With Singapore Airlines soon increasing the number of KrisFlyer miles needed to book flights, many travellers are scrambling to spend their miles on business class and first class travel before the new rates kick in.
That's because bookings made before March 23 2017 can be secured at the current, more favourable rates, even for flights departing in April or beyond – but what if you have enough miles to fly but aren't yet in a position to firm-up your plans?
It's a real catch-22: reserve your tickets now using less miles and the flights you book may not suit your plans down the track, but wait until the new rates take shape and you could easily find yourself without enough miles to book the flight you originally wanted.
Fortunately, there are ways you can buy KrisFlyer miles outright, which can be a good strategy to top-up your account balance and secure your seat at the pointy end – here's what you need to know.
Buy KrisFlyer miles direct from Singapore Airlines
The easiest way to buy Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles is direct from Singapore Airlines via email or fax at a cost of US$40 (A$53) per 1,000 miles, but it's also the most expensive and restrictive way of going about it.
That's because SQ will only sell you miles when you have a specific flight booking or upgrade in mind (including your desired travel dates and flight numbers), and even then, you'll need to already have at least 50% of the miles required for your intended booking in your account before you buy.
With that in mind, let's say you currently have 50,000 KrisFlyer miles and were hoping to fly business class from Sydney to Singapore.
Under the current rates, you could book that flight online for 46,750 miles – but once the new rates kick in from March 23 2017, you'd need a higher 58,000 miles: leaving you 8,000 miles short.
Being well above the 50% requirement (29,000 miles on that 58,000-mile booking), you'd be clear to buy 8,000 KrisFlyer miles for US$320 (A$424) to get over the line and secure your seat: but that's costing you a hefty 5.3 Aussie cents per mile, so the fewer miles you need to buy here, the better.
Buy KrisFlyer miles via Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)
A more cost-effective way of buying KrisFlyer miles is to first purchase Starpoints via the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty program – especially during promotions that offer discounts or bonus points – and then to convert those Starpoints into KrisFlyer miles afterwards.
For instance, Starwood's current deal provides a discount of 10% on the purchase of 5,000-9,500 Starpoints, a 15% saving when buying 10,000-14,500 Starpoints, a 20% cost-cut when pocketing 15,000-19,500 Starpoints or a solid 30% reduction on buys of 20,000-30,000 Starpoints.
Starpoints convert to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles on a 1:1 basis, so using the same Sydney-Singapore example above where 8,000 KrisFlyer miles are needed, you could buy 8,000 Starpoints for US$252 (A$333) – including a discount of 10% on the usual price of US$280 (A$370) – and those Starpoints can then be converted into 8,000 KrisFlyer miles.
That reduces your costs to around 4.1 Aussie cents per KrisFlyer mile and saves almost $100 compared with buying those same miles direct from the airline. Higher spenders can also take advantage of a permanent 25% boost in addition to the temporary discount offer, as for every 20,000 Starpoints you convert into KrisFlyer miles, SPG kicks in a further 5,000 KrisFlyer miles.
(This makes 8,000 Starpoints equal to 8,000 KrisFlyer miles when converted as-is, but makes 20,000 Starpoints equal to 25,000 KrisFlyer miles when converted as a lump sum.)
Just note that there's a minimum coversion amount of 2,500 Starpoints per transaction for Starwood Preferred Guest members without elite hotel status and a minimum conversion of 1,500 Starpoints per transaction for SPG Gold cardholders. There's no minimum transfer requirement for SPG Platinum members.
Sign up for the American Express Platinum Charge Card
This one's a little out of left field, but by slipping a new American Express Platinum Charge Card into your wallet you could boost the balance of your KrisFlyer account by as many as 100,000 miles, thanks to a great sign-on offer from AMEX.
It comes in the form of 100,000 Membership Rewards (MR) Ascent Premium points which can be converted into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles on a 1:1 basis. You don't have to convert all of those miles at once, so if you were only 8,000 KrisFlyer miles short as above, just convert 8,000 Membership Rewards points and keep the rest in the kitty.
(Along with Singapore Airlines, your remaining Membership Rewards points can also be converted into frequent flyer points with Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways and Virgin Atlantic, giving you plenty of options when it comes time to book your next flight.)
The card carries an annual fee of $1,200 – so if transferring the full bounty of points across to KrisFlyer, that puts the cost at just 1.2 cents per KrisFlyer mile – and also packs in plenty of extras like a yearly $300 credit to spend on flights and hotels, unlimited lounge access with Virgin Australia, Delta and Priority Pass, easy boosts to elite hotel statuses and more.
Additionally, this generous sign-on bonus is even available to existing American Express credit card holders, provided you don't already have an American Express-issued charge card such as the now-retired Green or Gold charge cards, or the invitation-only Centurion Card.
Using the card to spend at least $1,500 on purchases in the first three months is all it takes to unlock that bonus, while a $100,000/year pre-tax income requirement takes into account your entire household income (such as yours plus that of your partner or spouse), rather than just your own personal income: making it even easier to get over the line!
Convert Virgin Australia Velocity points into KrisFlyer miles
One final option, which is less about 'buying miles' than being savvy with any Virgin Australia Velocity points you may already have: you can convert these into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles on a 1.35:1 basis.
You'll need to first link your Velocity and KrisFlyer accounts together via either the Virgin Australia or Singapore Airlines website, and then make a transfer of at least 5,000 Velocity points in one go.
Those 5,000 Velocity points will get you precisely 3,704 KrisFlyer miles, and you can transfer points at any amount above this figure, such as 10,800 Velocity points in exchange for the 8,000 KrisFlyer miles needed above.
Just be sure that both your Velocity account and your KrisFlyer account are in the same name and have the same date of birth, email address and postal address on file for the linking process and points transfer to be successful.