Using Singapore Miles to Europe in Economy is Better Than Using United Miles

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It costs fewer Singapore miles to fly United economy flights to Europe than the same flight costs with United miles, and neither award has fuel surcharges.

Conclusion: book United economy awards to Europe with Singapore miles instead of United miles.

From Singapore’s award chart:

  • 27,500 miles one way in economy to Europe (United charges 30k)
  • 65,000 miles one way in Business Class (United charges 57.5k)
  • 80,000 miles one way in First Class (United charges the same)

Singapore does not collect fuel surcharges on awards of United flights, so those economy awards on United flights are just cheaper with Singapore miles, which are so easy to get because Singapore miles are a transfer partner of Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG points.

How to Book a Singapore Award on United Flights to Europe

I want to fly from Washington DC to Madrid in May, and though I’d prefer to fly Business Class or First Class, my top priority is getting on United’s direct flight on the route to save time.

I searched united.com for award space and found Saver award space for the day I want. Singapore Airlines will have access to all the Saver award space listed on united.com if you search without logging in. United charges 30,000 miles + $5.60 for the flight.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.53.11 AM

I called Singapore at 213-404-0301 and fed the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of the flight I wanted. She found space immediately and priced it at 27,500 Singapore miles + 32 SGD (~$23.50).

Why does Singapore charge about $18 extra in taxes on the one way flight? According to ITA Matrix, the flight I want has three taxes, fees, and charges. United only collects the September 11th Security Fee while Singapore collects that plus the US International Departure Tax. That accounts for the $18 difference, which is well worth paying to save 2,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.53.25 AM

Note that the United paid flight also has a stiff fuel surcharge of $248. Singapore does not collect fuel surcharges on awards on United flights.

I priced out other Singapore awards using direct United flights like Chicago to London and connecting flights like Tampa to Washington to Madrid.Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.55.18 AM

All these awards were the same 27,500 Singapore miles and $23.50.Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.56.18 AM

What I’m Not Saying

I’m not saying Singapore miles are better than United miles to Europe.

  • Singapore collects fuel surcharges on most other common partners, and United never collects fuel surcharges.
  • For United flights, Singapore charges more miles than United for Business Class awards and the same amount for First Class awards

But for United economy flights to Europe, Singapore miles offer a better deal than United miles.

This is compounded by the fact that Singapore miles are easier to get than United miles.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of every transferable points program. Cards I like that earns points that transfer:

  • Citi Prestige® Card: 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card: 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also earns 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. 2x on dining and travel.
  • Ink Plus (business card): 50,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. 5x on office supplies and telecom bills.
  • Whichever Membership Rewards card (Platinum or Gold, personal or business) is offering a big 50,000, 75,000, or 100,000 point sign up bonus

Transfers do take about 36 hours from these programs to Singapore miles.

Bottom Line

Pretty soon here I’ll probably book a United economy flight to Europe. Instead of spending 30,000 harder-to-get United miles, I’ll spend 27,500 transfer-partner-of-everyone Singapore miles on the exact same flight.

Both awards are fuel surcharges free, and the Singapore awards to Europe just have about $18 more in taxes. I’ll be flush with ThankYou Points soon to transfer to Singapore miles because I got theCiti Prestige® Card with 40,000 bonus points just a few weeks ago.


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21 COMMENTS

  1. Everything would be perfect if only there were more flights available on United itself. Most of the time there are seats available with partners, i.e. LH, LOT, Swiss, etc. instead.

  2. What happens if you fly to fra w united and the next leg w lufthansa, the fuel surcharge kicks in right? Say ord to fra to bud?

  3. GTK. Still, Chase UR to Singapore transfers are not instantaneous. Personally, I don’t bank SQ miles, so a difference of (2,500 miles, less $18) might not be worth my extra time (and possibly risk) to snag the flight a few days later.

    • For a $100 fee (plus additional taxes on the next segment.) I don’t think that’s generally worth it intra-Europe where you can book many flights for under $100.

  4. Does anyone know – if you are a United 1k – and use Singapore miles on a United Flight- can you get Economy Plus seating?

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