Many of you will know that last week Singapore Airlines finally awarded some breathing space to KrisFlyer members whose miles are expiring over the coming months, in light of the almost complete inability to make future travel plans due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
It’s not just at times like these you need to keep an eye on your miles validity though. We get regular emails throughout the year from KrisFlyer members whose miles are expiring, asking us what they can do to prevent it, or alternatively get at least some value from the miles before they vanish.
In a nutshell there are four principal options:
- Use them to redeem a flight before they expire (your trip can be up to a year away).
- Pay a fee to extend them for 6 or 12 months (you can only do this once).
- Sacrifice around half of them, but keep the rest for another 3 years.
- Cash them out somehow.
Which option is best for you will depend on your upcoming travel plans, the number of miles you have expiring and the number of miles you have in total.
How KrisFlyer miles expiry works
First a quick rundown on how your KrisFlyer miles may end up expiring. In common with many airlines (but to be fair not in common with many others!), Singapore Airlines applies a fixed validity period on your KrisFlyer miles.
No matter how you earn your KrisFlyer miles (from revenue flights to credit card spend, from Chope vouchers to foodpanda) they will expire on the last day of the month 36 months following the month in which they were first credited to your account.
KrisFlyer Miles Expiry A member’s KrisFlyer miles will expire after three years at the end of the equivalent month in which they were earned. For example, miles credited to a member’s KrisFlyer account in July 2019 will expire on 31st July 2022.
The ‘oldest’ miles in your account are used up first when you make any kind of redemption. For most of us that means there’s no need to worry about miles expiry. We churn through what we earn more frequently than once every 3 years.
Your KrisFlyer account page on the SIA website or mobile app will show you how many miles you have expiring in the next six months (listed by month). Your KrisFlyer account statement, which should arrive by email each month, also shows these details:
Remember, at the time of writing KrisFlyer miles expiring between April 2020 and August 2020 will be extended by six months.
If you thought you could circumvent the miles expiry issue by making a flight redemption several months into the future with miles that are just about to expire, then later cancel the ticket and redeposit the miles, that won’t work unfortunately.
Every KrisFlyer mile in your account has a ‘memory’ – it knows exactly when it was earned, including miles redeemed for a flight you haven’t taken yet.
If any of the miles you used for a flight redemption would have expired at the time of cancellation / redeposit request you won’t get those miles back.
There’s one bit of good news – if you’re a PPS Club or Solitaire PPS Club member, your KrisFlyer miles never expire. Any KrisFlyer miles in your account stop having a ‘memory’ expiration countdown once you become a PPS Club member.
If you fail to requalify for PPS Club in future, all the KrisFlyer miles in your account are reset with a full three-year validity period from the month you drop back into a KrisFlyer tier.
For example if you drop from PPS Club to being a KrisFlyer member on 1st June 2020, all the KrisFlyer miles in your account at that time will now expire at 23:59 hours Singapore time on 30th June 2023.
Here are the 12 options, ordered best to worst by value, for your expiring KrisFlyer miles.
|A flight redemption|
|Value:||1.90+ cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||7,500|
This one might seem a bit silly or obvious to include, after all if you could have used your expiring miles to book a redemption ticket surely you would have done by now?
What many people don’t necessarily appreciate however is how far in advance you can lock in an award ticket using KrisFlyer miles, and the breadth of Star Alliance and partner airline award options out there, which might help.
Fresh availability of KrisFlyer award seats in 355 days time on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir, for example, is loaded at 8am SGT each morning (GMT+8), and this is often a good time to jump on a pair of Business Saver redemptions a year out.
We’ve also spoken to people who think you must redeem and have travelled on an award flight before your miles expire – that’s not the case. You must have booked the award ticket, but it can be locked in close to a year in advance. The fact you’ll be sitting on a flight using miles which would have expired up to a year before doesn’t matter.
With this option you’re looking at trying to lock in a redemption ticket or upgrade (where permitted):
- On a Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flight.
- On a Star Alliance member airline flight (most are now searchable and bookable online through KrisFlyer).
- On a partner airline flight, like Alaska Airlines or Virgin Australia.
Since these options by far represent the best value you can extract from KrisFlyer miles you should absolutely exhaust them first in our opinion, before moving on to any of the following steps.
|Extend your miles for a fee|
|Value:||1.73 cents per mile*|
|Min. expiring miles:||No minimum|
* Assuming you pay cash to extend your miles, then go on to redeem the extended miles and achieve 1.9 cents per mile in value.
One option for your expiring miles is to extend their validity by 6 months. You can choose to pay US$12 (around S$17) per block of 10,000 expiring miles, or sacrifice 1,200 miles per 10,000-mile block to achieve the same extension.
KrisFlyer Elite Silver and Gold members get 12 months additional miles validity for the same fee or miles cost (and remember miles never expire for PPS Club members).
First point to note here if you are considering this option is that it’s probably better to use cash to extend your miles than sacrifice a portion of the miles themselves. If you’re extending the miles ideally you want them all to still be there for one thing, and as you should never be redeeming then at less than 1.9 Singapore cents of value per mile, 1,200 miles (implied value S$23) is a bigger price to pay than the cash equivalent (S$17).
Before you go ahead with this though, remember that paying to extend your KrisFlyer miles is only useful if you are fairly certain it will help you use them.
It’s also a one-time offer, you can only extend expiring miles once.
|Transfer to Shangri-La points for ‘Instant Dining Awards’|
|Value:||1.20 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||20,000|
Transfers from KrisFlyer to Shangri-La Golden Circle (SLGC) Awards points are subject to a minimum transfer quantity of 20,000 miles, the highest of all the options for your expiring miles.
If you do have enough expiring miles to warrant this option your KrisFlyer miles will transfer to SLGC points at a 12:1 ratio. The key to this rewards scheme is their ‘Instant Dining Awards’ program, where you’ll likely achieve best value per point. Each SLGC point is worth 10 US cents against a bar / restaurant charge at a participating outlet.
There are 23 such bars and restaurants in Singapore alone and more than 500 worldwide.
If you hold ‘Jade’ or ‘Diamond’ status in the Shangri-La program each SLGC point can be redeemed for 12.5 US cents, improving the value of this method to cash in your expiring KrisFlyer miles to 1.5 cents per mile.
Note that points redemption is subject to blackout dates at some restaurants – see the dedicated microsite for full details.
Remember the value here assumes you would actually consider paying to dine at one of these outlets even without having to do so to use up your miles. Since these tend to be more expensive restaurants the quoted value of 1.2 cents per KrisFlyer mile is not ‘real’ if you’d never actually normally pay that much for dinner or drinks for example.
Note: If you’re thinking of transferring your miles to SLGC points then transferring them back to KrisFlyer to extend your validity – don’t bother! 1 SLGC point becomes 1.25 KrisFlyer miles (remember it was 12:1 on the way in), so you’ve lost 90% of the miles. That’s even worse than KrisPay!
If you were interested in transferring KrisFlyer miles to SLGC points for a hotel stay redemption, the value is variable depending on the hotel and season. With a brief search we saw value of between 8 and 13 Singapore Cents per SLGC point, which means your converted KrisFlyer miles would be worth between 0.67 cents and 1.08 cents if used this way.
The dining option certainly seems better value to us.
|Transfer to Velocity points|
|Value:||1.05 cents per mile*|
|Min. expiring miles:||5,000|
|Note (April 2020): This option is currently unavailable due to a temporary suspension of the transfer programme between KrisFlyer and Velocity.|
* Based on the approximate value of a Velocity point when used to redeem in economy class on Virgin Australia, as assessed by Executive Traveller and Point Hacks. The average of most examples is 1.80 Australian cents per mile (1.63 Singapore Cents per mile), then the 1.55:1 transfer ratio is accounted for.
If you’re a member of Virgin Australia’s Velocity frequent flyer program there are two ways you can extend the life of your KrisFlyer miles. This is the first one, a simple transfer to Velocity with the intention to use your miles in that scheme instead of KrisFlyer.
Before we get into the details you’ll have to be a member of the Velocity scheme and that’s unfortunately not open to everyone. To be eligible you need to have a residential address in one of their key markets – basically in Australia or New Zealand (some Pacific Ocean islands are also included).
For most of our readers in Singapore that’s not possible, however there’s always the option of registering your Velocity account at the address of a friend or family member in one of those countries.
If you’re eligible none of your Velocity points will expire provided you transact in the scheme at least once every 24 months (2 years), so even if transferring miles from KrisFlyer is the only activity you make in the scheme those points will still be good to use for another 24 months.
Points can be used to redeem Virgin Australia flights and upgrades or Singapore Airlines tickets, plus flights with a number of other partner airlines (click here for the current list).
Unlike the points you might hold in other Star Alliance airline frequent flyer schemes (e.g. Lifemiles), Velocity points can be used to redeem long-haul Business Class and First Class seats on Singapore Airlines flights, though the required number of miles is quite a bit higher than using KrisFlyer.
The snag is your KrisFlyer miles convert at a 1.55:1 ratio into Velocity (devalued from 1.35:1 in 2018), so if you have 10,000 KrisFlyer miles expiring and decide to transfer them you’ll only get 6,452 Velocity points after conversion.
Now we wouldn’t normally recommend transferring KrisFlyer miles into Velocity points, the former are generally more valuable per mile from the outset so taking a hit on the conversion on top of that fact means the idea makes even less sense, but remember we’re talking about expiring miles here.
Velocity points can also be used against hotel bookings through their hotels portal, offsetting hotel costs by using as few as 2,000 points, however you will get much poorer value per point compared to a flight redemption or upgrade.
You can even use Velocity points to book First Class awards on Etihad Airways (not possible with KrisFlyer miles), but if you have enough expiring miles to make that work after accounting for the 35% transfer loss you’ve either seriously mismanaged your KrisFlyer spending or you earn far more miles than you know what to do with!
|Credit towards an SIA / SilkAir cash ticket|
|Value:||1.02 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||980|
Using your miles as ‘cashback’ against any Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flight gets you a fixed value of 1.02 cents per mile.
Arguably that’s not bad for miles which are expiring anyway, but it’s only ‘true’ value if you book an SIA / SilkAir flight you would have chosen to pay for anyway. If you’re heading to Bali or Phuket for example there are many low-cost options you’d probably put up with at much lower cash cost, so spending your miles to reduce the (more expensive) SIA ticket might not actually be saving you anything.
|Credit towards a Scoot cash ticket|
|Value:||0.95 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||1,050|
This method works in a very similar way to using KrisFlyer miles to offset the cost of an SIA / SilkAir cash ticket (option 5). Here the group gives you a bit less value per mile for some reason.
One benefit of a Scoot redemption, despite the poorer value, is that they tend to load their flight schedules 15 months in advance giving you a longer window of opportunity to use your miles before they expire.
|Transfer to Tap for More points then back to KrisFlyer|
|Value:||0.91 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||3,000|
This method is for those who want to extend the validity of their miles in KrisFlyer but don’t have a Velocity account or aren’t eligible for one (see option 4 above). Additionally it may be of interest to those who don’t have any travel plans coming up to take advantage of options 1 or 5 (and potentially option 6).
Here the same process is repeated as for Velocity, transferring your expiring KrisFlyer miles into Tap for More points, and then transferring them back into KrisFlyer. You’ll lose 52% of your miles doing this, but they will be valid for another 3 years as a result.
Example 10,000 KrisFlyer miles > 11,000 Tap for More points > 4,785 KrisFlyer miles.
While this is a poor return, it’s better than some other options, including keeping the points in Tap for More and spending them there (see option 11 below). That’s because Tap for More points are actually worth slightly more when transferred to KrisFlyer miles than they are as a discount on your spending in Giant, Guardian etc., assuming you value a KrisFlyer mile at 1.9 cents.
A maximum of 80,000 KrisFlyer miles can be converted from KrisFlyer to Tap for More per calendar year, though very few people are likely to have an expiring balance that high.
While you can make this ‘return transfer’ almost instantly if you choose, another option is to leave the expiring miles in Tap for More for as long as possible before later returning them to KrisFlyer when you need them, as this will extend their life some more.
Note that whatever date you transfer your KrisFlyer miles into Tap for More points, they will expire on 30th June the following year if left in that scheme.
|Redeem a vRooms hotel stay|
|Value:||0.80 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||1,200|
We examined KrisFlyer’s vRooms when it launched in May 2018. On the face of it this was just another poor value redemption, valuing your miles at 0.8 cents each, which is less than half what you should be aiming to achieve.
With closer examination though we found it was possible to get outsized value from your KrisFlyer miles on a vRooms redemption by using the minimum miles level to offset the cost of a hotel stay.
It didn’t work for all hotels but we found some examples where you can achieve a value of 2 cents per mile by using a small number of KrisFlyer miles against a hotel stay.
Arguably if you can find something similar which works for you and you only have a small number of miles expiring, that could elevate this option to 2nd best value on our list, so it’s probably worth checking before committing to any other method for your expiring miles.
You could even ‘cash out’ only some of your expiring miles this way, leaving the rest for another method, or use a small number of miles multiple times through vRooms if you have several hotel stays coming up.
As we mentioned in our vRooms article you won’t get any hotel loyalty points with these bookings and your status benefits may or may not be applied, depending on the hotel chain, so even if the miles rate makes sense for you these bookings work best with independent or small-scale hotel properties.
Note that vRooms also has a car hire option, however we’ve never been able to find value better than 0.7 to 0.8 cents per mile using this method during our searches.
|Credit towards a purchase at the KrisShop|
|Value:||0.80 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||~600|
Using your KrisFlyer miles to redeem a purchase in the KrisShop gets you a fixed (but poor) value of 0.8 cents per mile.
Aside from the low return, another issue with the KrisShop is that the miles valuation is against their own pricing, but it’s by no means necessarily the cheapest place to obtain an item.
Last time we looked, a 50ml Prada Luna Rossa EDT was selling for S$70 or 8,750 miles through the KrisShop (0.8 cents per mile valuation). The exact same product was S$62 on Lazada with free delivery. That means for that particular item your KrisFlyer miles are actually being valued at just 0.7 cents each.
However it’s even worse than that – the KrisShop usually charges an additional S$6 for shipping for a total purchase of less than S$100 (currently waived during the COVID-19 outbreak), so in normal times you’d be paying 8,750 miles + S$6 for the item which would otherwise cost S$62 including delivery. The value per mile is now down to 0.64 cents.
That’s not to say that all KrisShop items are highly priced relative to what you can pay elsewhere for the same product, just bear in mind that 0.8 cents value per mile is likely the best you’ll do here, in some cases you’ll achieve less.
|Transfer to Velocity points then back to KrisFlyer|
|Value:||0.79 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||7,750|
|Note (April 2020): This option is currently unavailable due to a temporary suspension of the transfer programme between KrisFlyer and Velocity.|
The second Velocity option might have crossed your mind while reading the first one! It’s to transfer your miles to Velocity and then straight back to KrisFlyer again. This will reset their 3-year expiry clock. If that sounds too good to be true – it is. The 1.55:1 conversion ratio from KrisFlyer miles to Velocity points works both ways. That’s right – you lose out in both directions!
That means if you have 10,000 KrisFlyer miles (worth around S$190) expiring and follow this ‘out-in’ process you’ll only have 4,162 of them left (about 42%) once they are back in KrisFlyer. Considering a KrisFlyer mile is worth around 1.9 cents, you’ve lost 58% of their value here, as your 4,162 miles are now worth around S$79.
They will now last for 3 years though.
Remember although the minimum number of KrisFlyer miles you can transfer to Velocity is 5,000 (as in option 3 above) you will need to have a minimum of 5,000 Velocity points in order to transfer back to KrisFlyer, so to successfully complete this process you must transfer at least 7,750 KrisFlyer miles.
If you transfer less than that you won’t be able to transfer back, assuming your Velocity account has a zero balance at the start of this process.
Example 7,750 KrisFlyer miles > 5,000 Velocity points > 3,226 KrisFlyer miles.
|Transfer to Tap for More points|
|Value:||0.73 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||3,000|
Like the Tap for More method above (option 7), only this time we’ll leave the converted miles in Tap for More and use them as a discount for grocery / pharmacy shopping. Whatever date you convert miles into Tap for More, you’ll have until 30th June the following year to use them before they expire.
As we mentioned in option 7, provided you value KrisFlyer miles at 1.9 cents each or more it’s better to convert Tap for More points back into KrisFlyer miles than use them in that scheme (so option 7 is better in our opinion), however this option of leaving them in Tap for More ‘cashes you out’ of KrisFlyer if that’s what you prefer to do.
|Transfer to KrisPay|
|Value:||0.67 cents per mile|
|Min. expiring miles:||No minimum|
Finally we’ve hit rock bottom in value per mile terms – KrisPay. We covered the launch of KrisPay in detail when it launched in mid-2018. Although Singapore Airlines state the value of your KrisFlyer miles when converted to KrisPay miles is “approximate”, we’ve never seen any redemption options that don’t value each one at exactly 0.67 cents, with the exception of a short-term promotion where KrisPay miles briefly had double value.
To label that valuation as ‘awful’ is no understatement. Paying a merchant S$287 for example using KrisPay will cost you 43,050 KrisFlyer miles. That same number of miles would get you a Business Class award ticket from Singapore to Tokyo. Last time I checked you couldn’t even get a Business Class flight to KL for S$287!
Pro Tip: Once you’ve transferred your KrisFlyer miles into KrisPay miles they are stuck there forever, you can’t then transfer them back and renew their validity (that would be too easy!), or even retain their previous validity. Don’t experiment with this.
All 12 options
Here’s a summary table of the 12 options for your expiring KrisFlyer miles, from best value to worst value.
|Option||Min. Expiring Miles||Value per mile|
|A flight redemption||7,500||1.90¢+|
|Extend your miles for a fee||No Min.||1.73¢|
|Transfer to Shangri-La points for ‘Instant Dining Awards’||20,000||1.20¢|
|Transfer to Velocity points||5,000||1.05¢|
|Credit towards an SIA / SilkAir cash ticket||980||1.02¢|
|Credit towards a Scoot cash ticket||1,050||0.95¢|
|Transfer to Tap for More points then back to KrisFlyer||3,000||0.91¢|
|Redeem a vRooms hotel stay||1,200||0.80¢*|
|Credit towards a purchase at the KrisShop||~600||0.80¢|
|Transfer to Velocity points then back to KrisFlyer||7,750||0.79¢|
|Transfer to Tap for More points||3,000||0.73¢|
|Transfer to KrisPay||No Min.||0.67¢|
* Can be better value in some cases.
Note that options 4 and 10 are temporarily unavailable.
Note that the minimum number of expiring miles column doesn’t have to be absolutely limiting. Remember at the start of the article we mentioned that your total balance also comes into play. There is nothing to stop you supplementing the expiring miles with those which aren’t expiring to ‘activate’ a better-value option (though this will adversely affect the average value itself).
For example say you have 200,000 KrisFlyer miles in your account and 18,000 of them are expiring. You really like the sound of the Shangri-La ‘Instant Dining Awards’ option – some of your favourite restaurants are on the list and you’ll definitely use the balance to achieve a saving.
There’s nothing stopping you from topping up using 2,000 of your non-expiring miles to achieve this option. It does erode the value per mile slightly (since those 2,000 should technically be worth 1.9+ cents if left where they are for future flight redemptions), but provided you’re comfortable with the calculation it’s an option to consider.
Tips to avoid expiry
The purpose of this article is to give recommendations on what to do if your KrisFlyer miles are expiring, however you never really want that to be the case in the first place so here’s our advice on how to prevent it from happening (or happening again, if you’re in that boat already).
Remember – keep points in credit card schemes as long as possible.
Banks in Singapore have different rules on how long your credit card loyalty points last before expiring. Just as an example though if you have the Citi PremierMiles card the Citi Miles earned (which transfer 1:1 into KrisFlyer as well as a number of other frequent flyer programs) never expire. Similarly rewards points earned on the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card never expire either.
There is therefore no rush to move miles across to KrisFlyer as soon as you earn them, as the 3-year validity clock then starts ticking straight away.
There is also the financial perspective to consider, for most credit cards you’ll pay S$25-S$30 each time you transfer across to KrisFlyer miles no matter how many you are transferring, so you should be waiting for a reasonable balance to accrue each time so as not to ‘dilute’ the value of the miles too much during the process.
Here are some other examples of credit card points expiry in Singapore:
- BOC Elite Miles: 1 to 2 years expiry
- DBS Altitude: No expiry
- HSBC Visa Infinite: 3 years expiry
- Maybank Horizon: 12-15 months expiry
- OCBC Voyage / 90°N: No expiry
- SCVI / X Card: No expiry
- UOB PRVI Miles: 2 years expiry
If you have one of the KrisFlyer co-brand cards, like the American Express Singapore Airlines or the KrisFlyer UOB Mastercard, one of the biggest downsides is that your miles will be accumulated and credited automatically into your KrisFlyer account each month, so you’re almost immediately exposed to the 3-year expiry clock starting to tick down.
Be happy with your ‘baseline’
Having said all that, there’s something to be said for keeping a reasonable balance in your KrisFlyer account at all times if you can, a sort of ‘base level’ you’re comfortable with in case you need to take advantage of a short notice redemption (e.g. Spontaneous Escapes).
Bear in mind that it can take anywhere from 24 hours to just over a week (or three, BOC!) for most credit card points to transfer into KrisFlyer, so it’s a good idea to have the balance you think you’ll need moved across reasonably well in advance.
Personally we try to keep enough miles in our KrisFlyer accounts for a Business Class saver return to Europe. That’s probably the biggest short-term redemption we’d want to lock in at potentially short notice. It also gives us plenty of flexibility to redeem premium seats across the region and a number of Star Alliance redemptions as necessary.
Whenever our balance drops significantly below that level, we tend to then top up from credit card points back to at least the ‘happy baseline’. Your personal level may of course be quite different and we are lucky to be able to do this, granted not all people can.
Clearly all 12 options aren’t open to everyone, it depends how many miles you have expiring, what travel plans you have coming up over the next year to 15 months, and for some options even your residential address comes into play.
If you find yourself in this situation – start at the top and work your way down through the options. You should then arrive at the best value method which works for you.
Before you rush into a decision, check KrisFlyer’s vRooms option as the value there is variable, and especially for low quantity redemptions you might even achieve up to 2 cents per mile of value if you have a hotel stay coming up. Our full analysis explains why.
If like us you earn a significant chunk of your KrisFlyer miles through credit card spending, you can try to avoid the KrisFlyer expiry issue in the first place by keeping your points in the credit card loyalty scheme as long as comfortably possible until you’re likely to need them in KrisFlyer. Many banks have no expiry at all for certain credit card points, and transfers to KrisFlyer usually take just a few days.
If you have at least 1,000 expiring KrisFlyer miles (up to 100,000 miles) but are not interested in any of the 12 options to extract some value from them and simply intend to let them expire, please don’t do that.
Instead you can donate your miles to Make-A-Wish Singapore, a charity which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. The donated miles will be used to redeem flights for the beneficiaries of Make-A-Wish Singapore in the fulfilment of wishes that require travel. These miles will then never expire and will be available for use by the beneficiaries of the charity.
Just because you didn’t get any use or value out of your miles, someone very deserving might well do.
(Cover Photo: Andy Beales)