American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Card Review: The Best for SIA Flyers?

Priscilla Lee
Updated:
PROMO: Receive up to 27,000 KrisFlyer miles
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on American Express's website

American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Card

Apply Now
on American Express's website
The American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Card is designed for SIA loyalists who want a fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Gold Membership. But ever since the card benefits were nerfed, it’s not a great option past the first year.

Pros

  • Access to KrisFlyer Elite Gold Membership
  • High MPD for regular Grab users
  • Offers a Double KrisFlyer Miles Accrual Voucher
  • Hassle-free: miles credited directly into your KrisFlyer account

Cons

  • 2 MPD rate on overseas spend limited to June and December
  • 1.2 MPD rate for local spend is average and readily available from cards with lower annual fees
  • Sign-up bonus is no longer as appealing
  • No renewal bonus

Current Promotion

Receive up to 27,000 KrisFlyer miles for new-to- American Express Cardmembers when you spend a minimum of S$1,000 within the first month of card approval. (Valid until 31 January 2023) Click to apply.

If you’re a regular SIA flyer, the KrisFlyer Elite Gold membership is a status symbol that comes with certain conveniences – namely, priority check-in, priority baggage handing, and lounge access.

The American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Card offers a shortcut to the Elite Gold tier.

But does the card have anything to offer besides that? Is it worth the higher annual fees?

We’ll take a closer look at:

Eligibility Requirements

Residential StatusSingaporean / PRs / Foreigners
Age21 and above
Income RequiredAt least S$50,000 per year for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents; S$60,000 per annum for Foreigners based in Singapore

You’ll notice from the income requirement that this isn’t an entry-level card – it’s one tier up from the American Express KrisFlyer blue card.

If you’re set on the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend but don’t meet the income requirement, you can go for the blue card instead and get an upgrade from there.

Annual Fees and Charges

Annual FeesS$337.05 for principal card and S$80.25 for supplementary card with first year fee waiver (inclusive of GST)
Effective Interest Rate26.90% per annum
Late Payment ChargesS$90 per month
Minimum Monthly PaymentS$50 or 3% of the balance, whichever is higher
Lost or Stolen Card LiabilityS$100
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee2.95%
Cash Advance Interest and Charges5% of withdrawal amount + 26.90% per annum

Miles-Per-Dollar (MPD) Rates and Other Benefits

Here’s a breakdown of the KrisFlyer Ascend’s miles earning rates:

Local Spend1.2 MPD

3.2 MPD on Grab transactions, capped at S$200 monthly
Overseas Spend2 MPD (June and December only)

1.2 MPD for all other months
Other2 MPD for Singapore Airlines and KrisShop

0.5 MPD on Singapore Airlines Instalment Plans

500 Bonus KrisFlyer Miles on first telco recurring bill spend

Compared with other air miles cards, the AMEX Krisflyer Ascend offers subpar MPD rates for the annual fees it charges.

The one exception is the 3.2 MPD on Grab transactions. Even this is capped at S$200 per month.

And this card seems to have been designed for parents with school-going kids, given that you can only earn the 2 MPD on overseas spend in June and December. Other cards offer 2 MPD and above all year round.

Travel Privileges

This card gives you perks like:

  • 4 complimentary lounge passes every year (for any participating SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore and Plaza Premium Lounge globally)
  • Complimentary one night stay each year at participating Asia-Pacific Hilton Properties and complimentary upgrade to Hilton Honours Silver membership tier
  • Travel accident insurance coverage up to S$1 million when you purchase your tickets with the card
  • Discounts on portable WiFi router rentals, Hertz, annual travel insurance, and overseas merchants

Other than that, the general travel perks are fairly standard – even below average considering this is supposed to be a mid-tier card.

Accelerated Upgrade to KrisFlyer Elite Gold Membership

You usually have to chalk up 50,000 Elite Miles to qualify for Elite Gold, but the American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Card is an accelerated path toward the coveted tier.

With at least S$15,000 eligible spend on Singapore Airlines within a year, you can qualify for the KrisFlyer Elite Gold Membership tier. (Check out the benefits here.)

But if you want to continue with your Elite Gold status afterwards, you can’t spend another $15k the next year – you have to requalify by accumulating 50,000 Elite miles during the membership period.

That little snag (combined with the lack of an attractive renewal bonus) makes the card less attractive past the first year, in our opinion.

This Card is Best For…

  • SIA frequent flyers who spend – or anticipate spending – at least S$15,000 on the airline in a year for KrisFlyer Elite Gold membership
  • Those who use Grab regularly to maximise the boosted 3.2 MPD rate
  • Those expecting big purchases coming up in the next year

But unless you’ve got your heart set on that Elite Gold tier, the drawbacks of this card currently outweigh the benefits.

With where it currently stands, this card needs a dramatic revision to its perks to regain a competitive edge in the market.