At one point or other, we’ve probably all been in the same situation. Staring at an available KrisFlyer Saver award flight on the laptop screen or mobile app – perfect dates, perfect timings, but just a painfully small amount more miles than you currently have in your account to lock it in for you or your travelling party.
Several transfer methods can recharge your KrisFlyer balance in the next few days or weeks, but what are the chances of those perfect award seats still being available then? Especially for near-term redemptions, it’s a big risk to take.
Thankfully there are some instant (yes, absolutely instant) and quick (within 24 hours) ways to top up your balance, and they might just save the day.
Almost everyone in Singapore makes at least some of their regular spending at stores like NTUC FairPrice, Cheers, FairPrice online, Unity Pharmacy or Caltex petrol stations.
If you’re the same, you might well have an NTUC Link Plus! card. Swipe it every time you shop at one of those outlets and you’ll be accruing LinkPoints at a rate of 1 point per S$2 spent at most of these stores.
The two most important things for our readers to know is that:
- LinkPoints points transfer to KrisFlyer miles (at a ratio of 2:1, improving to 1.87:1 for larger transfers), and
- Transfers are instant
If you’ve been racking up your FairPrice, Cheers and Unity spend over the last few months to the tune of S$4,000, for example, and tapping your Plus! card each time, your 2,000 points accrued will give you an instant 1,070 KrisFlyer miles if you need them.
How it works
Head across to the the Link Rewards Exchange Page, log on to your Link account, then tap on the KrisFlyer ‘View More’ link.
If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to link your KrisFlyer account to your LinkPoints account. Both accounts must be in your name for the transfer to be successful.
You’ll then be able to make a transfer in one of the five transfer blocks, depending on your LinkPoints balance. You can make multiple transfers if you wish.
Miles will reflect in your KrisFlyer account straight away.
Is it good value?
It’s not great but also not terrible value to use your LinkPoints this way. Take the above example where you have accrued 2,000 LinkPoints, exchangeable for 1,070 KrisFlyer miles. We value KrisFlyer miles at 1.9 cents each, so that’s worth at least S$20.33 against future flight redemptions.
The alternative is to use your LinkPoints for an instant redemption at the checkout when shopping at one of the eligible merchants, at a rate of 100 points = S$1 off. Your 2,000 LinkPoints will get you a discount of S$20.00 in this case.
Looking at it another way, if you opt for the KrisFlyer option you’re buying miles for 1.87 cents each (S$20.00 discount you could have had, divided by 1,070 miles you will have instead).
That’s relatively borderline in terms of value, but if you need a small KrisFlyer miles top-up this certainly isn’t a bad way to do it.
Bear in mind that for smaller LinkPoints to KrisFlyer transfers, you’re buying miles for 2 cents each due to the poorer transfer ratio.
KrisPay Miles: Instant
You’ll no doubt know that we definitely don’t suggest that you ever transfer KrisFlyer miles to KrisPay miles in order to spend them at merchants via the Kris+ app, due to the awful 0.67 cent per mile value they give you against future purchases.
You should however be using Kris+ to earn miles when making purchases at participating merchants, as these are on top of any miles you’ll also be earning using the right credit card for the same transaction.
Over 280 Kris+ partners across Singapore allow miles earning via Kris+, at 3 mpd, 6 mpd or 9 mpd rates.
Earning is instant at the time of transaction, and you can then instantly transfer the KrisPay miles accrued to your KrisFlyer account. This can be very useful for a small, quick top-up.
For example let’s say I’m looking at an available KrisFlyer redemption at 62,000 miles from Singapore to Brisbane in Business Class. I thought I had enough but I just realised I only have 61,802 miles in my account. 198 miles short!
Also, I don’t have any LinkPoints left to transfer, so that option is out. Here’s where Kris+ comes in.
I can walk down to my local Bottles & Bottles store and pick up this nice Shiraz:
When I pay in-app using Apple Pay or Google Pay, I’m credited with 198 KrisPay miles (S$33 x 6 mpd).
I can transfer these instantly into my KrisFlyer account, and now I have exactly the 62,000 miles I need for the award booking.
If you have already spent some of your KrisPay miles earned from a transaction, a partial transfer is not supported.
Is it good value?
Yes. Transferring miles earned at Kris+ merchants into your KrisFlyer account is the only good value thing you can do with them, and you should already be doing it, with up to 9 mpd at 280+ merchants.
DBS Points, UNI$ or Citi Points via Kris+: Instant
It’s unlikely that buying a bottle of wine is going to see you over a redemption threshold (even a case of wine probably won’t do it!). There is another method using Kris+ if you have:
- Citi Miles
- Citi ThankYou Points
- DBS Points
- UOB UNI$
- For every Citi Mile transferred you’ll get 0.85 KrisPay miles
- For every Citi ThankYou Point transferred you’ll get 0.34 KrisPay miles
- For every DBS Point transferred you’ll get 1.7 KrisPay miles
- For every UOB UNI$ transferred you’ll get 1.7 KrisPay miles
The process is instant, and the KrisPay miles can then be instantly transferred into your KrisFlyer account, as we outlined above for purchases via Kris+.
There is no fee for the transfer, but in each case the rate is 15% less than you’ll get for direct bank-to-KrisFlyer transfers.
Here are the minimum credit card points balances you’ll need to make a transfer:
- Citi Miles: 4,000
- Citi TYPs: 10,000
- DBS Points: 100
- UOB UNI$: 1,000
Blocks then transfer in identically-sized increments, which is quite flexible especially in the case of DBS Points.
Is it good value?
Not really, since in all cases you’re taking a 15% hit using this method compared to direct transfers. The problem with the regular transfer is that it typically takes 1 to 4 days with these banks, too long to be regarded as either ‘instant’ or ‘quick’ for the purposes of this article, with the exception of Citi which tends to transfer in 24 hours.
Virgin Australia Velocity Points: Instant
Do you have a Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer account? Like most of our readers in Singapore, the answer is probably no.
That’s because unless you have a mailing address in one of Virgin’s primary markets (e.g. Australia or New Zealand), you aren’t eligible for one.
If you do have one though, here’s another instant transfer option. You can move Velocity points to KrisFlyer at a 1.55:1 ratio provided you have at least 5,000 Velocity points (which would become 3,226 KrisFlyer miles).Note: Conversion of Velocity Points to KrisFlyer miles is currently suspended. The link is set to be reinstated in the coming months.
Is it good value?
Almost certainly not. Velocity points are worth approximately 1.8 cents according to some reputable estimates, so you’re taking a value hit of over 30% by doing this, assuming you would use the points in the Velocity programme.
KrisShop.com: 24 hours
KrisShop is Singapore Airlines’ online retail store with a wide range of goods, some of which you’d expect to find in an on board duty free selection like cosmetics and fragrances, but over recent years expending to a number of other items including food and homewares.
You can pre-order for onboard collection or alternatively many items are available for home delivery.
KrisShop awards 1.5 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 net spend (i.e. excluding taxes and delivery charges), though enhanced earn rates are available if you are a KrisShopper member.
The bad news, according to KrisShop’s FAQs, is:
“Please allow up to 5 business days for miles to be credited to your KrisFlyer account after your transaction.”
The good news is that in reality, KrisFlyer miles are credited to your account within 24 hours of making your purchase. This even applies at weekends.
KrisShop via Kris+: Instant
If you’re a Singapore resident you can now purchase most KrisShop items via the Kris+ app, earning KrisPay miles in the process, which you can then transfer directly and immediately into your KrisFlyer account.
You’ll earn 1.5 miles per S$1 spent, plus any tier bonus within the KrisShopper programme if you are a member. There are also occasional bonus miles promotions, which often makes purchasing KrisShop items this way more lucrative anyway, compared to using KrisShop.com.
Delivery is only to Singapore addresses if you purchase via this method.
GrabRewards Points: 24 hours
If you’re a Grab user you can transfer your GrabRewards points into KrisFlyer miles at a rate of:
- 500 points to 50 miles
- 1,000 points to 100 miles
- 5,000 points to 500 miles
While Grab quotes a turnaround time of up to 3 business days for KrisFlyer transfers, they almost always credit to your account the following day at around 11am. This also applies at weekends, whenever we have tested it.
The downside is that you can only make a single transfer at a time, giving you a maximum of 500 KrisFlyer miles. That’s unlikely to be enough of a boost to secure your award seat unless you’re painfully close to a redemption threshold.
Is it good value?
You can get better value with your GrabRewards points by using them for money off future Grab rides, GrabMart orders or food delivery via the app, so we don’t recommend regular transfers to KrisFlyer, unless a promotion is running.
OCBC$ / Voyage Miles / Travel$: 24 hours
OCBC quotes “up to 21 working days” as the timescale for transferring their reward points to KrisFlyer miles. That’s a ridiculously long wait – basically one month.
The good news is that it doesn’t actually take that long. In reality transfers take just 24 hours.
This was first shared with us by one of our readers in February 2018, and also confirmed on the FlyerTalk forum transfer time post more recently (e.g. a 12-hour turnaround 11pm to 11am the next day).
I transferred OCBC$ from my rewards account last year at around 12pm on a Thursday. The miles were credited in my KrisFlyer account at 11.30am the following day (Friday).
The downside here is you’ll need at least 25,000 OCBC$ (for 10,000 miles), 10,000 Voyage Miles (for 10,000 miles) or 1,000 Travel$ (for 1,000 miles), with same-sized blocks thereafter, in order to transfer.
For OCBC$, a fee of S$25 applies for each transfer to KrisFlyer miles.
Is it good value?
Yes. Unlike the instant Citi / DBS / UOB Points via Kris+ method outlined above, where you take a hit on the rate, this is the standard way to transfer your OCBC$ / Voyage Miles / Travel$ into KrisFlyer at the normal ratio.
American Express: 24 hours
Transfers from American Express Membership Rewards to KrisFlyer miles is another of those “15 working days” quotes, but transfers actually only take 24 hours, even less in some cases.
450 Membership Rewards Points convert to 250 KrisFlyer miles, with that also being the minimum transfer quantity. If you have the Platinum card the ratio is 400:250 instead. The transfer fee to miles is S$20.
Note that this doesn’t apply to the Singapore Airlines American Express co-brand cards. In that case the miles accrued each month transfer automatically into your KrisFlyer account with no transfer fee at statement publication, but you cannot request an intermediate manual transfer, even if you are willing to pay.Pro Tip: If you’re lucky to have Amex MR points in the USA, these transfer to KrisFlyer miles instantly.
Is it good value?
Yes, unless you usually accrue Membership Rewards points in order to transfer into other frequent flyer programmes like Asia Miles, Avios or Emirates instead, in which case you’ll have to ‘divert’ some of those for a quick KrisFlyer top-up.
Citi Miles / ThankYou Points: 24 hours
The only other group of Singapore credit cards to make it onto the list. While Citi quotes a turnaround time of “up to 5 working days” for its miles / points to transfer into KrisFlyer, it’s almost always processed within 24 hours, sometimes less in our experience.
No guarantees here but it’s certainly faster than the other Singapore banks.
Like OCBC you’ll need at least 25,000 Citi ThankYou Points (for 10,000 miles) or 10,000 Citi Miles (for 10,000 miles), with same-sized blocks thereafter, in order to transfer.
A fee of S$26.75 applies for each transfer to KrisFlyer miles.
Is it good value?
Yes, unless you’re saving your points in Citi to transfer them to one of their many other frequent flyer programme partners aside from KrisFlyer, this is probably what you’re doing with them anyway.
Buy miles from Singapore Airlines: Instant, but expensive
If the above options are no good to you, or you’ve exhausted as many of them as you can but still find yourself a bit short for a redemption, there’s one final option.
Provided you have at least 50% of the required miles for your award ticket, you can buy the rest from Singapore Airlines directly.
It isn’t cheap, at US$40 (around S$55) per 1,000 miles, so you’ll definitely want this to only be a small top-up if possible at 5.5 cents per mile.
Just book online as you normally would. The system will recognise that you have at least half the miles needed and allow you to proceed with the selection, then generates the following message:
The additional charge is added to the booking summary and will be paid along with the usual taxes and fees due.
In this example an additional S$221.88 is charged to top up 3,994 miles, but the redemption is now instantly confirmable.
Is it good value?
Absolutely not. As you can see it’s costing you 5.56 cents per mile, but if it’s enough to make your redemption work the cost per mile for a small top-up probably isn’t too relevant.
For example, buying miles from SIA instead of walking down to Bottles & Bottles to buy wine and accrue the extra 198 miles I needed for my redemption in the KrisPay example provided earlier now seems like quite a lot of effort, when Singapore Airlines will simply sell me 198 miles for S$10.92!
Terrible value, but zero effort.
Putting award seats on hold
If the instant transfer options don’t work for you, and there’s an award itinerary sitting there with availability, waiting a day or more to credit the miles needed is running a risk.
Most of us hold our biggest points balances in credit card reward programmes as long as possible to extend their validity. Many of the banks aren’t in a particular hurry to transfer your points into frequent flyer miles once you make a request, and like most banks – some see the weekend as ‘days off’, which can drag out the process further.
Singapore Airlines will usually help out if you’re in this situation.
Give KrisFlyer a call and explain what you’re trying to do, why it’s important to you and how long you think the miles top-up will take based on your previous experience. They will generally hold your award seats for a couple of days, so that you can call back and confirm everything once the miles are in, without worrying about the seats disappearing.
Remember there is no formal written policy, so they aren’t obliged to do this. In our experience if you are polite, they will do their best to help you, especially if you are a status holder.
There aren’t that many ways to recharge your KrisFlyer balance in real time. LinkPoints, Velocity transfers (temporarily suspended) and Kris+ are the only three examples we can think of where it is literally instant.
The Citi / DBS / UOB Points method via Kris+ is a recently introduced method, also instant, though you pay a 15% penalty for the benefit compared with a standard points to miles transfer, unless a promotion is running.
The only other instant method is by far the most expensive, though perhaps the simplest – buying the extra miles you need from Singapore Airlines directly. That’s probably fine for a couple of hundred miles, but becomes very pricey indeed if you’re short by thousands!
Other than that we’ve provided a few fast methods where we know transfers usually take 24 hours / 1 day. If you are going to use one of those ways to achieve enough miles for your award ticket, or some that take even longer, it’s worth asking Singapore Airlines to put your award seats on hold. If you explain the situation to them, they will usually help you out.
Do you know of any other ways to transfer miles into KrisFlyer in a day or less? If so, let us know in the comments section below and we’ll add them to the article.
(Cover Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)