This post should have come a little bit sooner, but as usual, I have my excuses. Work has been dominating my life, to say the least.
In October last year, I started my Project Singapore Airlines Suites with nothing more than just 11,285 miles to my name. It would not be an easy task – accumulation of miles is ultimately dependent on expenses.
Luckily, my goal is reasonable – tickets for two to Beijing, just to have a quick spin at the Great Wall and perhaps the Summer Palace.
I was pleasantly surprised to realize that it took me only nine months to reach my goal. While I haven’t converted my reward points in various credit card programs into actual miles, my tally (click here to see my monthly updates) shows that I have exceeded the target.
Miles Available (KrisFlyer) : 13,666
Miles Available (Citi) : 29,089
Miles Available (DBS) : 50,010 (25,005 DBS Points)
Miles Available (UOB) : 13,306 (6,653 UNI$)
Total Miles Available : 106,071 (106%)
Yippee! To achieve one million miles for an average Joe is a tall order as I have explained, but 100,000 miles a year is certainly possible for many.
To pay cash for a pair of SQ Suites tickets would have cost me close to $8,000 the last I checked. No way I’m going to pay that kind of money.
On the other hand, I can tell you for sure that these SQ Suites tickets aren’t free like many would like to have you believe.
Let’s run through the (opportunity) costs incurred in the process of acquiring my 100,000 miles.
FEVO Pre-paid Mastercard
This is a well-known hack to get 400 miles at the cost of $1. The card still exists, but the mechanism which allows this to work has been eliminated.
Basically, FEVO is a pre-paid Mastercard. Top up money into it, and you can use it like a credit card. Why would I do it?
For a period of time, some credit cards (e.g. DBS Woman’s World Card) classify the top-up expense an online transaction, and thus allows for earning of 4 miles per $1 spent.
Therefore, I can top up $100 into FEVO, and incur an upfront $100 expense on my credit card which earns me $400 miles. This means that anything that I use FEVO to pay for, it earns me 4 miles per $1, effectively an 4 miles-on-anything hack.
$25.50 – Cost to buy the card
$29.00 – 1% fee paid for topping up a total of $2,900 which earned me 11,600 miles. That is still based on the fact that I had $2,900 worth of products and services to spend on.
CITI Premier Miles Visa
I have held this credit card since I started work. One of the best cards to have for general expenditure and situations that don’t allow for 4 miles per $1 spent. With this card, at least I can still get 1.2 miles per $1 spent.
Although I always go for waiver of credit card annual fees, the only situation when I think twice about doing so is when the annual fee is in fact buying me air miles in return.
In this instance, the $192.60 annual fee buys me 10,000 miles which translates to 1.926 cents per mile. Not the best rate, but not the worst either.
$192.60 – Annual fee
At the moment, I have three credit cards that give me the opportunity to buy a total of 30,000 miles annually at $600. Whether to do so or not depends on my situation at that point in time.
Cash Rebate (Opportunity Cost)
Lastly, there is still the opportunity cost to take into consideration. Assuming that I wasn’t accumulating air miles, I would have planned my expenditure around a battle plan for cash rebates.
To keep things simple, let’s assume the following.
100,000 miles = $25,000 expense = $375 cash rebate @ 1.5% (e.g. StanChart Unlimited Cash-back Credit Card)
Miles Conversion Admin Fees
You typically have to pay an admin fee of $25 to convert rewards points/miles into actual KrisFlyer miles, With my points spread across three different programs, that an additional $75 to pay for.
$75 – Admin fee
Total Monetary Costs?
To get a more realistic picture of how much my SQ Suites tickets cost, we can add up the four items for a total of :
$25.50 + $29.00 + $192.60 + $375.00 + $75.00 = $697.10
Well, I can always be patient and decline payment of the annual fee, and that could possibly push the cost down to $504.50. Adding in the need to pay flight taxes of around $68 the last time I checked, the net price for the tickets would come up to approximately $575 – not a small sum of money for one-way tickets, you might think!
To me, it is all about the real value of the tickets and the experience I’m buying. A pair of budget flight tickets is just transportation from point A to point B. A pair of SQ Suites flight tickets is an experience to be enjoyed. To pay only $700 for it? In a heartbeat!
Business class flights was awesome enough for “Scootees” like me. SQ Suites class would probably be like two kids in a candy store!
Air Miles Chasers
Playing the air miles game is far more common that you think. I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one chasing air miles, even when just considering our tiny community.
I can’t remember which blogger mentioned this before, but this is also something I truly believe in. It’s not always about the money. Learn to live and enjoy life just a little. Live life, and have fun!
More Than Index Investing
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