The Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme announced a devaluation yesterday. The email announcing this said that “We are committed to ….. providing greater value to your KrisFlyer membership” but putting up redemption prices seems an odd way to go about it.
In general, award bookings made via KrisFlyer will increase by 8%-15% on 5th July. The exact amount depends on your destination and travel class.
I am not going to provide a full analysis of this devaluation because KrisFlyer is a niche programme for most of our readers. I would also be wasting my time, because Andrew who runs Mainly Miles, a Singapore-based frequent flyer site, has written an excellent analysis in a very similar style to how we would have done it.
There are still sweet spots in 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 are willing to do a bit of jiggling, there are decent deals – and a couple of exceptional deals – you can nab.
Andrew from Mainly Miles helped me put together this list of sweet spots for UK residents a few years ago.
How can you earn KrisFlyer miles?
The obvious route is transferring American Express Membership Rewards points. As you can see here, it is a 3:2 airline partner from the UK scheme.
(Yes, 3:2. Singapore Airlines is the only UK Amex airline partner where the transfer rate is not 1:1.)
Here are the key Membership Rewards earning cards we cover:
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
American Express Rewards
The only ‘free for life’ Amex card which earns Membership Rewards Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
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).
Marriott Bonvoy points can be earned via the Bonvoy Amex:
It is also a HSBC Premier credit card partner if you want a Visa / Mastercard option:
You can also earn KrisFlyer miles via the Currensea debit card.
And there is a ‘secret’ permanent 26% Amex transfer bonus
There is a permanent transfer bonus from Amex to Singapore Airlines which is currently 26%. Last time I used this method it was 31%. 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 Membership Rewards account
- under Amex rules, your Membership Rewards balance is grossed up by the current $ exchange rate, currently $1.26 per £1, when transferred, so 100,000 points becomes 126,000 points
Most airline and hotel partners have worse transfer rates out of IDC so you are worse off despite the 26% bonus. The exceptions are Asia Miles, Finnair, Malaysia Airlines and KrisFlyer which are 1:1. Here is the IDC Membership Rewards catalogue. You effectively get a 26% transfer bonus, based on the £/$ FX rate today, when moving to these four airlines.
As an extra perk, IDC Amex cards can transfer into the Jumeirah One hotel programme at 4:1 and Qatar Privilege Club at 3:2. These options are not available to holders of UK £ Amex cards.
Just to stress this point again: the Amex transfer rate to KrisFlyer is still 1:1 on the International Dollar Card, even though the UK transfer rate was cut to 3:2.
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 from 5th July 2022.
The best deal is travel from the UK to the Middle East
The slam dunk best deal is ‘Europe to Middle East’ for 67,000 KrisFlyer miles RETURN in Business Class. This is 58,000 miles if you book by 4th July 2022.
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 67,000 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 are some other good options
Here are other sweet spots for UK residents:
- Europe to South East Asia, at 103,500 miles one-way in Business. You can fly direct to Singapore on Singapore Airlines for the same 103,500 miles, but if you can’t find seats on your dates (not unlikely) then you should get something on partners such as Thai, Lufthansa, SWISS and Turkish. Until 4th July these awards can be booked for 92,000 miles on partners and 90,000 miles on Singapore Airlines itself.
- Europe to South Africa for 60,000 miles one-way in Business. Your primary choices would be South African, Lufthansa, SWISS, Ethiopian and Turkish. This is 52,000 miles until 4th July 2022.
- Europe to the Maldives is 61,500 miles one-way in Business. Turkish is your likely airline. Sri Lanka and India are in the same pricing zone. This is 54,500 miles until 4th July 2022.
- Domestic USA / Canada flights. Whilst not as cheap as Avios for short hops, 14,000 miles one-way (currently 12,500 miles) in Economy or 26,000 miles one-way in Business (domestic First in the USA is priced as Business, currently priced at 23,000 miles) can work out well.
And if you are prepared to start your trip in Turkey ….
Istanbul to Singapore is astonishingly cheap at 56,500 miles one-way in Business. Taxes are also exceptionally low – just US$24.60 last time I checked. This costs even less – 49,000 miles one way – if booked by 4th July 2022.
This is based on flying with Singapore Airlines itself, not a partner airlines, priced off the Singapore Airlines reward chart for Singapore Airlines flights. You want Page 2 which covers ‘Saver Awards’ – look at Zone 1 to Zone 10 travel. OK, you need to position yourself in Istanbul first – but for a discount like this I think you could live with it.
Virgin Atlantic redemptions look like a great deal but ….
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.
These awards are not going up on 5th July but “Upward revisions will be made to Award Levels for flights on partner airlines and will be implemented progressively.”
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. Whilst the upcoming devaluation is disappointing, there is still good value for UK members of the Singapore Airlines programme.