The Citi PremierMiles is a general-purpose all-rounder when it is not possible to earn 4 miles per dollar on our transactions. In addition, the complimentary airport lounge access is a godsend for frequent travel. In this series of articles, I share more details on the credit cards that I keep in my wallet that have helped me earn more than half a million miles in just a couple of years.
With just 3 credit cards, I have managed to collect hundreds of thousands of air miles. Since I am writing this article, a general spend card such as the Citi PremierMiles or Citi Prestige is no doubt an integral part of my Simple Air Miles Strategy.
Having said that, I realized that travelling in business class is no longer such an essential thing for me these days. Sure, it still feels amazing, but I wonder if the novelty of doing this is wearing off a little bit.
- What’s The Air Miles Game?
- Start Now! Overcome Analysis Paralysis With This Tip
- Local Spend Earn Rate – 1.2 mpd
- Foreign Spend Earn Rate – 2.0 mpd
- Bonus Earn Rate – It Depends
- What Is The Merchant Category Code (MCC)?
- Get Free Airport Lounge Access
- Citi Miles Will Never Expire
- What Are Citi Miles Worth?
- Citibank Has The Most Transfer Partners
- Fees & Charges
- Get It, Or Skip It?
- Recap: Citi PremierMiles Credit Card
- New To Citibank Sign-Up Gift: $300 Cash
What’s The Air Miles Game?
Everyone needs to spend money in their daily lives.
When we spend money, the activity is always associated with a mode of payment.
Are we paying by cash? Credit card? Digital wallet?
When we choose to pay with credit cards, we can earn reward points simply by charging our expenses to them.
There are some requirements in order to qualify for a credit card. Our annual income needs to be at least $30,000 per year, plus a decent credit history.
If you aren’t eligible right now, you can take advantage of secured credit cards until you can apply for one.
After accumulating credit card reward points, we can exchange them for frequent-flyer programmes’ (such as Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer) air miles that can be used to redeem for free flights (before taxes).
- Use a credit card to pay for daily expenses
- Collect credit card reward points
- Convert these points into frequent-flyer air miles
Nothing complicated, right?
Before we get started, I think it is important to be clear on why you want to play the Air Miles game.
Is it because you want to experience luxury travel in business class or first class at least once in your life?
Or perhaps, you would like to have access to the increased flexibility that air miles provide when planning for vacations?
If you are like me, it turns out to be a bit of both. And here’s the good news, it is 100% possible to achieve your goals.
Given that my life is pretty boring by my standards (haha), I don’t even spend that much. Between my wife and I, we have easily collected more than 500,000 miles.
Start Now! Overcome Analysis Paralysis With This Tip
I remember what it was like when I just started collecting air miles.
I would spend a lot of time reading articles and going through forums, learning about what is the best way to get started and how to optimize for the maximum number of air miles.
With so much information out there, it began to feel a little confusing and overwhelming to me, and I got stuck in analysis paralysis.
I eventually realized that all I needed to do was to take a look at my budgeting app to understand my expenditure pattern.
Instead of adapting my lifestyle to maximize the earnings of air miles, what I should be doing is selecting the right cards that fit my lifestyle.
There is zero need to stay on top of the newest and most complicated strategies when all I need are boring repeatable tasks.
With that, I shook aside analysis paralysis and quickly realized that aside from cash expenses, much of my expenditure can be split into the following three categories.
- General spend
- Contactless payment
- Online payment
Aside from cash payments, I realized I was already clocking most of my expenses on credit cards.
Now, all I need to do is find the right credit cards that can earn the most number of miles on each of the three categories.
The Citi PremierMiles Credit Card is what you can use for general spending.
To sweeten the deal, it is a fantastic credit card to start your miles game because it grants two free visits to airport lounges every year.
|General Spending||Citi PremierMiles / Citi Prestige|
|Online Payment||Citi Rewards|
|Contactless Payment||HSBC Revolution|
This setup helps to reduce mental clutter by having to transact with only two banks.
Local Spend Earn Rate – 1.2 mpd
The rate of earning reward points with the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card is 1.2 Citi Miles per dollar of local spend.
Foreign Spend Earn Rate – 2.0 mpd
The rate of earning reward points with the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card is 2.0 Citi Miles per dollar of foreign currency transactions.
Personally, I would steer clear of clocking foreign currency transactions on Citi PremierMiles because of the foreign transaction fee of 3.25%.
To me, it is simply not worthwhile to spend more in exchange for a bit more miles in return.
Bonus Earn Rate – It Depends
There are frequent promotions, usually 4 miles per dollar for selected categories, for earning additional miles for qualifying foreign currency spend if you are interested, but I tend to look away.
The regular promotions that often get renewed yearly usually remain the same.
You can tell from the URLs that it is appended with “bonus-miles”, which is what does the magic when we book through those links.
Although the earn rate might seem extremely enticing, I noticed that the prices when booking via these Citibank links are sometimes higher, which negates the benefit of bonus air miles.
Always compare the prices against other sources!
Very often, there are also promo codes that can be used with the above two platforms that give us more attractive prices.
My stand is the same when it comes to earning air miles – if I get to choose, I would always pick the option that results in paying less. Why pay more than I need to?
If you are aggressively accumulating air miles, perhaps to achieve a redemption block of 10,000 miles, then this could be a good option for you.
What Is The Merchant Category Code (MCC)?
A Merchant Category Code (MCC) is a four-digit number assigned to a merchant or business by the merchant’s acquiring bank.
I won’t go in-depth on this topic since there is no real need to keep track of whether transactions are white-listed or black-listed for bonus miles.
Just take note that the usual exclusion applies.
Below are some screenshots that highlight the gist of the exclusion criteria.
Do read the rewards exclusion list carefully for the full details.
Get Free Airport Lounge Access
Citi PremierMiles offer two complimentary visits every year to airport lounges worldwide under the Priority Pass program.
Priority Pass provides the possibility of stress-free travel at a substantial cost unless we are able to get it for free.
After receiving our Citi PremierMiles, we can apply for the complimentary Priority Pass membership that grants each cardholder 2 free visits per year.
Once that is done, all we need to do is approach any of the airport lounges listed within the Priority Pass program and show them our Priority Pass QR code that is located within the mobile app.
Once they have scanned it, we will be granted access to the airport lounge.
All visits beyond the first two complimentary access will be charged to our Citi PremierMiles credit card.
Citi Miles Will Never Expire
Citi Miles will never expire, so we can keep them as long as we want.
This is great for people who don’t spend a lot, like myself.
I realized I had used Citi PremierMiles for quite a number of years before finally redeeming my Citi Miles for KrisFlyer Miles.
However, Citibank points (Citi Miles vs ThankYou Points) don’t pool between cards, so we would have to pay a redemption fee for each conversion into KrisFlyer Miles.
What Are Citi Miles Worth?
Citibank has a Pay With Points cash rebate system, and you can choose to pay for an expense with Citi Miles.
If we were to consider the base earnings rate, every S$1 spent earns us 1.2 Citi Miles.
- 1,650 Citi Miles = Cash rebate of S$10
- 3,300 Citi Miles = Cash rebate of S$20
- 8,250 Citi Miles = Cash rebate of S$50
This is equivalent to a 0.72% cash rebate since each Citi Mile is worth 0.6 cents.
We are not really interested in that because we are air miles collectors.
It gets a little more complicated when we think in terms of air miles.
1 Citi Mile is worth 1 KrisFlyer Mile.
Consider this example whereby an economy round-trip redemption from Singapore to Taipei requires 33,000 KrisFlyer miles. If we assume that a ticket on Singapore Airlines (4.5-hour flight) costs $500 before taxes, each mile is worth 1.5 cents in this instance.
Different routes, different values.
Considering that the Citi PremierMiles is a general spend card, it isn’t surprising to see the returns are a little lacklustre.
Well, at least we are getting something out of nothing.
Citibank Has The Most Transfer Partners
Below is the list of all the banks that I have ever used for collecting air miles, and Citibank has the most transfer partners by far.
Citi Miles are generally redeemed in blocks of 10,000 for 10,000 miles of your desired airline.
A fee of $27 inclusive of GST applies for each redemption.
You can refer to my step-by-step guide on how to redeem your Citi ThankYou Points.
Nothing special here since the Citi PremierMiles credit card is an entry-level option.
The minimum income per year is S$30,000 for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents or S$42,000 for foreigners.
Oh yes, and you have to be of age 21 or older.
The requirements are identical to the Citi Rewards credit card.
Fees & Charges
The annual fee is S$194.40 inclusive of 8% GST and the first year is waived.
So far, I have found it very easy to waive the annual fees for my Citi PremierMiles credit card, even when I do not spend a lot on it in a year, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
When we pay the annual fee, we receive 10,000 bonus Citi Miles.
The best thing about such cards (and this includes DBS Altitude) is that it is usually rather easy to get the annual fee waived.
The bank will simply cancel the bonus air miles that were credited into our account.
Get It, Or Skip It?
You should definitely get the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card if you don’t already own a general spend card, or if you are a low spender.
In my case, I also have the Citi Prestige, which also functions as my general spend card that earns a slightly superior 1.3 miles per $1 of local spend.
However, the requirements for Citi Prestige are a little higher, which is why I tend to recommend Citi PremierMiles (or the DBS Altitude) instead.
By using both Citi PremierMiles and Citi Rewards, we don’t have to deal with that many banks, which reduces mental clutter.
As mentioned, this is a fantastic credit card to start your miles game because it grants two complimentary visits every year to airport lounges.
If you can participate in the miles game with your partner, then that’s double the number of free lounge visits, even if you are in the cash-back camp.
Free lounge visits are just too awesome to give up on.
Pro-tip #1: Apply for the DBS Altitude if you need even more free lounge access. It is very similar to the Citi PremierMiles as a general spend card.
Collecting air miles is a slow and boring process, but the outcome can be immensely rewarding.
Truth be told, there is only so much we can write about a credit card, and it is actually really simple to understand how it works.
Give it a couple of reads, and once you have a good understanding of the mechanics of how it works, it will just become muscle memory.
Pro-tip #2: Create an Excel spreadsheet or download my free Notion template to help you keep track of air miles easily.
Recap: Citi PremierMiles Credit Card
You can use the Citi PremierMiles Credit Card as a catch-all for transactions that can’t earn 4 miles per dollar spent. It was the card I used before I upgraded to Citi Prestige.
- Use Citi PremierMiles Credit Card for general-purpose payments (1.2 mpd)
- Register for Priority Pass membership to get two free lounge visits each year
- Request for annual fee waivers if you don’t intend to “buy” 10,000 miles for S$194.40
New To Citibank Sign-Up Gift: $300 Cash
If you complete the following three tasks below.
- Apply with this link as a new Citibank card member
- Spend S$500 within 30 days (buy a $500 NTUC gift card)
- Submit SingSaver form
You get to choose one reward from this list.
- Apple iPad 9 (S$503)
- Dyson Supersonic (S$699)
- Hinomi H1 Pro Ergonomic Office Chair (S$619)
- S$300 cash via PayNow
Promo terms and conditions here. Ends on 15 November 2023.
My Air Miles Resources
Start earning air miles today and pay zero FX fees:
- Learn The “3 Credit Cards Only” Strategy I Used To Collect 500,000 Miles
- 3 Evergreen Reasons Why Earning Air Miles Will Always Be A Great Idea
- Why Trust & YouTrip Are The Best Zero FX Fees Travel Cards
The credit cards I use to earn air miles:
- HSBC Revolution (Contactless Payment) – How I Use it To Earn 80,000 Miles
- Citi Rewards (Online Payment) – How I Use It To Earn 100,000 Miles
- Citi PremierMiles (General Spend) – 2 Free Airport Lounge Visits
- Citi Prestige (General Spend) – Unlimited Lounge Access But High Annual Fee
Air miles redemption guides to help you out:
- How To Redeem Citi ThankYou Points And Citi Miles For KrisFlyer Miles
- How To Redeem DBS Points For KrisFlyer Miles
- How To Redeem OCBC Rewards Points (OCBC$) For KrisFlyer Miles
- How To Redeem UOB Rewards Points (UNI$) For KrisFlyer Miles
Don’t Miss These Promo Deals
Kevin started Turtle Investor when his net worth languished at negative $25,755. His desire to turn things around led him to build passive income from investments and side hustles that pay for his daily expenses and vacations. You can learn more about Kevin here.