Yesterday, Chase added a new member to their Ultimate Rewards program for transfers – Singapore Airlines and their KrisFlyer program. This is a great partner addition for several reasons.
Singapore Airlines As New Ultimate Rewards Partner
Singapore Airlines now joins British Airways as having the the all-important trio of transfer partners – American Express and their Membership Reward program, SPG and their mile transfer program, and now Chase and their Ultimate Rewards program. This gives three wonderful ways to accumulate Krisflyer miles and take advantage of some unique redemption methods available to KrisFlyer members.
The Elephant In The Room
Let’s take of first things first – taxes and fees. Like many foreign award programs, the taxes/fees/surcharges are quite a bit higher than we are used to with our US-based award program redemptions. On awards such as JFK-Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines, the taxes/surcharges are $180 for economy, $205 for business, and $218 for suites class (this is on one-way awards). Do a bit more than double those amounts for roundtrip tickets. Yes, that is high! However, the amount of miles required is significantly lower (and the product much better) than using United miles on their own planes. Also, if you have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you can use your Arrival miles to pay those taxes. It is not like you are losing any value in those miles because it is the same as if you redeemed it for taxes or for actual tickets. See this post for more information.
Earning Points Faster For Singapore Redemptions
The Ultimate Rewards program is a fantastic new way to fund a Singapore Krisflyer account. That is thanks to the 5X points you can get with the Ink cards at office stores and telecommunication costs. It is also thanks the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal where you can earn many bonus points for all of your online shopping. Combine this with any points you would transfer from the other two program options (Membership Rewards and SPG) and you can accumulate a fantastic amount of KrisFlyer miles.
Fly To Europe For Less In Economy
Singapore Airlines requires 20,000 miles for a one-way ticket to Frankfurt from the US, but they give a 15% discount if you book the award online (who doesn’t want to book awards online!). This brings the total down to 17,000 miles. Taxes are around $180. The aircraft used for this flight is their A380 which gets wonderful marks across the industry. I actually flew this flight from the other way (Frankfurt – JFK) but in First Class (which is a great steal at 57,000 miles). To purchase the one-way ticket from JFK-Frankfurt on Singapore airlines costs $575. This means that you get a point value of 2.3 cents per point (after subtracting the taxes from the ticket price).
Fly One Of The Best Cabins In The Sky
I have flown on a fair amount of airlines in their first class cabins, including some that are considered to be the best in the sky (until Etihad Residences take flight). My all-time favorite and one that I would have a hard time topping is the Singapore Suites Class aboard their A380. The cabin was fantastic and the service was second to none. You can read my review of the cabin here.
Redeem For Flights On United Airlines
If you redeem your United miles for domestic business class flights (which I fully realize most people do not do), it would take 50,000 United miles to do so. If you redeem your KrisFlyer miles, it would only require 40,000 miles. If you fly United to Hawaii (economy) from the mainland, it would require 45,000 United miles. To do the same with KrisFlyer miles, it would take 35,000 miles. If you wished to fly that route in business class, United would take 80,000 miles while Singapore would only require 60,000 miles.
Great Reduction For Singapore Flights
Finally, if you were to redeem for Singapore Airline flights and you do the booking online, they subtract 15% from the mileage cost on all awards! That brings several of their flights down to some pretty incredible values. In one instance, if you choose to fly round-trip from JFK to Frankfurt in Suites Class, it would require 115,000 miles – that is 45,000 miles less than United would charge you to fly on their (very inferior) first class flights and 105,000 miles less than United would charge you for flying first class on Lufthansa airlines. That is pretty good!
Obviously, the bad part is the fuel surcharges. Another bad is the expiration of miles. They expire three years after having them in your account – regardless of any activity. So, do not transfer to them until you are sure you will redeem at some point in the near future.