As I was paying my credit card bills this month, I realized, much to my surprise, that I had unknowingly crossed the 6-digit mark of miles accrual. If you guys remember, I began collecting miles after first coming across Milelion in end Jan 2017 and proceeding to apply for my first card, the Citibank Rewards Visa in Feb 2017. Since then, I’ve gone on to end up with 20 cards (full list at the bottom of the post) and gotten into good habits to maximize the amount of miles I earn on any transactions. Today’s review day, and I thought I’d just chronicle my journey so far so I can look back and feel.. accomplished. 🙂 

First, a detailed breakdown of the miles I have per bank.

These 3 banks are the ones that I most regularly use because I believe in their service and products – of course, with the help of specific 4 mpd cards from each one, I’ve managed to accrue this sum. The cards I use most often are:

Citibank
– Citibank Rewards card: for shopping, Lazada, Amazon, Zalora, Uber, Honestbee

DBS
– DBS Altitude Visa: for all travel expenses that are not online transactions
– DBS Women’s World Mastercard: all online transactions, Paypal, Grab

UOB
– UOB Visa Signature: for all in-person travel expenses, school fees
– UOB Preferred Platinum Visa: for all Apple Pay transactions (quite a fair bit)
– UOB Preferred Platinum Amex: for all food transactions that will take Amex
– UOB PRVI Miles Portfolio: for all general spend

HSBC
– HSBC Revolution Visa: for Ez-Link and food places that don’t take Amex

I know, I know. Out of 20 cards, you only use 10 of them? Yes. The rest are contingency (DBS Women’s Plat), badly timed applications (HSBC Advance) or just plain foolhardy (UOB YOLO). I will cancel these cards in due time, but it took time for me to figure out which cards worked best for me.

Factors of Success

It’s never enough to just get these credit cards if you’re not going to be organized about your spending. I spend a fair bit of time researching on the best card to use before actually using them – at one point I spent 2 weeks worth of free time just digging deep into HWZ, Milelion, Gobear and other online resources to figure out the mechanics of each card.  You need to be disciplined about your spending.

Keep all promotions/deals in your peripherals

If a friend wants to order something from Lazada, I offer to pay first with my Citibank Rewards card (there was a period with 20X rewards points). If we’re dining out, I offer to pay with my UOB PP Amex. I collated all my Amazon book spending from the first half of the year and busted S$300 at one go on the last day of the Citibank x Amazon 20X promotions. Take advantage of the promotions that they send you via email, SMS, know which merchants have promotions with certain cards, and maximize accordingly.

Look for pockets of spend that hasn’t been maximized, and pounce on them

I’ve paid for authorized company expenses in the thousands (then made claims), I’ve paid for friends’ dinners, travels and shopping (and made sure to get my money back), and the people around me who love me, on seeing my relentless pursuit of miles, all conspired to help me. Sometimes I offered them 1-2% cashback if they used my card, and I do this because the end goal is very clear for me – if I get the miles at a discount, I can spare those few dollars now. The SIA Suites ticket will more than make up for it.

Be resourceful and versatile

Tacky and naggy, I know, but there is no one card that will get you to 150k miles this fast. It doesn’t – can’t happen. You need to have a strategy, this is premeditated, so that every dollar you spend is maximized. And mine is. If I can order a book on BookDepository instead of getting it at Kinokuniya (back when they didn’t have Apple Pay), that’s what I’d do. Get creative with ways to earn miles – for eg. opt to pay via MilesLife or buy coupons through Chope for meals. Don’t look down on every small transaction because it adds up, and adds up quickly.

A note on spending

S$30k spending over 8 months is about S$3,750 a month – which is way more than I am supposed to spend. My monthly budget is S$1,500, but I pay for my school fees and some miscellaneous expenditures for which I claim money for, so that’s why the figure looks slightly exaggerated. My actual out of pocket spend would realistically be ~S$24k, which includes my school fees. The rest is from paying for others, for which I got money back.

Factoring in the spending, S$30k for 150k miles is roughly 5mpd – which is more than any card will get you, and that’s assuming you already maximize every dollar, which is impossible because.. well, which zhap chye png uncle takes Amex? This probably came from maximizing (really maximizing) the 20X Citibank promotions which earned me 8 mpd –  and making sure that every other dollar was tagged to a 4 mpd earn rate.


All things considered, I’m pretty heartened to see the fruits of my intense organization and iteration of my credit card processes over the past 8 months – from going through months of intense expediture tracking, deciding to ditch it, working out a payment routine, categorizing spend and scrutinizing points breakdowns – it has been nothing short of tedious, but so rewarding. Soon I’ll be in Suites to San Francisco, and then there’ll be something to enjoy. Till then, it’s all labour!

9 thoughts on “150,000 miles in 8 months: Credit Card Strategy in Review (Oct 2017)”

  1. Hi Chelsea

    Congrats on your achievement! Just out of curiosity, why Citibank Rewards for Uber but DBS Women’s for Grab? Are the transactions coded differently? Any miles card for groceries (non-online)?

    Best,
    Ji

    1. Hey! DBS had a promotion with Grab, so that’s why I predominantly had Grab on that. Also, Grab and Uber both record as online transactions for DBS, but not for Citi. Uber has somehow been giving me miles on Citi.. I’m sure it’s a loophole that will get nerfed soon. 🙂

    1. The school fees are paid in USD, and as such, the UOB Visa Signature gives you 4mpd on FCY spend with a min. spend of SGD 1,000 per statement cycle up to SGD 2,000, which is just about in range for 1 course. 🙂

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