Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Credit Card Review: UOB PRVI Miles

UOB Branch (United Overseas Bank)

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 2nd April 2018.

Key features

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Annual fee: $256.80/yr (first year free)
EIR/APR: 25.9%
Sign-up bonus: $80 credit*
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
* – With a minimum spend of $600 in the first 30 days of card approval date, but only if you’re one of the first to achieve it.

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Foreword

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.

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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).

Annual Fee

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 provided $50,000 of spending is achieved in the card membership year.

Sign-up bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the UOB PRVI Miles card, applicable until 30th September 2018, is nothing too exciting – an $80 cash credit. It is a typical UOB ‘promotion’. 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 1,200 cardmembers to qualify. Here are the terms:

UOB PRVI Miles sign-up bonus terms and conditions

The first (1st) one thousand and two hundred (1200) successful Applicants from 1 April – 30 September 2018, who activate (i.e. unblock) the Principal Credit Card issued pursuant to the Application and charge a minimum of S$600.00 worth of Eligible Transactions to the Principal Credit Card as captured and posted on UOB’s system within thirty (30) days from the approval date of the Principal Credit Card (“Winners”) will each qualify for S$80.00 cash credit (“Activation Gift”).

How will you know whether you qualified among the first 1,200 or not? There’s no easy way, except of course that you simply won’t receive the $80 cash credit if you didn’t qualify, but you can also call UOB to check and they will advise you.

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 September last year, the 12,000 welcome miles were conditional on being among the first 1,200 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 holder, or had a UOB credit card account that was terminated in the last 6 months, you won’t be eligible for the current sign-up bonus running until 30th September 2018.

In the past UOB have offered current and recent former customers a sign-up bonus, most recently 5,000 miles, but the same conditions were attached (i.e. you might still not have actually received it).

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, and is in addition to the $80 cash sign-up bonus you may or may not qualify for.

Earning rates

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.

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 is utter madness and 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.

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.

Other benefits

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 $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).

KaligoUOB_ad

‘PRVI Pay’

Launched in mid-2017, this option 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 us 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 about 2 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, UOB are neatly matching that exact valuation. You are ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles for 2 exactly cents each ($100 / 5,000).

Is it a good deal?

It isn’t a terrible deal, but it is the ceiling level as 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 option to have, allowing you to generate an almost unlimited number miles ‘at-cost’, subject to your credit limit of course.

We also consider this 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 generate the extra 2,000 miles needed to shift 50,000 miles across to KrisFlyer in this case.

Originally UOB ran this payment facility on a trial basis until the end of 2017, but it has now been extended indefinitely (thanks to MILEtitude for the heads-up).

The full terms and conditions can be found here.

Visa Infinite

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.

Our summary

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.

The terms of the sign-up bonus are a disappointing ‘UOB-ism’, but if you accept you might not qualify even if you hit the spending threshold, then we think you’ll still be happy with this as a basic card, without any major perks, but a great KrisFlyer miles earning rate.

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

(Cover Photo: United Overseas Bank)

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