Most of our readers are already familiar with Kaligo, the hotel booking site allowing you to earn frequent flyer miles across a range of loyalty programmes when you book a hotel stay. The company was established here in Singapore in 2014, and we first wrote about their miles earning option in detail a couple of years ago.
Despite generally transferring some of the commission it receives for your hotel booking as miles back to you into your preferred FFP (there are over 30 to choose from), Kaligo has long boasted a wildcard earning option – 10 miles per dollar spent regardless of its own commission rate for a booking when you pay using selected credit cards in Singapore.
Up to around a year ago, you could earn 10 miles per dollar on any Kaligo hotel booking with the following nine credit cards, across three banks in Singapore:
UOB quietly stopped offering 10mpd for Kaligo transactions on 1st April 2019, nine months earlier than planned as the deal was originally due to expire on 31st December 2019.
That still left the Citi PremierMiles, Prestige and ULTIMA cards, plus the DBS Altitude pair (Visa and Amex), running the deal until the end of 2019.
For us the best deal was always with Citi, since the miles credited immediately upon booking and the bank’s range of frequent flyer transfer partners is extensive, allowing us to channel some more miles into the likes of British Airways Avios.
As with most years, DBS has renewed its 10mpd deal with Kaligo through 31st December 2020, however Citi has not.
That’s a shame as personally the only thing I’ve really been using my Citi PremierMiles card for over the last year or two is Kaligo hotel bookings!
This development leaves the DBS Altitude cards as the only ones still earning 10mpd for Kaligo transactions, for bookings made between now and at least the end of 2020 (hopefully it will be further renewed).
The DBS deal isn’t as good
Aside from the fact that you can only transfer DBS Points into three useful frequent flyer programmes – KrisFlyer, Qantas and Asia Miles – there are another couple of drawbacks using this card for Kaligo bookings compared to the Citi cards.
Firstly the offer is capped at S$5,000 spend per calendar month, so if you’re taking a long stay at an expensive property, or making several bookings in a single month, your miles earning will be capped at 50,000.
Secondly, unlike Citi, the total number of miles you’ll receive for a Kaligo booking are not awarded instantly with DBS. Initially you will earn at the card’s 3 miles per dollar rate, with the bonus 7 miles per dollar only coming in around 2 months after the end of the quarter you made the transaction in.
For example if you booked a $1,000 stay on 1st January 2020, you’ll initially be awarded 3,000 miles (1,500 DBS Points), with the remaining 7,000 miles (3,500 DBS Points) only being added to your account by late May 2020 (i.e. within 60 days of the end of Q1 – 30th March 2020).
The full terms and conditions of the DBS Altitude Kaligo 10mpd offer are available here.
Different FFPs get different earn rates
If you aren’t using the DBS Altitude card (see our review here) for Kaligo bookings, you’ll likely be crediting to one of a handful of popular frequent flyer programmes (FFPs) instead.
In this case it’s important to note that you’ll actually get a different number of miles awarded with each FFP for the exact same booking when using Kaligo.
Take a look at these examples we outlined for a two-night refundable weekend stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore during the recent Kaligo Black Friday (double miles) promotion, with the accrual rates for a range of FFPs shown.
Note: You cannot display these results side-by-side as we have done here. You’ll have to search a new FFP each time to reveal the award rate through the Kaligo site.
As you can see if you collect miles in more than one FFP, you might well be better off using Kaligo to credit to a more ‘exotic’ one than KrisFlyer (one of the stingiest rates is always for KF!).
Do note however that the DBS Altitude 10mpd deal will almost always come out better than crediting to an FFP, with the possible exception of the occasional ‘double miles’ offers like the one shown above (the credit card offer is always excluded from Kaligo points promotions, so you just get the everyday rate regardless).
Kaligo isn’t always a good deal
Kaligo works by sharing some of the commission it receives for each hotel booking with you in the form of miles. Since a ‘middle man’ is involved, it often means paying more than the best available rate for the stay.
We’ve probably done enough worked examples over the years for Kaligo bookings to show you that you can be getting anything from a terrible deal (buying miles well in excess of 2 cents each), a good deal (buying miles at closer to 1 cent each), or an excellent deal (when Kaligo matches the best available rate, but still awards miles).
In the DBS Altitude example near the top of this article showing a two-night booking at the Malmaison hotel in Manchester, the Kaligo rate comes in S$40 more than the best available rate booking directly with the hotel under the same non-refundable terms.
That means you’re ‘buying’ 5,190 miles, transferrable into KrisFlyer, Qantas or Asia Miles, for S$40 (0.77 cents per mile). To us that’s a great rate, but to you the equation might not add up.
Remember Kaligo is not always more expensive though, we have found hotels through the site that are actually the same rate and sometimes even cheaper than booking direct.
Our Kaligo booking at the (beautiful) Majeka House in Stellenbosch a couple of years ago exactly matched the hotel’s own rate on the same cancellation terms, and even with an Agoda coupon (resulting in the best rate we could find anywhere) we couldn’t say no to over 11,000 miles for just S$32 (0.3 cents per mile).
The important thing to do is shop around first, then consider whether Kaligo is giving you a good rate for the hotel of your choice versus the miles and points on offer. Do remember to check the room type and cancellation policy carefully across the various platforms, so that you’re comparing ‘apples with apples’, before making a cost per mile calculation.
Other offers are becoming more regular
Despite two excellent 10mpd deals through some popular credit cards in Singapore disappearing, Kaligo does seem to be running more frequent offers than usual over the last year or so.
We’ve seen double miles in four-day flash sales (and on Black Friday), 50% bonuses and FFP-specific offers including for the KrisFlyer programme.
Don’t despair too much therefore if you don’t have a DBS Altitude card, as Kaligo might still have good deals for you.
Status at chain hotels
One important aspect to remember if you’re booking a chain hotel through Kaligo is that you won’t get any points or status credits in the hotel loyalty scheme for your stay. In effect, you are sacrificing those for the frequent flyer miles (or other loyalty points) instead.
For us, it makes Kaligo more useful if we’re staying at an independent property, or at a chain we don’t bother collecting points or status with.
However some hotels will still recognise and award your status benefits during your stay, even if you book via an online travel agent like Kaligo. In our experience Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels will usually honour your status perks in these examples, some Hyatts do and some don’t, ex-SPG properties and Hiltons usually won’t.
Arguably if you have already secured the status level you desire with a particular hotel chain, Kaligo may make more sense for your booking if the miles deal works out much better than the hotel points, provided the hotel will still honour your status perks during your stay, or if you’re booking a club room or suite anyway, in which case you’ll get most of the benefits regardless.
I’ve personally accrued over 300,000 Citi Miles (equivalent to 300,000 KrisFlyer miles) booking hotels through Kaligo since 2015 using my Citi PremierMiles card.
I’ve been ‘buying’ miles at less than 2 cents each this way, and in most cases well below even 1 cent each. That makes the withdrawal of this popular card from the 10mpd offer a shame, with the UOB PRVI Miles card already going the same way earlier in 2019.
Thankfully the offer lives on with the DBS Altitude cards, though there are some drawbacks especially over the way the Citi deal worked and its larger number of transfer partners.
Kaligo is certainly not dead, but for us it’s become a lot less attractive this year.
(Cover Photo: Ibrahim Mohamed)