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 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.
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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.
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.
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