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Trying to maximise miles should be a priority for anyone who’s interested in getting into the miles game.
The reality is that it requires a lot of miles to redeem most flights that you’d probably be interested in.
For context, redeeming a round-trip flight to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines (SIA) Economy class requires at least 54,000 miles.
That requires a total spending of anywhere between $13,500 – $45,000 to earn enough miles to make this redemption depending on the credit card you use – that’s a massive difference!
Clearly, picking the right cards to use can accelerate your miles-earning capability.
In this post, I’ll share my credit card strategy and explain how I’m able to earn 4 miles per dollar (4 mpd) on almost any transaction – as long as credit cards are accepted, that is.
In my recent October update post, I shared that I currently have 6 credit cards.
Over the past few weeks, I ended up signing up for yet another credit card, bringing my total count to 7.
Now, you might be wondering: doesn’t the title of this post say “5-Card Strategy”?
Yes, it’s not a mistake – that’s because I plan to cancel 2 of these 7 cards in the year, which would bring the total to 5 credit cards.
Miles Earning Rate
The miles earning rate that I always aim to achieve is 4 mpd.
This is because 4 mpd is the highest rate that is generally achievable, not including limited-time or merchant-exclusive promotions.
So, I will be trying to hit 4 mpd on my transactions as much as possible.
Some of the credit cards that I own will be used in conjunction with the amaze card in my miles-earning strategy.
I’ve written a detailed post about the amaze card here which I’d highly recommend reading first if you’re not familiar with it.
In brief, the amaze card can be linked with a MasterCard and be used to process transactions before forwarding the transaction to the linked MasterCard.
This has 2 main implications:
- convert foreign currency (FCY) transactions to SGD transactions at a small fee, and
- transact physical retail spending as online spending.
Some credit cards are able to earn rewards for transactions processed by the amaze card.
With the right credit cards, we can use both of the abovementioned implications to our advantage, which is exactly what I’ll be doing.
Which Credit Cards Am I Using?
Alas, let’s get to the main point of this post.
The 5 credit cards that I use are:
- Citi Rewards (review)
- HSBC Revolution (review)
- UOB Preferred Platinum Visa (PPV) (review)
- UOB Lady’s (review)
- UOB KrisFlyer (KF)
I’ve written reviews about the first 4 cards where I shared my thoughts on them in detail, so I’d recommend checking them out if you’re interested.
Nevertheless, I’ll explain the role each of these cards plays in my strategy and how exactly I use them to maximise earning miles.
Credit Card Strategy: Core-Satellite
I use a “core-satellite” credit card spending strategy which is adapted from the popular investing strategy “core-satellite investing”.
This is a fancy way of saying that the bulk of my spending can be put on a few credit cards to earn 4 mpd for most transactions – these credit cards make up the “core”.
The remaining “satellite” credit cards are typically used for specific scenarios/transactions which they are better suited for than my core credit cards.
Here are the credit cards that make up the core of my strategy.
Core #1: Citi Rewards (+amaze)
The Citi Rewards card paired with the amaze card is one of the most versatile cards available to earn 4 mpd.
|Earn Rate||4 mpd|
|Spending Cap||S$1,000 / statement month|
|offline shopping (clothes, shoes, bags)|
all online spending (excluding
Travel, ie hotels/flights)
Remember that the amaze card transacts offline transactions as online transactions.
This means that we can essentially transact all spending with the Citi Rewards card as online spending, which means 4 mpd on almost all transactions.
Of course, standard exclusions like education and insurance transactions apply, but it’s 4 mpd on just about anything else.
I use the Citi Rewards + amaze for the following transactions, in order:
- FCY transactions (ie holiday spending, online shopping)
- Miscellaneous online spending (ie bill/subscription payments)
- Miscellaneous offline spending (ie dental/private medical, optical)
- General online/offline spending (shopping, food delivery, groceries, dining, PHV)
The best use case for Citi Rewards + amaze is for FCY transactions since it incurs the lowest fees while still being able to earn 4 mpd compared to my other credit cards.
If I know that I’ll be travelling overseas or doing online shopping on an international site, that’s what I’ll conserve my Citi Rewards card’s spending cap for.
I also use it to pay for miscellaneous online spending like my telco bill and streaming services subscription fee.
Usually, I don’t get to point 3 or 4 with my Citi Rewards card, but there are occasional cases.
Miscellaneous offline spending is usually put on my UOB PPV card, but if I’ve exceeded/will exceed the spending cap on UOB PPV, I have the Citi Rewards + amaze card as a backup.
General offline and online spending is usually put on my HSBC Revolution card.
Core #2: HSBC Revolution
Next, the HSBC Revolution card is the best card to earn 4 mpd on daily expenses.
|Earn Rate||4 mpd|
|Spending Cap||S$1,000 / calendar month|
|offline contactless & online spending |
(Dining, Groceries, Shopping,
Entertainment, Travel, Transport)
There’s no distinction between online and offline transactions that can earn 4 mpd for HSBC Revolution.
Note that for offline transactions, only contactless payments – Visa PayWave or Apple/Samsung/Google Pay etc. – will earn 4 mpd.
The HSBC Revolution card is more limited in the transactions to earn 4 mpd, but it’s broad enough to cover the most common daily transactions.
Here’s what I use the HSBC Revolution card for, in order:
- Travel bookings (flights/hotels/travel agencies)
- General offline spending (dining, groceries, shopping)
- General online spending (shopping, PHV, food delivery)
HSBC Revolution is the card I use for my daily expenses – when I buy groceries, do shopping, dine, book cabs, order food delivery, etc.
However, if I know that I have plans to make travel bookings soon, I will use my other cards for daily expenses instead to conserve the spending cap on HSBC Revolution.
This is because HSBC Revolution is my only “core” credit card that earns 4 mpd for travel bookings.
In that sense, this use case takes precedence over others, especially since I have other cards that can easily be used for daily expenses.
Core #3: UOB PPV
Finally, the UOB PPV is like a slightly worse version of the Citi Rewards + amaze, able to earn 4 mpd on most offline spending and selected online spending.
|Earn Rate||4 mpd|
|Spending Cap||S$1,110 / calendar month|
|all offline contactless spending |
online spending (Shopping, Dining, Groceries,
Food Delivery, Entertainment)
Note that for offline spending, only mobile contactless payments are eligible to earn 4 mpd, ie Apple/Samsung/Google Pay.
Again, standard exclusion transactions like education and insurance apply, but almost anything else goes for offline spending.
One thing to look out for with UOB PPV is UOB$ merchants – spending at such merchants will award you with cash rebates instead of miles.
Some common UOB$ merchants include Cold Storage, Guardian, Starbucks, and Cathay Cineplexes.
You can find the full list of UOB$ merchants here.
I use the UOB PPV for these transactions, in order:
- Miscellaneous offline spending (dental, private medical, optical, jewellery)
- General offline spending (shopping, dining)
- General online spending (shopping, food delivery)
The best use case for UOB PPV is ‘odd’ offline spending.
That is, spending that doesn’t fall into an eligible category with HSBC Revolution, and can be paid for via mobile contactless payment.
I’ve used this to make payments at the dentist, optician, and even jeweller to earn 4 mpd on all these transactions.
It can be used for general offline and online spending, but I usually don’t do that unless I’ve hit the spending cap on HSBC Revolution or there are exclusive UOB promotions.
Core Credit Cards Summary
From the 3 cards that make up the core of my strategy, it’s clear how I’m able to earn 4 mpd on almost any transaction.
With the HSBC Revolution, I can earn 4 mpd on most of my daily expenses.
Between these 3 cards, there are very few transactions that I can think of where I can’t earn 4 mpd.
An obvious one that comes to mind is SimplyGo, but more on that later.
Since there is a significant overlap in the types of transactions that earn 4 mpd on each of these cards, it means I can use them interchangeably if any of their spending caps have been exhausted.
At maximum efficiency, it’s possible to earn 4 mpd on up to S$3,110 of spending per month.
However, even though I can earn 4 mpd on most transactions, there are still some obvious flaws with these 3 credit cards.
First, each of these cards has a monthly spending cap of only ~S$1,000.
While this isn’t an issue most of the time, there will be times when I need to make large payments that exceed that amount.
Travel bookings for flights and hotels or shopping for jewellery and furniture can easily cost more than S$1,000.
In such instances, it’s good to have a card that has either a higher or no spending cap for earning miles at a decent rate.
Next, among the 3 core credit cards, HSBC Revolution is the only one that’s able to earn bonus miles on Travel-related transactions.
Again, since travel bookings can easily cost more than S$1,000, it’d be hard to maximise earning miles on such bookings with just 1 credit card.
Having other cards that also earn bonus miles for Travel spending will help to tackle this challenge.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, none of the 3 “core” credit cards can earn 4 mpd on SimplyGo transactions.
The “satellite” credit cards in my strategy will account for all of these flaws.
Satellite #1: UOB Lady’s
The first satellite card is UOB Lady’s.
It’s not an excellent card in and of itself, but it serves well to complement the cards that I already have.
|Earn Rate||4 mpd / 6 mpd*|
|Spending Cap||S$1,000 / calendar month|
|selected bonus category (Beauty & |
Wellness, Dining, Entertainment,
Family, Fashion, Transport, Travel)
There is no specification on the payment method to earn bonus miles with UOB Lady’s.
The only thing to take note of is that only transactions under the selected bonus category will earn bonus miles.
The bonus category can be changed before each quarter, but not during the quarter itself.
Over the past few months, I’ve been using the Dining category to boost my miles earning rate for dining transactions to take advantage of the 6 mpd promotional rate.
But once the 6 mpd promotion ends, there is little reason to continue using the Dining category as all of my core credit cards can also earn 4 mpd for dining transactions.
Moving forward, I plan to use the Travel category to give myself an extra S$1,000 of spending every month to earn 4 mpd on travel bookings like flights and hotels.
Satellite #2: UOB KrisFlyer
The final card in my credit card strategy is the UOB KF.
This is a unique card because its usability is dependent on meeting a spending requirement – but the reward for doing so is well worth it in my opinion.
|Earn Rate||3 mpd|
|SIA group (SIA, Scoot, KrisShop, Kris+)|
With S$800 spending/year on SIA group
Dining & Food Delivery, Online
Shopping, Transport, Online Travel
First, the UOB KF is a general miles card that earns 1.2 mpd on all transactions.
But of course, that isn’t really how you want to use the card.
As a bonus, it earns 3 mpd on all SIA group transactions, which makes it a great candidate for booking SIA and Scoot flight tickets.
Note that SIA group transactions include paying for taxes while redeeming award flights with miles.
There are also several benefits for booking Scoot flights with the UOB KF card like priority boarding, complimentary booking flexibility and seat selection, and free check-in baggage upsize.
If you spend S$800 on SIA group transactions excluding Kris+ within a cardmember year, you will also earn 3 mpd on other bonus categories.
While a miles earning rate of 3 mpd is less than what I would typically aim for, the real benefit of the UOB KF card is the absence of a spending cap.
This gives it a unique use case for large expenses since all my other cards have a spending cap for earning 4 mpd.
Also, with the recent nerf to OCBC Titanium Rewards, there is no 4 mpd card in the market with a high/no spending cap.
What makes it even better is that it can earn 3 mpd for transactions that can easily exceed the S$1,000 spending cap that applies to other cards like Travel.
The UOB KF card can also be linked to amaze to convert offline transactions to online ones, which extends its usability to earn 3 mpd for both offline and online shopping.
One thing that’s particularly useful about this is that the eligible transactions for Shopping are quite generous and include luxury shopping and electronics.
This means it’s possible to earn an uncapped 3 mpd on big-ticket expenses.
The condition to fulfil to earn 3 mpd on these bonus categories is also fairly lenient in my opinion:
- S$800 of spending on SIA group is not particularly hard to hit if you travel via SIA or Scoot
- you have 1 full cardmember year to plan your spending to meet this requirement
- the 3 mpd rate is applied on all eligible transactions within the cardmember year, regardless of the time you make those transactions relative to the time you meet the S$800 spending requirement
This means that as long as you hit the S$800 spending requirement on SIA group within the cardmember year, you will earn 3 mpd for all the eligible bonus transactions that year.
So you don’t have to rush to hit the S$800 spending requirement before being able to earn 3 mpd on the bonus transactions.
I will be using the UOB KF card to pay for any SIA or Scoot flights I book.
I will also use it for any large expenses that exceed S$1,000 as long as they fall within the bonus categories.
For now, this includes hotel/Airbnb bookings for my planned holidays next year, but might also include luxury, jewellery, and furniture purchases.
Finally, SimplyGo is counted as an eligible transaction under Transport, so I will be using it to pay for my bus and MRT rides.
Satellite Credit Cards Summary
I mentioned that the purpose of the “satellite” credit cards was to account for the flaws of the 3 core credit cards, and they do exactly that.
The UOB KF allows me to earn a decent 3 mpd with no spending cap on a wide range of transactions, so I’m no longer limited to earning miles on transaction sizes of S$1,000 and below.
Finally, the UOB KF also allows me to earn 3 mpd on SimplyGo transactions, maximising the types of transactions I can earn bonus miles on.
There isn’t anything fancy about my credit card strategy – the goal is to earn as many miles as possible on as many types of transactions as possible.
I achieve this by owning cards that earn 4 mpd on a wide range of transactions and take advantage of that to maximise the types of transactions where I can earn 4 mpd.
Then, I identify the types of transactions where I lack coverage to earn 4 mpd and try to find cards to mitigate these weaknesses.
While I may be earning only 3 mpd instead of 4 mpd for some transactions, 3 mpd is still quite good, especially when it comes to big-ticket expenses where there are no better alternatives.
With these 5 credit cards, I’ve been able to earn miles at a good rate on almost all my expenses.
Do you have a strategy to maximise your credit card rewards? Let me know in the comments below!