[Travel] Cathay Pacific (CX) Premium Economy Class HKG-SIN: Booking Award Flight

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Another flight in 2 weeks time again to Hong Kong. As usual, flying out on Singapore Airlines Suites on boxing day morning using my miles. Will be in The Private Room on Christmas night to enjoy my Christmas dinner.

So what’s new on this trip? Let’s start off with the return flight. This time round, I will not be returning on a Star Alliance carrier. I will be returning to Singapore on Hong Kong’s flag carrier: Cathay Pacific. (CX)

So why CX?

  1. It’s Hong Kong’s flag carrier. I have been to Hong Kong quite a few times but have never tried it. Have friends who are fans of CX. All ask me to give them a try.
  2. CX took delivery of their Airbus A350-900XWB recently. So got to give this plane and CX’s new cabin product a try. I’m an Airbus guy.
  3. Got my Marco Polo Club Silver status for free. (Usually cost: USD100 and flights worth 300 club points.) Thanks to a corporate benefit from CX for the company I work for in my day job. Benefit: Business Class lounge access for any travel on CX’s flight. SCORE! Will be going to the Pier!

    Marco Polo Club

    Marco Polo Club Silver (OneWorld Ruby BTW!)

  4. Miles transfer. Most banks in Singapore only allow transfer of credit card points to 2 programs: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and CX Marco Polo Club/Asia Miles. (Citibank and American Express allows transfer to more programs while Standard Chartered allows transfer over to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer only at a pretty lousy rate of transfer.)

So I transferred 10,000 miles from UOB using 5,000UNI$ (Due to block redemption requirement.) and 14,000 miles from Citibank to redeem a Premium Economy Class ticket on CX’s A350-900XWB from Hong Kong to Singapore one way for 260HKD. (SG$49.16.) That’s a total cost savings of 7200HKD. (SG$1,361.35. 97% savings!)

CX Redemption

CX Redemption

CX Cost

CX Cost

Let’s see if I can score an upgrade on this flight…

[Credit Card] Points Credit and Miles Transfer

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You may have paid your credit card annual fees based on advice for Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card, DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card and DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card. You may have also used them enough to earn enough points for transfer to your favorite frequent flyer program to redeem your next flight ticket. So how long will transfer take?

Citibank/UOB/DBS transfers to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer/Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club-Asia Miles in 2 days. Some folks may say that American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card is the fastest as it is a direct conversion. But don’t forget that miles earned this way have an expiry period of 3 years. Having a miles expiry period of 3 years to deal with vs points that never expire and convert at will with a week wait at most, I take the later anytime for flexibility.

So where will these miles take me to next? Watch this space for update.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

[Deal] Citibank Dining

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Seems like Citibank is now running dining privileges pegged at SG$100. They have been running $100GOURMET since April last year and soon it will be its first year anniversary. I almost attended 1 last year when Chef Alvin Leung (Demon Chef-3 Michelin Stars.) and Chef David Liew (TÓNG LÈ PRIVATE DINING) were supposed to collaborate. However, collaboration was cancelled as Chef Alvin could not make the trip due to unforeseen circumstances.

100Gourmet

$100GOURMET

Concept of $100GOURMET is simple. SG$100++ (Pay with Citibank Credit Card or else it will be SG$180++.) for lunch or dinner prepared by a partnership of local and guest chef from overseas. There have been some Michelin rated guest chefs who have partnered with local chefs throughout last year.

Recently, Citibank started another dining program and they generated a bit of hype on social media before launch. Introducing Citibank Wine & Dine.

CitiWineAndDine

Citibank Wine & Dine

Concept of Citibank Wine & Dine is simple as well. Spend SG$100 excluding taxes at participating restaurants and get a bottle of wine free to go along. Some participating restaurants that I have patronized before are Osteria Art and TungLok. Recently, I discovered a hidden gem that is participating in Citibank Wine & Dine program: The Pipe District.

The Pipe District

The Pipe District

They have quite a few signature dishes on menu. Charcoal series (Charcoal Fish & Chips and Charcoal Onion Rings.), Squid ink pasta which you can customize and many more. Under Citibank Wine & Dine program, they are offering Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2013 or Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 from Chile for free with SG$100 food purchase excluding taxes.

Check here for more information.

[Credit Card] Annual Fee: To pay or not to pay?

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Just got off a happy call with American Express staffs (Best customer service in my opinion across all banks.) over my American Express Platinum Credit Card annual fee and decided to close it as annual fee benefit is not fantastic. (25,000 points which converts to 13,500 miles for SG$321. Earn rate? 42.056 miles per SG$1.) By closing this credit card, I can consolidate my split credit limit to my American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card (When you have 2 credit cards with American Express, they split up your total credit limit among 2 credit cards and is not shared like other banks.) and this credit card has also helped me waived off annual fee for my American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card. Besides that, I can always wait 6 months to get this credit card again for free.

Amex Platinum

Bye Ameican Express Platinum Credit Card! See you again in 6 months time!

So you may ask this golden question on which credit card should you be paying annual fee for? In my current credit card arsenal, there are 3 credit cards that I will pay annual fee for:

PremierMiles

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

Altitude Visa

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card

Altitude Amex

DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card

These 3 credit cards charge an annual fee of SG$192.60 and give you 10,000 miles each. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1. Versus SG$321 for 13,500 miles for American Express Platinum Credit Card. Why should I pay SG$128.40 more for 3,500 miles? That is too little.) By combining these 3 credit cards together, you earn 30,000 miles which is sufficient for return economy saver redemption on Singapore Airlines for Taipei.

Below is a table to summarize how easy or difficult it is to get your credit card annual fee waived based on my understanding and experience.

Bank Note
UOB
  • Easiest to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Punch in credit card number over voice system to get instant decision. (Update 5 March 2016: No longer an instant decision over system. Need to talk to staff over phone.)
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
Citibank
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
DBS
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
Standard Chartered
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
American Express
  • Not so easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision and options.
  • Usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
OCBC
  • Damn difficult to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Take damn long to be able to reach a staff over phone for discussion.
  • SG$5,000 annual usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Inconsistency: Heard some of my friends getting credit card annual fee waived by OCBC even though they never use their OCBC credit card at all.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

[Credit Card] Miles

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Many people asked me about travel oriented credit cards. So which 1 to get? There is never a 1 card to own them all kind of credit card. So I recommend a combo to maximize your mileage accrual and travel benefits.

Here are 56 travel oriented credit cards that occupy a place n my wallet and how to use them.

PremierMiles

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

PrviMiles

UOB PrviMiles World MasterCard Credit Card

Altitude Amex

DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card

Altitude Visa

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card

[NEW!] American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card Visa Signature Credit Card (Soon to be gone…)

Travel Credit Card Comparison

Travel Credit Card Comparison

From above table, you will be able to see cells highlighted in green or red. Green means best in category while red means poor. As a starter, will recommend the following cards:

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card.

The good:

  • Annual Income requirement: SG$30,000. (SG$60,000 for foreigners.)
  • 5,000 miles on 1st transaction which will effectively give you an earn rate of 5,000 miles per SG$1 if you charge just SG$1 on your 1st transaction. (No other credit card can beat this kind of earn rate.)
The bad:
  • Earn rate of miles is still quite lousy even after improvement. (Other than welcome bonus.)
  • Miles will be subjected to a 3 year expiry as they are directly transferred to your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account immediately.
  • No airport lounge benefit.
  • Travel insurance coverage is quite minimal. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)
The ugly:
  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay for annual fee for this credit card. If you have an American Express Platinum Credit Card, it will be waived. If not, kill this credit card when they charge annual fee. You can reapply 6 months later with annual fee waived for 1 year.

Bottom line:

  • Use this as your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer membership card after 1st transaction.

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$30,000.
  • Decent earn rate. (1.2 miles per SG$1 locally, 2 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX and 3 miles per SG$1 on Singapore Airlines.)
  • 10,000 miles renewal bonus by paying annual fee of SG$192.60. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.
  • Priority Pass.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus.
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (10,000 miles per 5,000 points.)

Bottom line:

DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$30,000.
  • Decent earn rate. (1.2 miles per SG$1 locally, 2 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX and 3 miles per SG$1 on Singapore Airlines.)
  • 10,000 miles renewal bonus by paying annual fee of SG$192.60. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus.
  • No airport lounge benefit.
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (10,000 miles per 5,000 points.)

Bottom line:

  • Pay annual fee for renewal bonus.

ANZ Travel Card Visa Signature Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$30,000. (Advertised to be SG$60,000. 50% discount! Woo!)
  • Decent earn rate. (1.4 miles per SG$1. Good for local not good for overseas as it will stay at 1.4 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.

The bad:

  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay annual fee for this credit card.
  • No airport lounge benefit.
  • No travel insurance benefit.
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (5,000 miles per 5,000 points.)

Bottom line:

  • Use this card only if you travel to Australia and New Zealand regularly.

Once your income increase to SG$50,000 per annum, that is when a new world opens up for you. 3 more credit cards can come into play.

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card.

(Note: You can only hold 1 American Express Singapore Airlines branded credit card and no more than 2 American Express issued credit card at any time. Credit limit will also be split among 2 credit cards evenly.)

Ascend

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual Income requirement: SG$50,000. (SG$60,000 for foreigners.)
  • 5,000 miles on 1st transaction which will effectively give you an earn rate of 5,000 miles per SG$1 if you charge just SG$1 on your 1st transaction. (No other credit card can beat this kind of earn rate.)
  • SATS Premier Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounge benefit.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)
The bad:
  • Earn rate of miles is quite lousy even after improvement. (Other than welcome bonus.)
  • Miles will be subjected to a 3 year expiry as they are directly transferred to your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account immediately.
The ugly:
  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay for annual fee for this credit card. Kill this credit card when they charge annual fee. You can reapply 6 months later with annual fee waived for 1st year.

Bottom line:

  • Use this as your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer membership card after 1st transaction.

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$50,000.
  • Decent earn rate. (1.2 miles per SG$1 locally and 2 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX.)
  • 10,000 miles renewal bonus by paying annual fee of SG$192.60. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.
  • No block redemption requirement.
  • Priority Pass.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus.

The ugly

  • Block redemption requirement (10,000 miles per 10,000 points with effect from 30 March 2017.)

Bottom line:

  • Use this card on day to day basis especially overseas or online. Always specify to pay in local currency when given a choice for maximum earn rate.
  • Priority Pass.
  • Pay annual fee for renewal bonus.

UOB PrviMiles World MasterCard Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$50,000. (Advertised to be SG$80,000. SG$80,000 required for foreigners.)
  • Best earn rate. (1.4 miles per SG$1 locally, 2.4 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX and 3 miles per SG$1 on Singapore Airlines.)
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)
  • JetQuay.

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus. (I got this card when there was a welcome bonus promotion. 15,000 miles by paying annual fee of SG$256.80. 58.41 miles per SG$1. Decent earn rate.)
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (10,000 miles per 5,000 points.)
  • 2 years point expiry. (Combine with block redemption requirement = FUGLY.)
  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay annual fee for this credit card.

Bottom line:

  • Get this just for JetQuay.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

[Travel] Essentials

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Before going on your trip, there are some important things to get.

So let’s talk about two things. Travel Insurance and Overseas Data.

For this trip to Hong Kong, I charged my airfare completely on Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card. Therefore I got my travel insurance for free. Most credit cards related to travel will offer that on condition that you charge your airfare to it in full. Coverage may not be comprehensive. But good enough.

PremierMiles

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

As for overseas data, I usually buy local prepaid SIM card upon arrival. However, this time I decide to rely on data provided by Dorsett Mongkok via a smartphone that they provide for free. Is unlimited LTE data with no strings attached. As for China, I decide to pay for SingTel’s DataRoam Saver. (Daily) It is SG$25 for 1 day of unlimited LTE data with no strings attached as well.

So with that, I am all set and ready for travel.

[Travel] Booking Hotel Through Agoda: Dorsett Mongkok

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As mentioned in previous post here, you can use your credit card to earn yourself some discount off your next hotel stay by booking with Agoda. So as a person who walk the talk, I booked my next hotel stay in Hong Kong via Agoda Citibank portal using Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card.

Before making booking, do your research. Few pointers:

  • Location! Location! Location!
  • Budget.
  • Facilities.
  • Loyalty Program.
For research, I depend on tripadvisor. (http://www.tripadvisor.com) So far, I have booked hotels in tripadvisor’s top 10 ranking in cities like Hong Kong (#4: Hotel Icon), Taipei (#3: CityInn Hotel-Taipei Station Branch II/#4: Dandy Hotel-Tianmu Branch) and Tokyo. (#10: Hotel Ryumeikan) So far, they have not disappoint.
However, for this trip to Hong Kong, I decided to make a return to Dorsett Mongkok. (Ranked #67 in Hong Kong.) Why?
  • Location:
    • Centralize in Mongkok.
    • Near to places that I want to visit.
    • Good as a base.
    • Free shuttle bus service to many places. (Langham Place/Ladies Street, Temple Street, Star Ferry and Elements-Kowloon Station.)
  • Budget:
    • Bang for buck.
    • SG$204.79 for 2 nights!
    • Free WIFI. (Must have!)
    • Free smartphone provided for use!
      • Unlimited data! (With tethering support!)
      • Free IDD call to Singapore!
      • Navigation on Google Maps.
      • Can do whatever you are doing with your own smartphone!
  • Facilities:
    • Room is clean and neat.
    • Dorsett Lounge available with a basic gym.
  • Loyalty Program: Not applicable to Dorsett group.

With that, I will be posting pictures and review of Dorsett Mongkok during my trip. It will be my 2nd time there. Hopefully I will be able to see them maintaining their standard or even better it.

Agoda

Agoda Booking with Citibank discount

PremierMiles

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

[Deal] Booking hotel through Agoda

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I have been on trips to Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo and London previously for leisure. Planning trip is always something that I enjoy. Especially looking for deals for air tickets, attractions, hotels, food, shopping and transports.

In this post, let’s look at hotel booking. 1 of my frequent website for hotel booking is Agoda. They have pretty low rate for hotels and good loyalty reward program which gives you points that can offset your next booking with them. However, most people may not know that they have tie up with several banks and membership programs to offer discounts for credit cards or perks for members. You got to book via special portals on Agoda website and make payment by using specific bank’s credit card to get discounts or specify membership number to get perks.

Agoda

Credit Cards/Membership Cards Portal  Discount
Citibank http://www.agoda.com/citibanksg
  •  8% Discount for:
    • China
    • Taiwan
  • 7% Discount for others.
DBS http://www.agoda.com/dbssg
  •  8% Discount for:
    • Japan
    • Korea
  • 7% Discount for others.
OCBC http://www.agoda.com/ocbc
  •  8% Discount for:
    • Hong Kong
    • Macau
    • Singapore
  • 7% Discount for others.
UOB http://www.agoda.com/uob
  •  8% Discount for:
    • Thailand
    • Malaysia
  • 7% Discount for others.
BOC http://www.agoda.com/boc
  • 5% Discount.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer http://www.agoda.com/singaporeair
  •  2 KrisFlyer miles/US$1.
Changi Rewards http://www.agoda.com/changirewards
  • 1 point/SG$1 for Member.
  • 2 points/SG$1 for Gold Member.
  • 3 points/SG$1 for Platinum Member.

Hope this helps you in planning your next trip or staycation.

[Credit Card] Credit Report

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[Update 1/4/2016]: You can now apply for a free Credit Report from CBS if you apply for a Credit Card. Regardless of whether it is approved or not. Details here.

Was thinking of writing an article on credit report and Claudia from Cardable beat me to that. That was a good summary on credit report so kudos to that. You can read it at here.

After reading through that article, I thought I can add on to it. So here are some things that I will like to add on.

So how does a credit report look like? I have bought my credit report last July from Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) and here is how it looks like.

Credit Report(Web)_Page_01

Personal Particulars. Important information: Date of Earliest Known Credit Account, Previous Enquiries, Accounts, Defaults, Bankruptcy Proceedings and Credit Limits

Credit Report(Web)_Page_02

Account Status

Credit Report(Web)_Page_03

Account Status

Credit Report(Web)_Page_04

Account Status, Previous Enquiries and Credit Score

Credit Report(Web)_Page_05

Adverse and Aggregate Outstanding Balances

Credit Report(Web)_Page_07

Explanation (Members and Account Status note on what each alphabet means.)

Credit Report(Web)_Page_08

Explanation (What each credit score means.)

Credit Report(Web)_Page_09

Explanation (Key Contributing Factors to Your Credit Score and Aggregate Outstanding Balances.)

Credit Report(Web)_Page_10

Explanation (Aggregate Outstanding Balances.)

Credit Report(Web)_Page_11

Charts on Credit trends for your age group

Some additional information on credit report:

Who are authorized providers for credit report?
  • CBS.
  • DP Credit Bureau. (Can give it a miss as they only got 5 members which are all members of CBS.)
Who can access your credit report?
  • Member financial institutions of each credit bureau.
  • You.
How much does it costs?
  • SG$6 including GST from CBS.
Where to buy? (CBS)
  • Online. (Singpass needed. Payment by Visa/MasterCard/eNETS.)
  • CBS Office at SGX Centre 1.
  • Singpost.
  • CrimsonLogic Service Bureau at Chinatown Point or Supreme Court.
  • CASE Office at Ulu Pandan Community Building.

Some pointers:

  • When banks reject your credit card application, they will never say why. Buying your own credit report may give you answer. It may be because:
    • Bank may think that you have too much unsecured credit.
    • Bank may think that you have too many credit cards.
    • Bank may see that you have high frequency of defaults.
  • You can have an AA score but still can get rejected for credit card application. (That happened to me.)

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.