Generous ‘sweet spots’ if you move Amex points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

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I’ve recently been in touch with Andrew, a UK expat and long-term HFP reader who moved to Singapore a couple of years ago and decided to start Mainly Miles to cover KrisFlyer.

You might think that the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme, which is part of Star Alliance and so accesses a different group of airlines to Avios, is irrelevant to you.

And yet …. if you were willing to do a bit of jiggling, there are decent deals – and one exceptional deal – you can nab.

How can you earn KrisFlyer miles?

The obvious route is transferring American Express Membership Rewards pointsAs you can see here, it is a 1:1 airline partner from the UK scheme.

Other options include Heathrow Rewards (there is currently a transfer bonus running) and moving points from hotel schemes, in particular Starwood Preferred Guest where the rate is 1:1 (1:1.25 if you move chunks of 20,000 points at a time).  It is also a HSBC Premier credit card partner if you want a Visa / Mastercard option.

And there is a ‘secret’ permanent 40% Amex transfer bonus!

There is a permanent transfer bonus from Amex to Singapore Airlines which is currently 40%.  Last time I used this method it was 58%!  It is complex, I admit, but if you are transferring a lot of Amex points it may be worth it.

The process is explained here and I strongly recommend reading that HFP article if this sounds interesting.  Basically:

you get the Amex International Dollar Card, which is run out of Brighton and only available to non-US residents like you

you transfer your Amex Membership Rewards balance to your International Dollar Card’s MR account

under Amex rules, your MR balance is grossed up by the current $ exchange rate, currently $1.42 per £1, when transferred, so 100,000 points becomes 142,000 points

Most airline and hotel partners have worse transfer rates out of IDC so this is not a benefit.  The exceptions are Alitalia, Asia Miles, Finnair, Malaysia Airlines and KrisFlyer which are 1:1.  Here is the IDC Membership Rewards catalogue.  You effectively get a 42% transfer bonus, based on the FX rate today, when moving to these five airlines.

As an extra perk, IDC cards can transfer into the Jumeirah Sirius hotel programme, an option no longer available to holders of UK £ Amex cards.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer best rewards

What are the KrisFlyer sweet spots?

We finally get to the point of this article (!).   Why might you want to redeem KrisFlyer miles if you live in the UK?

Here is the Singapore Airlines reward chart for partner airlines.

The slam dunk best deal is ‘Europe to Middle East’ for 50,000 miles RETURN in Business Class.

Remember that British Airways wants up to 120,000 Avios on a peak day for a return Club World flight to Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc.  You can use just 50,000 KrisFlyer miles, most likely routed on Lufthansa via Frankfurt or SWISS via Zurich, instead.  (Other fun routings include Turkish via Istanbul and Egyptair via Cairo!)

I asked Andrew about other sweet spots he recommends.  He said:

Europe to South East Asia, at 85,000 miles one-way in Business.  You can fly direct to Singapore on Singapore Airlines for that price, but if you can’t find seats on your dates then you should get something on Thai, Lufthansa, SWISS, Turkish etc.

Europe to South Africa for 45,000 miles one-way in Business.   Your primary choices would be South African, Lufthansa, SWISS and Turkish but there is also the wild card that is Ethiopian which now has a brand new fleet.

Europe to the Maldives is 47,500 miles one-way in Business.   Turkish is your likely airline.  Sri Lanka and India are in the same pricing zone.

Domestic USA / Canada flights.  Whilst not as cheap as Avios for short hops, 12,500 miles one-way in Economy or 20,000 miles one-way in Business (domestic First in the USA is priced as Business) can work out well.  You can also use Virgin America / Alaska with KrisFlyer miles.

In theory, the biggest value for KrisFlyer miles from London comes from the Virgin Atlantic partner award chart.  You would pay 50,000 miles one-way Upper Class to any US destination.  Dubai would be 35,000 miles one-way in Upper Class which is more than a Star Alliance redemption but you would fly direct.

There’s a big drawback though – Virgin Atlantic limits its award inventory to KrisFlyer so tightly it’s almost useless.  You cannot book online and the call centre finds it virtually impossible to find seats.  This may be some sort of retaliation by Virgin for the rules that Singapore Airlines imposes on Virgin Flying Club members who want to redeem with them.

I hope this article has given you a few ideas for potential uses for the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme, especially if you are sitting on a large pot of American Express Membership Rewards points.

Thanks to Andrew / Mainly Miles for his help.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. If you could move MR points from UK account to ICC account, then can you do the reverse way? If so, can you use it as a MR hold account while you are waiting for 6 month break?

    • I don’t know if it is 1 transfer EACH WAY per year, in which case the answer is Yes, or one transfer in total, so No. I would guess one each-way but have never personally moved FROM IDC to UK (although I am tempted because I make a profit, given I moved them across at $1.58!).

      • Rob – if you transfer your MR points to the IDC card and then cancel all your UK MR earning cards, will you still be eligible for a sign up bonus in 6 months time or does holding the ICD MR account negate you from this?

  2. So how does one move their regular MR points to an Amex ICC card ? Can’t seem to find out the info on Amex’s website and this article has me thinking of getting a Euro Card since French Amex MR points mostly all transfer at a 5:4 ratio (is 3:2 better or worse ?) and the 1:1 ratio of some of the International Euro Card partners has me very interested.

    • Telephone only. Most Amex agents have never done it so you may need to call a few times to find one who can. Remember that you cannot do another transfer for 12 months so think carefully about how many you move.

  3. Do any of the cards have any sign up bonuses ?

  4. Could this be applied if I had MR stored on a US account? Any idea whether a global transfer to a UK account would work, and then to transfer back to ICC?

  5. An amazing article and comments. Thanks Rob. A couple of months ago was thinking to transfer OH’s MR points to krisflyer with hopes to build a stash in the coming years for both of us to travel EU to SIN in business with I’m guessing from previous comments very low taxes from Zurich?
    …but in the end OH didn’t quite get the sweet spots and chose to transfer to hilton (just before the Amex Hilton bonus!)
    Now as it’s my churn to build MR points in excited to read this article and routes to Maldives or SIN seem very very appealing to me! Now to deliberate over this or the air China London to Beijing you mentioned….
    Thanks a lot!

    • What is not mentioned in the article is that Kris Fkyer Miles has a strict 3 year expiry of miles even if you continue to add to your account so don’t transfer points over if you are not planning on redeeming within that time frame. Wish they would change the rule – I would transfer all my MR pts to KF if they did.

  6. Qatar is also a partner of this card. I know it’s 3:2 conversion but this is mostly cancelled out by currency uplift on the transfer. The last I time I looked the miles required for Qatar redemptions were a lot less than via BA. However, I have no idea on availability and charges for Qatar redemptions

  7. tristar82 says:

    Thanks for this. I’m a Brit expat who’s been living in Austraila for the last 11 years and now moving back to Europe. My QF points are gonna be of too much value and I really don’t want to go IAG/ Avios. So with my 100k Virgin Velocity points, I can transfer to KrisFlyer – and now I have a way to continue to earn. Love it!! 🙂

  8. Aceman says:

    How is that Frankfurt to jfk flight? Availability and cost?

  9. When it comes to paying off your Amex $$ balance each month, is converting ££ to $$ using Revolut and then paying by bank transfer direct from your Revolut dollar account the most efficient and cost-effective way?

    I’m sure that using this method, not only would you get the Interbank rate ££ to $$ fee-free but the bank transfer from Revolut $$ account to Amex US Bank account would also not incur charges.

    Is my logic correct? 🙂

    Mikee

  10. OT just wondering if there is a partner redemption chart to figure out how many virgin flying club miles needed to fly from LHR to MEL…. Been quoted 135,000 by flying club… Krisflyer miles only 120,000.

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