If you hold one of the UOB PRVI Miles cards in Singapore you’ll probably be aware that one of the features is ‘PRVI Pay’, a way to generate unlimited points (subject to your credit limit), convertible into KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles, even when you don’t have a specific bill to pay.
UOB increased the fee for the service from 2% to 2.1% in February 2019, making it a less attractive option particularly with the devaluation of First and Business Class redemptions using the KrisFlyer programme coming into effect the previous month.
That increased the rate at which you could ‘buy’ miles using PRVI Pay from 2 cents per mile to 2.1 cents per mile.
2% is back until September
Today UOB restored the previous 2% rate for the payment facility, effective for PRVI Pay application submissions from 1st August 2019 to 30th September 2019.
Here’s how it works for a typical payment:
- S$5,000 income tax bill arrives
- Apply for S$5,000 from your PRVI Miles Payment Facility
- UOB transfers S$5,000 to your bank account
- UOB charges S$5,100 to your credit card (S$5,000 + 2% fee)
- UOB credits 2,500 UNI$ to your reward account (5,000 KrisFlyer miles)
Remember, you don’t even need to have an income tax bill to pay, or produce to UOB. Provided you have a sufficient credit limit, UOB will complete the request “no questions asked”.
As you can see the cost per mile is S$100 / 5,000 = 2 cents.
You can also transfer UNI$ to Asia Miles at the same transfer ratio if you prefer that scheme over KrisFlyer.
Is it worth it?
‘Not really’ is the simple answer. Following the early 2019 devaluation we now value KrisFlyer miles at 1.9 cents each (our upper limit to buy), though we still tend to achieve 2.4 cents per mile when we redeem, against some pretty harsh criteria.
There are also cheaper ways to generate miles, for example some current credit card sign-up bonuses are offering some good quantities at less than 2 cents per mile, some with a minimum spend requirement and some just by paying the annual fee.
There’s also CardUp, ipaymy and RentHero, though in those cases you’ll have to have a genuine bill payment to make.
If you have an OCBC Voyage card, you can also use their payment facility to generate ‘unlimited’ miles with no bill to produce at a slightly more competitive 1.95% fee (1.95 cents per mile).
Use it to meet a transfer block
Since each transfer block from UNI$ to miles is 10,000 (miles), if you fall painfully close to a specific short term redemption you might still justify using PRVI Pay to relatively quickly see you ‘over the line’ at this 2 cents per mile rate.
It’s certainly a better option than buying the miles from Singapore Airlines at over 5 cents a piece.
Remember however that each transfer from UOB’s UNI$ into KrisFlyer costs S$25, and the minimum transfer ‘block’ is 10,000 miles, so using PRVI Pay to top up your account by a small level is probably only feasible if you’re already approaching one of those ‘blocks’ in your UNI$ account.
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.
If you don’t have any other spend coming up and need the miles quickly, you might consider this a good value simple option.
What happens after September?
It’s not clear from this offer what UOB’s plans are for the PRVI Pay facility at the end of this promotional period. All references to a 2.1% fee have disappeared from their site and the terms and conditions document.
We can only assume it will revert to a 2.1% fee (2.1 cents per mile cost), however a new promotion could come into effect, they might stick to a 2% fee, it could even increase beyond 2.1%, or they could remove the facility altogether. We’ll find out in a couple of months.
Originally launched in mid-2017, and set to end in December that year, PRVI Pay was designed to help you pay bills like income tax or property tax, where credit card payment wouldn’t normally be available (though even back in those days alternatives like CardUp were appearing).
The idea is to earn some extra miles in the process, for a nominal fee. Even though the scheme was extended indefinitely in early 2018, this ‘unlimited miles generating’ option didn’t remain at the same rate for long, with a fee hike to 2.1% in early 2019.
The reality remains that PRVI Pay can be used for just about anything you like, since UOB makes the payment directly to your bank account. What you then do with the money is up to you.
There are still plenty of cheaper options for buying miles to explore first, but for PRVI Miles cardholders you can’t argue with the simplicity of this one, especially for small top-ups to meet the next redemption threshold when you don’t have any other purchases coming up.