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 30 Sep 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 30 Sep 2019.
Get up to S$60 CapitaVouchers upon S$500 minimum spend in the first month. Ends 31 July 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
Get up to S$60 CapitaVouchers upon S$500 minimum spend in the first month. Ends 31 July 2019.
Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner Luggage with built-in scale or S$150 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 in the first 2 months. Existing HSBC cardholders will receive S$30 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 for 2 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Jul 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. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
Earn 5,000 KrisFlyer bonus miles the very first time you charge to your card.
Get up to 1.1 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1 spent
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$176.55 thereafter
Earn 7,500 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$5,000 within three months of card approval. Ends 30 September 2019.
Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner Astra 55cm Luggage with built-in scale or S$150 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 in the first 2 months. Existing HSBC cardholders will receive S$30 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 for 2 months. T&C's apply. Ends 31 July 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. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
Get a one-time cashback of S$65 on your electricity bill. Ends 31 August 2019.
Earn 1 Rewards point for every S$1 charged to your card
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$160.50 thereafter
Get a one-time cashback of S$65 on your electricity bill at participating OEM retailers. Ends 31 Aug 2019.
Get a free Samsonite luggage and 1-night stay at Swissotel Singapore when you pay the annual fee upon card approval and spend S$4,500 in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. 30 Sep 2019.
Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore
S$321 annual fee
Receive a 1-night stay at Swissotel Singapore (worth S$529) when you pay the annual fee upon card approval and spend S$4,500 in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 September 2019.
Get 15,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$10,000 within three months of card approval. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
Get up to 1.2 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1 spent
S$337.05 annual fee
Earn 15,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$10,000 within three months of card approval. Ends 30 September 2019.
Samsonite Astra T5 68cm Spinner Luggage with built-in scale or S$150 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 in the first 2 months. Existing HSBC cardholders will receive S$30 cashback with minimum spend of S$800 for 2 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 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. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
S$120 cash back when you apply & spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months upon card approval. Ends 31 December 2019.
Earn up to 8% cash back on dining, groceries and petrol.
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, coffee and more
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 30 September 2019.
10X Rewards on your shopping spend (local and overseas) and online purchases (except 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 30 September 2019.
30,000 Citi Miles when you apply & spend S$7,500 in the first 3 months and pay the annual fee. Ends 31 July 2019.
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 30,000 miles when you spend S$7,500 in the first 3 months and pay the annual fee. Ends 31 July 2019.
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.
Receive an American Tourister Hypebeat 79/29 Spinner luggage (worth S$239) upon S$3,000 minimum spend within the first 3 months of card approval.
Earn 3X STAR$ when you shop at participating CapitaLand malls
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$171.20 thereafter
Receive an American Tourister Hypebeat 79/29 Spinner luggage (worth S$239) when you spend S$3,000 within the first three months of card approval.
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 30 Sep 2019.
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days 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 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 30 Sep 2019.
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.
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
Get an Adidas wristwatch worth S$120 when you use your card in the first month. Offer limited to the first 500 successful applicants.
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Up to 3.33% cash rebates on local spend
S$0 annual fee
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
8% cash rebates on groceries, transport and selected merchants with S$1,000 min. monthly spend
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$180 thereafter
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Receive a 10% discount and 10 TREATS Points for every S$1 spent at United Direct Online Megastore
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$80 thereafter
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
5% cash rebate on petrol in Singapore and Malaysia
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$120 thereafter
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
1.6% unlimited cash rebate on all local spend
S$120 annual fee
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Experience golfing paradise at The Els Club Malaysia. Ends till 31 Dec 2019.
Earn up to 5X TREATS Points (2 air miles) on all 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 2019.
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
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 S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 2019.
10X TREATS Points (4 air miles) on every S$1 spent
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$240 thereafter
Receive S$100 cash credit upon S$800 minimum spend charged to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 July 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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