Why Singapore Airlines is a Great Points Transfer Partner for Some of the World’s Greatest Awards

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Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is a transfer partner of:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 50,000 points after $4000 spend within 3 months of account opening and another 5000 points for adding a no fee authorized user to the account and making a purchase within the same timeframe. The card’s annual fee is $0 the first year then $95, and it earns double points on travel and dining.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Citi Prestige Card offers 50,000 points after $3000 spend within 3 months as a signup bonus. (Offer expired) It offers triple points on air and hotel spending and double points on dining and entertainment.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express earns the the single most valuable points currency.
  • American Express Membership Rewards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card are the fastest-earning Membership Rewards cards thanks to strong spending bonuses.

Singapore has long been one of my favorite transfer partners of American Express, and also for Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Last year Chase added Singapore as a transfer partner. And then Citibank did as well. That means you can transfer points to Singapore Airlines from all the best major transferrable points currencies.

What’s more, even though United now awards miles for travel based on the cost of a ticket rather than distance flown, you can still credit United flights to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer instead and still earn a minimum of one mile for every mile flown in almost every fare class regardless of ticket price.

That makes them one of the easiest to get mileage currencies. Krisflyer miles are also one of the best.


Singapore A380 Suites

Depending on when you transfer points it can take a few hours or up to two days for points to show up in your account, it is not instant.

Outstanding Availability for Premium Cabin Awards ON Singapore Airlines

Singapore offers really outstanding award availability to their own Krisflyer members.

While you can’t generally get long haul Singapore Airlines business and first class award space using partner airline miles (such as United miles), you can if you’re using Singapore’s points. Sure, availability goes in cycles and getting Suites class seats between the US and Singapore has been tough lately. But it’s the only way to get those seats at all.

And of course they have a great inflight product, I consider Singapore to have the best meals.

Here’s the award chart for travel on Singapore Airlines (.pdf).

Awards aren’t the cheapest of any award chart, but in many cases they are reasonable. If you book on the Singapore website you get a 15% discount of the prices on the award chart. So, for instance:

  • San Francisco – Hong Kong is 70,125 miles one-way.
  • Houston – Moscow in first class is 57,375 miles one-way.
  • New York JFK – Frankfurt in suites class is 57,375 miles one-way.

You can have one enroute stopover on a roundtrip award.


Singapore Airlines 777

Singapore adds fuel surcharges to awards (whatever the cost of a fuel surcharge would be on an equivalent paid ticket).

If you want to fly Singapore Airlines, which really has one of the world’s best first class products, the way to do it is with Singapore’s own miles.


Singapore Airlines A380 Suites

Strong Values Redeeming on Partner Airlines

Singapore’s partner award chart is here. The chart lists roundtrip award prices, but one-way awards are half the cost of roundtrip. These awards have to be booked over the phone.

  • US – Hawaii costs 35,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 60,000 miles roundtrip up front (in ‘business class’ — United classifies their domestic first class as business class for award purposes, for experts out there that means United’s domestic first class awards book into “I class”.)

  • North America domestic first class awards cost just 40,000 miles roundtrip (again, because United books their domestic first class into “I” which is Star Alliance business).

  • North America – Europe is 130,000 miles roundtrip in business class; 160,000 miles roundtrip in first.

  • North America – Middle East is 115,000 miles roundtrip in business class, 150,000 miles roundtrip in first.

  • South Africa is 145,000 miles roundtrip in business class.

There are no fuel surcharges on US domestic awards.

A Great Place to Pool Your Points for an Award

Effectively the addition of Singapore Airlines Krisflyer as a transfer partner for all of the major transfer currencies puts Star Alliance first class awards to several destinations back in the realm of possibility even after the United devaluation.

It also makes Singapore an even more useful transfer partner because you can pool points from Chase, American Express, Citibank and Starwood all into the same account.

Two Major Downsides to Singapore’s Program

First, Singapore Airlines adds fuel surcharges to awards. That’ll vary by destination, they add what a paid ticket would have included, and some destinations like Hong Kong are cheaper than others. And of course US domestic awards won’t have fuel surcharges.

Second, Singapore’s miles expire three years after they are earned. So if you transfer points now, you need to use those points within three years. Note that this is not like United where an account forfeits points after three years of inactivity and any earning or redemption extends the life of the points. Rather, each chunk of points will expire after three years and there are limited options to extend those points (and then only briefly and at a cost). So Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is not a store of value it’s a place to earn and burn.

Earning Singapore Miles Quickly (Besides Crediting United flights):
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Citi Prestige Card
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

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Comments

  1. I disagree that Singapore has excellent availability on its own flights in business/first, at least at the saver level. While the standard level almost always has availability, I see very little at saver between JFK-FRA-SIN, SIN-JNB, and SIN-AKL/CHC.

  2. I agree with @Andrew above that there is almost zero availability between SIN and SFO or JFK and SIN. One on a good day. I have a family of 4 :). Granted not expecting to see all 4 in the same cabin but 2 seats are hard to come by on consecutive days.

  3. I’ve had enormous difficulty getting SQ to redeposit award miles when I’ve cancelled an award trip. In one instance, it took over a month of phone calls and emails before the miles were credited. No “issues” involved, just a slow and disorganized back office. There seems to be quite a contrast between onboard customer service and that in the administrative offices.

  4. Was able to grab 2 business seats LAX-NRT and 2 suite class NRT-SIN for an upcoming Bali trip in June a few months ago. We decided recently to try and lump the Maldives in as well. I’m now unable to even find decent business availability between NRT-SIN to change our itenerary slightly. Also, it’s almost impossible now to even find saver economy awards on any of the the earlier day flight between SIN and MLE

  5. North America domestic first class awards cost just 40,000 miles roundtrip (again, because United books their domestic first class into “I” which is Star Alliance business).

    so I want to fly EWR – SAN (via LAX ps1 service) I can do this right off united’s site, with little saver its basically 50k one way. Are you saying I might want to look into doing this with Singnapore instead and if so I can book this same itinerary for 40k rt instead of 100k?

  6. Let me point out that SQ charges a $20 fee every time I change the date or times, same routing. This is for domestic UA.

  7. I too can’t find any award availability in premium cabins and have been looking for months out of Hong Kong or Tokyo airports
    They have a wait list however if I transfer the miles there is a chance if I can’t redeem that they could expire
    They dont allow wait lists without having miles in the account
    Very dissapointed 🙁

  8. To respond to the EWR-SAN question above, United needs to have saver availability for Singapore Air to be able to book. If it’s I class, then it’s 40k roundtrip as per OP.

  9. @Gary – You mention that Singapore allows a free stopover on round trips. For a one way, could you pay the $100 stopover fee?

  10. What nobody mentioned was the “sentencing surcharges” if you’re caught with weed going through Singapore. 1 kilo will get you the death penalty surcharge.

  11. SQ Suites Class JFK-FRA as a Saver Award? You are more likely to encounter a Sasquatch riding a Unicorn on an outing to your local city park than to find a Saver Award in Suites Class, or even Business, on that route. Looking at the end of booking, almost a year out, not to mention in January, some of the days are waitlisted for Saver, and some are already listed as “unavailable”. How about short term? Today and tomorrow, nothing. Two days from today: waitlisted. The entire next two weeks: nada.

    As we have seen AA FC availability comes and goes. But SQ Suites JFK-FRA is just never available. Giving it a prominent place on a blog post is utterly disingenuous. 🙁

    I know bloggers like to tout Suites Class on this route, because 57K miles seems so reasonable. But no one is ever going to find that available, not even for a single seat, much less two on the same flight. You can get a pair of “standard” one way awards for 221,000 miles after the online booking discount, but that’s going to seem doable for a much smaller group of readers. Hard to get people excited to sign up for a credit card when a pair of R/T awards is going to require nearly half a Million miles.

  12. @Robert Hanson and others who point out the impossibility to find JFK-FRA availability.

    SIN-SFO is in similar situation.

    So 2 out of the 3 touted redemptions are virtually non-achievable.

    Very disingenuous indeed.

  13. @Robert: I have flown this route several times. In my experience the waitlist always clears a couple of days out. If you are willing to take this small gamble the awards are easy to get. If you waitlist for both business and first class (which you can), you should be in even better shape. Of course, you cannot book *really* important trips that way.

  14. @FLL SIN-SFO is an easy redemption compared to JFK-FRA. There is availability for 2 people on both 2/6 and 2/29 this month, and 4/26 for a random day I checked in April.

  15. @Chris if you waitlist for an SQ flight a few months out and it never ends up clearing are the miles automatically redeposited. Also if you want to waitlist for business and first I assume you only need the amount of miles for the highest redemption (the first saver cost). If both open up a day or two away you can choose between the two?

  16. I have had real difficulty finding any premium availability (specifically I am looking for LAX to Tokyo), so when Gary says “outstanding availability” I would strongly disagree. That seems like an outright lie based on my experience. I have all these points now and I can’t even find a way to redeem them for premium travel. I would suggest anyone reading this article to investigate award availability on their own before signing up for credit cards. Don’t rely on a blogger, because they have an interest in getting people to sign up for credit cards so they can have a referral bonus. Last summer I saw some saver awards to Frankfurt, not a ton but just some.

  17. I’d add another disadvantage — non-instant transfers. This blog has done a great job of figuring out the timing on chase transfers, but if you time it wrong it can be almost two days. And the research on amex and citi transfers is not as complete and more anecdotal so it’s hard to have confidence if you’re using multiple sources.

    The non-instant transfers combined with three-year expiration are a serious issue for some folks. Obviously, if you’re a solo traveler who flies a lot, the likelihood that you can use up the miles you transferred in the next three years, even if availability disappears, is not a concern. But if you’re the guy who saves up transferable points for family travel, it’s tougher. You see SFO-FRA open in first on UA for 4 people at 11 months out, and it’s perfect for you. So what do you do? Singapore is too risky — you send over your 300k citi and your 300k chase only to sit there for 48 hours hoping someone else doesn’t take the space, because if they do, your 600k are now locked in a program with a 3-year expiration policy. You’d be better off in that circumstance having focused on amex so you could use aeroplan, or all chase so you could transfer to United, but of course hindsight is always perfect. I’m in that camp, and it’s really interesting that one of the things I put highest value on — matching points currencies with programs that I would like to redeem in and which allow instant transfers — rarely gets mentioned in these blogs.

  18. @Larry It tends to be much harder to redeem for families when using miles. I find this to be true across the board with travel rewards.

  19. Everyone is complaining about availability but I always like to complain about the frequency that Robert Hansen posts here

  20. Like Christian, I too would also appreciate a little more detail regarding the stopover rules on a round trip award.

  21. Gary, everyone seems pretty strong in their view that there isn’t availability in premium cabins. Do you stand by your claim? I’ve trusted you more in the past but given this reaction here, I’m tempted to think this is another shill post if there’s not in fact availability (and, based on a bit of looking, there doesn’t seem to be).

  22. I booked space this week. It’s tough on the US routes, there’s not a ton of US capacity, but it does exist and open up. Far out, close in, and occasional random dates. Singapore availability also goes in cycles it opens wide up and then it gets tough.

    It’s also quite reasonable Europe – Singapore, intra-Asia, and pretty sweet Singapore – Australia.

  23. @Bill — I agree. Definitely harder for families, but not impossible. What I was trying to say is that given the challenges to start with, you have to grab availability when you can. Singapore is nice in that change and redeposit fees are low if something better comes along, but the inability to do instant transfers (and the punishment of expiration if you transfer a large number of points and then cannot use them as you’d hoped) makes it almost a deal breaker for those planning family travel.

  24. I kinda tend to agree with everybody – Singapore avalability is non existent for us routes (SFO particularly ) on saver. And to call it exceptional is sorta unreasonable . I have never been able to find anything in there. Now Cathay – now we are talking…. The other one quite ok is Asiana. Lufthansa is good if you have sen status.

  25. Thanks to the other posters regarding availability. When I checked last spring, you could get saver suites regularly at the far horizon.

    So I started building a war chest of TYPs. But this looks very bleak. Availability for me means ex-USA. Luckily, it’s still 2 years from my planned trip so maybe things will loosen up again. But the current availability combined with 3year expiration makes it daunting,

  26. I’m attempting to book a reward trip for 2 from ATL-OGG, departing 4/1 or 4/2 and returning ~4/9. Can you provide tips for leveraging the 40k RT mentioned above? I’m unable to find qualifying flights to make this work due to connections and the fact that ATL isn’t one of Uniteds hubs.

  27. @Corky: “Guilty until proven innocent” isn’t the way I roll. Or, at least I don’t want my head rolling after not being able to prove innocence. I may be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get me.

  28. Lots of people are complaining about SQ award availability ex-USA, but I’m confused if you are all complaining about using actual SQ KrisFlyer miles for your award, or are you trying to book seats on SQ using UA miles? I would expect difficulty with the later, but I had thought the former was pretty liberal with availability.

  29. I think the availability is still decent. I snagged two first class suites ex-asia to US this morning, and also recently snagged two first class suties ex-US to Asia.

  30. @gary
    slightly off topic Gary…is United revenue based for canada based members?
    I remember reading that only for US members is revenue based but I can’t find any info on their site..
    appreciate any info on this
    tks

  31. @gary
    Tks Gary, but is redeemable mileage accrual still revenue based for canadians?
    Is it just the elits status that is revenue based for US?
    Tks

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