Save 1,000s of Miles Booking United Flights with Singapore Miles

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Skip this 1 vs 1 comparison and see this post that compares eight Star Alliance award charts side by side.

I’ve created comparison charts of how many mile a certain award costs with United MileagePlus miles versus the same award with Singapore KrisFlyer miles. Why?

  • Singapore Airlines miles can be used to book all the same Saver award space that United releases to its non-elite members without any fuel surcharges. That makes it a relevant comparison.
  • For many routes, the Singapore KrisFlyer program charges fewer miles to book a United flight than United charges to book the same flight. That makes it a profitable comparison.
  • Singapore miles are extremely easy to get since you can transfer all of the major transferable points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles. That makes it a useful comparison.

The major transferable points are:

I’ve compiled three charts to show whether Singapore miles or United miles are cheaper to any given destination that United serves in economy, business, and first class.

  • For which destinations are United miles cheaper?
  • For which destinations are Singapore miles cheaper?
  • What about fuel surcharges?

Fuel Surcharges

Singapore miles are useful to book Singapore Business Class, First Class, and Suites Class because Singapore doesn’t release all that award space to its partners. Singapore miles are also useful to book United Economy, Business, and First Class.

Awards booked with United miles never include fuel surcharges.

Awards booked with Singapore miles almost always include the fuel surcharges that would be present on a paid ticket. You can verify fuel surcharges by using the ITA Matrix.

The one exception is booking United flights with Singapore miles.

United flights to Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia have fuel surcharges, but Singapore awards do not collect fuel surcharges on any United flights, not even these flights. We want to take advantage of this awesome loophole and book United flights with Singapore miles.

For this reason, all of the charts in this post compare using Singapore miles versus United miles to book United flights.

United awards and Singapore awards that only include United flights should have the exact same government taxes. You may notice a tiny variation because of currency conversions. United awards price in US dollars, and Singapore awards price in Singapore dollars.

Economy Award Charts

All award charts show the one way price in thousands of miles.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.28.08 AM

In economy, Singapore offers cheaper prices on flights from the continental United States to Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

United offers cheaper prices on most other international routes, and the two offer the same price to several countries.

Business Class Award Charts

The United column shows the award price for awards booked on United planes. Premium-cabin United awards booked on partner planes cost more miles.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.31.04 AM

Singapore offers cheaper business class awards within the United States including to Alaska and Hawaii. On these routes, United markets the best cabin on its two cabin planes as “First Class,” but you are only charged the business class price to book it. This even includes the flat beds you can book to Hawaii.

Singapore also charges fewer miles to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, the Middle East, and North Africa on United flights than United does.

United awards cost fewer miles to most of the world, and both programs charge 30,000 miles each way in business class to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

United BusinessFirst as its international business class is known is an underrated fully flat bed I’ve enjoyed several times.

First Class Award Charts

The United column shows the award price for awards booked on United planes. Premium-cabin United awards booked on partner planes cost more miles. I believe these are the only regions to which United flies three-cabin planes other than the occasional domestic flight.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.28.33 AM

Singapore charges fewer miles in first class to the Middle East. Oddly, Singapore charges fewer miles in first class to the Middle East than to Europe. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

United charges fewer miles to the rest of Asia and Australia. To Brazil and Europe, Singapore and United charge the same number of miles to fly United Global First.

United Global First is a solid business class product in my experience, but not a world class First Class.

Getting Singapore Miles

Getting Singapore miles is extremely easy now.

Citi ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 in 22-36 hours to Singapore miles. If I had all four types of points in this section, transferring ThankYou Points would be my first choice. This is the best ThankYou Points transfer partner, and the other options like redeeming the points for 1.25 cents each toward any flight aren’t nearly as valuable.

SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Singapore miles in about a week. Like all SPG 1:1 transfer partners, for every 20,000 points transferred, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles. Try to transfer in exact 20,000 Starpoint increments to maximize this 20,000:25,000 transfer ratio.

You can earn Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express.

Chase Ultimate Rewards earned from the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preferred transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Points from the Freedom can transfer to any of those three cards‘ accounts and from there on to Singapore.

Ultimate Rewards are the only one of the four points that also transfer 1:1 to United miles, so people with Ultimate Rewards should definitely bookmark this post.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Any Gold, Platinum, Green, EveryDay, or corporate card will earn Membership Rewards.

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Recap

Singapore KrisFlyer miles can book all the same Saver United award space open to non-elites with United miles. Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights, so the out of pocket expense on Singapore and United awards should be the same when booking United flights.

To some destinations, Singapore miles are cheaper, including 25% cheaper in flat bed United First Class (priced as business class) to Hawaii. To others, United miles are cheaper, like premium cabins to East Asia. And to many destinations, the price is the same.

If you have Ultimate Rewards, which transfer to either United or Singapore miles, pick the cheaper award chart when you want to book a United flight.

You can also transfer Starpoints, Membership Rewards, and ThankYou Points to Singapore miles.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. When you say that Singapore awards do not collect fuel surcharges on any United flights, do you mean only flights operated by United, or United award flights, operated also by other carriers like Lufthansa? I am asking because United saver awards to Europe are almost always with Lufthansa and I am wondering if we still can use Singapore miles to book those award tickets and not pay fuel surcharges.
    Thanks!

    • I mean United-operated flights.

      The second half of your question shows me you’re confused because Singapore awards cannot be United awards on partners like Lufthansa. They have to be Singapore awards. And on Singapore awards, Lufthansa flights have fuel surcharges.

  2. Im a bit confused. Looking at the Singapore chart, first class flight from USA (East Coast) to North Asia is 132k. You have it at 100. Am I missing something?

  3. I just called KrisFlyer for a flight from Lihue to Newark and, while the mile cost was correct, they told me there is a SG$161 per passenger. Did I make a mistake? The same mile fare on United has a $5.60 fee.

    • I just booked HNL-SFO with Singapore on United and paid SG$7.10, which is about $5.60. I would hang up and call back. If they quote that again, ask for a breakdown of that 161 SGD, and please share it with me. They will tell you how they came to that number with the component taxes and fuel surcharges.

      • Having successfully booked on United last Summer to HNL, I was pleased to set another family trip for this Summer, this time to Maui (from PHX).

        I found availability on Untited’s website, called the Kris Flyer line and booked. The connection was not great and my agent’s English was bit hard to understand. When she asked for my credit card info and told me the amount I thought I heard $15 per ticket for fees. T. A few minutes later I saw an AMEX alert pop up on my phone stating there was a $750’ish charge on my card (5 travelers = ~ $150 in fees).

        I was appalled and tried to halt the transaction but I was on hold.

        I argued Singapore doesn’t impose the fees (the tickets suggest otherwise as ~80% of the total fees fall under the category of “fare”). I respectfully tried to argue my point for about 5 minutes, but I kept being told the fees were imposed by the “airports”.

        I’m awaiting a call back from a manager. I know I can cancel for not a terrible fee, but I’m wondering if anybody has had success winning a dispute like this. If so, what should my angle be (again, I’m assuming that nothing has changed in the fees for this kind of travel). If I’d have caught the amount I’d have hung up and tried another agent. This has unfortunately been my experience in a few bookings.

        Fare: 137.00 SGD
        Tax: US 24.40 SGD
        US 10.30 SGD
        AY 15.40 SGD
        ZP 22.00 SGD
        Total: 209.10 SGD

  4. […] Citi – They’ve been the stingiest of all the companies for getting fees waived, and have the most onerous documentation requirements, as well as the worst customer service in my opinion. That being said, they’ve got some great rewards cards, especially now that TY rewards are transferrable to several carriers including Singapore Airlines, which have great redemption options on Star Alliance carriers. (Check out this post for more info). […]

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