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Rewards credit cards

Earn points as you spend and redeem them for travel, gift cards, shopping and more with a rewards credit card.

Reward credit cards offer you points for every baht you spend on eligible purchases, which you can then use to get free flights, hotel stays, gift cards or other rewards. Depending on the card, you could also enjoy perks such as airport lounge access, complimentary insurance or a concierge service.

Use this guide to compare reward credit card offers and features. You can also look at the different reward programs available and learn about the different factors to consider so you can find a credit card that works for you.

Comprehensive guide to rewards credit cards

How do rewards credit cards work?

A rewards credit card is linked to a loyalty program, allowing you to earn reward points per THB1 spent on the card. These points are then credited to your rewards account. You can redeem your points for rewards including flights, merchandise accommodation, travel packages, gift cards, cashback and products from the rewards store.

Rewards credit cards can help you get more value from your purchases, but these cards typically charge higher standard interest rates and annual fees than other options. So these cards are best suited if you can pay your balance in full each statement period to avoid interest and earn enough points to outweigh the annual fee.

What is an eligible transaction on a rewards credit card?

Each rewards program and credit card company has a different definition of which transactions earn points. Generally, most of your everyday purchases will earn points – including spending at retail stores, supermarkets and petrol stations. Transactions that usually don’t earn points are government charges, utility bills, cash advances, balance transfers, account fees and account charges. Check the rewards program’s terms and conditions for a full list of eligible and ineligible transactions so you know when you will earn rewards.

What rewards can I get with credit card points?

The rewards you can get with a credit card depend on the card you choose and the rewards program. Some of the most popular reward categories include:

  • Flights and flight upgrades
  • Frequent flyer points
  • Accommodation
  • Gift cards
  • Cashback
  • Fuel vouchers
  • Instant shopping discounts
  • Fashion items
  • Electronics
  • Tickets for theme parks or movies

Types of credit card rewards programs in Thailand

hand with credit card on laptop, surrounded with travel essentials

There are four main reward categories: Frequent flyer programs, credit card reward programs, retail reward programs and cashback cards. You’ll find more details on each of these options below.

Frequent flyer programs

If you have a card linked to a frequent flyer program, you can earn points and redeem rewards with a particular airline (such as Thai Airways or Singapore Airlines). There are two main ways to earn frequent flyer points with a rewards credit card in Thailand:

  1. Direct earn frequent flyer credit cards. These cards are linked with a specific frequent flyer program and rewards are added directly to your airline loyalty account. The frequent flyer programs that are linked to direct earn credit cards in Thailand include Royal Orchid Plus (Thai Airways) and Freedom Flyer (AirAsia).
  2. Indirect earn frequent flyer credit cards. You can transfer reward points from these credit cards to points with partnered frequent flyer programs, giving you more flexibility if you fly with a number of airlines. American Express Membership Rewards, Citi Rewards and UOB Rewards are all examples of bank rewards programs with frequent flyer partners. Exchanging your credit card reward points generally offers less competitive earn rates than if you were to earn them directly with a frequent flyer credit card. However, it can be a good option if you want to earn points with a program that isn’t directly linked with a Thai credit card (such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer).

Credit card rewards programs

Many credit card companies in Thailand have their own branded rewards programs. If you get a credit card linked to one of these rewards programs, you can usually redeem points for a variety of rewards including frequent flyer points, travel, merchandise, gift cards and credit on your account.

Automatic and instant reward options on credit cards

Many credit card reward programs give you the option of setting up automatic redemptions for specific rewards, such as cashback, gift cards or frequent flyer points. Other credit card companies offer instant redemptions with certain retailers.

Retail rewards credit cards

These rewards credit cards offer you points and other perks when you shop with a particular supermarket or major retailer, such as Makro or Tang Hua Seng.

Cashback credit cards

These types of reward credit cards add credit or “cash” to your account when you meet certain spending requirements. Most cashback credit cards offer a percentage of your total spend as cashback or provide a one-time account credit as an introductory offer when you apply and are approved for a specific credit card.

You can also get cashback through most of the frequent flyer, credit card and supermarket or retail rewards programs outlined above. Just choose the “cash” or “gift cards” category of your rewards program to see what options are available.

How can I use credit card reward points?

The steps you need to take to redeem your points will vary between credit cards and reward programs, but you can usually expect to have to do the following:

  • Log in to your account. If you’re redeeming points online, you’ll need to log in to your credit card or rewards program account to make redemptions. Once you have logged in, it’s usually a simple process of going to the “Rewards” section, then selecting “Use points” and following the prompts.
  • Make sure you have enough points for your reward. You need a certain number of points to redeem each reward (e.g. 10,500 points for a THB1,000 gift card). If you don’t have enough points, you may have to wait until you earn more points, or consider other options.
  • Check if points plus pay is offered. Many credit card and frequent flyer reward programs allow you to use a combination of points and money to redeem rewards. This option is usually available for a selection of rewards, such as travel or merchandise, and gives you more flexibility if you haven’t earned enough points for your chosen reward.
  • Confirm your chosen reward. Once you’ve found the reward you want, click through to the redemption process and follow the prompts to complete your redemption.

What’s the best rewards credit card in Thailand?

This largely depends on your financial circumstances and points goals. With such a wide range of options available, there is no single best credit card for earning rewards. But you can find a card that works for you by comparing cards based on factors including the rewards earn rate, bonus points and other extras, as well as the annual fee and interest rates. If you weigh these details up against your current spending habits, you’ll be able to see if the rewards you earn will be worth the costs so that you can decide if the card is right for you.

How to compare rewards credit cards in Thailand

woman's hand holding a wallet and handing over a credit card to a man's hand

From earning points to the rewards you want to redeem, here are some of the factors to consider when comparing rewards credit cards:

How can I earn points?

  • Bonus point offers. Rewards credit cards often have sign-up deals that give you thousands of bonus points. Usually, you need to meet a spend requirement in a set period to score the points but it’s a simple way to give your points balance a boost. Just make sure that the spend requirement aligns with your budget.
  • Points per baht. The earn rate refers to how many points you’ll earn per THB1 spent. The higher the better, but a card that offers at least 1 point per THB1 on eligible transactions could be considered good value.
  • Point expiry and caps. Some credit card reward points expire after a certain amount of time, and some accounts have a limit on how many points you can earn in a month or year. Make sure these restrictions don’t limit your points potential.

What rewards are available?

  • Point values. To work out the value of your rewards, consider how many points you would need to redeem for a specific reward. For example, let’s say you need 10,500 points to get a THB1,000 gift card and your credit card has an earn rate of 1 point per THB1 spent. You would need to spend THB10,500 to make a redemption before you could redeem the THB1,000 gift card. Breaking down the rewards like this can help you determine whether it’s worth your time and money.
  • Rewards partners. Rewards programs often partner with retailers and businesses to provide you with a wider range of redemption options. You may also have the opportunity to earn bonus points when you shop with partner stores. Choose a credit card rewards program that has partnerships with your favourite brands and products so you can take advantage of these options.
  • Redemption limitations. Some rewards programs have blackout periods when you may not be able to make redemptions. Check the fine print for this information and consider the impact it could have on you.

What are the rates and fees?

  • Annual fees. Most rewards credit cards charge an annual fee. The value of the rewards you redeem with your points should exceed the annual fee to make it worthwhile. You can also compare rewards credit cards that offer no annual fee – just remember to check if the annual fee is waived in the first year or THB0 for life.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge a fee for transactions made overseas or with an international retailer online. This is usually 2% to 3.5% of the total transaction. Make sure you consider this fee before choosing a card – especially for any rewards card that offers more points for foreign transactions.
  • Purchase interest rates. Rewards credit cards often have high standard interest rates on purchases. If you think you’ll carry a balance, consider how much interest your purchases will accrue and whether the rewards will outweigh the cost of your repayments. If you do regularly carry a balance, you might want to check out low rate credit cards instead.
  • Balance transfer interest rates. Some rewards credit cards also come with 0% balance transfer promotions. But you won’t earn points for the balance that you transfer and any new purchases will attract the card’s purchase interest rate. If you have credit card debt that’s collecting interest, it may be better to focus on paying it off completely before considering a rewards card.
  • Cash advance interest rates. If you use a rewards credit card for a cash advance transaction, such as getting money from an ATM, you will be charged interest at the cash advance rate. This rate could be as high as 18% p.a. plus a certain extra percentage of cash withdrawal fee. Cash advances usually don’t earn reward points either.

Are there any complimentary extras?

Rewards credit cards often come with a variety of additional features that can add value to the account you choose. Popular perks include the following:

  • Complimentary international travel insurance
  • Airport lounge access
  • Complimentary flights and travel credits
  • Complimentary hotel stays and discounts
  • Purchase protection insurance
  • Extended warranty coverage
  • Price match guarantees
  • Concierge services

Rewards programs can be a great way to get extra value from your credit card. With so many rewards cards on the market, it’s important to compare your options based on the card that offers you the greatest rewards. Plus, don’t forget to factor in any interest charges, annual fees and other costs before you apply.

So if you want a rewards card, start by comparing a range of credit cards based on the rewards program, costs and your spending habits. You can then read reviews of individual cards, check your eligibility and apply for a card that suits your needs.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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