The Ultimate Travel Credit Card For Frequent Flyers
To some people, traveling is a lifestyle. It’s either part and parcel of their living, or it’s that much needed getaway from the stress and challenges of daily living. We Malaysians definitely have a love for it, especially when Malaysia is expected to record the highest ratio in outbound travel with 198.7% by 2021 from 178.4%in 2016. Whatever your reason for traveling, there’s no denying that having a great credit card that offers great rewards can make the traveling lifestyle a breeze.
Whether you want to earn more points for your next trip, look for more discounts or cashback for your overseas shopping, or even make the most out of your traveling experience, we’re here to break down the best credit cards in the categories that matters the most to you as travelers.
Best credit card for air miles
There are plenty of credit cards that promise more points that could be converted to air miles for the frequent flyer programme of your choice. These air miles can be used to redeem a free flight or upgrade a flight. But do you know which credit card gives the best value per point?
There are many frequent flyer programmes that Malaysians can sign up for, so for the sake of comparison, we will focus on the two most popular airlines here: AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines(MAS).
AirAsia BIG Points
For those aiming to fly more with AirAsia, here’s a breakdown on how much you will need to spend on these travel credit card to earn 1 AirAsia BIG Point.
When it comes to both spending overseas and locally, Citi Rewards Credit Card stands out as they give 5x the rewards points for both local and overseas spending. While getting the 5x rewards points for local spending only applies if you spend at selected merchants, such as AEON, Parkson, Robinsons, Cold Storage, Tesco and Jaya Grocer!
However, if you don’t spend much at department stores and supermarkets, then the Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard® is a good option. It stands out for their overseas spending rate at RM1.33 per AirAsia point.
This is followed by Maybank Visa Signature, but earning points from local spending requires more effort for sure. The only card to offer a lower rate when spending locally is for CIMB World Mastercard, which has a more balanced rate of RM4 for one AirAsia BIG point when you spend locally, and RM2 when you spend overseas.
The best credit card to get AirAsia BIG points would have to be Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard® due to the lower overseas spending rate to get an AirAsia point.
The frequent flyer programme for MAS will require you to earn ENRICH MILES points to redeem free flights. So here’s how much you need to spend to earn 1 ENRICH MILES point with these credit cards:
For ENRICH MILES, Maybank Visa Signature only requires RM1.27 spent overseas to get 1 ENRICH MILES point, but their local rate it a little higher with RM6.36. This makes the Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard® a more balanced option with a slightly higher rate of RM1.33 spent overseas for 1 ENRICH MILES point and RM6 spent locally for 1 point. As always, Citi Rewards Credit Card has a lower local rate as long as you meet their terms and conditions.
With this in mind, the winner for the best credit card remains with Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard® due to their lower rates for both overseas spending to get 1 Enrich Miles point.
While Citi Rewards Credit Card instantly stands out for having the same rate for both local and overseas spending, plus it doesn’t give the lowest rate overall other than for local spending if you meet the requirements.
Despite having a slightly high local spending rate to get 1 AirAsia point, Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard still offers the best rate in getting points overall for both airlines. For every 2 WorldMiles you earn, you get 1 point for your favourite airline, which makes it great if you’re hoping to get points for either one of these airlines. But getting those points require you to spend RM3 for 1 WorldMiles point locally, and RM2 for 3 WorldMiles points overseas.
Earn WorldMiles Points from retail spendingConvert WorldMiles Points into MAS, Singapore Airlines, Air Miles, or AirAsia Miles
Best credit card for redeeming flights
Being able to earn points is one thing, it’s another if you’re trying to redeem an actual flight with the points that you earned. As each airline has their own number of points required to travel, some airlines require more spending than others. Both TreatsPoints from Maybank and CIMB Bonus points expire within 3 years, while the others have no expiry stated.
So say, for the sake of comparison, you spend within the three years and earn enough for a flight let’s take a look at how much you need to spend to redeem a one-way economy class flight to Singapore.
It takes 18,000 ENRICH MILES to earn a flight of around 600 miles, or less than an hour of flight. For AirAsia, it’s 6,500 AirAsia BIG points for a flight that is within a 1-2 hour flight.
Here’s how much you need to spend to redeem a flight to Singapore with either MAS or AirAsia.
Based on the point accumulation rate above, spending with Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard will definitely see you earning a flight faster than the other cards as it only takes 2 WorldMiles points to earn 1 air mile, be it for AirAsia or MAS Enrich, but this is only for overseas spending.
Based on local spending only, Citi Rewards Credit Card has the upper hand, but only if local payments are made at selected supermarkets and grocery stores.
Earn extra AmBonus Points for your overseas retail spendingTravel accident insurance coverage up to RM1,000,000
Best credit card for overseas spending
If you are a frequent traveler, you would appreciate the convenience and perks of spending with your credit card overseas.
For example, having a Citi Rewards Credit Card gives you access to CitiWorld Privileges, where you can get discounts and other extra privileges at selected stores. The same is also given for Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard, where you get WorldMaster Card offers and experiences that gives you complimentary items and privileges at selected places.
Ambank Visa Platinum and CIMB World Mastercard also offers discounts when it comes to selected dining and hotel rooms. For example, Ambank Visa Platinum card holders get 10% off for the best rooms in any Hilton hotel in Asia, and up to 50% dining discounts at Hilton hotels in Malaysia, Thailand and China. CIMB World Mastercard also has dining and hotel room privileges, with food and beverage privileges ranging across Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.
Many credit cards offer discounts and privileges only at selected countries, for example, countries in Asia. However, if you are travel outside of Asia a lot, then it makes sense to consider a travel card like the Citi Rewards Credit Card. It not only offers a wide range of discounts and privileges around the globe, it also has one of the more attractive earning and redemption value for air miles.
Earn Bonus Points from local and overseas retail spendingTravel Accident Insurance with coverage of up to RM1,000,000
Best credit card for travel protection
With the right travel credit card, you can travel with peace of mind as most come with travel insurance. Be it protection for your belongings, health or even to ensure you reach your intended destination safely, having travel insurance is great but not all credit cards come with the same sort of protection that would suit you.
So, which credit card offers the best travel insurance and gives you the best protection when you are overseas?
Up to RM10,000 of protection per item on eligible purchases made with the credit card or RM25,000 per occurrence for multiple items .
• Travel personal accident
• Missed flight connection
• Luggage delay and lost luggage
• Missed or delayed flights
• Damaged or lost luggage
* Applicable when you pay the full payment (air fare or overseas purchases) with the card.
As with most insurance, it is a “just-in-case” protection, and you won’t know if you need it until you need it. For travelers, it’s important to consider what sort of coverage you need.
While the coverage of RM2 million may seem like a lot, it covers a lot more such as travel delays, delayed or lost luggage, missed flights and most importantly personal accident which include coverage of death, loss of sight and limbs and other forms of possible disability caused through traveling.
If you tend to travel a lot and missing a flight will cost a significant loss, such as a loss of business opportunity, then this is the perfect card for you. The downside is, the minimum income requirement goes up to RM100,000 per annum. This renders many who earn below RM8,333 ineligible to apply.
5x Treatspoint for every RM1 spend overseas5% Cashback for Petrol and Grocery Spend
Best credit card for airport privileges
If you’re a frequent flyer, the airport will be a second home to you. So making your time comfortable there is key. . This means access to the premium airport lounge. From comfortable chairs, free Wi-Fi access, and some even come with free drinks and snacks; it’s definitely a form of luxury most travelers would love to have access to.
Well, if you have the right credit card, gaining access to the lounge won’t be a problem! Though which one is ideal depends on which card gives the best options. There are also other privileges you can gain at the airport with your credit card, so it’s good to see which one suits you best.
Some of these privileges focus on the local airports, while others focus on other airports around the globe. So it all depends on where you travel to the most.
If you reside in Malaysia, the chances of you travelling from KLIA or KLIA2 will be high, hence, getting access to the Plaza Premium Lounge at both airports is a good perk to have. The Standard Chartered WorldMiles World Mastercard gives you unlimited access to the premium lounge in both airports.
If you want to bring in a friend who doesn’t have a card they will have to pay for access with a 20% discount.
The ultimate travel credit card winner goes to…
Each credit card comes with their own pros and cons and in the end it all depends on what you prefer. Maybank Visa Signature is a great credit card that came quite close to having the best air mile rates and has the best travel insurance, but the lack of lounge access is a major issue if that’s what you really want.
Whereas the Standard Chartered WorldMiles Mastercard has great airport privileges and even the best rates to help you earn enough rewards points to book your next flight especiallywhen spending overseas. But they don’t offer any specific travel insurance, which is a must for travelers. There aren’t many discounts either when you spend overseas.
Most of its privileges and benefits, such as the insurance and overseas spending, makes it an ideal card to have for those who travel frequently and enjoy shopping overseas. Their other privileges such as lounge access at KLIA is pretty good as well as there are no limits to the amount of times you can access the lounge.
The points earned will have no expiry dates too. So if free flights is what you are looking for, it is definitely possible!
You can also speed up the amount of points you can earn locally when you spend at specific departmental stores and supermarkets, where you can get up to 5x points, the same rate as overseas spending! While the amount to spend isn’t as low as overseas spending for other credit cards, it’s definitely the lowest for local spending if you mostly spend in the specific merchants specified.
Travel Accident Insurance with coverage of up to RM50,000Receive 5X Rewards points when you shop for everyday purchases
With a number of cards to choose from, the question you will want to ask yourself in the end is “Which card will give ME the best travel experience?” So understanding your travel lifestyle is key here. Remember, there is no one card that is the best for everyone. If you travel mostly within Asia, then you might be better off picking a card like the AmBank Visa Platinum card.
Consider where you frequently travel, how much do you normally spend, what sort of privileges do you really want as well as which is your preferred airline. Once you’ve narrowed all of this down, finding a credit card that fits into all this will be much simpler.
May the right card make your travels easier, and help you travel further in the future!