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Best credit cards to earn air miles while overseas

Are you a miles collector? We get it – use an air miles card and you can earn your next holiday with your spending.

Then, spend more while you’re travelling because the miles reward are even higher, and you get to earn your next holiday while on holiday. How cool is that?

But before we get too carried away here, it’s important to think about some of the credit card charges due to currency exchange. We don’t want to end up paying so much extra in fees just to get some air miles.

Here, we present some of the best air miles card to use while overseas, as well as the foreign currency exchange fees that you should expect from the banks.


Miles Earning

Exchange Rates/Fees

DBS Altitude Visa/AMEX
  • 1.2 MPD on local spend
  • 2.0 MPD on overseas spend
  • 3.0 MPD on online flight and hotel transactions
  • 4.0 MPD on daily travels
  • 6.0 MPD on Expedia bookings
  • 1% fee for conversion (VISA/AMEX)
  • 2.25% bank admin fee
Earn up to 38,000 miles with $6000 spend in first 3 months
Maybank Horizon Visa
  • 3.2 MPD (8 TREATS points) on local dining and petrol
  • 0.4 MPD (1 TREATS point) on shopping, groceries, and entertainment
  • Minimum $300 spend per month
  • 2.0 MPD (5 TREATS points) on overseas spend
  • 3.2 MPD (8 TREATS points) on hotel booking at
  • 1% fee for conversion (VISA)
  • 1.75% bank admin fee
Get a free American Tourister luggage worth $260 with $300 spend in first 2 months
Citi PremierMiles Visa
  • 1.2 MPD on local spend
    (1.5 MPD with $3000 spend per month)
  • 2.0 MPD on overseas spend
  • 7.0 MPD on Agoda booking (till 31 Oct 2019)
  • 1% fee for conversion (VISA)
  • Up to 3.3% admin fee
Earn up to 40,000 miles with $7,500 miles spend in first 3 months
  • 1.4 MPD on local spend
  • 2.4 MPD on overseas spend
  • 3.0 MPD on Klook
  • Up to 6.0 MPD with salary crediting and/or maintaining average balance in KrisFlyer UOB account
  • 1% fee (VISA/Master), 1.25% fee (AMEX) for conversion
  • Total 3.25% fee
Get $150 cash credit with $1,500 spend in first 30 days
AMEX Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • 1.1 MPD on local spend
  • 2.0 MPD on overseas spend
  • Up to 3.1 MPD on Grab (up to $200 per month)
  • Up to 3.1 MPD on dining and food delivery partners (up to $200 per month)
  • 2.5% fee for conversion
Up to 26,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
OCBC 90°N Visa
  • 1.2 MPD on local spend
  • 2.1 MPD on overseas spend
    (4.0 MPD till 29 Feb 2020)
  • 4.0 MPD on flight bookings with AirAsia, Jetstar Asia, Scoot, SilkAir, and SIA
  • 8.0 MPD on hotel bookings with Agoda, AirBNB, Expedia, Millenium Hotels and Resorts, and Mr & Mrs Smith
  • 1% fee for conversion (VISA)
  • 2% bank admin fee
Earn 7,000 miles with $5,000 spend in first 3 months (new cardholders)

While you’ll be earning air miles at a higher rate when you’re overseas, these come at a cost – currency conversion fee. Do note that for non-USD foreign currencies, banks will usually first convert the spending to USD before converting it to SGD. This means you’ll be paying for the foreign exchange rates twice.

In total, you should be expecting to pay foreign exchange rates, currency conversion fee (usually 1% to VISA, Mastercard, AMEX), and bank administration fees, on top of your spending. Nevertheless, having a credit card beats having to carry a lot of cash around. Plus, you get to earn miles when you spend on your card, which you’ll not get if you were to pay with a debit card.

DBS Altitude Visa/AMEX

  • 2 miles per $1 spent overseas
  • 4 miles on daily commute with SimplyGo
  • Earn up to 38,000 miles

DBS Altitude Visa/AMEX

The DBS Altitude cards reward you with 2.0 MPD on overseas spend.

One of the benefits is that it gives 4.0 MPD when you use it for your daily commute around Singapore. With other cards, you’ll be earning miles at the local spend rate (around 1.2 MPD) or you may not even get to earn any miles (on the Citi card).

The Altitude card also gives you great bonus miles – 10,000 miles sign-up bonus for new cardholders, and another 10,000 miles when you pay your annual fee. Add in the 3.0 MPD for online flight and hotel bookings (6.0 MPD for Expedia), this means you’ll be earning a lot of miles when you book your upcoming holiday with the Altitude card.

Good for

  • People looking to book flights and accommodations for their upcoming trips
  • People who have upcoming big expenditures

Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card

  • 2 miles (5 TREATS points) per $1 spent overseas
  • Low bank admin fees
  • Free luggage with $300 spend

Maybank Horizon Visa Signature

The Maybank Horizon card offers a similar 2.0 MPD on overseas spend. What stands out is the 3.2 MPD reward on local dining and petrol spend, as well as for hotel bookings. Although there is a minimum of $300 per month spend required for you to earn the 3.2 MPD on local dining and petrol spend, that amount is very achievable for most users.

Also, if you’re planning to spend a lot overseas, you’ll want to have the lowest bank administration fee possible. Considering that most banks charge 2% and above in fees, Maybank’s 1.75% fee is one of the lowest around.

Good for

  • People who spend $300 or more a month on dining and petrol
  • Those who are planning to spend a lot overseas

Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

  • 2 Citi miles per $1 spent overseas
  • Many air miles programmes
  • No rewards cap

Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

One key benefit of Citi PremierMiles is that you can redeem the miles with most frequent flyer programmes, including KrisFlyer, Asia Miles, British Airways, Etihad, and many more, with a redemption rate of 1 Citi mile to 1 mile. As different miles programmes have differing promotional period and mile-redemption destinations, this means that you can most likely redeem your Citi miles at an advantageous rate. Plus, they never expire.

You’ll be earning up to 40,000 miles with $7,500 spend in the first 3 months, and they’ve recently revised their local miles reward to 1.5 MPD (till 31 Dec 2019) if you manage to hit above $3,000 per month. Hence, if you foresee that you’ll be able to hit the spending requirements in the coming months, consider the PremierMiles card.

Good for

  • Best miles reward (1.5 MPD) for local spend
  • Savvy miles collector to redeem from different airline programmes

Get a card that suits your spending needs

Air miles cards tend to give you better miles rewards when you spend overseas but do take note of the administration fees and foreign exchange fees involved. Considering that you’ll have to incur the foreign exchange rate anyway, it comes down to whether the fees you pay to the bank and to VISA/Master/AMEX are worth the rewards.

One thing is for sure – paying with a credit card beats paying with your debit card. And you’ll also feel safer when you’re not carrying as much cash around. So while you’re collecting miles, why not catch on to some of the promotions and deals that miles cards are throwing out, and earn miles to redeem your next holiday.

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