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 31 March 2020

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

Name Product Welcome Offer Reward Annual Fee
HSBC Advance Credit Card
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 March 2020.
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 March 2020.
Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Credit Card
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days upon approval. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
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 March 2020.
HSBC Visa Platinum Card
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 March 2020.
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 March 2020.
Citi Cash Back Card
S$120 cash back when you apply & spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months upon card approval. Terms and conditions apply. Ends 31 January 2021.
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 January 2021.
Standard Chartered Rewards+ Credit Card
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 on overseas retail, dining and travel
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 March 2020.
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
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 March 2020.
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 worth S$560. Simply make S$800 in qualifying transactions in the first month of your account. Ends 31 March 2020.
Citibank SMRT Card
S$120 savings when you apply & spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months upon card approval. Terms and conditions apply. Ends 31 January 2021.
Up to 5% savings on groceries, fast food, movies, and coffee; up to 3% savings on online shopping.
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 January 2021.
Citi Rewards Credit Card
Get up to 30,000 Citi ThankYou Points with minimum spend of S$3,000 in the first three months. Ends 31 March 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 March 2020.
Standard Chartered NUS Alumni Platinum Credit Card
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 day upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 March 2020.
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 March 2020.
Citi PremierMiles Visa Card
All new cardholders can earn up to 37,300 Citi Miles as a welcome bonus. When you charge at least S$9,000 within the first three months from the card approval, you’ll receive at least 10,800 Citi Miles (based on 1.2 miles per S$1 spent locally) and an additional 26,500 Citi Miles if you meet the qualifying spend and after payment of the annual fee. Alternatively, you can opt for a first-year annual fee waiver and earn 10,000 Citi Miles when you spend a minimum of S$3,000 within the first three months. Terms and conditions apply and offers are subject to change from time to time at the bank’s discretion. Ends 31 March 2020.
2 Citi Miles for every S$1 spent overseas and 1.2 Citi Miles per S$1 spent locally.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
Receive 37,300 miles when you spend S$9,000 in the first 3 months and pay the annual fee. Terms and conditions apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
Standard Chartered Spree Credit Card
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 March 2020.
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 March 2020.
Citi Prestige Card
Receive a Welcome Gift of 62,500 ThankYouSM Points (25,000 Miles) or Gadget Welcome Gift.Ends 31 March 2020..
Earn 5 ThankYou Points (2 Miles) per S$1 overseas spend and 3.25 ThankYou Points (1.3 miles) per S$1 local spend.
S$535 annual fee
Receive a welcome gift of 62,500 Citi ThankYou Points (25,000 Miles) or Gadget Welcome Gift. Ends 31 March 2020.
American Express True Cashback Card
Receive 3% Cashback bonus and up to S$150 Cashback upon S$5,000 spend in the first six months.
1.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend and no cap
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$171.20 thereafter
Receive 3% Cashback bonus and up to S$150 Cashback when you spend S$5,000 in the first six months.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
Earn 5,000 KrisFlyer bonus miles the very first time you charge to your card.
For every S$1 spent, get up to 1.1 KrisFlyer miles on all eligible purchases, 2 miles in foreign currency spent overseas (June and December) and 3.1 miles on Grab Singapore transactions (up to S$200 spend in each calendar month).
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$176.55 thereafter
Earn 8,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership and additional 8,000 KrisFlyer miles with minimum spend of S$5,000 in the 4th to 6th month of membership. Ends 30 April 2020.
American Express Platinum Credit Card
Get a free Samsonite luggage (worth S$600) and 1-night stay at Swissotel The Stamford Singapore (worth S$529) when you pay the annual fee in the first statement and spend S$4,500 in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore
S$321 annual fee
Get a free Samsonite luggage (worth S$600) and 1-night stay at Swissotel The Stamford Singapore (worth S$529) when you pay the annual fee in the first statement and spend S$4,500 in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
Get 5,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you make your first charge to your card.
For every S$1 spent, get up to 1.2 KrisFlyer miles on all eligible purchases, 2 miles in foreign currency spent overseas (June and December) and 3.2 miles on Grab Singapore transactions (up to S$200 spend in each calendar month).
S$337.05 annual fee
Earn 16,000 KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$10,000 within the first three months and an additional 12,000 KrisFlyer miles based on 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 spent locally. Ends 30 April 2020.
American Express CapitaCard
Receive an American Tourister Hypebeat 79/29 Spinner luggage (worth S$239) upon S$3,000 minimum spend within the first 3 months of card approval. Ends 30 April 2020.
Earn 3X STAR$ when you shop at participating CapitaLand malls, 1X STAR$ on all other purchases and additional 10X STAR$ at participating outlets in CapitaLand Malls.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$171.20 thereafter
Add supplementary cardholders and get S$20 worth of CapitaVouchers for each approved member (up to two cardholders). Ends 30 April 2020.
Maybank Business Platinum Mastercard
Get up to S$1 million in Travel Accident Insurance when you purchase flights or travel packages using your card.
Earn 1 TREATS Points per dollar spent
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$180 thereafter
Get up to S$1 million in Travel Accident Insurance when you purchase flights or travel packages using your card.
Maybank eVibes Card - The Student Card
Get an Adidas wristwatch worth S$120 when you use your card in the first month. Offer limited to the first 500 successful applicants.
Earn 1% cash rebate on all spend
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$20 thereafter
Get an Adidas wristwatch worth S$120 when you use your card in the first month. Offer limited to the first 500 successful applicants.
Maybank Platinum Visa Card
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first two months.
Up to 3.33% cash rebates on local spend
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$80 thereafter
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank Family & Friends Card
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first two months.
8% cash rebates on groceries, dining, transport and selected merchants with S$800 min. monthly spend
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$180 thereafter
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank Manchester United Platinum Visa Card
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first two months.
Receive a 10% discount at United Direct Online Megastore and 5 TREATS Points for every dollar spent when Manchester United wins a Premier League match.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$80 thereafter
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank DUO Platinum Mastercard
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first two months.
5% cash rebate on petrol in Singapore and Malaysia and 1.5% cash rebate in foreign currency.
S$120 annual fee
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank FC Barcelona Visa Signature Card
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first two months.
1.6% unlimited cash rebate on all local spend
S$120 annual fee
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank Visa Infinite Card
Earn up to 5X TREATS Points (2 air miles) for every S$1 spent on foreign currency transactions, 3X TREATS Points (1.2 air miles) for every S$1 spent on local spend,
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$600 thereafter
Get up to 8 complimentary single-trip airport limousine transfers. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2020.
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first two months.
Up to 3.2 Air Miles (8X TREATS Points) for every S$1 spent on dining, transport and hotel bookings via Agoda.com/horizon
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$180 thereafter
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank World Mastercard
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first two months.
10X TREATS Points (4 air miles) on every S$1 spent at selected merchants.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$240 thereafter
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.

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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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