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With US airlines regularly offering less value for their points, I’m putting together this series with background, tips, and tricks for frequent flyer programs programs whose points:
- can be very useful to you
- that you can earn easily by transferring in from bank rewards currencies.
I love flexible points far more than earning points in a single airline frequent flyer program. That helps me to diversify so I don’t get hurt as badly when one airline program devalues and that gives me the points I need, when I need them with the airline that has availability for the award that I want.
Here’s my tips for the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program.
My Biggest Flexible Points Balance is With Chase Ultimate Rewards
A real go-to for the past 5 years has been the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It’s been reliably the most rewarding card for spend.
There’s a 50,000 point signup bonus (after $4000 spend within 3 months) and they’ll give you 5000 more points for adding a no fee authorized user to your account and making a purchase in those same 3 months. The card earns double points on travel and dining. So they start you off quickly with points, and you accumulate points quickly for your spending.
Chase points transfer to:
- Airlines: United, Korean, Singapore, Air France KLM, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways
- Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Actually Partners With Everyone
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer also partners with Citibank, American Express, and Starwood Preferred Guest. So you’ve got all the major transferrable points currencies covered, and it’s a place that you can pool your points from several different cards.
The Citi Prestige Card earns triple points on air and hotel and double points on restaurants and entertainment.
Amex Everyday Preferred lets you earn a 50% bonus on all points earned in a billing cycle when you make 30 purchases during the period, and this applies even to earning in bonus categories; and Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express which gives you triple points for airfare purchased directly from airlines and double points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express gives you 5000 bonus miles when transferring points into 20,000 miles. So you effectively earn 1.25 miles with the airline of your choice of over 30 airlines.
Singapore Airlines is One of the Best Airlines in the World
Singapore Airlines has a mythology all its own. It’s built a brand reputation on service, I think, that’s unmatched by any other airline. They perfectly captured that with an ad campaign a few years ago ‘Understanding Your Needs’ which depicted flight attendants traveling the world to find the perfect tea for you and serving it just the way you like it, and in another spot attending film screenings to select the most touching inflight entertainment for your journey. They don’t actually do that exactly of course. But you could imagine them doing it.
Singapore Airlines has one of the world’s best first class products. They have one of the world’s best business class products. Their new premium economy isn’t just a seat, they offer pre-order meals and champagne. And even their economy class product is surprisingly thoughtful.
Economy seat with padded headrest, remote control, and cup holder
I’ve found Singapore’s service to be at the top of world airlines, and their Book the Cook pre-order meal service (and main meals generally) to be among the world’s best for inflight dining (though I find their inflight snacks lag).
It’s not surprising then that Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer would be a top notch earn and burn loyalty program, that’s strategically very useful to US frequent flyers.
Important Tips, Tricks, and Cautions Using Singapore’s KrisFlyer Miles
Here are 18 things a US-based frequent flyer should know about the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program:
- Singapore Airlines lets you have much better award availability when using their miles. It’s very rare indeed that you can ever use miles from Star Alliance partnerprograms like United MileagePlus, Aeroplan, or LifeMiles for long haul premium cabin travel on Singapore. But Singapore offers members using their own miles fantastic award availability on most of their routes.
- Singapore Practices ‘Journey Control’ With Their Award Inventory. You may not be able to find award space New York JFK – Frankfurt or New York JFK – Frankfurt – Singpaore. But there may be space searching New York all the way to Hong Kong (meaning adding on Singapore – Hong Kong to the end of the trip). You can fly all the way, or if you haven’t checked bags throw away the final Singapore – Hong Kong segment.
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Awards are Cheaper than What’s Listed on their Award Chart. Singapore gives you a 15% discount for booking online. That means prices for booking Singapore Airlines and SilkAir awards are 15% lower than what’s listed on their award chart.
You do not get a 15% discount for Star Alliance or partner awards, which cannot be booked on the website. However I generally have not had trouble getting a telephone agent to give me the 15% discount for a Singapore Airlines award which couldn’t be booked on the website.
I frequently do not even need to ask, since I begin the conversation explaining that I found award availability online but could not book it on the website because [insert reason]. Just yesterday I booked a one-way award with stopover, which has to be done by phone, and I received the 15% discount without asking.
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Offers ‘Extra Miles’ Upgrade Awards That Are Almost Always Available. The very best deal in upgrades is Singapore Airlines premium economy to business class. Since Singapore has ‘standard’ (versus saver) prices not just for awards but also for upgrades, if you’re willing to buy premium economy and have access to Singapore miles you can almost always fly business class without buying business class.
Singapore Airlines Business Class
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Business Awards Are Easy to Get and So Is Suites Class — On Certain Routes. Availability is better when the schedule opens than several months out. Availability is better from Singapore to the US than from the US to Singapore. But with Singapore changing schedules to offer its A380 only from New York JFK, there aren’t a lot of Suites from the US. Regular first class from Houston to Manchester UK and on to Singapore will be easier.
However A380 Suites availability between Europe and Singapore is amazing. So you might want to combine US-Europe trips with Europe – Asia awards booked through KrisFlyer.
Singapore Airlines Suites
- There Are Some Great Value Awards on Singapore Airlines.
First Class Suites between Asia and Australia are 63,750 miles one-way (booked online). Between New York JFK and Frankfurt they’re 57,375 each way booked online.
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites
First class San Francisco – Hong Kong is 70,125 miles one-way booked online.
US-Australia in business class via Singapore runs 85,000 miles each way with good availability for one of the world’s best products.
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is a Great Option for Redeeming Star Alliance Awards.
US domestic first class on United is 20,000 miles each way. US – Hawaii costs 17,500 miles each way in coach, 30,000 miles each way in first. There are no fuel surcharges on US domestic awards.
North America – Europe is 65,000 miles each way in business class, 80,000 miles each way in first.
North America – Middle East is 57,500 miles each way in business class, 75,000 miles each way in first.
South Africa is 72,500 miles each way in business class.
- Change Fees are Ridiculously Low There are no fees for telephone booking. There are no fees for close-in award redemption. There are no fees for changing the time or date of travel on a Singapore Airlines award.
Changes to partner awards are just $20 (compared to the $150 or so you’ve come to expect from US airlines).
Award cancel and redeposits cost $30. And they’ll warn you about penalties if you fail to cancel or change your ticket at least 24 hours prior to departure — if you no show and don’t bother to call, and still want your miles back, that will cost just $75.
- Roundtrip awards allow one stopover and one open jaw. Your open jaw may be at either the origin or destination (but not mid-trip). On a one-way ticket only standard (extra miles) awards offer a free stopover.
- Stopovers cannot be used for the traditional ‘free one way’. Normally stopovers on an award ticket give you the opportunity for a ‘free one way’ ticket. You book the roundtrip you intend, but instead of just returning to your home city you call that your stopover point and add another flight from there to use later. That works especially well if you live in a hub city.
However Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer doesn’t allow your original departure city (on a roundtrip ticket) to be a stopover city on your return.
- You can book extra stopovers for $100 each. These cannot be booked online, but over the phone you can add up to 3 stopovers.
However Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer stopovers are not permitted on itineraries entirely within one country, within the country of departure on an international ticket, on wholly intra-Europe awards, or on awards between the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, or US Virgin Islands.
- Award holds are possible. There’s no Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer official policy I’m aware of that allows awards to be put on hold, though I’ve done it many times.
I’ve read reports of agents saying you have to have at least 50% of the miles required for an award in your account in order to hold an award ticket, but I haven’t heard this in some time. It’s definitely not something that Singapore’s systems check for, as I’ve also put awards on hold without any miles in an account.
I’m generally given 3 days, which is fine because points transfer to Singapore from most programs more quickly than that.
- You can waitlist awards. In fact you can waitlist as many flights and dates as you wish and sometimes waitlists clear, but sometimes they do not.
Singapore Airlines Caviar Service
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Awards must fly the most direct routing. There’s no backtracking permitted on Singapore Airlines awards — at all. However when flying an all Singapore Airlines award, you are allowed whatever the most direct routing is on Singapore Airlines flights. That means you can fly from the US to Australia or New Zealand via Singapore. You’re allowed six segments per itinerary.
- SilkAir Flights Can Be Redeemed with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles But Not Star Alliance Miles. That’s because even though SilkAir is a Singapore subsidiary, it is not a member of the Star Alliance. So you have access to flights that other Star partners do not.
SilkAir flies to about 50 destinations in more than a dozen countries in Asia — mostly leisure destinations in countries including Australia, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, China and Thailand.
Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia .. a SilkAir destination
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gives Full Miles on Most United Tickets. While United gives you only 5 to 11 miles per dollar spent on tickets (depending on your elite status), Singapore Airlines will give you 100% of the miles you fly when crediting nearly all United fares to the KrisFlyer program (.pdf). So cheap international United fares may be better credited to Singapore than to United.
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Adds Fuel Surcharges to Award Tickets. You’ll pay fuel surcharges that would apply to the same paid ticket. San Francisco – Hong Kong business class roundtrip has no fuel surcharge (just airport and international taxes). Los Angeles – Tokyo business class roundtrip has a $60 fuel surcharge. US-Singapore roundtrip runs ~ $450; Bangkok ~ $550.
- KrisFlyer Miles Expire After 3 Years. This isn’t like a US program where any activity in your account extends the life of your miles. Each mile expires 3 years after it’s earned. Non-elite Krisflyer members can pay a fee to extend their miles 6 months, elites can extend for 12 months. So only transfer the points you plan to use.