KrisFlyer UOB Account: Misunderstood or seriously bad?
Over the past week, all we’re been talking about in the personal finance world is the newly launched KrisFlyer UOB Account. It’s got people taking sides, getting all worked up, and even prompted a response from UOB themselves.
This blog initially found the product lacking as well, and felt that it was a product that didn’t offer real value to consumers. After all, credit cards usage is commonplace in Singapore, and it’s not difficult to see why we can earn more by depositing our money in high interest savings accounts and using a credit card like the DBS Altitude Card or Citi PremierMiles Card to earn miles.
Furthermore, what everyone has said about the only way to earn the attractive rate of 5.4 miles per dollar seems true right? How many of us have friends who have S$350,000 lying around?
But that said, we might be falling victim to a mental bias called the availability heuristic, which makes us think that just because we don’t know anyone with loads of spare cash lying around, it means that there are very few of such people in Singapore.
Perhaps UOB already knows that there are many rich millennials in our midst? The numbers seem to affirm that, with hundreds of KrisFlyer UOB accounts already opened on the first day.
There’s a group of people (quite possibly millennials) who will find this product useful.
Freelancers and self-employed millennials.
Yup, there are more and more millennials who have ventured out on their own, do not draw a fixed monthly salary, and may not be eligible for a credit card.
More importantly, these people will not be able to enjoy the high interest rates given to salaried workers who have grown to love their OCBC 360 account (despite the interest rate revisions), Standard Chartered Bonus$aver account or DBS Multiplier account.
Who are these self-employed millennials or freelancers who will find the KrisFlyer UOB Account useful? I’m thinking full-time bloggers, photographers, musicians, freelance event and project managers, full-time video talents, designers, writers, and pet sitters/groomers.
These individuals usually won’t have a corporation crediting a monthly salary into their bank account, even if they could be earning thousands each month.
If we take the OCBC 360 account as an example, that’s already 1.2% in interest which they don’t get.
For many of them, they may have to incur expenses on behalf of their clients, and only get paid after the job is completed. This represents a good opportunity to earn rewards on a credit card – if they were eligible for one.
Unfortunately, many freelancers and self-employed individuals find it hard to get a credit card due to their unstable income.
Is this a debit card that gives travel credit cards a run for their money?
Debit cards seldom give us any rewards worth talking about, and the KrisFlyer UOB Debit Card is the only one that rewards you with miles for spending. So, if you have at least S$3,000 in the account, and spend at least S$500 a month on the debit card, you will be able to start earning bonus KrisFlyer miles. The total earn rate increases up to 5.4 miles per dollar as your average monthly balance increases.
The lowest rate of 1.4 KrisFlyer miles for every dollar spent is a good rate too. Compare that with popular travel cards that working millennials might have:
- DBS Altitude Card (1.2 miles per S$1)
- Citi PremierMiles Card (1.2 miles per S$1)
- The American Express KrisFlyer Credit Card (1.1 miles per S$1)
- The American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card (1.2 miles per S$1)
- UOB PRVI Miles Card (1.4 miles per S$1)
At a glance, the earn rate seems better than most travel cards already.
By now, you should know that there are extra miles for travel bookings and cards like the Citi Rewards Card or OCBC Titanium Rewards Card that will give you 4 miles per S$1 spent on shopping. But if that’s the first thing that comes to mind, then you can be sure that this product isn’t for you.
Be sure to read the terms & conditions
With the KrisFlyer UOB account, there is a 5% cap on the bonus miles you can earn. So, if you had S$25,000 in the bank, you can only earn 1,250 in bonus miles, and consequently should only spend up to $1,250 on your debit card. If you spent more than that, you will not receive bonus miles, resulting in a lower effective mile per dollar rate. Similarly, deposits less than S$10,000 won’t let you enjoy the full 1.4 miles per dollar because of the 5% cap and $500 minimum spend.
Be mindful how you spend too though. The KrisFlyer miles are calculated in blocks of S$5 per transaction and rounded down to the nearest KrisFlyer miles. With this condition, it seems that if you’re making a single S$4.90 purchase, you’re not going to get any miles. Similarly, if you made a purchase for S$6, you’re only going to get miles for the first S$5.
An unconventional product for an unconventional lifestyle
For all the (negative) publicity that UOB has received, it could actually turn out to be a good thing. Here at BankBazaar, we think that there’s definitely a sizeable potential consumer base who would appreciate this product; one who has eschewed the usual career options, and have been on the losing end of banking products… until now.
If you’d like to read more about collecting miles: