In late November UOB offered a promotional rate for PRVI Pay, the ‘buy miles’ benefit for PRVI Miles cardholders, to transfer cash to their own bank account for a 1.9% fee until 31st December 2019. The benefit of course is generating UNI$ in your rewards account for the transaction – subsequently transferable to both KrisFlyer and Asia Miles.
There’s been a fair bit of variation in this offer over the last year, with rates ranging from 1.8% to 2.1%, but the bank now seems to settle on its (historical) standard 2% fee as the default level.
That’s exactly what’s returned today, with the 2% level valid from 1st January 2020 to 29th February 2020.
That’s the equivalent of ‘buying’ miles for 2 cents each over the next two months. Whether the same rate is extended beyond that or another promotional rate is offered from March 2020 remains to be seen.
We would certainly hope to see at least one more 1.8% or 1.9% offer at some stage in 2020.
How PRVI Pay works
The beauty of the PRVI Pay scheme is that you can pay any bill you like (even if you don’t actually have a bill to pay) by simply requesting an amount to be transferred from your credit card to your bank account for the appropriate one-time fee.
Although the ‘price’ is relatively high, it means the flexibility is also very good.
You can request any amount to be paid using the facility, provided both the amount requested and the admin fee are within your credit limit at the time of application.
Here’s how PRVI Pay works for a typical payment, at the current 2.0% fee:
- $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 ($5,000 + 2.0% fee)
- UOB credits 2,500 UNI$ to your reward account (5,000 KrisFlyer miles)
- Effective purchase rate $100/5,000 = 2.0 cents per mile
You can also transfer UNI$ to Asia Miles at the same rate.
Remember, you don’t even need to have an income tax bill to pay, or even produce. Provided you have a sufficient credit limit, UOB will do this “no questions asked”.
This rate is valid for payments processed until 29th February 2020. Here are the full terms and conditions.
FAQs are also available here.
Is it a good deal?
As our regular readers will know, we value KrisFlyer miles at around 1.9 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.
At the regular 2% PRVI Pay rate you are ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles for 2 cents each (e.g. $100 / 5,000).
We aren’t buyers at this rate, and most of our readers probably won’t want to do it either unless they know they will achieve outsize value for their KrisFlyer or Asia Miles stash, or only need a small top-up, where the cost per mile becomes less relevant.
The top-up option
While the headline rate isn’t attractive, this can be a good way of topping up your miles to the nearest 10,000 prior to making a transfer, so that you don’t end up with a small leftover amount.
That’s because you must transfer UNI$ to frequent flyer miles in 10,000 miles (5,000 UNI$) batches.
For example 24,000 UNI$ = 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 $40 with this offer, but generates the extra 2,000 miles (1,000 UNI$) required to shift 50,000 miles across to KrisFlyer in one block.
Do note that you’ll also be charged a $25 fee each time you transfer your UNI$ to KrisFlyer miles, however if 50,000 miles is what you need to achieve your desired redemption, these fees (e.g. S$40 + S$25) may be worth paying.
There are many cheaper options to ‘buy’ miles for large payments like income tax, rent and home renovation bills. These include RentHero (from 1.14 cpm with our promo code, extended until 30th June 2020), ipaymy (from 1.38cpm), CardUp (from 1.17 cpm on rental payments) and Citi PayAll (from 1.25 cpm).
Some of these may charge the same fee as PRVI Pay (e.g. 2%) but they allow the full miles accrual rate on your card (e.g. 1.4 / 1.6 miles per dollar), rather than the 1 mile per dollar being offered by UOB. This often leads to a much lower cost per mile, so do the maths before taking advantage of PRVI Pay.
You can also effectively ‘buy’ miles by paying the annual fee for a number of credit cards while taking advantage of their sign-up bonus. See our up-to-date list here.
There’s also the other “no questions asked” OCBC Voyage Payment Facility, allowing you to generate miles from 1.9 cents each, though realistically it’s actually a cost of 1.95 cents per mile for most cardholders, and there is a minimum payment request of S$10,000, making it far less flexible.
UOB seems to have settled on 2% as its long-term regular fee for its PRVI Pay facility, with occasional promotional offers at slightly lower rates. We expect and hope that another 1.8% or 1.9% fee offer will be launched at some stage in 2020, so you may wish to hold off participating at the current rate if you don’t need to (assuming you even want to, as cheaper options are often available).
The facility is certainly very flexible, given that no bills or proof of payment are required, but you do need to consider carefully if it’s a rate at which you are willing to purchase miles.
To us a nice benefit of PRVI Pay is when you’re just looking to top up your miles balance to meet a redemption threshold, but can’t wait to meet the next ‘block’ through your normal spending. This will often be at an acceptable cost to you if you’re only short by a few miles and can’t easily use another option.
Although there is no current sign-up bonus, check out our full review of the UOB PRVI Miles card for more details of the other benefits offered – including first year fee waiver.
(Cover Photo: UOB)