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Travel & Holiday

The best credit cards for jet-setters

Premium cards targeted at well-heeled travellers offer frequent flier miles and more
The Sunday Times - October 30, 2011
By: Melissa Tan
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The best credit cards for jet-setters -- PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

The launch earlier this month of the HSBC Visa Infinite card is the latest in a string of high-end credit cards catering to well-heeled jetsetters.

The market for such cards is growing, according to Mr Harmander Mahal, head of cards and consumer assets at HSBC.

'We recognised that there is a growing sophistication among the affluent customers who expect travel privileges that go beyond the ordinary and remain relevant to their evolving needs.'

Mr Mahal added that there was 'currently a void in the market that does not fully address the needs of these customers'.

'This makes Singapore the perfect choice to be our first market in the world to launch the HSBC Visa Infinite credit card,' he said.

Visa Infinite is one of Visa's standard platforms for credit cards, aimed at the affluent. Until 2008, the exclusive issuer of Visa Infinite cards was UOB. Other banks have since joined the fray.

But which card will get you miles fastest? And how do they distinguish themselves from each other?

A one-way trip to New York City on Singapore Airlines, for instance, requires at least 80,000 miles.

With a monthly spend of $5,000, you could redeem this within 11 months via the DBS Altitude card, which racks up the most miles within the first year.

The other cards offer a host of different benefits, ranging from personal concierges to priority lounge access in airports around the world.

Free limousine service to the airport

HSBC Visa Infinite

Miles: For the first year, you get one KrisFlyer mile per dollar spent locally. That goes up to 1.25 miles per dollar in the second year if you spend more than $50,000 in the first year, and 1.5 miles if you spend more than $75,000.

Overseas spending nets you one extra mile above the local mileage accumulation rate.

Unique travel perk: Unlimited and free limousine service to the airport for the cardholder and up to four other passengers, with no minimum spend.

Speedy mileage earner

DBS Altitude Card

Miles: You get 1.2 miles per dollar for the first $1,000 spent here, and 1.6 miles per dollar beyond that. Miles can be accumulated under KrisFlyer or Asia Miles.

Until Dec 31, every dollar spent overseas earns two miles with a minimum spend of $2,000.

Cardholders get 10,000 miles upon renewing and paying the annual fee.

Unique travel perk: Its rate of 1.6 miles to the dollar beyond the first $1,000 spent is among the highest for local spending, allowing customers to chalk up mileage at a faster rate than other cards.

Earn more from renewing your card

UOB Visa Infinite

Miles: Every $1 spent locally or overseas earns 1.2 air miles on any Star Alliance carrier.

Unique travel perk: Cardholders get 60,000 miles upon renewing and paying the annual fee, which gives a significant leg-up albeit at a price. The card is by invitation only.

Half-price business-class ticket

OCBC Elite World

Miles: Every $1 spent locally earns 0.4 mile on KrisFlyer, while every $1 spent overseas earns 1.2 miles.

Unique travel perk: Upon buying a business-class ticket, cardholders will get a cash rebate worth half the purchase price of the ticket or $3,000, whichever is lower. The condition: they have to spend at least $75,000 by Dec 31.

Miles from deposits and mortgages

Standard Chartered Visa Infinite

Miles: Every $1 spent locally or overseas earns 1 mile on KrisFlyer or Asia Miles.

Unique travel perk: Your total relationship balance counts towards mileage accumulation, as long as you spend every month.

Every $10,000 in your total relationship balance, apart from card spending, will give you 10 bonus miles - this is capped at 96,000 bonus miles per year.

Widest frequent flier selection

Citi PremierMiles Card

Miles: 1.2 miles for every dollar spent locally or overseas. Cardholders get 10,000 miles upon card renewal and another 10,000 if they spend more than $50,000 in one year.

Unique travel perk: You can redeem miles from KrisFlyer, SkyMiles, Royal Orchid Plus or Asia Miles.



One for the road

A grand day out