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How much is a KrisFlyer Mile worth?

by Apoorv Trivedi on
How much

The Bottom Line

You can comfortably realize an average value of 1.4¢/ KrisFlyer mile when you redeem multiple flights over a period of time. This requires very little extra effort, planning or flexibility in your normal schedule.

Simply book tickets for dates and places that you want to travel – Saver redemption if its available, Advantage otherwise.

If you do have the flexibility to book early or are willing to plan around maximizing the value of your miles, you can realize 2¢ or more per mile by looking for Saver redemptions only or going for business & first class redemptions.

Unless your miles are expiring, you should not use them to make part payment of tickets or to buy items from KrisShop because that gives a much lower value per mile.

Where we differ

We originally calculated the value of a KrisFlyer mile to be 0.95¢ based on making part payment for tickets with Singapore Airlines. This much lower than the 1.7-2.0¢ worst case valuation according to both The MileLion and Mainly Miles.

While both of them did an absolutely humongous amount of work to come to that value, we did not want to rely on it for a few reasons.

First, those sites are dedicated to enthusiasts who are willing to put in a fair bit of effort to plan and maximize the value of their miles.

Not everyone is going to want to put in that kind of effort to get the best deal. And even if you are willing to put in the effort, there is a cost to that, which needs to be offset against the value you get.

We want to figure out the value of a mile for a regular Joe, who is likely to take the easy way out in most cases. In our original calculation we assumed that it was quite hard to score a redemption flight without a lot of planning and schedule flexibility.

As we found out, that is not correct, at least today. Flight redemptions are easily available, which makes our original estimate too low.

Second, both those sites recommend using business class / first class redemptions to fully realize the value of your miles. While that is correct in one sense, we prefer looking at the job to be done or opportunity cost when calculating the value.

Would you have taken the business class or first class flight, if you were not trying to maximize the value of your miles? Most people would stick to economy class if they were paying cash, out of pocket. Because of this we prefer to look at the value of miles based on economy class redemptions only.

Third, both of them suggest planning in advance and being flexible to get the most moolah for your miles. Again, technically true, but may not be possible for a lot of people.

If you have school age kids, you may only be able to travel during school holidays. Not much flexibility there. Or your work may not allow you to plan far in advance. Or you may simply procrastinate like us and book much closer to the flight date than advisable.

We feel more people may fall in one of these buckets and therefore we want to calculate a realistic value for them.

How we calculated?

To figure out the value of a KrisFlyer mile that you or I are likely to get, we first fixed the dates of travel and then looked for what was available on those dates for cash and redemption.

We were somewhat flexible on the exact flights we took but preferred more convenient departures or arrivals as much as possible.

In other words we tried to behave as we usually would when booking a ticket, without going to great lengths to get the most value for our miles.

We did this analysis for 3 sets of dates and 7 destinations.

The destinations were Bali, Japan (Narita), London, New York, San Francisco, Mumbai and Sydney.

On 9th May, 2022, we tried to book for:

  1. 19-26 Jun: Towards the end of local school holidays, about a month and a half out, slightly late considering it’s the peak season but not last minute.
  2. 2-11 Sep: For the next term break, about 3 and a half month in advance i.e. fairly early
  3. 3-17 Dec: Year end, avoiding the peak and well in advance

For each of these dates and destinations we looked for the cheapest economy class ticket we could get for cash and also the cheapest economy class redemption ticket available.

For redemptions, we were willing to take whatever was available. The cheaper Saver fare in both legs,  a mix of Saver and the more expensive Advantage fare or the Advantage fare both ways.

We then compared the redemption booking to the regular booking (minus taxes) to get the value of a KrisFlyer mile. The full data is available in Table 5, at the end of this article.

Our findings

We were pleasantly surprised by the results. Of the 42 flights we tried to book (3 dates, 7 destinations and both legs), a redemption ticket was available in more than 90% of the cases (Tables 1 & 2). We did not expect redemption tickets to be so readily available.

Table 1: Redemption Flight Availability by Award Type

Saver Advantage
Confirmed 19 39
Waitlisted 16 2
Not Available 7 1
Total 42 42

Table 2: Redemption Flight Availability by Award Type (%)

Saver Advantage
Confirmed 45% 93%
Waitlisted 38% 5%
Not Available 17% 2%
Total 100% 100%
Note: Data for bookings made in May 2022 for travel dates around 19-26 Jun, 2-10 Sep and 2-18 Dec 2022.

This may be because people haven’t yet resumed traveling in full force after the pandemic and so Singapore Airlines has spare capacity on most flights. We will review in a few months to see how this holds up.

What this means though, is that you can comfortably redeem a flight in most cases. It may not give you the best possible value, but the effort required to redeem a flight is not that high.

What this also shows is that while the Saver redemptions may be the best value for money, scoring one is not that easy. It looks to be a 50:50 shot at best, even if you book 6+ months in advance (see Table 3 & 4).

Table 3: Redemption Flight Availability by Date

Saver Advantage
1.5 month before flight 4 11
3.5mth month before flight 8 14
6.5 month before flight 7 14
Total 19 39

Table 4: Redemption Flight Availability by Date (%)

Saver Advantage
1.5 month before flight 29% 79%
3.5mth month before flight 57% 100%
6.5 month before flight 50% 100%
Total 45% 93%

So in our opinion any realistic valuation of a mile for most people needs to account for this and include a fair bit of Advantage redemptions as well.

Even with that adjustment though, our original valuation of 0.95¢/mile was too conservative.

For these 42 flights (or 21 return trips) the lowest value we realized for a mile was 0.93¢/mile. For half the flights, we were able to realize more than 1.55¢/mile with a maximum value of 2.65¢/mile.

With these results, it is fair to say that you should not be using KrisFlyer miles for part payment of tickets (0.95¢/mile) or to buy things in KrisShop (0.8¢/mile).

Doing so may only make sense if your miles are about to expire. Otherwise you should keep accumulating miles till you can use them for redeeming a flight.

So how much is a KrisFlyer mile worth?

We now think that each KrisFlyer mile is comfortably worth around 1.40-1.60¢. This is somewhat conservative estimate of what most people can easily realize, without jumping through a lot of hoops. We will be using 1.40¢ in all our analysis.

You could certainly realize a much higher value for your miles, following the advice of The MileLion and Mainly Miles.

But for our purposes, as long as you are able to redeem multiple flights over a period of time, you should not really average lower than this.

Table 5: Flight level Data used for Calculation

Destination Date* Cheapest
Booking
Available
Paid
Ticket
S$ (less
Tax)
Miles
Reqd.
Value
per
mile
(S¢)
Bali 19-26 Jun Advantage 659 30K 2.20
2-10 Sep Advantage 484 30K 1.61
3 – 17 Dec Saver 232 15K 1.55
Mumbai 19-26 Jun Saver 540 37K 1.46
2-10 Sep Saver 374 37K 1.01
3 – 17 Dec Saver 591 37K 1.60
Narita 19-26 Jun Saver: 1W* Adv: 1W 1,500 70K 2.14
2-10 Sep Advantage 888 90K 0.99
3 – 17 Dec Advantage 1,714 90K 1.90
Sydney 19-26 Jun Saver: 1W Adv: 1W 1,404 83K 1.69
2-10 Sep Saver 594 56K 1.06
3 – 17 Dec Saver: 1W Adv: 1W 1,280 83K 1.54
London (LHR) 19-26 Jun N/A 3,139 N/A N/A
2-10 Sep Saver 2,013 76K 2.65
3 – 17 Dec Saver: 1W Adv: 1W 1,451 108K 1.34
San Francisco 19-26 Jun Saver: 1W Adv: 1W 3,034 N/A N/A
2-10 Sep Advantage 1,308 140K 0.93
3 – 17 Dec Saver: 1W Adv: 1W 1,928 140K 1.38
New York (JFK) 19-26 Jun Advantage 2,293 150K 1.53
2-10 Sep Saver 1,327 80K 1.66
3 – 17 Dec Saver: 1W Adv: 1W 1,361 115K 1.18
Average 1.55
* 1W = 1 Way
Data from Singapore Airlines website as on 9 May 2022.


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