Credit Cards

Why Citi PremierMiles is still our favourite general spend credit card

It may not have the best earn rate on the market, but we've stayed loyal to the Citi PremierMiles card for close to a decade now.

Here's our rundown of the reasons it keeps its slot in our wallets.

Among the many miles earning credit cards to choose from in Singapore, there’s one that’s had pride of place in our wallets for nearly a decade now, making it our most longstanding general spend option – the Citi PremierMiles card.

While it’s not perfect (no single card ever is), there are many reasons why we’ve stuck by this one so long for general spending. Let’s take a look at the reasons you should probably consider it if you don’t have one, or the reasons you should probably be using it if your card is gathering dust or resigned to the sock drawer.

Citi PremierMiles

1.2 mpd
Local Spend

2 mpd
FCY Spend

11
Airline Transfer Partners
READ OUR REVIEW
Citi PremierMiles

1.2 mpd
Local Spend

2 mpd
FCY Spend

11
Airline Transfer Partners
READ OUR REVIEW

On the face of it, there’s nothing too exciting about the Citi PremierMiles card. With earn rates of 1.2 mpd in Singapore and 2 mpd overseas, you can do just as well or even quite a bit better with other general spend products on the market.

Those include the OCBC Voyage (1.3 mpd local / 2.2 mpd overseas) and the UOB PRVI Miles (1.4 mpd local / 2.4 mpd overseas).


 

 

Regular bonus offers

Another great thing about the Citi PremierMiles card, especially in recent years, has been the introduction of regular bonus miles offers – worth up to 8 miles per dollar in some cases.

Some of these are also available to other Citi credit cards, like the Rewards and Prestige versions, while some are specific to PremierMiles cardholders. Examples include:

There are also some great offers still live for the card at the time of writing:

One thing I don’t think anyone can rightly say is that Citi doesn’t give us many bonus miles earning opportunities!

Citi provides its PremierMiles customers with regular bonus earning opportunities, including an ongoing 4 mpd for food delivery and home entertainment spend, with no upper cap. (Image: Citi)

While these clearly won’t all be of interest to everyone, most of our readers can pretty much count on at least one or two useful bonus offers to take advantage of each year with this card.

Multiple airline transfer partners

The key to this card is Citi’s multiple transfer partners, allowing you to unlock a variety of ‘sweet spots’ by transferring into non-KrisFlyer programmes.

When the Citi PremierMiles card first launched in 2007, transfers were available from Citi Miles into just four frequent flyer programmes:

  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Northwest Airlines WorldPerks (later merged into Delta SkyMiles)
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Good news is that today Citi has by far the widest range of frequent flyer programmes on its transfer list compared to the other credit cards in Singapore, with conversion of Citi Miles (and Citi ThankYou Points) now supported into no fewer than 11 different airline miles schemes.

These then allow a variety of redemptions not only on the respective FFP’s own airline but almost all oneworld and SkyTeam carriers in turn, and through their partner awards, allowing you to redeem on even some of the most obscure airlines globally.

For example, you can redeem Asia Miles on Gulf Air, BA Avios on Aer Lingus and Qatar miles on GOL, to name a few options.

Singapore credit card to FFP transfers

    AMEXtrans BOCtrans2 CITItrans DBStrans2 HSBCtrans2 MAYBANKtrans2 OCBCtrans2 SCtrans2 UOBtrans2
Star Alliance Star KF Logo trans
BR            
TKtrans                
TGtrans              
UAnewtrans                
oneworld AM Logo trans    
AVIOStrans              
MHtrans            
QRtrans              
QFF          
SkyTeam Circle CItrans                
AFKLtrans              
Others Circle EYtrans              
EKtrans              

This is a stark contrast to come banks, with OCBC only transferring into KrisFlyer, in common with the FFPs co-brand credit cards. UOB isn’t much better, only transferring into KrisFlyer and Asia Miles programmes, though Amex (non-co-brand cards) and Standard Chartered do have a more decent selection.

We’ve personally transferred Citi Miles into British Airways Avios (for good value intra-Asia redemptions) and Asia Miles (for the Qatar Airways Qsuite to Europe), but Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles and the newly revalued Qatar Airways Privilege Club are also great options.

Example: Business Class to Europe

FFP Singapore    Frankfurt    Singapore
(round-trip)
Routing Cost
Non-stop 184,000 miles
+ S$219
QR via DOH

150,000 miles
+ S$246
CX via HKG 130,000 miles
+ S$456
TK via IST 90,000 miles
+ S$748

While all of these options involve paying higher taxes and fees (from slightly more to significantly more!), as you can see the miles savings can be significant and almost always outweigh the additional cash component.

Qatar’s Qsuite is an excellent redemption option from Singapore when transferring Citi Miles into Privilege Club, saving you 34,000 miles per person vs. KrisFlyer on a round-trip to Europe, with similar taxes. (Photo: Qatar Airways)

For shorter trips, you should always consider having an Avios balance on hand, offering some serious savings over the KrisFlyer programme both in Business and Economy Class.

Example: Avios short-haul from SIN

Routing Business Class
(one-way)
Singapore

Kuala Lumpur
19,000 miles
+ S$52
12,500 miles
+ S$58
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Malaysia_Airlines-Small.png
Singapore

Bangkok
25,000 miles
+ S$55
16,500 miles
+ S$71
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cathay_Pacific_Small.png
Singapore

Hong Kong
30,500 miles
+ S$52
22,000 miles
+ S$67
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cathay_Pacific_Small.png
Singapore

Colombo
39,000 miles
+ S$52
22,000 miles
+ S$112
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is SriLankan_Airlines_Small.png
Routing Economy Class
(one-way)
Singapore

Kuala Lumpur
7,500 miles
+ S$52
6,000 miles
+ S$55
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Malaysia_Airlines-Small.png
Singapore

Bangkok
12,500 miles
+ S$55
9,000 miles
+ S$71
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cathay_Pacific_Small.png
Singapore

Hong Kong
15,000 miles
+ S$52
11,000 miles
+ S$67
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cathay_Pacific_Small.png
Singapore

Colombo
18,500 miles
+ S$52
11,000 miles
+ S$112
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is SriLankan_Airlines_Small.png
Singapore

Perth
20,000 miles
+ S$98
13,000 miles
+ S$87
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Qantas_Small.png
Singapore

Sydney
28,000 miles
+ S$110
20,750 miles
+ S$127
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Qantas_Small.png

Avios can also work out as a good deal on short intra-Europe flights on British Airways and other oneworld carriers, domestic flights in Japan, Japan – South Korea flights with JAL, and domestic flights in Australia with Qantas.

Evergreen miles

A major benefit of Citi Miles is that they never expire as long as your card account remains open, meaning you can keep your hard earned stash safe from the time-limited validity rules of many frequent flyer programmes, including KrisFlyer.

The PremierMiles card isn’t unique here of course, with products like the DBS Altitude also featuring non-expiring points, but this can’t be said for all general spend cards.

Credit card points expiry examples

Card Miles / Points Expiry
BOC Elite Miles 1 – 2 years
Citi PM No expiry
DBS Altitude No expiry
OCBC 90°N No expiry
UOB PRVI Miles 2 years
X Card No expiry

The big advantage here is over the UOB PRVI Miles cards, whose UNI$ expire after 2 years (by earning quarter).

Then you’ve got the KrisFlyer co-brand credit cards, which automatically transfer miles monthly into your KrisFlyer account, leaving you immediately exposed to the 3-year expiry rule – not a great position to be in at the best of times, but even more relevant during ‘COVID times’.

Fast transfers

Keeping your miles at the bank side where they remain safe from expiry is one thing, but what if you need to jump on a redemption ticket at short notice?

Luckily Citi is one of the quicker banks when it comes to transfers into frequent flyer miles. Transfer times from our own personal data points are as follows:

  • KrisFlyer: 24 hours (48 hours for transfers initiated on a Sunday)
  • Asia Miles: 48 hours
  • BA Avios: 24 hours

Instant transfers would of course be better, but apart from transferring into KrisFlyer via the Kris+ app from DBS and UOB (for a 15% poorer conversion ratio!), there are no credit cards in Singapore providing this option.

Earn miles for S$1+ transactions

Unlike UOB and OCBC cards, which earn no miles at all for sub-S$5 transactions and then round your payment down to the next S$5 when calculating miles accrual, Citi is quite a bit more generous.

Transactions are rounded down to the next whole S$1, meaning even a S$1 deal from 7-Eleven will earn you miles (jus avoid purchases of S$0.99 or less).

Sign-up bonuses

Citi is currently offering its best sign-up bonus in a while for the PremierMiles card, with 34,200 bonus miles for meeting a spend of S$9,000 in the first three full calendar months from card account opening, for those who haven’t held a Citi card in 12 months prior to 1st November 2020.

Citi promotes this bonus as a 45,000 miles one, because it includes the miles you would earn anyway for spending S$9,000 locally at 1.2 mpd

The annual fee of S$192.60 is payable for this offer, though with a cost per mile of 0.56 cents each (S$192.60 ÷ 34,200) that’s more than justified, provided you have S$9,000+ to spend on the card in the first three months.

Terms and conditions are available here.

34,200 miles when you spend

APPLY HERE

There’s also an alternative deal through SingSaver until 31st August 2021, which may also suit those who don’t want to make S$9,000 of spend on the card in the first three months, instead being eligible to receive a Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer (worth S$599) or Apple Watch SE (worth S$419).

This one’s valid for those who haven’t held a Citi credit card in the last 12 months prior to application.

The offer is applicable for a number of Citi credit cards including the PremierMiles card, and is subject to just S$500 minimum spend in the first 30 days of card approval, with first year fee waiver.

Not interested in the gifts? SingSaver is also offering a S$350 cash alternative.

Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer (worth S$599)
or
Apple Watch SE (worth S$419)
or
S$350 cash

APPLY HERE

For the SingSaver offer, you’ll have to follow these application steps:

  1. Apply via this link, which will take you to the SingSaver landing page for Citi cards.
  2. Click ‘Apply Now’ and enter your email address on the redemption form, then click ‘Confirm’.
  3. Submit your application and take a screenshot of your Application Reference Number (12 alphanumeric characters)
  4. Within 14 days of application, complete the SingSaver rewards form sent to your email address.
  5. Have the card approved by 30th September 2021, activate it and make a minimum spend of S$500 as within the first 30 days of account opening.

You’ll then receive a rewards notification from SingSaver confirming the redemption details for your gift within four calendar months (do take note, it’s far from immediate!).

Terms and conditions are available here.

Annual fee

The Citi PremierMiles card has no annual fee in the first year, but after that it’s S$192.60 per annum. In our experience, you can usually have the fee waived, but if you can’t then not all is lost – you’ll pick up 10,000 miles when you pay it.

While that’s buying miles at a slightly unattractive 1.93 cents each, it’s also worth considering that the PremierMiles card also gets you two complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits each year too.

The downsides

Despite its many benefits, there are some things about the Citi PremierMiles card we don’t like.

  • Citi Miles don’t ‘pool’ with Citi ThankYou Points earned on your other Citi cards, like the Prestige or Rewards products. That means those cards can’t help you reach the next transfer threshold, and you’re lumbered with paying the S$26.75 transfer fee for each card account you hold (even ThankYou points don’t combine between different cards, unless you can sweet-talk the CSO).
  • You can only transfer Citi Miles in 10,000-mile blocks, which was increased from a much more flexible 500-mile block policy in March 2017. That can be annoying when you need to make a transfer, but fall just short of the next-higher block threshold.
  • Citi has quite a wide exclusions list, with payments for Insurance, Public Transport, Utilities, and Telco bills excluded from miles earning. To earn for those transactions you’ll have to use the bank’s PayAll facility (2% fee) or Cardup / ipaymy.
  • Citi’s FCY fee is high at 3.25% fee for transactions in foreign currency. With a 2 mpd earn rate, using the Citi PremierMiles card for foreign currency transactions means buying miles at a fairly steep 1.71 cents each, so you may want to consider other cards for general overseas spend.

Summary

All things considered, it’s hard to argue against the Citi PremierMiles card being one of the best general spend credit cards in Singapore.

With its regular promotional offers to earn extra miles, or buy miles at attractive rates for meeting spend targets or via PayAll, you can usually count on a good opportunity or two each year to top up your balance.

In our experience, this goes a long way to making up the difference in earn rates between the PremierMiles card and options like the 1.4 mpd UOB PRVI Miles.

Most of all though it’s probably the transfer partner variety that sets apart this general spend option from the others on the market – unlocking some great ‘sweet spots’ for your post-COVID travel, including to and from Europe.

Fast Facts

 

CardMC2019

Annual fee: $192.60/yr (first year free)
EIR:
26.9%
Local earn rate:
1.2 miles per $1
Overseas earn rate:
2 miles per $1
Bonus earn rate: 4 miles per $1
Lounge access: 2 per year (Priority Pass)
Foreign transaction fee:
3.25%
Minimum Age:
21
Minimum income:
$30,000/yr

Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer (worth S$599)
or
Apple Watch SE (worth S$419)
or
S$350 cash

APPLY HERE

34,200 miles when you spend

APPLY HERE

 

What are your experiences with the Citi PremierMiles card? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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