Best Credit Cards with Air Miles for Paying Your Annual Fee (2020)

Paying the annual fee on your credit card to get bonus miles seems like an easy way to chalk up your KrisFlyer miles quickly. But is it worth it? Take a look at how much you are actually paying per mile.

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Citibank PremierMiles Card

Earn Miles That Don't Expire

Citi PremierMiles Card

  • Local Spend

  • All Foreign Currency Spend including Retail and Online

  • Selected Online Hotel and Flight bookings

Probably the best annual fee miles bonus on the market is via the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card, which is a popular entry-level miles card from Citibank.

Those new to Citi cards can enjoy an attractive 26,500 miles bonus if they pay the annual fee of S$192.60, provided they can also meet the minimum spending requirements. That works out to a very cheap 0.7 cents per mile.

Unfortunately, this offer is only for new-to-Citi cardmembers. Existing ones only get 3,500 bonus miles for paying the annual fee.

Standard Chartered X Card

  • on Local Spend

  • on Overseas Spend

  • Promotional Gift

MoneySmart Exclusive: Get 30,000 Air Miles

Online Promo: Bonus of up to 300,000 extra air miles with Priority Banking sign-up

The newly-launched Standard Chartered X Card is a metal credit card for higher earners, with a minimum income requirement of S$80,000 annually. It also comes with a hefty annual fee of S$695.50, which is unfortunately non-waivable.

On the other hand, you get 60,000 miles for paying the annual fee, provided you meet the minimum spending requirements within the first few months. This works out to a reasonable 1.2 cents per mile.

AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend Card

  • Local Spend

  • Overseas Spend

  • Grab Rides

MoneySmart Exclusive: Get up to 33,000 KrisFlyer miles when you apply and spend!

The Amex KrisFlyer Ascend credit card is also for higher earners, with a minimum income requirement of S$50,000 per annum.

And like the Standard Chartered X Card, it has a non-waivable annual fee that kicks in from the first year. However, if you pay the $337.05 annual fee and meet the minimum spending requirements, you can net 20,000 miles. That works out to 1.7 cents per mile.

Note that American Express also has an entry-level version of this card, the Amex KrisFlyer Card, which has an annual fee waiver for the first year. This credit card also offers welcome miles for hitting a minimum spend, but without the need to pay the annual fee.

DBS Altitude Card

Get AirPods or S$200 cashback or 38,000 miles when you apply online and spend!

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card

  • Local Spend

  • Overseas Spend

  • Bus, MRT and Taxi rides

MoneySmart Exclusive: Get AirPods or S$200 cashback or 38,000 miles when you apply online and spend!

Online Promo: Double your earn rate with DBS Altitude Card!

A perennial favourite among beginner miles chasers, the DBS Altitude miles card has a low income requirement of S$30,000, and its miles do not expire.

It has a first-year annual fee waiver, but if you choose to pay the annual fee of S$192.60 from the second year, you can get 10,000 miles in return. That works out to 1.9 cents per mile.

You can also opt to get a second year fee waiver if you are eligible, but you will naturally miss out on the 10,000 bonus miles.

OCBC 90N Card

  • Cash Back on Eligible Spend

  • on Overseas spend

  • on Local spend

A newer rival to the DBS Altitude Card, OCBC’s new 90°N miles card also offers a similar renewal bonus for its cardmembers.

While it also offers a first-year annual fee waiver, those who choose to pay the annual fee from Year 2 onwards will get 10,000 miles as a renewal bonus. Likewise, this works out to 1.9 cents per mile.

Should you pay the credit card annual fee for miles?

If you are frustrated with how long it takes to accrue enough miles to redeem a free flight, it may be tempting to just pay your credit card’s annual fee to get hold of your bonus miles. Before you do so, it is worthwhile to compare the options. Since there is intense competition among miles cards in Singapore, do check out what other banks have to offer. Credit card issuers typically offer better sign-up promotions and bonus miles “packages” for newcomers or those who have not owned a credit card for at least a year. If, after considering the options, you are still keen to pay the annual fee, do some simple maths to find the cost per mile and decide if it is worth it. This is of course a subjective decision, but many air miles bloggers deem that each mile should cost well under 2 cents. Any more than that, and you might as well pay for the flights with cash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which air miles programme is best?

For most Singaporeans, air miles are synonymous with KrisFlyer miles. But, while Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer frequent flyer programme is definitely the most popular here, Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles programme may also be worth considering. Of course, Singapore Airlines has the most destinations, but if you like to visit East Asia, Cathay Pacific operates a good number of direct flights as well.

How much are miles worth?

The value of a mile is a subjective matter, and you will find entire blogs dedicated to arguing about it. Generally, most miles chasers are not willing to pay more than S$0.01 per mile when paying the annual fee. After that point, you may find yourself paying enough to afford the air fare in cash.

How many air miles do I need to fly for free?

Miles award charts vary from frequent flyer programme to frequent flyer programme. For KrisFlyer miles, you should aim for at least 50,000 miles in order to redeem a free Economy flight to anywhere a good distance away. For example, it takes 50,000 miles to fly to Japan and 56,000 to fly to Sydney. If you want to fly Business class, expect about double the number of miles.