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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.

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.

Comparison of Singapore Rewards Cards

HSBC Advance Credit Card

HSBC Advance Credit Card

Receive S$100 cash back or a Samsonite Astra luggage

Offer ends 31 March 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 Reward Annual Fee Min Income - Singaporean and PR
1.5% cashback on all spend with no cap and no minimum spend.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get up to S$138 cashback when you apply using MyInfo. Ends 31 March 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.
S$30,000
Get up to S$138 cashback when you apply using MyInfo. Ends 31 March 2019.
1.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend and no cap.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$171.20 thereafter.
S$30,000
New cardholders can earn 3% Cashback on eligible purchases, up to S$5,000 spend for the first 6 months.
Up to 5% cash rebate on groceries, fuel and dining.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years
- S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get free Samsonite Astra 55cm luggage worth S$350 or S$100 cash back when you spend S$600 in the first month. Ends 31 March 2019.
Up to 1.1 KrisFlyer mile for every S$1 spent.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$176.55 thereafter.
S$30,000
Earn up to 26,600 KrisFlyer bonus miles when you meet the minimum spending requirements in the first 6 months. Ends 31 March 2019.
Up to 5X Rewards points (2 miles) on online, dining and entertainment purchases.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$160.50 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get free Samsonite Astra 55cm luggage worth S$350 or S$100 cash back when you spend S$600 in the first month. Ends 31 March 2019.
Earn 1 Rewards point for every S$1 charged to your card.
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$160.50 thereafter.
S$30,000
Earn 15% cashback (up to S$30) when you spend a minimum of S$900 per month on rides with the Grab App. Ends 31 March 2019.
Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore.
S$321 annual fee
S$50,000
Get free Samsonite luggage and 1 night stay at Swissotel The Stamford Singapore when you spend S$4,500 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 March 2019.
Up to 1.2 KrisFlyer mile for every S$1 spent.
S$337.05 annual fee
S$50,000
Earn up to 49,400 KrisFlyer bonus miles when you meet the minimum spending requirements in the first 6 months. Ends 31 March 2019.
Up to 3.5% cash back 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.
S$30,000
Get free Samsonite Astra 55cm luggage worth S$350 or S$100 cash back when you spend S$600 in the first month. Ends 31 March 2019.
Earn up to 8% cash back on dining, groceries, petrol and Grab (valid till 31 Mar 2019).
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get a welcome gift of S$120 cash back when you spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 December 2019.
Up to 5% savings on groceries, fast food, coffee and more.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Receive a welcome gift of S$120 cash back when you spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 December 2019.
Up to 10X Rewards when you shop at online, retail and department stores.

S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Receive up to 30,000 Citi Thank You points when you spend S$3,000 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 March 2019.
2 Citi Miles on every S$1 of foreign spend and 1.2 Citi Miles on every S$1 of local spend.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Receive up to 30,000 miles when you spend S$7,500 in the first 3 months and pay the annual fee. Ends 31 March 2019.
Earn 5 STAR$ for every S$1 spent.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$171.20 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get S$60 worth of CapitaVouchers in STAR$ and free American Tourister luggage when you spend S$3,000 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 March 2019.
Up to S$60 cashback monthly with no minimum spend.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get up to S$138 cashback when you apply using MyInfo. Ends 31 March 2019.
Earn 1 Rewards point for every S$1 charged to your card.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get up to S$138 cashback when you apply using MyInfo. Ends 31 March 2019.
Up to 3 miles for every $1 charged to your card with S$2,000 minimum spend.
S$588.50 annual fee
S$150,000
Earn up to 35,000 bonus miles in the form of 87,500 points when you apply. Ends 31 December 2019.
Earn 1 TREATS Points on every S$1 spent.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$180 thereafter.
S$200,000
Get up to S$1 million in Travel Accident Insurance when you purchase flights or travel packages using your card.
Earn 1% cash rebates on all spend.
S$0 annual fee
S$0
Get an Adidas wristwatch worth S$120 when you use your card in the first month. Offer limited to the first 500 successful applicants.
Up to 3.33% cash rebates on local spend.
S$0 annual fee
S$30,000
Earn up to 3.33% cash rebates on local purchases when you spend a minimum of S$300 per month for each quarter.
8% cash rebates on groceries, transport and selected merchants with S$1,000 min. spend monthly, plus 0.3% cash rebates on all other purchases.
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$180 thereafter.
S$30,000
Earn up to 8% cash rebates on groceries, transport and selected merchants when you spend S$1,000 each month.
Discounts on purchases from Manchester United stores.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$80 thereafter.
S$30,000
Get discounted Manchester United merchandise and earn additional TREATS Points when Manchester United wins a Premier League game.
No annual fee for Catholic High Alumni members.
S$0 annual fee
S$30,000
Catholic High Alumni members can enjoy no annual fees.
5% cash rebate on petrol in Singapore and Malaysia.
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$120 thereafter.
S$30,000
Enjoy a 5% cash rebate on petrol purchases in Singapore and Malaysia.
1.6% unlimited cash rebate on all local spend.
S$120 annual fee
S$30,000
Enjoy an unlimited 1.6% cash rebate on all local spending with no spend limit or cap.
Up to 5X TREATS Points (2 air miles) on all spend.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$600 thereafter.
S$150,000
Earn 5 TREATS Points on foreign currency transactions and 3 TREATS Points on local transactions.
Up to 3.2 Air Miles (8X TREATS Points) on every S$1 spent.
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$180 thereafter.
S$30,000
Earn 2 Air Miles or 5X TREATS Points for every dollar you spend on flights, travel packages and foreign currency transactions.
10X TREATS Points (4 air miles) on every S$1 spent.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$240 thereafter.
S$80,000
Earn 10X TREATS Points or 4 air miles for every dollar you spend at selected retail and dining establishments and all petrol stations in Singapore.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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