How to travel further with flexible reward points

Explore credit card reward programs that offer more flexible points than frequent flyer schemes so you can get greater value from travel rewards.

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While frequent flyer programs are a popular way to earn points for flights, upgrades or other travel perks, they are not the only option. Credit card reward programs such as American Express Membership Rewards or Citi Rewards also earn points that offer more flexible rewards.

In some cases, these flexible points can give you better value than frequent flyer points when you redeem them for travel. So if you want to earn points for travel rewards, here’s how to decide if a flexible rewards program will offer you more bang for your buck.

What you’ll find in this guide

What flexible credit card reward programs are available in Singapore?

The majority of credit card reward programs in Singapore offer flexible points that you can redeem directly or transfer to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. These include:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Citi Rewards
  • Standard Chartered 360° Rewards
  • OCBC Rewards
  • HSBC Rewards
  • DBS Rewards
  • UOB Rewards

Many hotel loyalty programs also offer flexible points, including Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards and InterContinental Hotel Group’s IHG Rewards Club.

HSBC Advance Credit Card

HSBC Advance Credit Card

Receive S$150 cash back or a Samsonite T5 Spinner luggage

Offer ends 30 Sep 2019

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

HSBC Advance Credit Card

Apply today and enjoy 3.5% cash back on all purchases. No minimum spend required.

  • Principal Annual Fee: S$0 annual fee for 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) - S$192.60 thereafter.
  • Cashback Rate: 3.5%
  • Annual Interest Rate: 25.9%
  • Minimum Income (Singaporean & PR): S$30,000
  • Minimum Income (Non-Singaporean): S$40,000
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Compare Rewards Credit Cards for 2019

Name Product Welcome Offer Reward Annual Fee
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days upon approval. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
1.5% cashback on all spend with no cap and no minimum spend
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 Dec 2019.
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
Up to 10X rewards points for every S$1 spent in foreign currency
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
Get S$80 cashback with activation of the card within 30 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 Dec 2019.
Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner Luggage with built-in scale (worth S$560) or S$150 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 December 2019.
Up to 5% cash rebate on groceries, fuel and dining
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
Get free Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner luggage with built-in scale worth S$560 or S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2019.
Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner Astra 55cm Luggage with built-in scale (worth S$560) or S$150 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&C's apply. Ends 31 December 2019.
Up to 5X Rewards points (2 miles per S$1 spent) on online, dining and entertainment purchases
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$160.50 thereafter
Get free Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner luggage with built-in scale worth S$560 or S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2019.
Samsonite Astra T5 68cm Spinner Luggage with built-in scale (worth S$560) or S$150 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 December 2019.
Up to 3.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend
S$0 annual fee for 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) - S$192.60 thereafter
Get free Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner luggage with built-in scale worth S$560 or S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2019.
S$120 cash back when you apply & spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months upon card approval.
Earn up to 8% cash back on dining, groceries and petrol worldwide.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
Get a welcome gift of S$120 cash back when you spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 December 2019
S$120 savings when you apply & spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months upon card approval. Ends 31 December 2019.
Up to 5% savings on groceries, fast food, movies, and coffee.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
Receive a welcome gift of S$120 cash back when you spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 December 2019.
Get up to 30,000 Citi ThankYou Points with minimum spend of S$3,000 in the first three months. Ends 31 January 2020.
10X Rewards on your shopping spend (local and overseas) and online purchases (except mobile wallet and travel-related transactions), plus 1X Rewards Points on all other spend, no cap or minimum spend required
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
Receive 30,000 Citi Thank You points when you spend S$3,000 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 January 2020.
30,000 Citi Miles when you apply & spend S$7,500 in the first 3 months and pay the annual fee. Ends 30 September 2019.
2 Citi Miles for every S$1 spent overseas, 1.2 Citi Miles per S$1 spent locally with no minimum spend and 1.5 Citi Miles per S$1 spent locally with minimum spend of S$3,000 per statement month.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
Receive 40,000 miles when you spend S$9,000 in the first 3 months and pay the annual fee. Ends 31 January 2020.
Receive a Welcome Gift of 62,500 ThankYouSM Points (25,000 Miles).Ends 31 December 2019.
Earn 5 ThankYou Points (2 Miles) per S$1 overseas spend and 3.25 ThankYou Points per S$1 local spend
S$535 annual fee
Receive a welcome gift of 62,500 Citi ThankYou Points (25,000 Miles). Ends 31 December 2019.
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
Up to S$60 cashback monthly with no minimum spend
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 day upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 Dec 2019.
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 day upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
Earn 1 Rewards point for every S$1 charged to your card
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 day upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 Dec 2019.

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What are the benefits of flexible reward programs?

As with frequent flyer programs, there are differences in the benefits and features of flexible reward programs. If you want to use points for travel, these are some advantages you could get with flexible points:

The ability to switch between frequent flyer programs

Most credit card reward programs give you the option of transferring your points to several different frequent flyer programs. Some American Express Membership Rewards cards actually offer point transfers to up to 10 different frequent flyer programs.

This means you can shop around for the most competitive reward option based on where and when you want to travel. So instead of being limited to transferring your points over to one or two frequent flyer programs, you could transfer your credit card reward points to a wide range of partner airlines.

Transferring flexible points to hotel reward programs

Some reward programs also let you transfer points to hotel reward programs. If you want to use points to book a hotel stay, this option gives you a way to book it directly through the hotel’s reward program. As a result you could get more value for your points when compared to redeeming a hotel stay through a frequent flyer program.

Frequent flyer point transfer bonuses

Sometimes frequent flyer programs offer huge point bonuses when you transfer points from a flexible reward program.

While most credit card points are transferred at a lower rate (such as 2 credit card points for 1 frequent flyer point), getting a bonus helps balance this out. Depending on the card and earn rate, it could mean you actually get more points through flexible point transfers than you would if you had a credit card that earns frequent flyer points.

Other travel reward options

Flexible reward programs also offer other travel reward options. Depending on the program, you could use your points to book travel directly, take advantage of exclusive travel packages or get gift cards for travel agencies.

While frequent flyer programs offer some of these options, you’ll usually get the most value from your points when they’re redeemed for rewards with the main airline. With a flexible reward program, on the other hand, you have more opportunities to shop around for the travel option that offers the greatest value at the time you want to use it.

couples' hands on laptop

How can I decide between a frequent flyer program and a flexible points program?

While you may have any number of reward program memberships, usually you’ll get more value from focusing on earning points for one particular account. So if you’re trying to decide between a frequent flyer account and a credit card rewards account, consider the following:

A flexible reward program could be ideal when you: A frequent flyer program could be ideal when you:
  • Fly with a range of airlines based on where you’re travelling
  • Are a member of several frequent flyer and/or hotel rewards programs
  • Have worries about blackout dates and restrictions
  • Want to earn points through a credit card without being limited to one frequent flyer program
  • Fly everywhere with the same airline
  • Mainly use rewards for flight upgrades
  • Want other frequent flyer benefits, such as lounge access or priority boarding
  • Are happy to just earn points through travel, existing program partners and affiliated credit cards

Thinking about these goals and scenarios will help you figure out what type of reward program is right for you. For example, if you always fly with Singapore Airlines and use points for upgrades to business or first class, then focusing on your KrisFlyer Frequent Flyer membership makes sense.

On the other hand, if you’re a member of AsiaMiles, KrisFlyer and Hilton Honors, then earning points through a program like Membership Rewards could help you pick-and-choose how you redeem points so you can get the most value out of them. So remember to weigh up your options based on your circumstances, then choose the type of points that work for you.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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