Why is it worth to get miles on credit card spend? It seems you have to spend a lot to get miles to earn the trips? - Seedly

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Why is it worth to get miles on credit card spend? It seems you have to spend a lot to get miles to earn the trips?

My gut tells me if I keep to my regular spend, I won't earn enough miles for a decent flight. But from the money I didn't spend, I reckon I can save more than the cost of the ticket "earned". Is there any study to show its actually worthwhile? Fyi I estimate my own credit spend at about 20k a year, of which 6k are mobile/internet/gym, 3k in travel, 5k in dining/entertainment, 1k in memberships/medical/dental/optical and 5k in shopping/groceries/ pharmacy.

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If you categorize your spend strategically, you can actually up to 4mpd on certain categories. Bonus category spend does accelerate your miles earning and it is one of the fastest ways to build up your balance.

Having said that, it doesn't mean that you should spend more just for the purpose of earning miles. We play the miles game so that we don't leave cash on the table, but we play it wisely. FYI I put $500-$700/month on my cards on average a month, which is not a lot (I'm not a spender by nature), but I have a stash of 250K miles due to strategic spending and taking advantage of sign up bonuses and the like over the years. If you don't spend a lot on cards, then probably you'll want a card where miles don't expire.

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Aik Kai
Aik Kai
Top Contributor

Top Contributor (Aug)

Level 5. Genius
Updated 4d ago

I break my answer down into a few parts. Why get miles instead of cashback on credit card spend?

Because there is no minimum spend to hit before unlocking a higher tier of cashback. Cash in point, Citi Cashback card and OCBC 365 card. Both require you to spend $800 minimum per month before you get those published cashback rates (6% la, 8% la etc). Worse still, it is on specific categories. Isn’t this forcing the cardholder to spend more? Miles cards are generally more generous in this sense. I may only spend $100 this month. But I am still awarded my points and/or miles. They don’t care how much you spend. As long as you spend, you are awarded with miles and/or points.

It doesn’t matter which camp you are in. Cashback or miles. Both camps work damn hard to maximise their spend so they get the best return. So, since you already need to do homework liao, why not spend the time to do homework that gives you a better return?

20K per year is rather decent, to be honest.

I paint a very simplistic scenario. Let’s say for every spend you make, you earn 3 miles per dollar (mpd). 3x20K is 60K. According to SQ award chart, you just need 61k to redeem a return business class ticket to Taiwan. Of course, you have to pay a bit of taxes but it is within $100. A return ticket on SQ business class cost you around $2k. if you channel the $20K spend to a cashback card, at 5% cashback (average la), you will get back around $1K. Woohoo! Enough to get you a return ticket on SQ to Taiwan. But economy. And as I mentioned earlier, you have to make sure the spend is on the correct categories before you get the published cashback. See, the same amount of spend, same homework needs to be done when it comes to optimising credit card spend but the end result is miles chaser get to enjoy champagne and complain about the stiffness of the lie flat bed whole cashback chaser rough it out in the economy. Disclaimer: I am assuming a lot of things for a very simple scenario for illustration purpose and I might be wrong. Serious cashback chaser may even outdo me, so do take it with a pinch of salt. Cheers.

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Takingstock @
Takingstock @

6d ago

I kinda get what you are saying, and yet there's some conflict... One example is eg the taiwan plane ticket... I kinda take premium economy and pay abt 800-900 for the two way ticket on EVA. So it kinda works out cheaper than the "sq", and I am trying to find out, but I reckon my total rebates / cashback per year works out to be about 450 or so. Need more math.
Aik Kai
Aik Kai

4d ago

Different people different. What really push me to the miles part is really the minimum spend. I just don't see myself spending so much on one card to unlock a pathetic cashback.