After all I have written about my personal project on chasing air miles (90,000 miles in 9 months), it makes sense that I should probably write a little bit on my credit cards setup for this purpose.

Air miles are earned on the back of expenditure. There are no two ways about it. What we can do it is optimize the number of miles we can earn.

Not saying that this is the best way, but it works well for my lifestyle without having to put in too much effort on a daily basis.

To begin with, I have bank accounts spread across Citibank, DBS and UOB – which makes sense for myself to use credit cards from them as my main go-to cards. In fact, three credit cards are what I rely on most of the time.

Category #1 : Online Spend

What : 10x for online shopping
Card : DBS Woman’s World Card (MasterCard)
Rate : 20 miles for every S$5 spent

Haha! Yes, you don’t have to be of the fairer sex to apply and own the DBS Woman’s World Card. Don’t be paiseh, you can simply apply via iBanking. With the least exclusions, I use the DBS Woman’s World Card (the gold one) for most of my online spend. For the alternative cards, take note of exclusions for online expenditure as each card has its own terms and conditions.

Just bear in mind that typically, the most generous miles earning rates (4 miles or more per $1) are given to expense categories associated with discretionary spend. It is not something that is a need. Think of it as an encouragement to spend on something that is not a must. After all, banks are not going to waste precious miles/$ on your monthly bills that you’re gonna have to pay, but there is a way – see #3.

Alternatives : UOB Preferred Platinum / Citi Rewards Card

Category #2 : PayWave-able Transactions

What : 10x for contact-less transaction
Card : UOB Preferred Platinum (Visa)
Rate : 20 miles (UNI$10) for every S$5 spent

For those “little” expenses e.g. NTUC, Uniqlo etc that is more than $5, I always choose to pay via PayWave. Note requirement in blocks of $5 – so something that costs $4.90 won’t get any miles. Initially started to promote the use of PayWave, I’m hoping that this gets extended indefinitely. The air miles scene in Singapore is pathetic enough, even with this little gem.

One thing to careful of is to check out whether the PayWave payment terminal is labeled as one from UOB, or from other banks like DBS/Citibank/Ingenico etc.

A general rule is that UOB payment terminals earns UOB SMART$ which is useless. I only want UNI$ which can only be earned from non-UOB payment terminals.

Alternatives : N/A

Category #3 : General Spend

What : General and miscellaneous
Card : Citi PremierMiles (Visa)
Rate : 1.2 miles for every S$1 spent

For general expenditure that doesn’t fall into the above two categories, I usually charge it to my Citi PremierMiles. This is because it calculates miles earned in blocks of $1 spent and not $5, great for those $1+ bread from Breadtalk or $2+ pastry from Chateraise etc.

I don’t have a dedicated dining credit card as I don’t spend too much eating out at cafes or restaurants, but when I do it usually goes onto this card. Well, if they e.g. Astons, Streats etc accept PayWave then I’ll use that first.

If in doubt, I use the general spend card. It covers anything – even bill payments to Town Councils, SP Services and telco bills. It may not apply to other banks as once again, each has their terms and conditions. DBS has exclusions against telcos, town council payments etc. Citibank One Bill, on the other hand, embraces it – “Earn Rewards Points, Cash Back or Miles when you pay your bills automatically.” Thousands of miles on the table annually, for free? I’ll take it. Thanks.

Alternatives : DBS Altitude (Visa) / UOB PRVI Miles

Tip #1 : Automated Payment via GIRO

Always arrange automated payments for credit card bills via GIRO so you don’t forget to pay them.

If you’re the forgetful type, that is.

Tip #2 : Track Credit Cards Transactions

Luckily, I have a habit of budgeting and tracking my expenses. The addition of as many credit cards (or more specifically, accounts – as you can see I have PayPal, Singapore Pools, GrabPay credits in my system etc) as I want makes no difference to me. I simply added all of them as new accounts, and start tagging transactions to them.

Like it or not, chasing air miles is going to incur some time in terms of deciding when to use which cards, housekeeping your credit cards and keeping them in order. Whether it is walk in the park or a nightmare really depends on the individual. Don’t like such nitty-gritty stuff? Better not get yourself into it then.

Tip #3 : Overseas Expense

With so many credit cards, be careful of overseas expense as each credit card charges a different fee. This is especially so when banks dangle bonus miles on overseas transactions.

See MileLion article for more information and especially the DCC trap, if you don’t know what it is. While some cards have better earning rates, they may charge a higher fee.

Tip #4 : MileLion

By the way, MileLion is pretty much the only website you’ll need to learn everything on air miles. Don’t miss it!

Last Words

Be committed. Every single expense, when possible, goes on a credit card and are paid in full every month. When done right, it is not supposed to impact your credit score.

The air miles industry is a fascinating one, to say the least. In fact, for many airlines, it is the most profitable segment! Are you investor in airlines like Singapore Air, Qantas or Cathay pacific? Note that such divisions are cash cows that “generates steady income that smooths out the cyclical nature of aviation.” Partners such as banks buy air miles from airlines, and we can be sure that they are out to make it difficult for us to redeem them.

Now, you can show your generous side by volunteering to make payment first during gatherings with family and friends. Especially with PayNow, folks can easily return you the money on the spot as well.

On the personal side, my wife will be starting to incur some expenses when travelling for work. I might be using my credit cards for her expenses – an unexpected stroke of good luck and a boost to my air miles project.

Good luck, and have fun working towards your dream flight ..

.. and enjoy perks such as free entries to airport lounges.

** I don’t have affiliate links planted in this post. If you’re interested in getting any credit cards e.g. Citi PremierMiles etc the widget on the top right corner allows you quick and easy access 🙂