Most of us are regulars through one of the four terminals at Changi Airport. You could call them terminals, but you’d be forgiven too for calling them shopping malls with gates attached.
Airport terminals are a retailer’s dream. Convincing passengers to part with their cash on their way through the airport is big business, and Changi is no exception. Just enter via the duty free shop in T4 (a test bed for the giant T5) if you have any doubt – Changi makes more money from retail each year than from aircraft landing fees (nearly 50% of their revenue in 2016).
So what is Changi Rewards?
Simply enough, it’s a loyalty scheme allowing you to earn points for your transactions at almost every retailer at Changi Airport. Whether it’s a coffee and a pastry at Starbucks, your favourite perfume or bottle of scotch in duty free, or a Cartier ring, just flash your Changi Rewards card when you pay and you’ll earn points based on the value of your transaction, and your membership tier.
How do I join?
It’s free to join the Changi Rewards scheme, you can do so online (and your membership card lives on your phone in the iChangi app), or you can have a physical card if you prefer – just pick one up at the airport when you pass through.
However you join, new members will receive a 50 points bonus on sign-up.
How many points will I earn?
There are three membership levels, basic Member status, Gold and Platinum.
Everyone starts at the Member level, earning 1 Changi Rewards point per S$1 spent. The vast majority of people will remain at that level, because progressing to Gold or Platinum requires significant spending – either S$4,000 or S$8,000 per programme membership year (1st April to 30th March).
You’d have to be doing a lot of spending (and a lot of travelling), or be picking up some big-ticket items at the airport, to achieve these tiers. If you manage it, you’ll then get 2 points per S$1 spent as a Gold member and 3 points per S$1 as Platinum.
The minimum spend is $10
If your usual spending at the airport is simply to pick up a coffee before your flight, Changi Rewards won’t be of much interest to you as the minimum spend needed to qualify for any points is $10 in a single receipt.
Pitched to become a destination in itself, JEWEL will feature a hotel and over 300 shops and restaurants when it opens next year. Located between the Changi terminals, it’s clearly designed as a place to kill time while waiting for your loved ones, or have a farewell meal with them before they depart.
We expect all of these outlets to be added to the Changi Rewards programme too.
What is a Changi Rewards point worth?
While the Gold and Platinum members of the Changi Rewards scheme will net more points for their purchases, the value of a Changi Rewards point remains fixed for everyone.
For every 500 points in your account, you are entitled to S$5 off a purchase at any participating airport retailer (almost all Changi outlets). It’s the equivalent of 1% cash-back for basic members, 2% for Gold members and 3% for Platinum members, and means the value of a Changi Rewards point is 1 cent. Premium tier members just earn them more quickly.
There are a few better-value redemptions for Changi Rewards points, for example a S$5 voucher for The Shilla Duty Free Cosmetics & Perfumes stores located in all terminals, and Shilla Beauty Loft located in T3, will set you back only 350 points, giving you a value of 1.43 cents per point, though the redemption is obviously far more restrictive.
An adult ticket to the Singapore Zoo including the tram ride is currently on offer for 1,750 Changi Rewards points, and they retail for S$36.35, giving you 2.08 cents per point value. For the full redemption catalogue – click here.
Other Changi Rewards benefits
Changi Rewards members can also take advantage of 7% savings at a number of outlets in the public areas of the Changi terminals (where otherwise 7% GST would still normally apply), a full list is provided here.
Other benefits at Changi include discounts at The Haven by JetQuay lounge in T3, which we reviewed recently, and a number of other outlets at the airport depending on your status level. We have provided a summary table later in the article.
How many KrisFlyer miles can I earn instead?
The big question for us is how Changi Rewards points convert to KrisFlyer miles, and whether that represents a better way of using them.
Unfortunately as a basic Member tier or Gold tier, you’ll need to accrue at least 1,500 Changi Rewards points to transfer into KrisFlyer miles. These convert at 3:1 ratio, giving you 500 KrisFlyer miles for each block converted, which can take up to 21 working days to credit to your KrisFlyer account.
Note that you must also have made at least 3 separate transactions on 3 separate days to be able to initiate a transfer to KrisFlyer, so you can’t just enrol, spend S$1,500 in one go, and then immediately transfer to miles.
Is it worth it?
Simple question. Not really is the simple answer. It won’t have escaped your attention that 1,500 Changi Reward points can be converted into three S$5 vouchers, giving you S$15 off a subsequent purchase at 400 Changi outlets (i.e. practically all of them).
On the other hand, 500 KrisFlyer miles are realistically only worth about S$10 (2 cents each), a third less than the vouchers.
In other words, to justify conversion of your Changi Rewards points to KrisFlyer miles you would have to consider KrisFlyer miles to be worth 3 cents each, which we think they simply aren’t.
There are, as usual, a couple of exceptions. Changi Rewards points expire – points accrued in the previous membership year (1st April to 30th March) expire on 30th June following the end of that membership year.
If you’re building up points now, for example (in the 2017/18 membership year) all those you accrue before 31st March 2018 will have to be redeemed by 30th June 2018.
All is not lost, however. Simply redeem your points for vouchers before 30th June (you can do so as e-vouchers through the app so you don’t have to physically visit Changi), and you’ll get 12 months validity from the month of redemption.
It’s hard to believe you won’t be able to use these vouchers at the airport over the next 12 months, as they can be redeemed at practically all outlets, but if you genuinely think you won’t be able to – then a transfer to KrisFlyer miles is the obvious option.
An easy top up
While you’re getting a poor rate by transferring your Changi Rewards points to KrisFlyer miles, they are a relatively easy way to top up your account by a small amount, for example if you’re working towards a specific redemption on a short timescale. Your own circumstances might make it worthwhile in that case.
Earning and Redemption Table
Here’s a table summary of the above earning and redemption levels, and other benefits, for the three tiers in the Changi Rewards programme.
|Points per S$1||1||2||3|
|Min. Transfer to KF||1,500||1,500||600|
|Transfer Ratio||3 : 1||3 : 1||3 : 1|
|7% off at Changi public areas*||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The Haven by JetQuay||15% off||15% off||1-for-1|
|Discover Singapore||10% off (min $60 spend)|
|Pandora||10% off (min $350 spend)||20% off (min $500 spend)|
|So Chocolate||10% off **|
|The Chocolatier||10% off**|
|Boina Natural||10% off|
|Cocoa & Co||10% off**|
|Taste Singapore||10% off**|
|The Cocoa Trees||10% off**|
* – selected stores, full list available here.
** – min $90 spend.
Other ways to earn Changi Rewards points
There are a few additional ways to to up your Changi Rewards balance.
The online store allowing you to pre-order your items up to 24 hours before your flight and collect them on departure, after arrival, or have the goods delivered to your home. Earn the usual Changi Rewards points based on your membership tier, plus some bonus offers are available.
Booking.com / Agoda
Earn double the usual Changi Rewards points based on your membership tier when booking hotel stays, full conditions here.
It’s one of our personal favourite ways to do this, mainly by crediting to the Citi PremierMiles card when we stay at independent hotels, or at chains where we don’t chase points or status.
If you don’t hold the Citi PremierMiles / Prestige, DBS Altitude or UOB PRVI Miles card to credit your Kaligo points to, you can also credit to KrisFlyer directly, or as we discovered to Changi Rewards instead, which often results in a better deal.
This might actually be the closest method to turning Kaligo into a decent cash back scheme – convert the points into Changi Rewards then exchange them for vouchers instead of KrisFlyer miles for better value (unless you need the miles by volume quickly, in which case transfer to KrisFlyer).
For those who pass through Changi infrequently, or seldom make any big purchases there, Changi Rewards is unlikely to be a loyalty scheme which works for you as you’ll probably not meet the minimum threshold (S$500 spending) for a voucher, or for a KrisFlyer transfer (S$1,500 spending).
Personally, I pass through the airport regularly and have had a card for 3 months now – my balance is around 650, which suggests I’ll hit about 2,600 per year. Throw in a couple of birthday and Christmas gifts and I guess 3,000 per annum is achievable for me. This would only yield 1,000 KrisFlyer miles, or $30 of vouchers. Better than nothing, but the vouchers trump the miles on value.
It’s free to join, so you won’t lose out by signing up, and there’s no need for a physical membership card for most people as you can use the iChangi app, which stores your membership card, transaction history, and any vouchers you have redeemed for instant discounts.
Just don’t spend more money at the airport for the sake of it – as the reward isn’t that valuable, and don’t bother converting to KrisFlyer miles unless you’re desperately short, or your Changi Rewards points are expiring, and you won’t use the vouchers in the next 12 months.
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)