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 points. As 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.
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.)