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Miles Or CashBack? Which Type Of Credit Cards Should You Go For In Singapore?

Coke or Pepsi? Apple or Windows? Miles or Cashback?

 

This post was updated on 27 May 2019 to include updated information.

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We have written extensively in the past on why it makes financial sense to be using your credit cards as often as you can. When you use credit cards, you not only enjoy convenience, but also the added benefits given to you by the banks issuing these credit cards.

In Singapore, the main benefits that most people look for these days can be narrowed down to two categories. Miles and Cashback.

Miles – You use a credit card that gives you miles for every dollar you spend. These miles can be used to redeem for flights.

Cashback – You use a credit card that gives you a cashback for every dollar spent. Some credit cards though have a limit to the amount of cashback that you can enjoy each month.

Are Miles Or Cashback Better? We Compare

To compare which type of cards are better, we need to compare the same level of spending made across both miles and cashback cards. This is easier said than done, because different types of miles and cashback cards provide different tier of benefits based on the kind of spending that you make.

For example, the American Express KrisFlyer Ascend card gives you 3.1 miles KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent on Grab Singapore transactions, up to a maximum of $200 spend in each calendar month. This is as opposed to the usual 1.2 KrisFlyer miles for every $1 spent on all eligible purchases with your card.

Likewise, a cashback card such as the Citi Cash Back Credit Card is able to give a cashback of up to 8%. However, to get this cashback, you not only need to spend a minimum of $888 in a statement month to enjoy the bonus cashback, but the cashback is cap at just $25 each month per category (Dining, Groceries, Petrol and Grab) which means you can only a maximum of $100 each month.

However, it’s still possible to compare Miles card against Cashback card. To help us with this, we look at two credit cards. They are the Citibank PremierMiles Card (Miles) and the new Standard Chartered Unlimited Card (Cashback).

We choose both these cards because they have no restrictions on how much miles and cashback can be earned. The more you spend, the more you earn. It’s as simple as that. This makes it easier for a like-for-like comparison, as opposed to other credit cards that may give greater rewards, but come with more terms and conditions.

Air Miles: Citibank Premier Miles Card

If you don’t already know, the Citibank PremierMiles Card is our team’s weapon of choice whenever it comes to clocking up miles. How it works is simple. For every $1 that you spend, you enjoy 1.2 miles. Overseas spending in foreign currency will earn you 2 miles for every S$1 spent. The best part about the Citibank PremierMiles Card is that the miles never expire. So, you will never be forced to use your miles prematurely, until you actually want to.

If we assume that you spend an average of $1,000 per month on your credit card, along with an occasional big-ticket purchase of $5,000 every 6 months, that would mean a total spend of $22,000 each year, enough to earn you about 26,400 miles each year. Over a 2-year period, you would earn 52,800 miles.

Based on the current Singapore Airline KrisFlyer miles award chart, the would be sufficient miles to redeem a return trip to Japan or Korea on the Economy Saver (50,000 miles).

Quantifying the value of how much these miles are worth is a lot trickier, since this depends on how much the tickets would cost. However, our buddy Aaron over at MileLion has a really good article where he explains the value of a mile. To sum it up, he mentions that how you value miles will affect the price you’re willing to acquire them (implicitly or otherwise), and what you’re willing to redeem them for.

Source: MileLion

Also stated in the article is that the value of a mile depends on what cabin you redeem for. Miles are worth the most when you redeem for First Class and the least when you redeem for Economy.

For example, if you were to exchange 52,800 miles for cash, based on an implied value of 1.5cents/miles on economy, this would translate into $792. If you were to redeem your miles on business class, this would translate into a value of $1,689.60.

 

 

Card

 

Citi Premier Miles Card

 

Amount Spent

 

$44,000

 

Benefits Received

 

52,800 miles

(Translates into a value of about $792 for economy class)

(Translates into a value of about $1,689.60 on business class)

 

Cash Spent To Benefit Received

 

$0.018 per $1 spent (economy class)

$0.038 per $1 spent (business class)

 

Important Caveat: We have to accept that this method of valuing miles is subjective, and as stated above, highly dependent on how much you personally value each mile. We recommend reading the Milelion article to understand this concept for yourself.

Read Also: American Express KrisFlyer Ascend; Citi PremierMiles; UOB PRVI; Standard Chartered Visa Infinite – Which Is The Best AirMiles Card For You?

Cashback: Standard Chartered Unlimited Card

The Standard Chartered Unlimited Card provides a cashback benefit of 1.5%. The reason why we are choosing it for comparison is because unlike other cashback credit cards, there is no minimum spent nor any cap on cashback. You also enjoy the cashback benefits for all categories. It’s easy to understand with no restrictions.

If we assume the same spending habit as what we did for the miles card, a credit card user who spends $1,000 a month can expect a monthly cashback of $15, plus $75 for the big-ticket purchase of $5,000 that he or she made every 6 months. In total, a user can expect to earn a cashback of about $330 per year, or $660 over a 2-year period.

Cash Spent To Benefits: $1: $0.015

Comparing Miles Earned Against Cashback Received

 

Card

 

Citi Premier Miles Card

 

Standard Chartered Unlimited Card

 

Amount Spent

 

$44,000

 

$44,000

 

Benefits Received

 

52,800 miles

(Translate into a value of about $792 for economy class)

Translate into a value of about $1,689.60 on business class)

 

$660

 

Cash Spent To Benefit Received

 

$0.018 per $1 spent (economy class)

$0.038 per $1 spent (business class)

 

$0.015 per $1 spent

 

When we compare the cashback you earn ($660) from the Standard Chartered Unlimited Card over a 2-year period against the theoretical value of how much 52,800 is worth on economy class ($792), we can see that the miles card enjoy a slight edge.

At the same time, it’s worth pointing out that miles are a lot more restrictive as compared to cash, since the only thing you can do is redeem them for flights, as opposed to cash which you can spend on anything you like or even choose to invest it.

So the incentive to redeem miles for economy flights (value of $792) isn’t really that attractive as opposed to getting the cashback ($660). However, if you are intending to redeem your miles for business class flights, then it starts making a lot of sense to be using a miles card instead of a cashback card.

Read Also: Why All Singaporeans (Even Cashback Lovers) Should Apply For At Least One Air Miles Card

Our Analysis

How valuable miles would be also depends on the flights that you are using them for. For example, a flight redeemed using miles to Japan through Singapore Airlines on two separate days can have varying dollar value, even though they cost the same in terms of miles that are required for redemption.

At the end of the day, if you are someone who will travel at least once every two years for a holiday, using a miles card like the Citibank PremierMiles Card would make more financial sense, especially if you know how to redeem your flights well.

Furthermore, if you use a tool like CardUp to make credit card payments to recipients that do not typically receive credit cards, you will similarly get to enjoy miles earned on every dollar spent. This means you can also be earning air miles on large, recurring spend such as your taxes, insurance premiums, rental and more – getting you the miles you require at a faster rate!

If you are someone who may not travel often, maximising your cashback return through a card like the Standard Chartered Unlimited Card will be a sensible choice, since you are enjoying definite cash savings for every purchase you make.

Regardless of whether you prefer a miles card or a Cashback card, paying with a credit card is always going to be better than paying with cash. Either way, you pay the same amount. With a credit card however, you get some additional benefits, be it miles or cashback.

SingSaver – Battle Of The Cards. Apply for your favourite miles, cashback and rewards card today!

From now till 9 June, you can participate in SingSaver’s Battle of Cards campaign. To participate, all you need to do is to apply (via SingSaver) for any of these credit cards during this period (you can apply for more than one).

Battle Of Cards (Best Miles Cards)

Citi PremierMiles Visa Card: $200 NTUC Voucher/Grab Code (new customers only) or $30 vouchers (existing customers)

UOB PRVI Miles Visa Card: $50 cash gift (new customers and existing customers)

American Express Ascend Card: N.A.

Standard Chartered Visa Infinite: $100 cash gift (new customers only) or $50 cash gift (existing customers)

Battle Of Cards (Best Cashback Cards)

Citi Cash Back Visa Card$200 NTUC, Taka or Grab codes (new customers only) or $30 vouchers (existing customers)

Standard Chartered Unlimited$100 cash plus up to $120 cashback from bank (new customers only) or $50 cash plus up to $40 cashback from bank (existing customers)

HSBC Advance Credit CardChoice of $150 cash back or Samsonite T5 Spinner worth $560 (T&Cs apply) (new customers only) or $30 cash back (T&Cs apply)

American Express True Cashback Card$140 Vouchers (T&Cs apply) or $30 Vouchers (T&Cs apply)

Check out the full list of cards for this promotion here. Do note that you will only qualify for the additional gift if you sign up through SingSaver. Check out the terms and conditions and FAQ.