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You'll need to wait months to redeem partner miles on this airline

Dec. 03, 2020
5 min read
Singapore 787-10 Dreamliner Tour
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Editor's Note

/strong> This post has been updated with new information.

Editor's note: This post has been updated with new information.

Singapore Airlines is one of the most redemption-friendly airlines around. Its KrisFlyer program partners with all of the major transferable point programs, it doesn't impose any fuel surcharges on its own metal and its flights are usually easily bookable through partners — at least in economy class.

However, through at least early next year, it's going to be a lot harder to book award flights on Singapore.

In mid-August, we discovered that Singapore was blocking award availability to its partners, including United MileagePlus and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. This was originally only supposed to last through Sept. 1, but was later extended through November. Now, the airline has shared with TPG that the suspension will continue through at least March 2021.

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Booking Singapore awards through partners

Singapore awards could usually be booked through Star Alliance partners like Air Canada Aeroplan and United MileagePlus — along with some non-alliance partners like Alaska Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. The airline always restricted long-haul first- and business-class awards to partners, reserving those coveted seats to members of its own program.

However, now Singapore has blocked off award space to partners entirely, including economy class — and this is now slated to last well into 2021.

While this would usually appear to be a glitch, Alaska Airlines has the following message on its partner page, indicating that it's not a technical problem and that the coronavirus pandemic is to blame:

Singapore Airlines has removed access to award travel due to the complexities of enforcing global travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Star Alliance partner All Nippon Airways (ANA) also posted a message that mileage redemptions for Singapore have paused, but that it's due to special regulation of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

Awards in all cabins are still widely available through Singapore's own KrisFlyer program.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson confirmed the suspension with TPG and provided the following statement back in September:

"The temporary suspension of award seats on SQ/MI from partner airlines' frequent flyer programmes is aligned with Singapore Airlines' current policy to limit interline connections due to border entry as well as transit restrictions for connecting flights imposed by various countries. At present, the suspension of award redemptions is valid through November 2020, and is subject to further review based on market conditions."

On December 3, the spokesperson told TPG that the "suspension of award redemptions will continue through March 2021, subject to further review."

What you can do in the meantime

If you urgently need to book a Singapore award, you will need to do so through the Singapore KrisFlyer program. Fortunately, KrisFlyer miles are some of the easiest airline miles to earn.

As previously mentioned, the airline partners with all five of the major transferable point programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy. However, note the average transfer times below, as point transfers to KrisFlyer usually aren't instant.

ProgramTransfer time
American Express Membership Rewards< 24 hours
Chase Ultimate RewardsUsually same day (up to two business days)
Citi ThankYou Rewards< 24 hours
Capital One36 hours
Marriott Bonvoy< 48 hours

Related: The best travel credit cards

Bottom line

The coronavirus pandemic has had massive impacts on the airline industry. In addition to blocking partner awards, we've seen Singapore even block some paid first-class inventory.

This pause is being blamed on COVID-related travel restrictions, so it should only be temporary. However, the fact that it has already lasted four months and is expected to continue for at least another four months is somewhat concerning. Let's hope that partners regain access in early 2021 — and that other airlines don't follow suit.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more