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Singapore miles are fantastic for booking domestic awards on United flights. Singapore has access to all the exact same Saver award space on United flights that United miles have access to (except extra space set aside for elites), and Singapore charges fewer miles on some routes.
Singapore miles are also easier to get than United miles. Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, AMEX Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints. (And 20,000 Starpoints transfers to 25,000 Singapore miles automatically as with all 1:1 SPG partners.)
Last week I needed to book myself a one way ticket from Washington-Dulles to Houston, and Singapore miles were perfect for the task.
Why Singapore Miles?
I have to fly from Washington-Dulles to Houston on a Sunday in April. I have no date flexibility. Because that’s two United hubs, and they are the only carrier with a direct flight, the convenient direct flights are very expensive at $277. Even one-stop flights are $174, and I hate to connect when I don’t have to.
United and Singapore charge the same amount for an economy award within the continental United States: 12,500 miles each way. Singapore is much cheaper on other awards.
- 20,000 Singapore miles vs. 25,000 United for a one way in First Class within continental US
- 17,500 Singapore miles vs. 22,500 United for a one way in economy to Hawaii
- 30,000 Singapore miles vs. 40,000 United for a one way in First Class to Hawaii
But for the award I had in mind, Singapore miles and United miles were the same price. I chose to use Singapore miles instead of United miles to use some orphan miles balances and because United miles are more versatile overall, so I’d rather save them.
I had 625 Singapore miles, 7,200 ThankYou Points, and plenty Ultimate Rewards. I was able to use almost all my Singapore miles, almost all my ThankYou Points, and just 5,000 Ultimate Rewards for the ticket.
Transferring, Searching, Booking, Timing
The timing of the aspects of a Singapore award are very important and are dictated by the fact that transfers into Singapore miles take about 36 hours. Here are the steps:
- Search for Saver space on united.com
- If found, transfer points to Singapore miles.
- Wait 24-48 hours and hope space doesn’t disappear.
- Book your award with Singapore miles.
1. Searching on United.com
I headed to united.com to search from Dulles to Houston. I selected “Nonstop Flights Only” because that was my strong preference. (Don’t sign in before searching. Signing in may show you extra award space Singapore miles can’t access.)
Ignore the miles prices listed. Since we’ll use Singapore miles, we pay the prices on Singapore’s chart. In this case, that would be 12,500 miles in economy and 20,000 in First Class. Even that modest premium is not worth paying for a three-hour flight in my estimation. (The one exception is that I might pay it for First Class on the 5 PM flight. It is operated by a 767-300 with fully flat beds in First Class. You can check that out by clicking View Seats and seeing the bed icon.)
The perfect flight time had economy award space, so I noted the date, cabin, and flight number.
2. Transferring the Points
Since award space existed on my preferred flight, it was time for me to transfer my points. Transfers from all the transferable points programs take about 24-48 hours.
There is nothing you can do in the interim except hope space doesn’t disappear. I was never worried because my route has so much award space.
On some routes, during some transfers, space will disappear. That stinks, but the good news is that Singapore miles are pretty valuable and have a decent number of uses, so even if your plan falls through in one instance, you can still use the Singapore miles later.
I went into my thankyou.com account and transferred 7,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles. ThanYou requires transfers in multiples of 1,000, so that was the most I could transfer from my account which had 7,200 points. I quickly got a confirmation email of my transfer.
3. Hoping Space Stays
Once the points transfers posted, I checked united.com, and Saver space was still present on the flight I wanted.
4. Booking the Ticket
I called Singapore at (213) 404-0301 to book the award. I fed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the flight I wanted. He priced it at 12,500 miles and 7.5 Singapore dollars ($5.60.)
I went to united.com and typed in my confirmation number from Singapore, and I was able to get my United confirmation number and select a seat on the flight.
Getting Singapore Miles
Getting Singapore miles is extremely easy now.
Citi ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 in 22-36 hours to Singapore miles. If I had all four types of points in this section, transferring ThankYou Points would be my first choice. This is the best ThankYou Points transfer partner, and the other options like redeeming the points for 1.25 cents each toward any flight aren’t nearly as valuable.
To get 55,000 ThankYou Points after spending $5,000 over 15 months, start with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.
- Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
- Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
- Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On 4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
- Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
- Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology
The card also offers 3x points on dining and entertainment and 2x points on travel. (These categories flip flop on April 19.)
Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Singapore miles in about a week. Like all SPG 1:1 transfer partners, for every 20,000 points transferred, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles. Try to transfer in exact 20,000 Starpoint increments to maximize this 20,000:25,000 transfer ratio.
You can earn Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express.
Chase Ultimate Rewards earned from the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preferred transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Points from the Freedom can transfer to any of those three cards‘ accounts and from there on to Singapore.
Ultimate Rewards are the only one of the four points that also transfer 1:1 to United miles, so people with Ultimate Rewards should definitely bookmark this post that compares awards using United and Singapore miles.
American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Any Gold, Platinum, Green, EveryDay, or corporate card will earn Membership Rewards.