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KrisFlyer’s new ‘vRooms’ – up to 2 cents per mile off hotels

At first glance - an awful way to use your KrisFlyer miles - valuing them at less 0.8 cents each. There are small exceptions though.

vRooms Hotel Room

Singapore Airlines launched a new way to spend your hard-earned KrisFlyer miles yesterday – called ‘vRooms’. We first noticed it on their website over the weekend in fact so we knew it was coming, but they released the info by email to members yesterday morning and the dedicated website is now live.

What is ‘vRooms’?

An online hotel and car hire booking portal where you can pay all or part of the total cost using your KrisFlyer miles.

vRooms Home.jpg
The krisflyervrooms.com homepage

It’s run by points.com under their Points Travel platform, so despite heavy branding the back end is largely independent of Singapore Airlines.

Hotels: Is it good value?

If you want to pay for your entire hotel booking using KrisFlyer miles it’s awful value.

That’s not entirely unexpected though as it’s common whenever the option exists to convert your miles into cash value against a product, like at the KrisShop (remember 265,000 miles for an iPhone?), or as money off a firm flight ticket with Singapore Airlines (1.02 cents per mile) or Scoot (0.95 cents per mile).

It won’t surprise you then that if you choose to go full whack and pay for an entire hotel stay using your KrisFlyer miles it works out in all the examples we looked at as a terrible deal – something close to 0.8 cents per mile in value.

If you part pay with miles however, especially at the lowest end where you only pay a relatively small KrisFlyer balance and cover the lion’s share with your own cash, we found some examples where the KrisFlyer miles value was actually rather acceptable.

The golden rule though it that it’s only good value at certain properties if you use it to pay the minimum number of miles on a hotel booking, then pay the remainder in cash.

Hotel examples

For each hotel booking made through vRooms you have 10 part-payment options where you’ll contribute increasing levels of KrisFlyer miles and decreasing amounts of cash towards the booking. It works on a sliding scale as shown below.

vRooms Scale.jpg

Finally the 11th option is to pay fully using miles with no cash element. As we’ve already alluded to above, don’t do this.

Here are five examples where we genuinely picked random hotels in random cities on random dates to check how the value of your KrisFlyer miles differs when using them for hotel bookings through vRooms.

To make the valuation we compared with the cheapest online rate available for these properties, either directly with the hotel or through an online travel agent (OTA) like Expedia or Agoda.

Singapore

A 2-night ‘staycation’ next weekend.

  • Hotel: Andaz Singapore
  • Dates: 25th – 27th May 2018 (2 nights)
  • Room Type: 1 King Bed, non-refundable
Andaz Singapore.jpg
Andaz Singapore
(Photo: agoda.com)
Best Online Rate Source
S$753.28 agoda.com

KrisFlyer vRooms payment options:

Cash Miles Saving Value per mile
S$700.08 2,700 S$53.20 2.0¢
S$630.07 11,500 S$123.21 1.1¢
S$560.06 20,200 S$193.22 1.0¢
S$490.06 29,000 S$263.22 0.9¢
S$420.05 37,700 S$333.23 0.9¢
S$350.04 46,500 S$403.24 0.9¢
S$280.03 55,200 S$473.25 0.9¢
S$210.02 64,000 S$543.26 0.8¢
S$140.02 72,700 S$613.26 0.8¢
S$70.01 81,500 S$683.27 0.8¢
90,200 S$753.28 0.8¢

London

A mid-week 1-night stay in London in November.

  • Hotel: Crowne Plaza Kings Cross
  • Dates: 13th – 14th November 2018 (1 night)
  • Room Type: 1 Double Bed, non-refundable
Crowne Plaza London Kings Cross.jpg
Crowne Plaza London Kings Cross
(Photo: agoda.com)
Best Online Rate Source
S$319.38 Crowne Plaza Website

KrisFlyer vRooms payment options:

Cash Miles Saving Value per mile
S$299.52 1,700 S$19.86 1.2¢
S$269.57 5,500 S$49.81 0.9¢
S$239.62 9,200 S$79.76 0.9¢
S$209.66 13,000 S$109.72 0.8¢
S$179.71 16,700 S$139.67 0.8¢
S$149.76 20,400 S$169.62 0.8¢
S$119.81 24,200 S$199.57 0.8¢
S$89.86 27,900 S$229.52 0.8¢
S$59.90 31,700 S$259.48 0.8¢
S$29.95 35,400 S$289.43 0.8¢
39,200 S$319.38 0.8¢

Perth

A 4-night stay in Perth, Australia in August.

  • Hotel: Mercure Perth
  • Dates: 15th – 19th August 2018 (4 nights)
  • Room Type: Standard Room, non-refundable
Mercure Perth.jpg
Mercure Perth
(Photo: agoda.com)
Best Online Rate Source
S$584.50 Accor Hotels

KrisFlyer vRooms payment options:

Cash Miles Saving Value per mile
S$531.02 2,700 S$53.48 2.0¢
S$477.91 9,300 S$106.59 1.1¢
S$424.81 15,900 S$159.69 1.0¢
S$371.71 22,600 S$212.79 0.9¢
S$318.61 29,200 S$265.89 0.9¢
S$265.51 35,900 S$318.99 0.9¢
S$212.41 42,500 S$372.09 0.9¢
S$159.30 49,100 S$425.20 0.9¢
S$106.20 55,800 S$478.30 0.9¢
S$53.10 62,400 S$531.40 0.9¢
69,000 S$584.50 0.8¢

As you can see in both the Singapore and Perth examples it’s not a terrible deal to use your KrisFlyer miles at 2 cents value each to bring the price down to a slightly more palatable level. Beyond that though it gets much worse and in the London example it wasn’t worth using KrisFlyer miles at all with a maximum value of 1.2 cents.

In a couple of other examples – Los Angeles and the Maldives, we found a much poorer situation. By virtue of the best available rate being better than the points.com rate the value per mile was actually worse if you started at the base level then increased towards the (still awful) 0.8 cents per mile valuation for a full miles redemption.

See below.

Los Angeles

A 2-night weekend stay.

  • Hotel: Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown
  • Dates: 7th – 9th September 2018 (2 nights)
  • Room Type: Standard Room, refundable until 48h before
InterCon LA Downtown.jpg
Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown
(Photo: agoda.com)
Best Online Rate Source
S$804.62 Intercontinental Website

KrisFlyer vRooms payment options:

Cash Miles Saving Value per mile
S$794.65 2,700 S$9.97 0.4¢
S$715.19 12,600 S$89.43 0.7¢
S$635.72 22,600 S$168.90 0.7¢
S$556.26 32,500 S$248.36 0.8¢
S$476.79 42,400 S$327.83 0.8¢
S$397.33 52,400 S$407.29 0.8¢
S$317.86 62,300 S$486.76 0.8¢
S$238.40 72,200 S$566.22 0.8¢
S$158.93 82,200 S$645.69 0.8¢
S$79.47 92,100 S$725.15 0.8¢
102,000 S$804.62 0.8¢

Maldives

A 5-night stay in the Maldives in January

  • Hotel: Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
  • Dates: 7th – 12th January 2018 (5 nights)
  • Room Type: Sunrise Overwater Suite, non refundable
Anantara Dhigu Maldives.jpg
Anantara Dhigu Maldives
(Photo: agoda.com)
Best Online Rate Source
S$8,255.77 Anantara Website

KrisFlyer vRooms payment options:

Cash Miles Saving Value per mile
S$7,983.47 49,000 S$272.30 0.6¢
S$7,185.13 148,800 S$1,070.64 0.7¢
S$6,386.78 248,600 S$1,868.99 0.8¢
S$5,588.43 348,400 S$2,667.34 0.8¢
S$4,790.08 448,200 S$3,465.69 0.8¢
S$3,991.74 548,000 S$4,264.03 0.8¢
S$3,193.39 647,700 S$5,062.38 0.8¢
S$2,395.04 747,500 S$5,860.73 0.8¢
S$1,596.69 847,300 S$6,659.08 0.8¢
S$798.35 947,100 S$7,457.42 0.8¢
1,046,900 S$8,255.77 0.8¢

Hotel loyalty and status

Remember if you’re booking a chain hotel you won’t get any points or status credits in the hotel loyalty scheme for your vRooms booking.

This makes vRooms more useful if you’re staying at an independent property, or at a chain you don’t bother collecting points / status with.

Some hotels will still honour your status benefits during your stay though (Marriott and Ritz-Carlton generally do).

Arguably if you have already secured the status level you desire with a particular hotel chain, vRooms may make more sense for your booking if the discount from using a small number of miles works out much better than the hotel points, provided the hotel will still honour your status perks during your stay.

Even at 2 cents value per mile though, that’s unlikely.

Hotels summary

For most hotels the value of your miles gets progressively worse as you use more. In fact where the value is good to start with it very quickly gets quite bad as soon as you move away from the base level minimum miles option.

That’s because vRooms is giving you 0.8 cents per mile for the incremental increases as you move that sliding scale each time – so what may have been a good miles value quickly diminishes and as you can see at the far end where you pay pure miles and no cash it’s a common theme in all these examples – that awful 0.8 cents per mile we talked about above.

It probably relates to points.com, who provide the backend pricing and booking for this service, being willing to trade off their commission on these properties to encourage you to spend miles – meaning the first stage sometimes makes sense (competitive base rate) but then becomes worse value as you use more miles.

Stick to the minimum miles level and you might get a good deal – just remember to thoroughly research the best rate for your chosen hotel through their own site, OTAs and consider miles-earning sites like Kaligo and Rocketmiles before making your decision.

Car rental

We took a look at some of the car rental options on vRooms too. They partner with some of the major brands like Avis, Budget and Hertz (though having never had a good experience anywhere in the world hiring a car – to us they are all scam artists, ‘major brand’ or not).

Here it’s all bad value – an abysmal 0.7 – 0.8 cents per KrisFlyer mile for using those choosing to pay in full to pay for their reservation, the best we found being 0.9 cents to part pay at the base level.

In one example you were actually paying more at the base level for the rental than the website rate, while still parting a chunk of KrisFlyer miles giving them negative value.

San Francisco (Avis)

A 2-day ‘Intermediate SUV’ rental

  • Location: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Dates: 14th – 16th July 2018 (2 days)
  • Vehicle: Ford Escape or similar
Best Online Rate Source
S$315.10 Avis Website

KrisFlyer vRooms payment options:

Cash Miles Saving Value per mile
S$300.04 1,600 S$15.06 0.9¢
S$294.14 5,700 S$20.96 0.4¢
S$261.45 9,800 S$53.65 0.5¢
S$228.77 13,900 S$86.33 0.6¢
S$196.09 17,900 S$119.01 0.7¢
S$163.41 22,000 S$151.69 0.7¢
S$130.73 26,100 S$184.37 0.7¢
S$98.05 30,200 S$217.05 0.7¢
S$65.36 34,200 S$249.74 0.7¢
S$32.68 38,300 S$282.42 0.7¢
42,400 S$315.10 0.7¢

Sydney (Alamo)

A weeklong ‘Compact’ rental

  • Location: Sydney International Airport (SYD)
  • Dates: 7th – 13th December 2018 (7 days)
  • Vehicle: Hyundai i20 or similar
Best Online Rate Source
S$343.21 Alamo Website

KrisFlyer vRooms payment options:

Cash Miles Saving Value per mile
S$346.15 1,700 S$-2.94 -0.2¢
S$311.54 6,100 S$31.67 0.5¢
S$276.92 10,400 S$66.29 0.6¢
S$242.31 14,700 S$100.90 0.7¢
S$207.69 19,000 S$135.52 0.7¢
S$173.08 23,400 S$170.13 0.7¢
S$138.46 27,700 S$204.75 0.7¢
S$103.85 32,000 S$239.36 0.7¢
S$69.23 36,300 S$273.98 0.8¢
S$34.62 40,700 S$308.59 0.8¢
45,000 S$343.21 0.8¢

Summary

If you’re reasonably rich in KrisFlyer miles and don’t mind departing with a few from time to time for a non-flight redemption – vRooms looks like a good way to access a cheaper rate for your hotel stays, provided you stick to the base level with minimum miles – maximum cash and thoroughly check the best available rate to determine the value you are achieving.

We found examples where we could achieve 2 cents per mile of value – close to our upper limit to buy miles and so not out of the question as a redemption option – but certainly the bare minimum and those saving for a business or first class redemption won’t want to be doing this.

Remember we achieved an average of 2.87 cents value for each of the last million or so miles we used – so be very sure that you want to redeem at a 2 cent valuation as that may be a lot poorer than you can achieve with a flight redemption.

You also won’t get any hotel loyalty points with these bookings and your status benefits may or may not be applied depending which chain you use, so even if the miles rate makes sense for you these bookings work best with independent or small-scale hotel properties.

For car hire we didn’t look in as much detail but it seems like the redemption rate is poor (or negative!) and of course there is more competition in that market through brokers and independent firms.

Just remember it only ever provides value paying with miles at the base level – whatever you do don’t move ‘up the scale’.

vRooms Scale2.jpg
Stay to the leftmost side of the scale to extract the only real ‘value’ from vRooms, if there’s any value at all in the hotel you’re checking

We used to lament those who had KrisFlyer miles expiring for which they had no flight redemption use, even by paying to extend their validity (or having already done so). That’s because the best options we could offer were 1.02 cents per mile on a firm Singapore Airlines flight ticket, 0.95 cents per mile for a Scoot flight or 0.8 cents per mile off a travel adapter at the KrisShop.

Now there is potentially an option worth exploring to get a better return on a small amount of miles for hotel stays – perhaps up to 2 cents per mile as we showed.

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