5 Smart Tips To Ace The Credit Card Reward Points Game And Save On Travel Costs

Earn cashback, air miles, discounted deals, installments for big purchases, and reward points!

Credit cards, today, are one of the most preferred modes of payment. In fact, the Department of Statistics in Malaysia released figures that showed there were 3.6 million credit card users as of 2016.

And apart from the convenience they provide, credit cards also come in with a lot of other benefits like cashback, air miles, discounted deals, installments for big purchases, and reward points.

These reward points, that can be earned on most of the transactions, at times can also be redeemed for travel-related costs like flight tickets and hotel bookings.

Read our tips to ace the credit card reward points game through which you can save more while travelling

1. Choose a reward points credit card that works best for you

The first step to collecting a large number of reward points is to know which credit card gives you the best value. Here, it’s important that you step back and think about where you spend most and how you spend with the card.

To begin with, compare different rewards cards from multiple banks and see which card’s features and benefits suit your lifestyle needs and spending habits. These cards can also be in the form of travel cards or co-branded cards.

No matter what kind of rewards card you’re looking at, be sure to check the value of the points you earn. While some rewards cards allow you to pay for flights or hotels with points, others require you to exchange your points for air miles.

The best way to know the value of rewards points is to find the conversion rate for points redemption. Keep in mind that lower the conversion rate, higher is the value of your points. Here’s a list of some of the best rewards credit cards in Malaysia to get you started:

Standard Chartered WorldMiles Mastercard Credit Card 

Benefits:
3x WorldMiles points for every RM2 spent overseas.
1x WorldMiles points for every RM3 spent locally.
Unlimited access to Plaza Premium Lounge in KLIA1 and KLIA2.

Points conversion rate:
2 WorldMiles points = 1 air mile of KrisFlyer, AirAsia BIG, Asia Miles, or Enrich

Annual fees:
RM600 (with 0% GST)
Waived for the first year and can be waived for subsequent years with a minimum spend of RM60,000 p.a.


Alliance Bank Visa Infinite Credit Card

Benefits:
5x Timeless Bonus Points for every RM1 spent overseas.
2x Timeless Bonus Points for every RM1 spent locally.
Unlimited access to Plaza Premium Lounge in KLIA1.

Points conversion rate:
6,000 Timeless Bonus Points = 1,000 Enrich Miles
3,000 Timeless Bonus Points = 1,000 AirAsia BIG Points

Annual fees:
RM800 (with 0% GST)
Annual fees can be waived for life with a minimum spend of RM30,000 p.a.

Citi Prestige Credit Card

Benefits:
Earn 2x Citi Rewards Points for every RM1 equivalent spent in foreign currencies
Earn 1x Citi Rewards Points for every RM1 spent locally on eligible transactions
Get relationship bonus points based on the number of years you’ve been with Citi and your annual spend

Points conversion rates:
7,000 Citi Rewards Points = 1,000 Enrich Miles
3,200 Citi Rewards Points = 500 AirAsia BIG Points

Annual fees:
RM1,000 (with 0% GST)

RHB Premier Visa Infinite Credit Card

Benefits:
Earn 8x Reward Points for every RM1 spent overseas
Earn 3x Reward Points for every RM1 spent on dining, duty-free shops, airlines, local hotels, and online spends
Complimentary travel insurance cover of up to RM2 million

Points conversion rate:
6,000 Reward Points = 1,000 Enrich Miles

Annual fees:
Waived for life


HSBC Visa Signature Credit Card

Benefits:
Earn 8x Reward Points for every RM1 spent overseas
Earn 5x Reward Points for every RM1 spent at participating local malls and online
6x complimentary access to Plaza Premium Lounge in KLIA1, Singapore Changi Airport, and Hong Kong International Airport.

Points conversion rate:
10,500 Reward Points = 1,000 Enrich Miles
15,000 Reward Points = 1,000 Asia Miles
15,000 Reward Points = 1,000 KrisFlyer Miles

Annual fees:
RM600 (with 0% GST)
Annual fees can be waived each year by swiping the card at least once a month

2. Choose the right airline partner

Now that you’ve zeroed in on a particular rewards credit card, it’s important that you choose the right frequent flyer programme to get the most value for your points.

These programmes are airline loyalty programmes wherein you get rewarded for using the same airline brand each time you travel. So, picking a card whose benefits circle around your preferred airline can be of much help.

Choosing an airline which is part of an alliance (like Oneworld or Star Alliance) can open up more travel options in the form of partner airlines and multiple routes.

3. Know how to earn more reward points

Image via Freepik

To earn a maximum number of reward points, it’s vital that you use your card for as many kinds of spends as possible without impacting your savings and budgetary targets. Most Malaysian cards offer reward points for all kinds of retail transactions. Two exceptions to this rule are card-related fees and charges and government agency transactions.

So, whether you’re stocking up on groceries, heading out for some retail therapy, or dining out, use your rewards card. That said, always consider the minimum spending amount and other conditions like participating stores, among other things, before you choose a card that best suits your interests.

Here’s a pro-tip to accumulate more reward points: if you’ve saved up money for some big-ticket purchase, use your credit card to make the payment, and pay off the charged amount with your savings before the billing day. This way you’ll earn a lot of points while keeping control over your monthly credit card bill.

Having said that, do not be reckless with your credit card payments. Any missed payments might cost you your entire points haul, apart from late charges and adverse credit score.

4. Know your air miles

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about earning air miles is that it will equate to the same distance that you can fly. If this is the case, you couldn’t be more further from the truth.

Airline miles—also known as air miles or frequent flyer miles—are offered as loyalty benefits by a partner airline or a credit card provider. Depending on how much you spend with the card, you can earn air miles or reward points that can be redeemed for miles.

The miles you earn work just like points wherein you’ll need a large number to redeem it for something worthwhile. You can use these miles to pay for your flight tickets, book hotels, pay for carrying extra luggage or for in-flight meals, and upgrade seats among other travel perks.

Most importantly, keep a count of the points you earn with your credit card. Check with your card provider to see if you’ve earned the requisite number of points each time you used the card.

5. Dig deep into the details

When it comes to making the most of your reward points, it’s important to take note of when it will expire and when the best time is to use it.

Buying first class or business class flight tickets may be a distant dream for most flyers. But, if you use your reward points the right way, you’ll be able to realise your dream of flying in style. In cases where you don’t have enough points to fly first class or business class, just buy economy tickets and then use your points to upgrade it.

Another “points-hack” that you should know about is that using reward points for short-haul flights can seem expensive when compared to paying for long-haul flights with points. So, the best time to redeem reward points is for those far-flung destinations.

Lastly, keep a track of when your reward points expire or go for a card through which you can earn points that never expire. A little carelessness can mean losing out on a substantial number of points that you worked so hard to earn.

Truth is that there are plenty of destinations around the world which cost you a pittance to explore but a premium to travel to. In such cases, the reward points you earn with your credit card can go a long way in helping you save at least a part of the expenses.

Interested in applying for a rewards credit card? We’ve some good news for you!

Apply now for a Citi, Alliance Bank, or a Standard Chartered Bank credit card, and get a Tesco voucher worth RM120 or a Condotti 20" ABS Cabin Bag, absolutely FREE, upon card approval.

Click here for more information now!

T&Cs apply.

This article first appeared on BBazaar.my

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