In April 2019 UOB launched a new Singapore Airlines co-brand credit card, the KrisFlyer UOB Mastercard (dubbed the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card, as they already offer a Debit Card with the same name).
Here’s our review, which forms part of our series of credit card reviews, all of which are 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 3rd July 2020.
Annual fee: $192.60/yr (first year free)
The KrisFlyer UOB Mastercard has an annual fee of $192.60, however the fee is waived for the first year so there’s no upfront cost for this card.
Sign-up bonus (for all)
Whether you’re an existing UOB credit card holder or not, you’ll get a 3,000 miles welcome bonus provided you spend at least $5.00 on the card within 30 calendar days of the card opening date (yes, just $5).
These miles will be credited directly into your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account, as this card is directly linked to your KrisFlyer membership.
Additional sign-up bonus (for new members)
In addition to the sign-up bonus for all customers applying for this card outlined above, if you’re a new UOB credit card customer you are eligible for an additional 7,000 miles when you spend a minimum of $1,500 within the first 30 days of the card account opening date.
To be eligible for this additional welcome bonus you must be among the first 400 new-to-UOB cardmembers who successfully apply online from 1st July to 31st August 2020.
As is often the case with UOB promotions – don’t count on it. You may or may not qualify for this conditional element. Terms and conditions are available here.
The 3,000 miles sign-up bonus is catch-free (is this UOB?)
As many of you will know all too well, when UOB offers a credit card sign-up bonus it usually comes with the caveat that only the first few hundred or thousand approvals will be eligible to receive it (see a recent example here).
Worst of all, they won’t tell you whether the offer has been exhausted when you apply in these cases, so you take a significant risk of not getting the bonus despite spending on the card to try and achieve it.
The good news with this card is that there is no such restriction in place for the 3,000 miles bonus. Everyone is eligible, so if you play by the (fairly simple) rules, the bonus miles will be credited.
The exception of course is the 7,000 additional bonus miles, which are conditional on being one of the first 400 to activate the card and achieve the spend threshold.
10,000 KrisFlyer miles renewal fee bonus
On payment of the card fee at annual renewal you will receive 10,000 KrisFlyer miles. It’s not clear at this stage whether this card will allow annual fee waiver, but if you do manage to get the renewal fee waived you will not be entitled to this benefit.
10,000 KrisFlyer miles are worth around S$190, so payment of the $192.60 annual fee for these miles is close to this valuation, at a cost of 1.93 cents each, even if you don’t place any value on the card benefits themselves.
Once again though there’s no hurry on UOB’s part to award you the renewal fee bonus miles. You’ll wait up to three months after your annual fee is paid before you see the miles in your KrisFlyer account (e.g. annual renewal fee paid mid-May 2020, 10,000 miles will credit by mid-August 2020).
This is the part that got a lot of people excited as details of the card began to emerge. Completely uncapped 3 miles per dollar bonus rates on a range of (quite useful) spend categories.
The KrisFlyer UOB Mastercard earns miles in three distinct categories.
- 1.2 miles for every $1 spent locally or overseas, with the usual exclusions such as pre-paid card top-ups, gambling and insurance transactions.
Singapore Airlines Miles
- 3.0 miles for every $1 spent on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot or at the KrisShop. Nothing’s out of bounds here, it includes pre ordering a Nasi Lemak for your upcoming Scoot flight, or simply paying the taxes and charges when booking a Singapore Airlines redemption ticket.
- 3.0 miles* for every $1 spent on dining, food delivery, online shopping / travel, and transport.
* Subject to charging a minimum of $500 to your card in a card membership year at Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot or the KrisShop.
(More on that little asterisk later!)
The Accelerated Miles categories
A wide range of spending will earn you 3 miles per dollar in the Accelerated Miles category. Let’s look at each one in turn.
Card transactions made at establishments whose main business activity is classified as food and beverage and bearing one of the following Merchant Category Codes (MCCs):
- MCC 5812: Eating places and restaurants
- MCC 5813: Bars, Cocktail Lounges, Discotheques, Nightclubs and Taverns, Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages) (e.g. Zouk, Altimate, etc.)
- MCC 5814: Fast Food Restaurants (e.g. McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Subway, etc.)
Pro Tip: Restaurants and bars in hotels are generally coded under a hotel MCC, not MCC 5812/3. These are therefore unlikely to qualify for the bonus rate.
Additionally the following online food delivery transactions will qualify for the bonus earn rate:
- Grab Food
A slightly vague title, in fact this one relates to using your card at fashion websites selling clothes, jewellery, accessories and bags as its main business activity.
There are a host of valid MCCs here so we won’t describe them all, but here is the list UOB will recognise:
- MCCs: 4816, 5306, 5309, 5310, 5311, 5331, 5399, 5611, 5621, 5631, 5641, 5651, 5661, 5691, 5699, 5732-5735, 5912, 5942, 5944-5949, 5964-5970, 5992, 5999
While many of these are ones you would expect to see in this category, like family clothing stores, shoe stores, men’s and women’s clothing stores and department stores, there are a few interesting ones in there which don’t really fit the “clothes, jewellery, accessories and bags” description like:
- MCC 4816: Computer Network/Information Services (e.g. web hosting services or internet access)
- MCC 5309: Duty free stores
- MCC 5912: Drug stores / pharmacies (e.g. Watsons, Guardian, etc.)
- MCC 5946: Camera and Photographic supply stores
- MCC 5992: Florists
Remember that all transactions will still need to be made online to qualify, so an online purchase through the Watsons website for example will qualify for the Accelerated Miles rate (3 mpd), but if you use the card in store it will not (1.2 mpd).
This one’s simple, any transaction made at the following websites, via the internet, using the card, will earn at the 3 mpd rate:
The final 3 miles per dollar category is for bus / MRT journeys, GOJEK and:
- MCC 4121: Limousines and Taxicabs (e.g. taxis, Grab)
The Accelerated Miles catch
Given there is no cap on the bonus earn rates, there had to be another catch, right?
While ‘Base Miles’ (for your general spend) and ‘Singapore Airlines Miles’ (for your SIA Group spend) will post to your KrisFlyer account after your statement is published (around a month from transaction), initially the ‘Accelerated Miles’ are awarded each month at only 1.2 miles per dollar (the base rate).
Since you have all of your card membership year to make the minimum $500 spend with the SIA Group, there is no way for UOB to know whether (or when) you will achieve this threshold, if you haven’t done so already.
Therefore they have decided if you do meet the $500 SIA group spend requirement in your card membership year (and you’ll certainly want to in order to pick up 3 miles per dollar on the above transactions), the bonus miles will be credited to your KrisFlyer account two months after the end of the card membership year (i.e. in the following membership year).
That’s a very long time to wait, in some cases up to 14 months.
Given that your spending is probably evenly spread across the year, you’re waiting an average of 8 months to receive your bonus miles for each transaction in the Accelerated Miles category. People already complain about waiting 1-2 months for bonus miles to credit on other cards!
For example, if you receive your card in June 2019 and make a $500 charge at SingaporeAir.com straight away (though actually this can be anytime between June 2019 and May 2020), but your only transaction in the Accelerated Miles category with the card is, let’s say, a $1,000 Agoda.com booking on 15th June 2019, you’ll receive:
- 1,500 KrisFlyer miles for your SingaporeAir.com purchase
- 1,200 KrisFlyer miles for your Agoda.com transaction (base miles)
in July 2019, then:
- 1,800 KrisFlyer miles for your Agoda.com transaction (bonus miles)
in August 2020! Hardly “Accelerated”, could it be much slower?
Presumably the irony of calling miles you might have to wait 14 months to receive “Accelerated” isn’t lost on UOB! Or maybe it is…
If you were wondering whether having met the $500 SIA Group spend using this card you might be able to call UOB and ask them to award the ‘Accelerated Miles’ sooner, let’s put an end to any visions of such generosity.
“Expedition of accelerated miles is not allowed.” I.e. they cannot be accelerated further, they are fast enough as it is, don’t you know!
It’s a ploy to make you keep the card
There’s a reason it’s set up this way of course, and that’s to try and prevent you from cancelling your card.
If you obtained the card predominantly to take advantage of the 3 miles per dollar ‘Accelerated Miles’ rate, which is probably why many of our readers will indeed signup, then after the first year you decide you don’t want it anymore, there’s a problem.
If you cancel the card before the annual renewal kicks in you will forfeit the bonus miles owed to you in two months time, as per the terms and conditions:
“To earn and receive KrisFlyer miles, your KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card must be valid, subsisting and in good standing at all times as determined by us and cannot be cancelled/closed for any reason. In the event that your KrisFlyer UOB Credit is delinquent, voluntarily or involuntarily closed or terminated or suspended for any reasons whatsoever before any KrisFlyer miles is credited to your KrisFlyer membership account, such KrisFlyer miles earned shall be forfeited and you shall not be entitled to any compensation or payment whatsoever.”
KrisFlyer UOB credit Card T&Cs
That’s right – the advertised bonus 3 miles per dollar rate for transactions, some of which you made over a year ago, will not be honoured in this case. You have to live with 1.2 miles per dollar for those payments if you cancel before the bonus miles are awarded.
UOB are effectively holding you to ransom here, and this will be the case every year if you want the bonus miles.
How will you even know it’s right?
Another issue is how you will reconcile the correct bonus points crediting from the ‘Accelerated Miles’ rate when it does (eventually) come through. In some cases these will relate to transactions made 14 months earlier (you might have had a baby in that time!). At a minimum the transactions will already be at least two months old.
We think it will be very difficult to check if the bonus miles awarded match what you expected.
Even if you’re super organised and have made a note of every qualifying transaction along the way, good luck (in our opinion) trying to dispute bonus eligibility of a payment made over a year ago.
Imagine if there is at least one discrepancy on every monthly statement. You could be on the phone for hours!
The situation gets even more tenuous when considering some the ‘grey areas’, like not knowing exactly which MCC your merchant falls into.
We don’t think many people will be willing to take the risk of channelling significant spending on this card for over a year, only to find out it was all for the basic 1.2 miles per dollar rate, 17% less than the UOB PRVI Miles cards are offering for general spend.
Foreign currency transaction fee
The KrisFlyer UOB Mastercard charges a foreign transaction fee for purchases made in currencies other than SGD at 3.25%.
Earning just 1.2 miles per dollar for general overseas spending, that’s certainly not a good idea as the miles earned are costing you well over 2.8 cents each compared with what you could be spending using cash overseas.
Several credit cards in Singapore are far better for general overseas spend, like the UOB PRVI Miles card earning 2.4 miles per dollar with a 3.25% fee, an equivalent cost of just 1.43 cents per mile.
How are miles rounded?
UOB awards KrisFlyer miles per whole block of $5 spent. That means $5 is the minimum charge in a single transaction to earn miles (any number of individual transactions at $4.90, for example, will earn you nothing).
- Base Miles: 6 miles for every S$5 spent (equivalent to 1.2 mpd)
- Singapore Airlines Miles: 15 miles for every S$5 spent (equivalent to 3 mpd)
- Accelerated Miles: 6 miles for every S$5 spent (equivalent to 1.2 mpd), plus a further 9 miles for every $5 spent (equivalent to 1.8 mpd) two months after your next membership year starts, with a minimum required spend of S$500 on SIA Group transactions in the current membership year
This rounding issue really affects small transactions the most, as you’ll have to hit the next $5 ‘block’ to increase your miles earning each time. For example a $9.90 transaction is considered $5 for miles accrual.
In the general spend (Base Miles) category that’s not earning you 1.2 miles per dollar at all, it’s 0.6 miles per dollar (so use another card for a transaction like that).
The difference becomes much more negligible with higher transaction amounts, but do be aware of this issue for smaller payments, and never use the card for sub-$5 transactions if you can avoid it.
Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?
Yes. As this is a Singapore Airlines co-branded card, the miles accrued are automatically transferred to your KrisFlyer account at each monthly statement.
Remember that KrisFlyer miles expire three years after they are earned, and with this card you don’t have the added protection of keeping them ‘alive’ for longer (or forever in some cases) in a credit card points scheme before transferring into your KrisFlyer account.
The expiry clock is ticking almost from day one.
Is there a transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?
No. Unlike most other credit cards in Singapore, as these miles are transferred automatically each month there is no additional fee involved. Transfers are effectively instant, though you have to wait for each monthly cycle – you cannot make ‘intermediate’ conversions mid-month, even on request.
Of course as outlined above any transfer from the ‘Accelerated Miles’ earning will happen an average of 8 months after the applicable transaction (min. 2 months, max. 14 months).
Can I transfer miles into other loyalty schemes?
No. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is the sole partner with this card and you can only use it to accrue miles in this scheme.
Bonus miles if you open a KrisFlyer UOB Deposit Account
UOB is advertising a great headline rate here for those opening a KrisFlyer UOB Deposit Account for their savings, offering a 6 miles per dollar bonus rate if you save and credit your monthly salary to the account, which sits alongside your credit card account and also links to your KrisFlyer.
The catch is that bonus miles are capped at 5% of your monthly average balance, calculated as follows:
- The sum of each ‘day end balance’ in your KrisFlyer UOB account for that month, divided by the number of calendar days in that month.
For example, if you have a monthly average balance of $100,000 in the account, your bonus miles are capped at 5,000 miles for that month (100,000 x 5%).
You’ll get about $4 of interest each month at the (measly) 0.05% p.a. rate this account attracts, but 5,000 KrisFlyer miles are worth about $95 against future Singapore Airlines redemptions for most of our readers, so in effect you’re getting about $99 additional value per month in this example.
Provided you credit your salary (and therefore earn 6 miles per dollar bonus miles), you’ll only have to spend $833 per month on the credit card to earn the 5,000 bonus miles. If you don’t credit your salary it would be a $1,000 spend in this example (at the 5 miles per dollar bonus rate).
Is it worth it?
We’re definitely not going to explore a full analysis of how much interest you can earn on your money in Singapore. There is a range of accounts and if you had $100,000 worth of savings you can definitely achieve a much better return than 0.05% per annum, perhaps even outweighing the bonus KrisFlyer miles on this account.
Cash (in interest) is ultimately flexible as it can of course be used for anything, while KrisFlyer miles are very restrictive, so attaching a 1.9 cent per mile value in this case (since you are forgoing cash interest to obtain the miles instead) isn’t necessarily a sensible strategy for everyone.
We’re not going to make a recommendation on whether using the KrisFlyer UOB Deposit Account alongside this card is worth doing or not. It’s important to be comfortable with the return you are getting on your savings and the calculation will depend largely how highly you realistically value KrisFlyer miles.
Benefits: Singapore Airlines / SilkAir
These are the additional card benefits relating to Singapore Airlines and SilkAir.
Fast Track to KrisFlyer Elite Silver Status
The KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card offers a fast track option to achieve KrisFlyer Elite Silver status, with a minimum spend of $5,000 in the SIA Group category (Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot or the KrisShop) during your first card membership year.
The offer runs for cards opened before 30th April 2021.
KrisFlyer Elite Silver benefits
- 25% tier bonus on actual miles flown with Singapore Airlines and SilkAir
- Complimentary ‘Standard’ seat selection when you fly in Economy Class on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir
- 10% discount on other seat selection fees
- Priority reservation waitlist
- Priority airport standby
- Waived or discounted KrisFlyer service fees
Unfortunately as you can see KrisFlyer Elite Silver doesn’t really get you much, and offers no complimentary lounge access even when flying Singapore Airlines.
Once again here UOB is, utterly confusingly, using a word with quite the opposite meaning to the one they presumably intended to use (we will give them the benefit of the doubt that they at least intend to be honest).
Ignore the fact for a moment that KrisFlyer Elite Silver status is basically useless, and concentrate instead on the term “Fast Track”. If you want it, it can happen quickly, right?
Wrong. Like the ‘Accelerated Miles’ (which are in fact vastly decelerated in our opinion), you will be waiting for some time to unlock this status tier.
You’ll have to wait for up to six weeks after the end of your first card membership year to get the upgrade.
That means even if you make the qualifying $5,000 spend in your very first week of card membership, let’s say next week, you will have to wait until at least May 2020 and possibly mid-June 2020 before you see that shiny silver card (which doesn’t really get you anything, and you don’t even get a physical card anymore anyway).
We believe it’s not only a waste of time, but it’s thoroughly misleading to call this “Fast Track”.
If you do go for it, your Elite Silver status (when you finally get it) will be valid for one year from the date of upgrade, after which time requalification is based on the standard KrisFlyer terms.
$20 KrisShop rebate
This card entitles you to a one-time $20 rebate off a KrisShop purchase of $100+ (before GST) per calendar year.
While the KrisShop does have some overpriced items (always shop around), there are some good deals too, so this should be a useful discount for most people.
Just remember if you do find a good price for an item you want on the KrisShop make sure to pay using cash, we’re not talking about using your KrisFlyer miles for the purchase, which gives you a terrible 0.8 cents per mile value.
This new card is desperately thin on benefits when you’re flying Singapore Airlines or SilkAir (not even a single third party lounge visit has been thrown in), however it’s quite big on benefits when you are flying Scoot.
In fact it’s almost like a ‘Scoot Gold’ membership. Having said that, these benefits are the same ones that already extend to holders of the KrisFlyer UOB Debit card, so there’s nothing particularly new here.
In all cases the benefits listed below are only applicable if you make payment for your Scoot flight using your KrisFlyer UOB card through the dedicated portal on the Scoot site.
Where benefits extend to other members of your travelling party, they must also be on the same booking, paid for using your card.
Complimentary Priority Check-in and Boarding
You and all members of your travelling party will receive complimentary priority check-in and boarding benefits for flights on Scoot.
Complimentary Additional Baggage Allowance
You and all members of your travelling party who purchase a minimum of 20kg baggage
fare bundle, up to a maximum of 35kg baggage fare bundle, at the initial point of purchase will receive a complimentary 5kg upgrade for baggage allowance.
This benefit does not apply if the baggage fare bundle is added on after the initial purchase.
Complimentary Standard Seat Selection
You (i.e. the principal cardholder only) will receive complimentary standard seat selection for flights on Scoot.
Booking flexibility waiver for name or flight changes
You can receive a one-time booking flexibility waiver per itinerary on Scoot flights. This benefit is only available for the first change per flight itinerary, and for bookings that include the principal cardmember.
When the card was first launched, name changes on the booking were possible (except for the principal cardmember), however this benefit has since been removed.
You can now make one flight date/time change per booking online up to 4 hours before departure with no change fees.
If you are changing to a flight with a higher fare, the fare difference will apply. Note that connecting journeys with partner airlines are not eligible for Booking Flexibility.
Complimentary JetQuay access
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card holders get complimentary use of Quayside single trip service at JetQuay for the principal cardholder and one companion traveling on the same flight.
It’s actually a Mastercard benefit (the same one as you get with the DBS WWMC, for example), and is limited to the first 100 single trip services booked per calendar month, on a first-come-first-served basis (see T&Cs).
Two Grab rides ($15) to or from Changi Airport
In each calendar year you’ll be entitled to two Grab Promo Codes worth $15 and valid for a trip either to or from Changi Airport. Only one promo code can be applied in each six-month period (i.e. Jan-Jun and Jul-Dec).
Use code KFUOBCC and set your KrisFlyer UOB card as the primary payment method in the Grab app to take advantage. This benefit is limited to the first 1,000 redemptions per month, so if it’s fully redeemed you’ll have to try again in a subsequent month.
$15 off ChangiWiFi
Cardmembers get two ChangiWiFi e-cash redemption codes worth $15 each per calendar year. Like the Grab offer, each redemption code must be redeemed half-yearly (i.e. one in Jan-Jun and one in Jul-Dec), and is limited to the first 1,000 redemptions per month.
Note that ChangiWiFi is not the Wi-Fi connection at the airport, which is free to use, but is a router you can rent for your overseas trip to stay connected.
Another miles earning option is welcome, but this isn’t one to get particularly excited about.
The biggest selling point of the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card, an uncapped 3 miles per dollar rate on a variety of useful transactions, is its biggest downfall too. Forcing customers to wait up to 14 months and remain signed up to the card for another year to receive the bonus miles is not only a ridiculous wait, but effectively holds you to ransom.
That’s particularly true if UOB refuses to waive the annual renewal fee for this card, which remains to be seen.
Put simply, if you cancel the card prior to annual renewal, you’ll never see the bonus miles for ‘Accelerated Miles’ transactions.
While the 3 miles per dollar bonus earn rate on dining transactions is actually good, the other bonus categories are achievable with a number of existing cards on the market.
For example for Singapore Airlines and Scoot tickets you can use the DBS WWMC for 4 miles per dollar (capped at S$2,000 per month), while for online spend the Citi Rewards card will also get you 4 miles per dollar (capped at S$1,000 per month).
For those who prefer not to hold multiple cards and juggle their spending between them, the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card is actually not a bad proposition, but the ridiculous structure of the bonus miles award means you must be prepared to keep it, and to be patient.
Also if you fly Scoot regularly there are some worthwhile benefits there, including change flexibility.
Other benefits are a little on the light side, in particular an unfortunate lack of any lounge access benefit.
In many ways there were some really good ideas with this card, and no doubt it will suit some people. Unfortunately for most of us the execution has been left in the hands of a bank that always has to walk away with the upper hand.
Our recommendations for credit cards and other similar products on this site do not constitute financial advice.