If you’re a miles collector in Singapore you’ll likely need no introduction to SIA’s KrisFlyer miles and probably Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles too. After all, these are by far the most common frequent flyer programmes utilised among our readers, both here and across the region.
When it comes to transferring your credit card points into miles, most people therefore gravitate to one of these two schemes, many even topping up their balance in both to widen their access to Oneworld and Star Alliance redemption options.
All nine of the Singapore banks and credit card issuers support KrisFlyer miles transfers, with only one (Standard Chartered) not including Asia Miles in its lineup, but what other programmes can you transfer into, and from which cards?
With HSBC and OCBC recently adding a host of loyalty schemes as transfer partners, we take a fresh look at which points you can move into some of the less common frequent flyer programmes and hotel partners.
Credit card to loyalty programmes
Here’s the latest list of loyalty programmes you can transfer your Singapore credit card points into, as of July 2023.
Singapore credit card to FFP & loyalty programmes
= All miles cards for this bank
= For HSBC, only for the T1 card
Do note the strange disparity for HSBC, with the bank’s new TravelOne credit card offering a multitude of new transfer partners, though these are not (yet?) available to other HSBC customers, like those holding the Revolution or Visa Infinite cards.
For American Express and UOB, we are referring to their general credit card products in this table. If you have a Singapore Airlines co-brand card from either provider, your miles are automatically transferred into your KrisFlyer account with no alternative FFP transfer option available.
British Airways Avios = Qatar Airways Avios
One important thing to note is that transfers to British Airways Executive Club can also be ‘de facto’ transfers to Qatar Airways Privilege Club, and vice-versa.
That’s because both FFPs use the Avios currency, and allow free unlimited 1:1 transfers between your accounts as and when you please. You just need a (free) account in both programmes, registered in the same name.
You can therefore effectively also transfer into BA Avios from Standard Chartered, via Qatar Privilege Club, while you can also transfer into Qatar Privilege Club from Amex, HSBC TravelOne and OCBC, via BA Avios.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club doesn’t apply fuel surcharges to award tickets on its own flights, and recently slashed award rates on Oneworld and partner carriers, opening up attractive awards like Singapore to Koh Samui on Bangkok Airways for only 6,000 Avios points.
Which airlines can you redeem on?
When you convert your frequent flyer miles into a programme that is part of a major alliance, you can generally redeem for flights on any member airline within that alliance.
For example you can use Turkish miles to redeem on Lufthansa, as they are fellow Star Alliance members. Likewise KLM’s Flying Blue miles can be used to redeem on a Virgin Atlantic flight.
Here’s a quick reference of which airlines are in each of the major alliance groupings.
|Aegean Airlines||Ethiopian Airlines|
|Air Canada||EVA Air|
|Air China||LOT Polish Airlines|
|Air New Zealand||Scandinavian Airlines|
|All Nippon Airways||Shenzhen Airlines|
|Asiana Airlines||Singapore Airlines|
|Austrian Airlines||South African Airways|
|Avianca||Swiss International Air Lines|
|Brussels Airlines||TAP Air Portugal|
|Copa Airlines||Thai Airways|
|Croatia Airlines||Turkish Airlines|
|Alaska Airlines||Malaysia Airlines|
|British Airways||Qatar Airways|
|Cathay Pacific||Royal Jordanian|
|Aerolíneas Argentinas||Kenya Airways|
|Air Europa||Korean Air|
|Air France||Middle East Airlines|
|China Eastern Airlines||Vietnam Airlines|
|Czech Airlines||Virgin Atlantic|
|Delta Air Lines||Xiamen Air|
Don’t forget partner redemptions
In the same way that you can redeem flights using KrisFlyer miles on SIA’s non-Star Alliance partner airlines like Alaska Airlines, Virgin Australia and Vistara, many of the airline programmes you can convert points into from your Singapore credit card also have their own non-alliance partner redemption agreements.
Here’s a brief rundown of the airlines you can redeem on that you might not expect to be able to using frequent flyer points or miles for some popular programmes.
|HK Express, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, Austrian, Bangkok Airways, Gulf Air, Lufthansa, Shenzen, Swiss|
|Aer Lingus, Air Nostrum, Fiji Airways, QantasLink / Jetconnect, SUN-AIR of Scandinavia|
|Air New Zealand, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, American Airlines, Asiana, All Nippon Airways, Bangkok Airways, Brussels Airlines, Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, GOL, Hainan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Philippine Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Scandinavian Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Virgin Australia|
|Air Mauritius, Alaska Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Copa Airlines, easyJet, flydubai, GOL, Japan Airlines, Jetstar, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, S7 Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Air Portugal, United|
|Air France, Etihad, Emirates, Firefly, KLM|
|Air Corsica, Air Mauritius, Aircalin, Bangkok Airways, Chalair, Copa Airlines, GOL, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Transavia, Twin Jet, WestJet|
|Jetstar, Air Niugini, Airnorth, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu, Emirates, El Al, WestJet|
|Bangkok Airways, GOL, LATAM, Middle East Airlines, Oman Air, Royal Air Maroc, Rwandair, Virgin Australia|
|Aer Lingus, AeroMar, Air Dolomiti, Azul, Boutique Air, Cape Air, Edelweiss, Eurowings, Hawaiian Airlines, Olympic Air, Silver Airways, Vistara|
Some partner awards are only applicable on selected routes
For example if you want to use Asia Miles to redeem on Star Alliance member Air Canada, that’s only applicable on selected domestic routes (e.g. Vancouver to Toronto). Similarly you can redeem Asia Miles on Swiss only between Zurich and Hong Kong, plus selected European destinations from Zurich.
Other examples include using Lufthansa Miles & More on Cathay Pacific. That only works on services between Hong Kong and Auckland, Cairns, Melbourne or Sydney.
Some partner awards don’t allow online redemption
For example using British Airways Avios on QantasLink or Jetconnect flights can only be done over the phone (use the American Airlines or Qantas sites to search availability, then call to book).
Similarly using Qatar Airways Avios to redeem Bangkok Airways flights, which can be a very good deal when availability exists and cash fares are high, can only be done over the phone or via an online form.
Transfer ratios aren’t always the same
While most credit cards in Singapore will give you the same transfer ratio of loyalty points to frequent flyer miles for all of their partner airlines, some unfortunately do not.
As we revealed in July 2019, Standard Chartered came up with a bunch of different transfer ratios for its 11 new partners (initially for the X card, which became the Journey card, but now for all the bank’s Visa Infinite cards).
For example if you want to transfer 100,000 Standard Chartered points to Qantas Frequent Flyer you’ll get 40,000 points in that scheme, just as you’d get 40,000 KrisFlyer miles with a similar transfer.
However, transferring 101,500 Standard Chartered points to Lufthansa Miles & More will only net you 29,000 miles in that programme.
OCBC’s long-awaited addition of eight new transfer partners in July 2023, from its single option before that, is another example where the transfer ratios have taken a haircut for several FFPs compared to KrisFlyer, including Asia Miles.
Redemption rates can differ significantly
Even once you’ve accounted for the different credit card points to airlines miles transfer ratios of the frequent flyer programme you’re interested in, don’t be ‘fooled’ purely by the number of miles you’ll clock up.
Many of these schemes are far less generous than others for the same routing, with the same airline.
Take Bangkok Airways for example. You can’t transfer miles directly into the airline’s FlyerBonus scheme from any Singapore credit cards, but you can redeem on the airline’s (typically expensive) flights from Singapore to Koh Samui using:
- Asia Miles
- Etihad Guest
- Flying Blue
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Privilege Club
Let’s say you’re flush with both Citi and AMEX points.
As you can see from the table above, you have the option to transfer miles into all five of these programmes. How many miles will you need in each one to get a return Economy Class ticket from Singapore to Koh Samui?
- Qatar Privilege Club: 12,000
- Asia Miles: 20,000
- Etihad Guest: 22,000
- AF/KLM Flying Blue: 22,000
- Qantas Frequent Flyer: 28,000
- Emirates: 28,000
Looking at the two extremes, you’ll need to transfer only 12,000 points to fly this return route using Qatar Privilege Club Avios (or BA Avios, then transferred to Qatar), but more than double that – 28,000 points – to achieve the same redemption using the Qantas Frequent Flyer or Emirates Skywards programmes.
Even if you already have a small balance in Emirates Skywards, for example, don’t make the mistake of simply ‘topping up’ to achieve the award ticket – do the maths first.
Don’t forget fuel surcharges
Another key difference between KrisFlyer redemptions on Singapore Airlines flights and most other redemptions on partners or through other FFPs is that you may be stung by a fuel surcharge when you redeem miles for an award ticket.
Generally speaking, outside KrisFlyer only United MileagePlus (UA and partners) and Qatar Privilege Club (QR flights only) don’t add a fuel surcharge to award bookings, though the latter does levy an award segment fee.
All other programmes will pass on any fuel surcharges and add them to the mandatory taxes payable when you redeem, which can significantly shift the equation on value, so do consider this before committing to a points transfer.
For example, a one-way Turkish Airlines redemption from Singapore to Frankfurt in Business Class will cost you 45,000 miles through the carrier’s Miles&Smiles programme, but also set you back a whopping S$410 in taxes, fees and fuel surcharges.
A non-stop KrisFlyer Saver Business Class redemption on the same route will cost you 103,500 miles, but only S$65 in taxes.
For us, the miles saving here for the Turkish Airlines itinerary makes it worth picking – saving 58,500 miles for an additional cost of S$345, but if you’re ‘miles-rich, cash-poor’, the latter might still be preferable for you (and it’s also a non-stop flight).
It’s worth noting that in this example, two passengers can fly in Business Class on Turkish on this route for a lower miles outlay than one passenger in Business Class on Singapore Airlines, highlighting the importance of considering alternative FFP transfers to the usual KrisFlyer / Asia Miles pair for Singapore-based travellers.
KrisFlyer and Asia Miles are both very useful frequent flyer programmes, but don’t get stuck into thinking you can only transfer into those schemes, especially if you have a Citi credit card in Singapore, with a host of other options opening up some great potential redemption opportunities.
It’s worth considering alternative airline redemption opportunities through partner airline awards in addition to the more obvious ‘big three’ alliance options, with redemptions on non-aligned carriers like Bangkok Airways, Oman Air and Aer Lingus possibilities through some of these programmes.
The key thing to consider before you commit is making sure the FFP gives you good value through the transfer ratio and a competitive redemption through its award chart for your preferred flights, but don’t forget to factor in any fuel surcharges.
You should also consider that in the event a potential redemption disappears by the time your miles are credited, that you can still make good alternative use of miles in that programme.
(Cover Photo: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock)