Asia Miles Credit Cards KrisFlyer

UOB PRVI Miles Review (2020)

Cover Small (Johannes Plenio)

Here’s our review of the UOB PRVI Miles credit cards issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.

Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to KrisFlyer miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 30th July 2020.

UOB PRVI Miles
Card Trans
1.4 mpd
local

2.4 mpd
FCY

6 mpd
travel
APPLY HERE
UOB PRVI Miles
Card Trans

1.4 mpd
local

2.4 mpd
FCY

6 mpd
travel
APPLY HERE

  Mainly Miles Says


An entry-level income requirement and attractive miles earning rates, plus no annual fee in the first year, makes UOB’s PRVI Miles cards look like an obvious addition to your wallet for general spend both in Singapore and overseas.

They do have their drawbacks however, including an annoying rounding issue relating to how miles are awarded for smaller transactions, plus no complimentary lounge access benefits.

Let’s take a look at the details.

  Three Versions


There are three versions of the UOB PRVI Miles credit card, covering all the major network operators – Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

The fees, miles and benefits of the three cards are almost identical, except where we’ve specified otherwise in this review.

3 cards

  Eligibility


  • Minimum Age: 21
  • Minimum Income (Singaporean / PR): $30,000/yr
  • Minimum Income (Non-Singaporean / PR): $40,000/yr

The UOB PRVI Miles cards previously had a $50,000 annual income requirement ($80,000 for the Visa card), however this was cut in 2018 to the more accessible entry-level $30,000 per year for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, making them widely accessible.

  Annual Fees & Interest Rates


  • Annual Fee (principal): $256.80 (first year free)
  • Annual Fee (supplementary): $128.40 (first two cards always free)
  • Fee waiver: PRVI Miles Amex annual card fee waived with $50,000+ retail spend in the previous membership year

The annual fee for the UOB PRVI Miles cards is $256.80, though it is waived for the first year. The Amex version has annual fee waiver if you spent at least $50,000 on the card (including on supplementary cards) in your previous membership year.

Promo
(Image: UOB)

Other fees and interest rates for the UOB PRVI Miles cards include:

  • EIR: 26.9%
  • Interest-free period: 21 days
  • Minimum payment: 3% (capped at $50)
  • Late payment fee: $100
  • Cash advance fee: 8% (minimum $15)
  • Overlimit fee: $40

  Regular earn rates


The UOB PRVI Miles cards earn:

  • 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and
  • 2.4 miles for every $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency*).

These are currently the highest earn rates for general spend among entry-level (30k income) cards in Singapore.

Later on we’ll take a look at how the earn rates may not be quite as they seem for smaller transactions, however, due to UOB’s miles rounding policy.

* Note that for this card online transactions made in foreign currencies, but where the merchant payment gateway is in Singapore, will not be treated as overseas transactions and will earn the regular 1.4 miles per $1 spent.

  Bonus earn rates


There are some higher earning rates for using the UOB PRVI Miles cards at specific travel companies, as follows:

  • 6 miles per $1 spent on hotel bookings at Agoda. Valid until 31st December 2020, with bonus miles credited up to three months after departure from the hotel. See agoda.com/prvimiles for full details.
  • 6 miles per $1 spent on selected flight and hotel bookings at Expedia. Participating airlines include Finnair, Garuda Indonesia and Turkish Airlines. Valid until 30th April 2021. See expedia.com.sg/prvimiles for full details.
  • 6 miles per $1 spent on selected flight and hotel bookings at UOB Travel. Participating airlines include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Qatar Airways. Valid until 31st December 2020. See prvi.uobtravel.com for full details.

  Sign-up bonus


There is currently no miles-earning sign-up bonus for the UOB PRVI Miles cards.

When a sign-up bonus is offered, typically 10,000 miles for meeting a certain spend threshold in the first 60 days of card membership, UOB annoyingly limits the promotion to the first ‘x thousand’ to apply and meet the spend criteria (here’s an example).

That usually means at the end of the spend period having pushed potentially several thousands of dollars spend through the card, you may well be told that you simply didn’t qualify and therefore receive nothing. It’s effectively gambling and something other banks in Singapore do not expect you to do in our experience.

UOB though are masters at this, so when the next sign-up bonus for the PRVI Miles cards comes along, don’t expect anything different!

  Ongoing miles bonus (Amex)


If you opt for the American Express PRVI Miles card, and spend a minimum of S$50,000 on the card in each membership year, you’ll have the annual fee waived and will also receive 20,000 bonus miles.

  Eligible transactions


Eligible transactions on the UOB PRVI Miles card for miles earning are all retail purchases including recurring payments, with the exception of NETS and NETS-related transactions, 0% Instalment Payment Plans, SmartPay, personal loan, balance/funds transfers, cash advances, fees, interests, finance charges, late payment charges, annual fee charges, reversals, other financial charges.

The following transaction types are also excluded from miles earning:

All transactions which are classified under the following Merchant Category Codes:

  • 4829 Wire Transfer/Remittance
  • 5199 Nondurable Goods
  • 5960 Direct Marketing - Insurance Services
  • 6012 Member Financial Institution–Merchandise and Services
  • 6050 Quasi Cash–Financial Institutions, Merchandise and Services
  • 6051 Quasi Cash–Merchant (Non-Financial Institutions – Foreign Currency, Non-Fiat Currency, Cryptocurrency)
  • 6211 Securities–Brokers and Dealers
  • 6300 Insurance Sales/Underwrite
  • 6399 Insurance - Default
  • 6513 Real Estate Agents & Managers – Rentals
  • 6529 Quasi Cash-Remote Stored Value Load-Financial Institute Rentals
  • 6530 Quasi Cash-Remote Stored Value Load-Merchant Rentals
  • 6534 Quasi Cash-Remote Money Transfers
  • 6540 Stored Value Card Purchase/Load
  • 7349 Clean/Maint/Janitorial Serv aka Property Management
  • 7511 Quasi Cash – Truck Stop Trxns
  • 7995 Gambling - Betting, including Lottery Tickets, Casino Gaming Chips, Off-Track Betting, and Wagers at Race Tracks
  • 8211 Schools, Elementary and Secondary
  • 8220 Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools and Junior Colleges
  • 8241 Schools, Correspondence
  • 8244 Schools, Business and Secretarial
  • 8249 Schools, Trade and Vocational
  • 8299 Schools and Educational Services–Not Elsewhere Classified
  • 8398 Organizations, Charitable and Social Service
  • 8661 Organizations, Religious
  • 8651 Organisations, Political
  • 9211 Court Costs including Alimony and Child Support
  • 9222 Fines
  • 9223 Bail and Bond Payments
  • 9311 Tax Payment
  • 9402 Postal Services—Government Only
  • 9405 Intra-Government Purchases—Government Only
  • 9399 Government Services—not elsewhere classified

Miles are also not awarded for:

  • Stored Value Card Purchase/Load (including Grab mobile wallet top-ups)
  • Selected transactions on wire transfers
  • Payments to Non-Financial Institutions (e.g. crypto-currencies etc)
  • Payment of Funds to Prepaid Accounts (see T&C for full list)
  • All transactions or payments made at, via or to AXS

Notable exclusions for these cards are payments for education, Grab wallet top-ups, and insurance.

This list is subject to change, so check the UOB PRVI Miles Terms and Conditions (section 1) for the latest information.

➔  Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?


No, instead of being credited miles directly you’ll accrue ‘UNI$’ for your regular spending on this card.

These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 1:2 ratio (so for $10,000 of local spending, you’ll net UNI$7,000, which can be converted to 14,000 KrisFlyer miles).

  Be careful of SMART$ merchants (Visa / MC)


UOB partners with some retailers to offer SMART$ rather than UNI$. This is effectively a ‘cashback’ scheme, offering a means to offset your next purchase with accumulated SMART$ (the rate is not attractive compared to miles earning).

Unfortunately, it overrides the UNI$ scheme. That means if you make an in-store transaction at a retailer which is part of the SMART$ scheme (e.g. at a Cold Storage outlet), you won’t earn 1.4 miles per dollar for your transaction.

This applies to the UOB PRVI Miles Visa and Mastercard, however you will still earn miles as normal with the American Express version, which does not participate in the SMART$ programme.

Pro Tip: Don’t worry about earning SMART$ instead of UNI$ online at the likes of Giant, Cold Storage and Jasons with your UOB PRVI Miles Visa or Mastercard. SMART$ only apply to in-store purchases for these cards, with online transactions excluded from that programme, so you’ll earn UNI$ as usual.

Marketplace Tanglin
Your UOB PRVI Miles Visa or Mastercard won’t get you 1.4 miles per dollar at several supermarkets in Singapore

You can view a list of UOB SMART$ merchants here. Be careful of the following:

  • Cathay Cineplexes
  • Cold Storage
  • Giant
  • Guardian
  • Jasons
  • Marketplace
  • Shell

Don’t use your PRVI Miles Visa or Mastercard if you make an in-store purchase at a merchant in this list, as you’ll get SMART$ instead of 1.4 miles per dollar.

  When do UNI$ credit?


UNI$ should reflect in your account once the transaction posts, which takes anywhere between one and three days.

You won’t have to wait until your monthly statement for the UNI$ to be added, so if you’re making a purchase to achieve a short-term top-up they should be available to you within a few days.

  Do UNI$ expire?


Yes, your UNI$ expire 2 years after you earn them (by quarterly period). This is a significant downside to the UOB credit cards because many other banks tend not to have expiry rules for their loyalty points.

For example, miles accrued with the DBS Altitude and Citi PremierMiles cards do not expire as long as your card account remains active.

Remember your UNI$ will have a further three years validity once transferred to KrisFlyer miles, and will never expire if transferred to Asia Miles provided you earn or redeem at least 1 mile every 18 months in that programme.

 UNI$ pool with your other cards


If you earn UNI$ through an existing credit card account, such as the UOB PPV card, your points balance will be pooled together into a single balance for you to redeem from.

If you cancel your card, any UNI$ accrued will survive in your ‘pool’ provided you still have at least one other UOB credit card earning UNI$.

  What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?


It’ll cost you $25 each time you transfer your UNI$ to KrisFlyer miles.

  Auto conversion option (KrisFlyer)


There is also the option to enrol in UOB’s auto miles conversion program, with payment of $50 per year. In that case your miles will be transferred automatically to KrisFlyer on the last calendar day of each month.

UNI$ will be converted at the end of each month in blocks of UNI$2,500 for 5,000 KrisFlyer miles.

A minimum balance of UNI$15,000 will remain in your account and must be maintained at all times.

That UNI$15,000 will not be auto converted to KrisFlyer miles. Only your UNI$ amount above UNI$15,000 will be automatically converted to KrisFlyer miles each month.

That means you’ll need at least UNI$17,500 in your rewards account for a transfer to take place.

If you wish to enrol in the auto conversion programme, the application instructions are here.

↥  Is there a minimum transfer amount?


The minimum volume of miles you can transfer into KrisFlyer is 10,000 (i.e. UNI$5,000), and they must then be in blocks of 10,000 (i.e. UNI$5,000).

  How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?


14 to 21 working days is the official period stated by UOB rewards, which implies that it might take over a month. If you had your eye on a redemption seat, it may be long gone by then!

Luckily the FlyerTalk forum post where KrisFlyer members share the actual number of days taken to transfer miles across from various banks, suggests that 1 to 3 days is more typical from UOB, with 7 days being the longest, much more reasonable.

  Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?


Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. The same earning rate, transfer cost, and minimum transfer ‘blocks’ apply if you choose to credit to Asia Miles.

KF & AM trans

Note that the auto conversion option mentioned above does not support Asia Miles transfers. If you enrol in the auto conversion programme you will not be eligible to transfer into Asia Miles.

⟳  UNI$ rounding


One big drawback of UOB credit cards is that UNI$ are awarded for every $5 block of spending charged to your card.

When you are charging smaller amounts, that does start to have a big impact on the effective miles per dollar rate you are actually earning for the transaction.

UNI$ awarded
Card Trans
Charge
(SGD)
Local Spend FCY Spend
$4.99 0
(0 mpd)
0
(0 mpd)
$5.00 3.5
(1.4 mpd)
6
(2.4 mpd)
$9.99 3.5
(0.7 mpd)
6
(1.2 mpd)
$10.00 7
(1.4 mpd)
12
(2.4 mpd)

One cent can make all the difference here, and to truly optimise the maximum number of UNI$ earned, you should plan your spending in $5 blocks especially at the lower transaction levels (e.g. $5 / $10 / $15).

Try to avoid falling just below a $5 block if possible, or only exceed a $5 block by a small amount.

The impact becomes less important with higher amounts, for example let’s say you make a local transaction with your UOB PRVI Miles card as follows:

  • $249.99 – 171.5 UNI$ awarded (343 miles / 1.37 mpd)
  • $250.00 – 175 UNI$ awarded (350 miles / 1.4 mpd)

As you can see falling 1 cent short of a $5 block size in this case isn’t significantly affecting your miles per dollar rate in the same way that a $9.99 vs. $10.00 spend is.

↥  Minimum spend to earn UNI$


Since any amount in Singapore dollars is first be rounded down to the next $5 denomination, $5.00 is the minimum transaction amount to earn any reward points using the UOB PRVI Miles cards.

Smaller transactions, including those converted from foreign currency into SGD which are subsequently charged to your card account at less than $5, will not earn any points.

For sub-$5 transactions, consider the DBS Altitude card (see our review) with a $1.67 minimum spend to earn miles, or the Citi PremierMiles card (see our review) with a $1 minimum spend.

  What else can UNI$ be used for?


There are nearly 200 options for redeeming your accrued UNI$, primarily across leisure, dining and retail vouchers.

As usual whenever redeeming reward points for cash equivalent items, these represent poor value. For example, a $20 Watsons voucher will set you back UNI$2,000, however that same amount would be worth 4,000 KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles, which we value at around $76, nearly four times the voucher alternative.

Other voucher options yield similar value (e.g. UNI$1,000 for a $10 voucher), with perhaps the best cash equivalent option being a $100 rebate on your card account (credited in the next statement cycle), for UNI$8,700.

Rebate

Even this remains poor value relative to airline miles, with UNI$8,700 equivalent to 17,400 miles, worth around $330.

  FCY fee / cpm overseas


UOB imposes a 3.25% fee on transactions made in foreign currency on all three of its PRVI Miles cards.

  • FCY fee: 3.25%

With a 2.4 cents per mile overseas earn rate that makes it one of the more competitive cards to use for these transactions, with an effective cost per mile of 1.43 cents (we value KrisFlyer miles at 1.9 cents each).

Cost per mile on overseas credit card transactions by card
(Best to worst, July 2020)

Card Fee Miles per $ Cost per mile
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.pngSCVI 3.5% 3.0* 1.22¢*
HSBCviNEW2HSBC VI
(Step up rate)
2.8% 2.25** 1.33¢**
AscendCC.pngKF Ascend
(Jun & Dec)
2.5% 2.0 1.36¢
Card.jpgOCBC Voyage 3.0% 2.2 1.45¢
Card Trans.png

Card Visa

Card Amex

UOB PRVI Miles

3.25% 2.4 1.43¢
Card.pngMaybank Horizon Visa 2.75% 2.0 1.48¢
HSBCviNEW2HSBC VI
(Regular rate)
2.8% 2.0 1.50¢
CardOCBC 90°N
3.0% 2.1 1.52¢
Card.pngBOC EM 3.0% 2.0 1.60¢
Altitude Card AmexDBS Altitude Amex 3.0% 2.0 1.60¢
Altitude Card.jpgDBS Altitude Visa 3.25% 2.0 1.71¢
Card2019.pngCiti PM 3.25% 2.0 1.71¢
CardX Card 3.5% 2.0 1.83¢
Card 2KrisFlyer UOB 3.25% 1.2 2.86¢

* 3 mpd earn rate for the SCVI card is subject to a minimum spend of $2,000 (any currency) in the same statement cycle.
** Step up earn rate for HSBC VI is only applicable from year 2 of card membership onwards, provided you spent at least $50,000 in the previous year.

Cost per mile also accounts for an additional 0.3% ‘spread’ over money changer currency rates, though this doesn’t apply to all banks and all foreign currencies, so is a worst-case scenario.

  Annual fee waiver


When your annual renewal comes up, UOB will automatically deduct UNI$ as follows for fee waiver:

  • Full waiver: UNI$6,500 (previously UNI$6,000)
  • Half waiver: UNI$3,250 (previously UNI$3,000)

“Unless cancelled, your Card will be automatically renewed upon each of your Card anniversary dates and the annual fees will debited to your Card Account. If you have enough unused UNI$ in your Account, your UNI$ will be automatically used to pay your annual fees.”

UOB Cardmembers Agreement

Once this appears on your statement, you can call and ask for a waiver of the UNI$. Sometimes this is successful.

If insufficient UNI$ exist in your account at the time of renewal, you will be charged the cash renewal fee. No miles are awarded for payment of the annual fee, even if you pay the fee in cash.

UOB PRVI Miles Amex cardholders will have the annual renewal fee waived with a spend of $50,000 in the previous membership year, with 20,000 miles awarded, as noted earlier in this review.

  ‘PRVI Pay’


Launched in mid-2017, PRVI Pay is designed to allow you to use your UOB PRVI Miles card to pay bills like income tax or property tax, where credit card payment wouldn’t normally be available, and earn some extra points in the process.

In reality though, it can be used to pay for just about anything you like. That’s because UOB won’t be making the payment directly to the beneficiary, but directly to your bank account. What you then do with the money is up to you (they don’t even ask).

PRVI Pay 2

If you take up this offer you’ll be charged a 2% administration fee on the total amount, but in return will be awarded 1 mile per $1. Here’s an example:

  • $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 ($5,000 + 2% fee)
  • UOB credits 2,500 UNI$ to your reward account (5,000 KrisFlyer miles)

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.

You’ll notice that in this offer you are ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles for 2 cents each ($100 / 5,000).

Is it a good deal?

It isn’t a terrible deal, but it is above the ceiling level at which we think anyone should be ‘buying’ KrisFlyer miles, with the possible exception of a relatively small amount at the last minute to achieve a specific redemption.

If you have a Standard Chartered Visa Infinite (SCVI) card, their income tax payment deal is much better value allowing you to ‘buy’ miles at 1.1 cents each (see our review for details), however you have to show them a genuine income tax bill to get the funds.

For other bills like monthly rent, property tax and school fees (or income tax for non-SCVI holders), stick with CardUp for the payments as you’ll get your usual 1.4 miles per $1 spent for a 2.25% fee, so you’re buying the miles cheaper there at 1.57 cents per mile.

However if you just need the miles and have no such bills to pay, this ‘PRVI Pay’ feature is a good fallback option to have, allowing you to generate an almost unlimited number miles, subject to your credit limit of course.

This can also be a good way of topping up your miles to the nearest 10,000 prior to making a transfer, if you need to, so that you don’t end up with a small leftover amount.

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.

Pro Tip: Watch out for PRVI Pay special offers. Sometimes these are targeted and mailed to specific customers, while other times they are available to all. We’ve seen deals such as 1.8% fee or 1.9% fee in the past, reducing the cost per mile accordingly.

The full terms and conditions for PRVI Pay can be found here.

  Recurring promotions


UOB do tend to run bonus miles promotions throughout the year for specific purchases using your PRVI Miles card, many of which you may be able to take advantage of.

Recently these have included:

These are welcome and useful bonuses and you can probably expect to take advantage of these once or twice a year.

  Free airport limo rides (Amex)


UOB PRVI Miles Amex cardholders are entitled to up to two complimentary airport limo rides per calendar quarter (i.e. Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, etc.), from almost anywhere in Singapore to Changi Airport only (not eligible for airport pickup).

To trigger each complimentary trip, a very reasonable spend of S$1,000 in foreign currency transactions (non-SGD) is required in the same quarter as the complimentary ride is issued.

This service is provided by Maxicab Limousine Services using a Mercedes-Benz E-Class for up to four passengers.

Mercedes Dash.jpg
You can take up to 8 complimentary limo rides to Changi Airport per year with the UOB PRVI Miles Amex card

You’ll have to book online at maxicab.sg/uob two days prior to your departure date.

The cost of airport transfer will initially be charged to your card account, and then credited in the form of rebate at the end of the quarter.

That means you can be waiting a while for the rebate – e.g. for an early July booking you may not be reimbursed until the end of December!

Do note that a $10 surcharge applies for each of the following (if applicable):

  • Pick up from 11.30pm to 6.30am
  • Late bookings (less than 2 days before travel)
  • More than 4 pieces of luggage
  • More than 4 passengers
  • Sports equipment (bike box or golf bag)
  • More than 15 minutes waiting time
  • Pickup from Sentosa Island

Pickup from Jurong Island is not included. Some other fees are also applicable, for late cancellation, etc. Full terms and conditions for the limo benefit are available here (See Section 3).

We have a full rundown of which credit cards provide this service, however the UOB PRVI Miles Amex deal offers the lowest ‘spend per ride’ across the five cards in Singapore offering this perk.

  Terms and conditions


Here are links to the full terms and conditions applicable to the UOB PRVI Miles cards and the UOB Rewards programme.

 UOB PRVI Miles T&C
 UOB Rewards Programme T&C

Our summary


The UOB PRVI Miles cards now have the highest miles earning rates for general spend both in Singapore and overseas in the entry-level 30k income requirement category.

For a local spend of $50,000 per year, it’s good for an additional 10,000 miles (70,000 instead of 60,000) compared to the popular DBS Altitude and Citi PremierMiles alternatives.

The drawbacks however are the relatively limited range of transfer partners, especially in comparison to Citi, not to mention that you may earn significantly fewer miles than advertised for smaller transactions due to the annoying $5 block rounding issue for UNI$ awarded.

UNI$ also expire 2 years after they are earned, forcing you to transfer to miles potentially more often that you might like. In the case of KrisFlyer this will also start the 3-year expiry clock ticking.

3PRVI v2

On the plus side the PRVI Miles Amex version stands out with some nice additional benefits, like 20,000 bonus miles on renewal, annual fee waiver and some complimentary airport transfers, however these are only possible if you push a decent level of spending through it each year (>$50,000).

The Amex card also means no need to avoid UOB’s pesky SMART$ merchants, so you can make in-store transactions at the likes of Cold Storage without having to miss out on miles or revert to an alternative card.

UOB’s relatively regular bonus miles offers for PRVI Miles cardholders can also be useful, having included categories such as bus and MRT rides, groceries and online spend over recent months.

Finally, ‘PRVI Pay’ offers a useful way of topping up your UNI$ balance, for those comfortable purchasing at 2 cents per mile. It is also occasionally offered at a discounted rate.

Our Rating
3.5 / 5
among entry-level general spend cards

UOB PRVI Miles
Card Trans

APPLY HERE

Best in class: A must-have for the miles earner in Singapore
Excellent: A leader in its category with few if any downsides
Very good: Drawbacks largely outweighed by the positive aspects
Good: Useful benefits despite some poor features vs. other cards
Average: Worth considering but not an essential addition to your wallet
Conflicted: Some benefits but much better cards exist in the same category
Poor: Few benefits worth having
Very poor: Almost no benefits, not recommended
Awful: Not worth considering

Links on Mainly Miles may pay us an affiliate commission.

(Cover Photo: Johannes Plenio)

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