A routing I never knew for cheap Business Class redemptions to Singapore

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I did an article last April on sweet spots in the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer frequent flyer scheme.  This was based on discussions I had with reader 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 and moving points from hotel schemes, in particular Marriott Bonvoy where the rate is 3:1 (3:1.25 if you move chunks of 60,000 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 30% Amex transfer bonus!

There is a permanent transfer bonus from Amex to Singapore Airlines which is currently 31%.  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 $1.31 per £1, when transferred, so 100,000 points becomes 131,000 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 31% 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.

Best redemptions with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

What is this new Singapore Airlines sweet spot?

We are finally getting to the point of this article (!).   But let’s first remind ourselves of the main KrisFlyer sweet spot for UK residents.

Here is the Singapore Airlines reward chart for partner airlines.

There is one deal which I have mentioned a few times on HFP, because I have booked it myself.  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!)

Here is my new ‘find’

I spotted another interesting opportunity on Mainly Miles over the weekend.

If you book London to Singapore in Business Class, using Singapore Airlines miles, it will cost you 184,000 miles return plus £235 in taxes and charges.

Avios charges 175,000 Avios off-peak and 210,000 Avios on peak dates to Singapore, return, with higher taxes and charges.

However …. take a look at the Singapore Airlines reward chart for Singapore Airlines flights.  You want Page 2 which covers ‘Saver Awards’.

The top row confirms that Zone 1 to Zone 11 (Singapore to Europe, including the UK) is 92,000 miles each way, so 184,000 miles return as expected.

Look more closely though.  If you look at the definition of Zone 10, which is Africa / Middle East, it actually says “Africa, Middle East and Turkey“.  Those flights are just 49,000 miles each way in Business Class.  Even better, there are virtually no taxes out of Turkey.

A return flight from Istanbul to Singapore in Singapore Airlines Business Class is just 98,000 KrisFlyer miles plus $55 in taxes!

Here is a dummy booking to confirm (click to enlarge):

Singapore to Istanbul KrisFlyer

The slight downside is that you are getting the old 2006 Singapore Airlines business class seat from Istanbul.  It isn’t a bad one apart from the colour scheme – see here – just not the latest.

Obviously this isn’t a deal for everyone as it requires positioning yourself in Istanbul. Flights to Turkey are not hugely expensive, however.  You can also redeem Avios (17,000 Avios + £35 off-peak return).  If paying cash or using Star Alliance miles, Turkish Airlines runs a Boeing 777 on some services which will get you a flat bed in Business Class.  Spending a day in Istanbul on the way is also well worth doing.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Rob this is the partner awards link

    Your partner link shows the *A reward chart.

  2. I need to book flights for London to ASB (Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) returning TAS (Tashkent, Uzbekistan). Using KrisFlyer points, it should be possible to book Turkish Airlines via Istanbul using the Singapore Airlines Star Alliance partner chart – Business flights for Europe to Central South Asia at 95000 for a round trip.
    However, I have been monitoring this for months, and Singapore Air does not recognise ASB (it comes up as a Baghdad airport) nor do offer a Turkish flight TAS-IST-LHR – they seem to want to route via Zurich or Frankfurt presumably to use Swiss or Lufthansa.
    Is this because Turkish is stingy with partner redemptions, or is there a better way to book these flights?

    • I’ll be extremely impressed if anyone can help you with this… That looks like a very interesting trip. Crossing the land border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan? Fun!

      • Its actually an organised tour with Explore! and they plan to make the crossing into Uzbekistan at Farab.

    • Have you tried calling to see if it’s a website error or their entire system gets ASB wrong

  3. Thomas Howard says:

    Can the Membership Rewards transfer trick be done with Australian or Canadian cards? Are you able to transfer MR to Canada at 1.7x for 1:1 transfer to Avios.

    Also, are cards applied for via Amex moving abroad dispatch to your old (UK) or new (AU/CA) address?

    • Yes, you can do the same to other cards.

      No idea about Q2.

      • What about other countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia.
        Malaysia exchange rate is 1 to 5, surely if that works it will a jackpot
        Wouldn’t it?

        • Thomas Howard says:

          It looks like you’d get about 1.77 SGMR for UKMR (based on current GBPSGD) but it would cost you 1.8 SGMR (450:250) per Avios so no benefit.

          Thanks to everyone for answering my original questions.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Yes, I’ve recently (literally last week) transferred a big chunk from UK-Australia at ~1.8.

      Bear in mind the Aussie MR programme is devaluing in April, but until then it’s a massive sweet spot for KrisFlyer using UK MR points, as they’re both 1:1.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      As for the second question, my Amex UK cards are still on a UK address, my Amex Australia cards in an Australian address.

      When I applied for the Aussie cards, they were dispatched to my Australian address. They’re very thorough in their checks too, given I used a UK card as my existing Amex on the application, they basically asked for a Y/N from Amex UK before issuing the card. I had to also provide certified proof of name and address. This hassle is only for the first card though, once you’ve got a relationship with them, they’re fine.

      • Can I get an Australian Amex without any income in Australia? I am an Australian citizen and have an address (well it’s my relatives’ house but I stay there when I visit)

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Not sure, but I have been approved for UK Amex cards without a UK income. However, I did have an existing Amex UK relationship, and I did have an income elsewhere, and a lengthy credit history and bank accounts, etc. in the UK.

          The one difference is that issuers here are very keen on seeing your last two payslips, something I’ve never had to do elsewhere. Amex did request these from me for the first card I applied for, but not subsequently.

          If you’ve got an income in GBP, convert it to AUD and put it on the form, the worst they’ll do is say no if you have to prove it and they’re not happy with an overseas income. No idea how this will pan out, but as long as you don’t lie on the form anywhere, you’ll be ok. IIRC it asks for you to be a citizen or PR, with an address and phone number, and a minimum income of $XXX…if you can fulfil those criteria, then you’re OK. Doesn’t mean you’ll get a yes, but you’re not committing fraud!

  4. Very nice.
    They’ll unsweeten that spot soon.

    • They won’t, because the chart has just been revised (literally two weeks ago) and won’t be touched again for another few years.

  5. O/T Hilton – I ve been charged full points redemption price for 2 of my 5 nights in a row bookings. Being Hilton Gold should have received fifth night free. Shouldn’t I? Am i missing something?

    • Were they ‘standard redemptions’ or ‘premium redemptions’? ‘Premium’ don’t get ‘5 for 4’.

      It may also have automatically shown you the ‘5 for 4’ price when booking.

      • Thank you Rob. One premium (no 5 for 4 discount) and one standard (discount applied). Any chances for Hilton South America sale shortly?

  6. Under 40k Amex MR for a return EU to ME is rather good.

    Shame the £ isn’t stronger against the $.

    The ex Turkey routing is also of great interest to me. Cheers.

    • Gosh, and if its possible to do 40K return UK/EU to a ME destination with a stopover in Cairo of a week that’d be grand (albeit on Egyptair rather than a better airline & seat).
      Short hop to Sharm or Hurghada for some decent diving before a bit of pampering in ME luxury !

  7. Does holding the International $ Amex have any impact on being able to hold all the other usual Amex’ we all like to churn ????

    • No. In the same way, you can get a bonus on the ICC card if one is running even though you have the UK cards.

      • Do they have bonus offers on the ICC cards often? I like the idea of this but we’re currently on our 6 months off from the Amex Gold Card churn.

  8. IST-SIN used to be even sweeter using VS miles. 40k in business each way and about £11 in taxes – as it’s on a 772ER it was the one flight to Europe that got around their ‘no flights to partner programmes on A380’s, B77W’s or A345’s’ rule. Had 2 trips to Asia in the last 2 years on it with wife and daughter – availability always great. 2 seats Fri/Sun and 4 on Mon/Wed.

    They seemed to kill it last Summer, sadly but I have it for Easter Holiday this year.

    • RIccatti says:

      Service levels on IST-SIN are usually lower and yes that 772ER is getting old, seats not repaired/maintained yet.

      Turkey – UK story with computing equipment — made this less practical.

  9. Are there any sign up bonuses for the IDC or IEC cards ? And how does one transfer their MR balance to an ICC ?
    I currently hold the french Amex platinum and your post has me interested in the ICCs.
    Admittedly the Euro isn’t as good as the pound against the Dollar (15% bonus instead of 35%) but we have less transfer partners than the UK (no VS Flying Club for example) and most are 5:4 so krisflyer at 1:1 is a godsend 😀

  10. Rob, why is there not a ‘sweet spot’ article detailing all the best deals, such as this. Plus other gems that are on your site “somewhere” that would be beneficial have in one convenient locaation?

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