Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Credit Card Review: Citi PremierMiles Visa

Here’s our review of the Citi PremierMiles Visa 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.

Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to Citi Miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 31st October 2018.

Key features

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Annual fee: $192.60/yr
EIR/APR: 28.0%
Sign-up bonus: 21,000 miles*
Local earn rate: 1.2 miles per $1
Overseas earn rate: 2.0 miles per $1
Bonus overseas earn rate: 2.4 miles per $1**
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income (Singaporean / PR): $30,000/yr
Minimum income (Foreigners): $42,000/yr
* – Subject to a minimum spend of $7,500 in the first 3 months. An alternative sign-up bonus also applies for existing Citi credit card holders, see below
** – 1st October 2018 to 31st December 2018

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Annual fee

One 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 (though none is currently running), but at each annual renewal 10,000 Citi Miles are credited to your account, transferable into one of 12 frequent flyer schemes (including KrisFlyer) at a 1:1 ratio.

As we value KrisFlyer miles at 2 cents each, those 10,000 points are worth at least $200.00 against future redemptions, so the card is effectively paying for itself, even if you don’t use it much.

I’ve held this card since 2013, and last year Citi waived my annual renewal fee without me asking, and still credited the 10,000 bonus miles. Can’t say fairer than that, though it can’t be guaranteed they will do this, and maybe I just got lucky.

There is an option to forgo the annual fee and hold this card free for the first year, but this means you won’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus, so we think it’s worth paying.

Sign-up bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Citi PremierMiles card is 21,000 miles provided you meet a minimum $7,500 spending in the first 3 months from card approval date (in fact up to the end of the calendar month, 3 months from the card approval date).

For example, if you are approved for the card on 12th August 2018, the qualifying spend period is from that date until 30th November 2018 (3 full calendar months from the end of August 2018).

There is also an offer for existing Citi credit card customers, who can choose either from first year fee-waiver, or:

  • 10,000 Citi Miles on approval and payment of the annual fee ($192.60).
  • An additional 4,000 Citi Miles (14,000 miles total) and a $100 Kaligo.com e-voucher, if you spend $7,500 on the card within the first 3 months.

In both cases the standard earning rates for this card will apply for the $7,500 spend on top of the bonus miles awarded. The sign-up promotion is applicable from 1st August 2018 to 31st January 2019, and you can read full details including our thoughts on the offer here.

Earning rates

The Citi PremierMiles Visa earns 1.2 miles for every $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and 2.0 miles for every $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency).

For transactions between 1st October 2018 and 31st December 2018 the overseas earn rate increases to 2.4 miles per $1.

A note about Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)

Beware the ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ (DCC) offer you’ll often experience overseas when paying with your Visa or MasterCard. It’s very common when settling your overseas hotel bill, for example, to be offered to pay in SGD instead of local currency. This is a terrible idea, because:

a) you’ll suffer financially, even after the credit card foreign exchange fee is accounted for. If you remember the SGD amount you were offered to pay, then pay in local currency instead, once the transaction appears on your credit card statement you’ll generally find they were scamming you, you’d have paid at least 2% more using DCC.

b) you will earn credit card miles at the local spend rate if you accept DCC, because the transaction will take place in SGD, not the local currency.

In other words, you’ll pay more, and lose miles. Always insist on paying in the local currency of the country you are in.

How much is a Citi Mile worth?

Anything from 0.7 cents (if you use them as a cash rebate against your statement balance) to 2.0 cents (if you convert them to airline miles, like KrisFlyer miles).

Clearly the 0.7 cents option is terrible, and represents a poorer return than you would expect to achieve from many cashback cards, so don’t do that. Conversion into airline miles is the best deal, and as the name suggests is the purpose of this card.

What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?

It’s the same for all 12 frequent flyer schemes which are part of the program, $25 each time you transfer Citi Miles to airline miles (like KrisFlyer miles).

Is there a minimum transfer amount?

Another snag is that 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 it was a much more flexible 500).

So if you have 99,999 Citi Miles, and you don’t have time to tick it over buying a quick pint of milk, you’ll only be able to transfer 90,000 miles across to KrisFlyer (and will be left with 9,999 in your Citi Miles account).

On the plus side, Citi Miles never expire and 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 two times I converted, it took 2 days both times. Not a bad turnaround.

Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?

Citi Miles can be transferred at 1:1 ratio into the following frequent flyer programs:

  • Air France / KLM (Flying Blue)
  • British Airways (Executive Club)
  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)
  • Garuda Miles
  • Malaysia Airlines (Enrich)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways (Privilege Club)
  • Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)
  • Thai (Royal Orchid Plus)

and into the following hotel loyalty programs:

  • IHG Rewards (1:1)

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:

  • 3 miles per $1 spent or 10% off hotel bookings with Expedia (limited list, but often useful)
  • 10 miles per $1 spent on hotel stays with Kaligo (this can work very well – see our article here)
  • Up to 7 miles per $1 spent on hotel stays with Agoda (book by 31st January 2019 for stays until 31st July 2019)
  • Priority Pass membership, with two free lounge visits per year, then $35 per visit thereafter
  • Citi Rebate – up to 10% rebate at selected outlets (nothing too exciting though, since Cold Storage and Giant stopped participating in 2016)
  • Esso and Shell fuel savings

Promotions

In addition to the sign-up bonuses, Citi don’t forget their existing cardholders and they run occasional promotions with their PremierMiles card, 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’s 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 (personally I helped do this by switching my rent payments to this card with CardUp), 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.

On top of these offers, the usual 1.2 miles (local) or 2.0 miles (overseas) accrual rates for your purchases still applied, so the bonus was truly ‘on top’ of your regular earning.

In December 2017 another offer was launched, this time for 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).

These are just a couple of examples of the kinds of promotion you can expect Citi to run for this card. Crucially, they hardly every apply to their other cards, like the (more expensive) Citi Prestige MasterCard, so it may be worth holding this card in your back pocket just to take part in the promotions.

Personally, I only use this card for the reasonably priced annual miles top-up, Kaligo hotel bookings, and the miles promotions on offer from time to time.

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 their regular promotions is a significant benefit. There are also earning rate bonuses 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 in its own right without considering any of the other perks.

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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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