Here’s our review of the UOB PRVI Miles credit cards 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 KrisFlyer miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 1st November 2019.
Annual fee: $256.80/yr (first year free)
Sign-up bonus: 10,000 miles
Local earn rate: 1.4 miles per $1
Overseas earn rate: 2.4 miles per $1
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income (Singaporean/PR): $30,000/yr
Minimum income (Foreigner): $40,000/yr
UOB’s answer for the highest miles earning rate is their PRVI Miles card, which is a little more complicated than our average card review because it actually comes in three varieties – a Visa, MasterCard or American Express version.
For the sake of simplicity, where the other benefits of the PRVI Miles cards differ between card operators, we have mentioned it in this article. Otherwise if nothing is stated, you can assume all the perks apply equally to all three products (which is mostly the case anyway).
The first card membership year with PRVI Miles is free, then for subsequent years it’s charged at $256.80 per annum.
For the American Express card, the annual fee is waived on renewal provided $50,000 of spending has been achieved in the card membership year.
The current sign-up bonus for the UOB PRVI Miles card, applicable until 31st December 2019, is for 10,000 miles.
While this is a simple ‘guaranteed’ bonus for the American Express version, it is a typical UOB-style ‘promotion’ if you pick up the PRVI Miles Mastercard or Visa. That’s to say when UOB run a promotion, you shouldn’t count on getting it.
Why? Because not everyone receives the bonus, it is limited to the first 300 cardmembers to qualify for those two card types. Here are the (abbreviated) terms:
How will you know whether you qualified among the first 300 or not? There’s no easy way, except of course that you simply won’t receive the 10,000 miles if you didn’t qualify, but you can also call UOB to check and they may advise you.
Full details of the current sign-up bonus are available in our article here.
Is it always like this?
With UOB ‘promotions’, usually it is. For their most recent miles sign-up bonus for the PRVI Miles card, which ended in July 2019, the welcome miles (12,000 in that case) were conditional on being among the first 2,000 new cardholders to spend at least $4,000 within 60 calendar days from card approval date.
If you participated, you might still not get the bonus miles.
What about existing or former UOB customers?
If you are an existing UOB credit card customer, or have held a credit card account with the bank in the last six months, you are not eligible for the promotion.
Ongoing miles bonus (AMEX)
If you opt for the American Express PRVI Miles card, and spend a minimum of S$50,000 on the card in each membership year, you’ll get 20,000 bonus miles credited. This doesn’t appear to have any of UOB’s usual promotional conditions attached.
The UOB PRVI Miles cards earn 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and 2.4 miles for every $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency).
Note that for this card online transactions made in foreign currencies, but where the merchant payment gateway is in Singapore, will not be treated as overseas transactions and will earn the regular 1.4 miles per $1 spent.
|A note about Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)
Beware the ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ (DCC) offer you’ll often experience overseas when paying with your Visa or MasterCard. It’s very common when settling your overseas hotel bill, for example, to be offered to pay in SGD instead of local currency. This is a terrible idea, because:
a) you’ll suffer financially, even after the credit card foreign exchange fee is accounted for. If you remember the SGD amount you were offered to pay, then pay in local currency instead, once the transaction appears on your credit card statement you’ll generally find they were scamming you, you’d have paid at least 2% more using DCC.
b) you will earn credit card miles at the local spend rate if you accept DCC, because the transaction will take place in SGD, not the local currency.
In other words, you’ll pay more, and lose miles. Always insist on paying in the local currency of the country you are in.
Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?
No, in fact rather than being credited miles directly you’ll accrue ‘UNI$’ for your regular spending on this card. These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 1:2 ratio (so for $10,000 of local spending, you’ll net 7,000 UNI$, which can be converted to 14,000 KrisFlyer miles).
What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?
It’ll cost you $25 each time you transfer your points to KrisFlyer miles.
Auto conversion option
There is also the option to enrol in UOB’s auto miles conversion program, with payment of $50 per year. In that case your miles will be transferred automatically to KrisFlyer each month.
UNI$ will be converted at the end of each month in blocks of UNI$2,500 for 5,000 KrisFlyer miles.
A minimum balance of UNI$15,000 will remain in your account and must be maintained at all times.
That UNI$15,000 will not be auto converted to KrisFlyer miles. Only your UNI$ amount above UNI$15,000 will be automatically converted to KrisFlyer miles each month.
That means you’ll need at least UNI$17,500 in your rewards account for a transfer to take place.
If you wish to enrol in the auto conversion programme, the application form is here.
Is there a minimum transfer amount?
The minimum volume of miles you can transfer into KrisFlyer is 10,000, and they must then be in blocks of 10,000.
How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?
14 to 21 working days is the official period stated by UOB rewards, which implies that it might take over a month. If you had your eye on a redemption seat, it may be long gone by then!
Luckily the FlyerTalk forum post where KrisFlyer members share the actual number of days taken to transfer miles across from various banks, suggests that 1 to 3 days is more typical from UOB, with 7 days being the longest, much more reasonable.
Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. The same earning rate, transfer cost, and minimum transfer ‘blocks’ apply if you choose to credit to Asia Miles.
Note that the auto conversion option mentioned above does not support Asia Miles transfers.
Do UNI$ expire?
Yes, your UNI$ expire 2 years after you earn them (by quarterly period). This is a downside to the UOB card because other banks tend not to have expiry rules for their loyalty points.
The UOB PRVI Miles cards are a bit on the light side in terms of additional benefits, as you might expect with the relatively low annual fee. Some of the key benefits which will be of most interest to our readers are:
- 6 miles per $1 spent on hotel bookings with Agoda or Expedia, and on selected airline bookings with Expedia or UOB Travel.
- 10 miles per S1 spent with the above providers between 15th January 2019 and 31st January 2019. Click here to read our full article regarding this offer.
- 10 miles per $1 spent on hotel stays with Kaligo (this can work very well – see our article here).
- For American Express cards, 8 complimentary airport transfers per year (max 2 per quarter with a minimum $1,000 foreign spend on the card in the same quarter).
Launched in mid-2017, PRVI Pay is designed to allow you to use your UOB PRVI Miles card to pay bills like income tax or property tax, where credit card payment wouldn’t normally be available, and earn some extra points in the process.
In reality though, it can be used to pay for just about anything you like. That’s because UOB won’t be making the payment directly to the beneficiary, but directly to your bank account. What you then do with the money is up to you (they don’t even ask).
If you take up this offer you’ll be charged a 2% administration fee on the total amount, but in return will be awarded 1 mile per $1. Here’s an example:
- $5,000 income tax bill arrives
- Apply for $5,000 from your PRVI Miles Payment Facility
- UOB transfers $5,000 to your bank account
- UOB charges $5,100 to your credit card ($5,000 + 2% fee)
- UOB credits 2,500 UNI$ to your reward account (5,000 KrisFlyer miles)
As our regular readers will know, we value KrisFlyer miles at around 1.9 cents per mile. It’s the upper limit at which we would be willing to ‘buy’ miles, in order to be comfortable that we will achieve at least that valuation or more when redeeming them.
You’ll notice that in this offer you are ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles for 2 cents each ($100 / 5,000).
Is it a good deal?
It isn’t a terrible deal, but it is above the ceiling level at which we think anyone should be ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles, with the possible exception of a relatively small amount at the last minute to achieve a specific redemption.
If you have a Standard Chartered Visa Infinite (SCVI) card, their income tax payment deal is much better value allowing you to ‘buy’ miles at 1.1 cents each (see our review for details), however you have to show them a genuine income tax bill to get the funds.
For other bills like monthly rent, property tax and school fees (or income tax for non-SCVI holders), stick with CardUp for the payments as you’ll get your usual 1.4 miles per $1 spent for a 2.6% fee, so you’re buying the miles cheaper there at 1.86 cents per mile (see our CardUp article here for details).
However if you just need the miles and have no such bills to pay, this ‘PRVI Pay’ feature is a good fallback option to have, allowing you to generate an almost unlimited number miles, subject to your credit limit of course.
This can also be a good way of topping up your miles to the nearest 10,000 prior to making a transfer, if you need to, so that you don’t end up with a small leftover amount.
For example 24,000 UNI$ = 48,000 KrisFlyer miles, but you’d only be able to transfer 40,000 due to the transfer block rule. Asking UOB for a $2,000 payment through ‘PRVI Pay’ will cost you $40, but generates the extra 2,000 miles needed to shift 50,000 miles across to KrisFlyer in this case.
The full terms and conditions can be found here.
UOB PRVI Miles Visa cards issued on or after 1st April 2018 are no longer ‘Visa Infinite’ products, but instead fall into the ‘Visa Signature’ category. The benefits are fewer but still include Instant Hilton Honors Gold status with 2 stays or 4-nights, which was probably the nicest perk of the Visa Infinite anyway.
You’re getting a very attractive miles earning rate with this card both in Singapore and overseas, for an annual fee around half that demanded by cards like the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite (SCVI) and a much lower income requirement to boot.
While we’re big fans of the SCVI, we can’t deny these factors make the UOB PRVI Miles card a really nice option for a lot of people, who either don’t meet the SCVI income threshold or baulk at the idea of shelling out $500 a year for a credit card.
The PRVI Miles American Express version stands out with some nice additional benefits, like the 20,000 bonus miles, annual fee waiver and some airport transfers, but only if you push a decent level of spending through it each year, and accept you won’t be able to use the card everywhere.
Finally, ‘PRVI Pay’ offers a useful way of topping up your UNI$ balance for those comfortable purchasing at 2 cents per mile.
Our recommendations for credit cards and other similar products on this site do not constitute financial advice.
(Cover Photo: United Overseas Bank)