If you use credit cards, you probably are aware that when you use certain cards, you earn rewards points for each $1 you spend. You can usually find these points in your credit card statements, along with an expiry date.
Those who have several cards from different banks may have also noticed that each card may let you earn different points.
For instance, you earn 1 OCBC$ for every $1 you spend, but you only get 1 DBS Point for every $5 you spend.
But does that mean your OCBC$ are worth less than your DBS Points?
And with the same bank, depending on which card you use and which category your spending is in, the number of rewards points you earn for every dollar you spend is also different. For instance, Citi Rewards Card lets you earn 10 rewards points (Citi Dollars) per $1 spent, provided you use the card to shop locally, overseas and online (except for travel-related purchases). In contrast, Citibank Clear Card lets you earn only 1 Citi Dollar for every $1 spent.
Though you may earn rewards points in different ways, you redeem those rewards points in a similar way. Each bank has a credit card rewards programme, through which you can redeem rewards points for shopping vouchers, dining discounts, movie tickets, air miles, cash rebates, gifts and a million other things. You can check out GET.com's guide to the best credit card rewards programmes in Singapore here.
To help you GET more for your money, we at GET.com have done our research on 10 major banks in Singapore so that you will know how much each rewards point is worth from the different banks!
- Standard Chartered
- American Express
- Bank of China (BOC)
Credit card rewards points can basically be redeemed for 3 types of rewards: (1) Shopping (including retail vouchers, restaurant vouchers, movie tickets and so on); (2) Cash back (including credit rebates and annual fee waivers); and (3) Air miles.
I converted the rewards points to real dollars and rounded the numbers to 3 decimal places, so it's easy for you to compare and get a real sense of how much each of your rewards points are worth.
Screenshot taken from DBS' website
Good news - No bank is out to cheat us when it comes to giving out rewards points, as all the different rewards points have similar values when redeemed for shopping.
On average, when you redeem rewards points for shopping vouchers, you'll get $0.003 to $0.004 back for every $1 you spend.
For instance, you can get a $10 Andersen's of Denmark voucher with 600 DBS Points.
You earn 1 DBS Point by spending $5 on retail purchases, which means you spend $3000 to earn those 600 points and redeem a $10 shopping voucher. So it gives you back $0.003 for every $1 you spend.
Another example: You need 5000 HSBC Rewards Points to redeem for a $20 dollar Mothercare voucher, or 7500 HSBC Rewards Points for a $30 EpiCentre voucher (you earn 1 HSBC Rewards Point for every $1 charged). In both cases, you get $0.004 back for every $1 you spend.
For some shopping vouchers, you can get $0.005 back in real dollars for every $1 you spend. For example, you can get a $20 GNC or The Straits Wine Company voucher with 4000 HSBC Rewards Points (or $4000 spending).
Screenshot taken from Standard Chartered's website
There's no clear winner in this category, because redemption of air miles is not that straightforward. Some cards allow you to earn either KrisFlyer Miles or Asia Miles, but some allow you to earn both. I'll exclude BOC cards here, since they don't have this reward for their credit cards.
Travel cards let you earn air miles more easily (that's the whole idea of using a travel card). It's not easy to compare them, because they all come with their own terms and conditions. But I'll list a few of them, and you can make your own judgement.
With Citi PremierMiles Card, you can earn up to 10 Citi Miles per $1 spent on online travel bookings, and redeem these Citi Miles at over 60 airlines and 8,000 hotels worldwide.
If you use DBS Altitude American Express® Card, you can earn 3 miles per $1 spent on online flight and hotel bookings, including online bookings with Singapore Air, Silkair, Agoda, Expedia Singapore and a slew of other travel booking sites. You can also earn up to 2 miles per $1 spent overseas and 1.2 miles per $1 spent locally, and your miles never expire.
Now let's take a look at non-travel cards, which also allow you to redeem air miles with rewards points.
Let's start with American Express cards that let you earn Membership Rewards®. You can redeem 9 Membership Rewards® points for 5 miles with many frequent flyer programmes (including KrisFlyer). You earn these 9 points by spending $7.2 in real dollars with most American Express reward cards (2 points for every S$1.60 spending), so 1 air mile costs you $1.44.
Based on that calculation, you earn 1 mile for every $2.50 you spend with DBS, UOB, OCBC, Citibank, HSBC, and Maybank cards.
Standard Chartered credit cards lag behind in this category. You earn only 1000 miles with 3500 Standard Chartered Bonus Points (you earn 1 Bonus Point for every $1 spent), which means 1 air mile costs $3.50.
Some banks have restrictions on redemption of air miles with rewards points.
For instance, UOB charges a $25 administrative for each conversion of UNI$ to air miles.
Citibank charges an administrative fee of $25 for each points transfer redemption, and requires minimum 500 miles/points per transfer per day.
DBS requires you to pay an annual enrolment fee of $40 for transferring your DBS Points to air miles.
Which bank gives you the most miles for your spending will depend on what you spend on.
Citi, UOB and DBS all have attractive offers for earning miles.
But when it comes to redeeming your rewards for actual frequent flyer miles, American Express KrisFlyer cards will give you the best value for Singapore Airlines.
These cards let you earn actual KrisFlyer miles rather than points that you need to convert.
If you are interested in earning air miles for your spending, check out GET.com's 2016 Guide to the Best Travel Credit Cards.