Accumulating Air Miles with the Citi PremierMiles Card

After 10 years of owning basic credit cards, I finally decided to apply for an airmiles card, specifically the PremierMiles Card from Citibank. I’ve heard stories about people using their miles for free trips to Europe and the U.S., but did not apply for one since traveling was not a priority for me and my family at that time. Also, I calculated my credit card usage and it would take more than 3 years to accumulate 1 free round trip ticket to the U.S.

I chose the Citi PremierMiles Card because you earn 1 mile for every P30 spend on ALL transactions. Other cards will give you bonus points/miles, but only for foreign, dining, or shopping transactions. They also have a different conversion rate when transferring it to actual miles: for example 5 earned miles = 1 PAL Mabuhay Mile. For Citi PremierMiles, the earned miles can be converted 1:1.

Being an existing Citibank Credit Card Holder, I was not qualified for their promo of 30,000 air miles when you apply online for a PremierMiles Card. Such a bummer! The process of requesting an additional card, however, was quick and efficient – all online. I got my card after about a week and started swiping away.

After 2 months, I have accumulated a total of 5,940 miles. There were a lot of one time significant transactions during that period, such as the 1st birthday party of my second son. If our credit card usage will “stabilize” to around P60,000 monthly, that would be equivalent to 24,000 miles a year. I can’t write about actually redeeming a flight since I just started. But I will list possible “Cons” to this whole accumulate miles for a free trip craze:

  1. Most Airlines Have Seat Sales – Budget airlines have become so popular that even Premium Airlines are coming up with discounted flights. Piso fares, Anniversary Sales, and travel packages with free tickets to certain tourist attractions are available every year. Yes, you can probably use your miles for those promos, but…
  2. You will still have to shoulder certain fees and taxes when you redeem a flight – The cost you will have to pay may be equal or even more than a plane ticket on sale. This will obviously depend on the season, detination, and what airline. I know someone who stopped collecting miles because she had to pay almost P10,000 in taxes for one ticket.
  3. The Annual Fee of P5,000 – I blogged previously here about not paying credit card annual fees no matter what. I have a feeling Citi will not waive this fee. I’m not yet sure if I’ll be willing to pay the annual fee, since the total miles after 2 years may be worth more than P5,000. Still to be determined 😐
  4. Other Credit Card Promos – I only use my Citi PremierMiles card to accumulate as much miles as I can. But when my other credit cards come up with new promos, I get tempted to stop using my Citi PremierMiles Card. BPI currently has a promo that will reward you with Chickenjoy for every P3,000 spend. Or sometimes the Citi Rewards Card has a promo where you get P2,000 in eGC for a certain spend amount within a period.
  5. Limited Airport Lounge Access – This card provides you access to selected lounges only twice a year. I know a lot of other credit cards that allow unlimited access annualy. Not that I intend to travel more than once a year, but this is something to keep in mind.

These may or may not be valid, since I have yet to actually redeem a free flight. I’ll probably check after one year what my options are. If you ask me right now if it’s worth it, and better than getting cash rebates from the regular credit card, I would say yes – even if you have no plans to travel in the near future. I still semi regret not starting earlier, especially when I compute how many miles I could have gotten. But as they say, better late than never.