Mile: 1.67 cents ($80 / 4,800)

Promotions for existing customers

In addition to the sign-up bonuses, Citi doesn’t forget its existing cardholders and the bank runs occasional promotions with their PremierMiles card through the year, which are sometimes too good to miss.

In July 2017, for example, they were offering 6,400 bonus miles if you spent $3,000 on the card during July and August, for an administrative fee of $58. That was an opportunity to buy the miles for 0.91 cents each.

It got better than that though, if you had some big spending to do during the period, then a $9,000 spend over the same two month period would net you 31,200 bonus miles, for an administrative fee of $238.

That’s effectively buying the miles for 0.76 cents each, an absolute no-brainer for the miles collector, as we know they are easily worth more than double that.

Most recently in January 2020, Citi launched a ‘Spend & Get’ promotion, offering 53,200 bonus miles for a spend of $14,000 with a programme fee of S$515 (buy miles at 0.97 cents each), or a lower level of 21,000 bonus miles for a spend of $7,500 with a programme fee of S$215 (buy miles at 1.02 cents each).

11A span small
53,200 miles is more than enough to fly Singapore Airlines Business Class to Cape Town or Johannesburg. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

On top of these offers, the usual 1.2 mpd (local) or 2 mpd (overseas) accrual rates for your purchases still applied, so the bonus was truly ‘on top’ of your regular earning.

Other offers with this card have included enhanced earn rates, for example:

  • December 2017: 3.5 miles per $1 on overseas spending for two months, provided you spend at least $2,500 on the card in foreign currency during the period (capped at $8,000 foreign spend).
  • September 2019: 1.5 miles per $1 on local spending for the rest of the year, with a minimum spend of $3,000 per statement month.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of promotion you can expect Citi to run for this card. Obviously we can’t guarantee they will continue to run offers like this, however it may be worth holding this card in your back pocket, as we do, just to take part in the promotions.

Other benefits

There are a few other perks with the Citi PremierMiles card, the key benefits which will be of most interest to our readers are:

  • 10 miles per $1 spend on hotel bookings at Kaligo.com. This can be a very nice miles top-up with no upper cap if you can find a competitive rate. See full T&Cs.
  • Up to 7 miles per $1 spent on hotel stays with Agoda (book by 31st March 2020 for stays until 31st December 2020). See full T&Cs.
  • Citi World Privileges, available to all Citi cardholders. These include restaurant, shopping and lifestyle benefits plus up to 10% cashback at Booking.com and 10% off hotels at Expedia.com (limited list,  but can be useful).
  • Esso and Shell fuel savings.

Our summary

An essential part of your miles earning wallet, in our opinion. Even though this card doesn’t have the best earning rates out there, the travel and hotel benefits are worth having, and the occasional opportunity to buy decent volumes of ‘cheap’ miles through Citi’s regular promotions is a significant benefit.

There are also earning rate bonuses offered from time to time.

The ability to transfer miles into several frequent flyer schemes other than KrisFlyer is also a great feature, indeed we often use this card to top up our British Airways Avios balance, which we tend to use for Cathay Pacific First and Business Class redemptions.

To top it off, the annual fee ($192.60) makes you eligible for the sign-up bonus, and then each year comes with 10,000 miles, the equivalent of buying the miles for 1.93 cents each, justifiable for many in its own right without considering any of the other perks.

CardMC2019

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Our recommendations for credit cards and other similar products on this site do not constitute financial advice.

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