Yet Another Round of ‘Enhanced Features' for the Krisflyer-UOB Card & Account

TRAVEL HACKING

Miles


Some much awaited refinements have finally arrived

Changes are afoot for this much maligned KrisFlyer UOB Debit Card and Banking product - read on to find out what's new.

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The much maligned Krisflyer UOB product has suffered from an anaemic mile accrual rate, a lack of interest earnings and generally, just pales in comparison to other 'mile cards'. However, with this new round of improvements, we think that the product finally has some things going for it.

Here's the low-down:

1. Introduction of MightyFX as a complement to the existing KrisflyerUOB offering

The first and most standout improvement lies with UOB's decision to add an FX dimension to the product that's akin to what DBS has with its Multi-Currency Account. 

What does this mean for travellers? 

To quote UOB: 'Mighty FX enables customers to trade and to transact quickly and conveniently in 11 currencies without being charged any currency conversion fees'

Therefore, you don't have to carry large wads of cash around whenever you go overseas while still benefitting from the convenience of mobile and card payments without having to shell out extra in foreign exchange fees. Add to all of this the ability to earn miles on all foreign currency spend (which the people over at DBS can't), and you're looking at a pretty solid product offering.

And if you're tuned in to the pulse of global markets, Mighty FX also presents a useful arbitrage opportunity. Instead of paying commission and fees whenever we change our money with the bank or the money changer just at the time when we're about to go on a trip, Mighty FX lets you plan out how much money you need way in advance and hence accumulate a foreign currency balance whenever there are preferential exchange rates. UOB has said that it plans to offer competitive foreign exchange rates but always do your due diligence and check with your preferred money changers/online brokers.

This means that I could conceivably accumulate some JPY or USD in my account now (the current exchange rates to the SGD are pretty favourable) in preparation for a future trip I might take. If I don't end up heading to Japan or the US, I can simply convert the money back to SGD where I might even make a profit if the rates move in my favour.

One also earns interest on the outstanding foreign currency balance held in the account. Upon comparison with the other big banks in Singapore, the rates given by UOB are generally on par with the competition if not slightly more generous. OCBC is, however, more generous with your AUD and NZD balance but the differences are honestly quite marginal. Note, however, that UOB has decided to not let balances denominated in HKD, CHF, EUR and JPY accrue any interest but then again, the differences are marginal at best.

Oh, and if you convert a minimum of SGD1000 into any of the 10 foreign currencies, UOB will reward you with 200 miles no questions asked.

This facility can be accessed via UOB's Mighty app or through Internet Banking, and is free for the first 3 years. A $18 annual fee is levied thereafter but this is waived after the cardmember completes 20 MasterCard transactions within a year.

2. Your outstanding bank balance now accrue interest, albeit at a measly 0.05%

The KrisflyerUOB has been criticised from the get-go because the outstanding bank balance did not accrue any interest. While the introduction of a 0.05% interest rate is an acknowledgement of this flaw, it's really nothing to shout about. However, to be fair, a 0.05% interest rates is in line with industry 'standards' (sadly). In any case, I'm sure that you can find a more creative place to park your money if you're looking to maximise your monthly interest earnings.

3. Complimentary airport transfers in the form of two $10 off Grab vouchers

A nice inclusion but it's nothing more than a $20 yearly cashback credit into your account.

4. One $10 off Changi Wifi voucher per year

Same as before - nice, but not game-changing.  Many people use ChangiWifi on all of their trips so this is actually a pretty nice development.

5. Removal of the Scoot convenience voucher in favour of a flat $10 convenience fee waiver per sector per transaction

I've always said that the Krisflyer UOB card was a good card to keep for those who for some reason fly Scoot regularly as its privileges are quite good. Priority boarding and priority check-in are very useful especially for those acquainted with how congested Scoot's queues at Changi can be, and how annoying humans become when its time to board a plane. 

The free seat selection (only for the principal cardholder) is a bit of a thinly veiled up-sell for the other people travelling with you but for solo travellers, its another egg in the basket. 

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The Bottom Line

This round of changes still doesn't vault the Krisflyer UOB product above the offerings and perks of other miles-earning credit cards (4 mpd am I right) but I'd still like to advocate that for students or NSFs who are unable to qualify for a credit card, the Krisflyer UOB product could be an option to start yourself off with some miles.

However, even for working professionals with access to better miles earning cards, the KrisflyerUOB does present an opportunity to earn miles without having to pay the cut-throat foreign exchange fees imposed by these cards. Whereas in the past a 2/3% transaction fee may net you 1.4 mpd (4 if you're lucky), the KFUOB/MightyFX pair negates the fee but still lets you accrue 0.4 mpd. Hey, it's better than nothing right?

And if you're still not convinced, its worth nothing here that there have been some generous card exclusive promotions in the past. For example, card members are currently entitled to 20% off eligible Scoot fares (ends 4 Feb) and previously, there was a double mileage accrual promotion for flights booked with Singapore Airlines or SilkAir. 

In any case, we think with this step, the Krisflyer UOB seems to finally be correcting some of its ills.

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