Credit Cards Deals

Targeted: UOB Visa Infinite cardholders can buy miles for 1.9 cents each

Selected UOB Visa Infinite cardholders are being offered the option to 'buy miles' at 1.9 cents each until 31 July

Cover Black 2 Narrow (SS)

If you hold UOB’s Visa Infinite card in Singapore, you may have received an invitation for a discounted 1.9% fee until 31st July 2020 when you use the card’s payment facility, allowing you to generate ‘unlimited’ miles for 1.9 cents each, paid as UNI$ and transferable into the KrisFlyer or Asia Miles programmes.

This isn’t a huge discount – the usual fee is 2% as with the UOB PRVI Miles card’s PRVI Pay facility – but it may come in handy for a miles top-up if you fall short of a redemption or need to reach the next miles transfer block.

The offer

If you’ve been targeted you should have received the invitation by mail.

19 Payment Offer

The offer is for a one-time payment between now and 31st July 2020. UOB is also offering a 3-month or 12-month instalment plan option, but at 2.2% or 2.7% fee respectively these are not attractive options for buying miles.

You are only limited by your available credit limit under this offer. If you have a sufficient limit, for example, requesting a S$47,000 payment would generate enough miles for a Singapore Airlines Business Class saver award flight to Japan – effectively for S$893 (the 1.9% fee).

How it works

The beauty of UOB’s credit card payment facilities 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.

In essence, although the ‘price’ is relatively high, the flexibility is excellent.

Here’s an example of how the Visa Infinite Payment Facility works, at the promotional 1.9% fee:

  • $5,000 income tax bill arrives
  • Apply for $5,000 from your UOB VI Payment Facility
  • UOB transfers $5,000 to your bank account
  • UOB charges $5,095 to your credit card ($5,000 + 1.9% fee)
  • UOB credits 2,500 UNI$ to your reward account (5,000 KrisFlyer miles)
  • Effective purchase rate $95/5,000 = 1.9 cents per mile

The top-up option

While the headline rate of 1.9 cents per mile isn’t heart-racing, 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.

KF & AM trans

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 the VI Payment Facility will cost you $38 with this offer, but generates the extra 2,000 miles (1,000 UNI$) required to shift 50,000 miles across to KrisFlyer or Asia Miles in one block.

Do note that you’ll also be charged a $25 fee each time you transfer your UNI$ to frequent flyer miles, however if 50,000 miles is what you need to achieve your desired redemption, these fees (e.g. S$38 + S$25) may be worth paying.

Cheaper options

Remember there are still cheaper options to ‘buy’ miles for large payments like income tax, rent and home renovation bills. These include RentHero (from 1.15 cpm, though UOB cards were recently excluded), ipaymy (from 1.07 cpm for income tax), CardUp (from 1.07 cpm for income tax using our promo code) and Citi PayAll (from 1.33 cpm for income tax).

Pro Tip: Don’t look at the admin fee alone for these payment facilities. Some will give you your regular miles earning rate and some will give you less, so the cost per mile isn’t always more for a higher admin fee.

Some of these may charge a higher fee than this UOB VI offer (e.g. 2% for PayAll) 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 this promotional offer.

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.

Income tax

UOB specifically mentions this offer as an income tax payment option, which it is since you can use the funds they transfer to you to settle your IRAS Notice of Assessment if you wish.

Remember though you’re buying miles at 1.9 cents each, and this year there are some bumper offers for settling your income tax bill.

For the UOB Visa Infinite card you’ll pick up the regular local earn rate of 1.4 miles per dollar for a 1.75% fee this year using one of the following offer codes either from CardUp:

CardUp IT2020 Visa MM

CLICK HERE for our CardUp offer

Or from ipaymy:

ipaymy

TAX2020 Visa Card White Mastercard Card White 2.25% 1.75%
One-time IRAS income tax payment with a Singapore-issued Visa or selected Mastercard.

CLICK HERE to sign up to ipaymy

Both of these will award you miles for your income tax payment with the UOB Visa Infinite card at a competitive cost of 1.23 cents per mile this year.

Cost per mile

Card Method Fee Mpd Cost
per
mile
CardUOB VI ipaymy.png 1.75% 1.4 1.23¢
CardUOB VI CardUp Trans 1.75% 1.4 1.23¢
CardUOB VI UOBtrans
(promo)
1.9% 1.0  1.90¢
CardUOB VI UOBtrans 2% 1.0 2.00¢

As you can see using your UOB Visa Infinite card to settle this year’s income tax statement doesn’t make sense through the bank’s own payment facility, even at this discounted rate.

See the full range of income tax payment options for 2020, starting at a cost of just 1.07 cents per mile, in our dedicated article.

Asia Miles

While most of our readers focus on KrisFlyer miles, you can also transfer your UNI$ into Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles programme. Recently the airline removed its fuel surcharges on award tickets, making redemptions even better value.

CX J B77W 2 (Cathay Pacific)
UNI$ also unlock Cathay Pacific and oneworld redemption options through a partnership with Asia Miles. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

For example you can redeem Singapore to Frankfurt via Hong Kong in Business Class for 65,000 Asia Miles (Singapore Airlines is 92,000 KrisFlyer miles).

SINFRA

Alternatively you can fly Business Class to Hong Kong then First Class on the Hong Kong – Frankfurt flight for 92,300 Asia Miles (Singapore Airlines is 125,000 KrisFlyer miles).

SINFRA F2

Even if you’re buying all the Asia Miles you need for these flights through the UOB VI Payment Facility, it’s costing you:

  • Business Class: S$1,235
  • Business and First Class: S$1,754

UOB Reserve or PRVI Miles?

We haven’t heard from any UOB Reserve cardholders regarding a similar offer, though there may well be one as the bank tends to run promotions for these cards alongside one another. If you’re a Reserve cardholder and you’ve received an offer in the mail too, let us know and we’ll add the details here.

There appears to be no current discount offered to PRVI Miles cardholders through the PRVI Pay facility, which is maintaining its regular 2% fee through 30th June 2020. The bank last offered a discount for PRVI Pay in late 2019.

Summary

1.9 cents per mile is our upper limit to buy KrisFlyer miles, though in the current climate we would probably only do so if necessary for a small top-up. Generally we give Asia Miles a similar valuation.

The main benefit of the UOB VI Payment Facility is its flexibility, given that no bills or proof of payment is required, and with this offer there is no minimum transfer amount.

Hat-tip to Andrew

(Cover Image: Shutterstock)

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