Get FREE Loan Quotes From Loan Advisor’s Top Reviewed Licensed Money Lenders in Singapore!     Click here

Get Free Quotes from the Best Licensed Moneylenders!  Click here

Cash Back vs. Cash Rebate vs. Air Miles: Rewards Explained

cash back vs cash rebate vs air miles
Table of Contents

Credit cards in Singapore are much more than just a means of payment with a monthly bill. Each card category caters to distinct needs and offers exclusive benefits that may be more suitable for some users than others.

A rewards credit card, for instance, allows you to accumulate points at your preferred stores or with specific brands, making it an ideal choice for regular shoppers. On the other hand, airline credit cards are an excellent option for frequent flyers, enabling them to gather air miles that can be used to reduce the price of flight tickets. 

This guide will familiarize you with the primary distinctions among the various types of rewards cards in Singapore, ultimately assisting you in determining the most appropriate choice for your lifestyle.

Cashback vs. Cashback Rebates vs. Air Miles Credit Cards

Your expectations for credit card rewards will primarily guide you in deciding whether a cashback, cash rebate, or air miles card is best suited to your needs. Let’s delve into the typical uses of each card type and their respective rewards potential, overall value, eligibility criteria, and other aspects.

Features Cashback Credit Cards Cash Rebates Air Miles


Earn actual cash back on every transaction.

Get discounts or cash rebates on major purchases to offset future credit card bills.

Accumulate miles and avail bonus miles promotions with every spend on your miles card.


0% APR offers may apply.

From 3% p.a.

From 3% p.a.


Get cash rewards and shopping perks with selected retailers.

Significant discounts or cash rebates.

Earn miles for air tickets or hotel points, redeemable at select locations. Additional perks may include airport lounge access.

Annual Fees

Most rewards credit cards come with no annual fee.

A one year annual fee waiver might be possible.

Typical annual fees of $192.60 usually apply.


When eligible purchases are made, you’ll automatically get a percentage back.

Cash rebates usually offer lots of redemption flexibility.

Airline cards will require you to redeem your bonus miles with selected airlines only.


Good for local spending with fast rewards, but foreign transactions may incur high fees.

Good – especially when using your card for a big ticket purchase.

Good – miles cards usually have no cap on the number of miles you can earn.


Minimum annual income of $30,000 may apply.

Minimum annual income of $30,000 may apply.

Minimum annual income of $30,000 may apply.


A minimum spend limit may apply, and the amount of cash back you can earn will usually be capped.

Cashback caps may apply, necessitating tracking of rebates and adhering to a minimum spend limit.

Accumulated miles usually have an expiry date.

Cash Back Credit Cards – Best for People Who Want Cash Rewards

Cashback credit cards provide the chance to earn rewards on qualified purchases. These rewards are usually given as cash, based on a percentage of your expenditure. Alternatively, some cards might offer “reward points” instead.

Who Should Get a Cash Back Credit Card?

  • People who want their rewards immediately and in cash.
  • Singaporeans who have a low minimum monthly spend – as rewards will still be earned regardless.
  • Users who enjoy immediate gratification.

Cashback Pros

  • No annual fee to worry about.
  • Straightforward cash rewards.
  • Additional perks when shopping.
  • Sign-up bonuses are common.

Cashback Cons

  • Foreign currency spending usually incurs fees.
  • Users with a low credit score could get high APR.
  • Travel rewards are not common.

5 Best Cashback Credit Cards

Here are five top-notch cash back card options currently accessible in Singapore:

  Benefits Minimum Spend Annual Income Bonus

Standard Chartered Unlimited Cash Back Card

1.5% cashback on all spending.



Get $138 cashback when you apply online.

UOB One Card

  • Up to 15% cashback on daily spending.
  • Save on Grab, Shopee and more.

$500 – $2,000 to unlock full benefits.


Get a gift worth $490 when you apply online.

Citi Cash Back+ Card

Up to 8% cashback on groceries and 6% on dining out.

$800 to unlock full benefits.

$30,000 (or $42,000 for foreigners).

$300 welcome gift for new customers.

American Express True Cash Back Card

Unlimited cash back of 1.5% on all eligible purchases.



3% cashback on up to $5,000 worth of eligible purchases in the first six months.

UOB Absolute Cash Back Card

Limitless cashback at 1.7% with no spend exclusions.



$350 Grab vouchers.

Cash Rebate Credit Cards – Best for Larger Discounts

As the name implies, cash rebate cards function somewhat differently than cash back credit cards. These cards offer a refund of a portion of the purchase price as a discount when you buy certain items. However, it’s worth noting that depending on your card issuer, these cards could also serve as traditional cash back cards.

Who Should Get a Cash Rebate Credit Card?

  • Spenders who want more flexibility, free from expiry dates and loyalty programme T&Cs.
  • Customers seeking hassle-free rebates and rewards.
  • Low spenders who don’t want to spend a considerable amount of time racking up points.

Cash Rebate Pros

  • Your cash rebates can essentially be used to purchase multiple items.
  • Rebates will come directly into your credit card account.
  • These cards offer minimum hassle.
  • They’re great when purchasing large value items.

Cash Rebate Cons

  • You might need to spend a minimum amount monthly to take full advantage.
  • A cap on the total amount of rebates or rewards you can claim is likely to apply.
  • You’ll need to always monitor what’s in your credit card account.
cashback illustration

5 Best Cashback Rebate Credit Cards

The following tables provide a comparison of five of our top picks for cash rebate cards currently available.

  Benefits Minimum Spend Annual Income Bonus

HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card

  • Up to $1,000 in cash rebates per annum.
  • 5% cash back on dining, groceries, and petrol.

Check with provider online.


$150 cashback or a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp.

Standard Chartered Simply Cash Credit Card

  • $250 cashback on sign-up and $128 when you refer friends.
  • 1.5% cashback on all spending.

Check with provider online.

$30,000 (or $60,000 for foreigners).

$250 cash back when you activate your card.


  • Up to $140 cash credit when you create a credit card account.
  • 8% cashback on online and mobile spend.



Get an Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen when you sign-up.

CIMB Visa Signature Card

  • Over $1,000 worth of deals and discounts.
  • 10% cashback in select categories.

Check with provider online.

$30,000 (or fixed deposit collateral of $10,000).

Get up to 100% of your purchases back in 3 days.

Maybank Family & Friends Card

Choose the cashback that fits your lifestyle.

Check with provider online.


Get American Tourister Linex luggage cases worth $200.

Air Miles Credit Cards – Best for Frequent Travelers

Air miles credit cards allow you to accrue airline miles for every dollar you spend. You can redeem these miles with various airlines, such as Singapore Airlines and other leading carriers, depending on whether you’re using co-branded airline cards or more generic cards provided by high-ranking banks.

While air miles cards come in a wide variety of types, the fundamental idea remains the same – you spend money to accumulate miles.

Who Should Get an Air Miles Credit Card?

  • Frequent travelers who want to accumulate sufficient miles for free or discounted travel.
  • People who enjoy spending time in select hotels – as hotel points are usually offered, too.
  • Anyone who wants to accumulate miles or redeem them for friends and family.

Air Miles Pros

  • Air miles cards usually offer miles on both overseas and local spend.
  • There aren’t usually any caps when you earn points.
  • Additional travel rewards, like lounge access and insurance, are thrown in for frequent travelers.
  • These cards are super-easy to use.

Air Miles Cons

  • Miles will usually have an expiry date.
  • Some airlines don’t have programmes for frequent travelers.
  • Points are accumulated slowly when compared to other cards.

5 Best Air Miles Credit Cards

Let’s take a closer look at some of the very best air miles credit card options for people living in Singapore:

  Benefits Minimum Spend Annual Income Bonus

Citi PremierMiles Card

  • Earn 1.2 Citi Miles per $1 local spend and up to 4 Citi Miles on qualifying foreign currency spend.
  • Citi Miles have no expiry date.

Check with provider online.

$30,000 (or $42,000 for foreigners).

Up to 30,000 welcome bonus miles.

OCBC 90°N Card

  • All spending will earn you air miles.
  • Get 2.1 miles for every $1 of foreign currency spend and 1.3 miles for every $1 of SGD spend.

Check with provider online.

Check with provider online.

Get up to 55,000 miles when you apply.

DBS Altitude Card

  • Get up to 10 miles per $1 spend with selected travel transactions.
  • Earn miles that will never expire.

Check with provider online.


Get up to 37,000 bonus miles when applying through your app.

Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card

Earn up to 3.2 air miles with selected spending.

Check with provider online.


  • Get American Tourister Linex luggage cases worth $200.
  • Get Apple AirPods 3rd Gen worth $261.

American Express KrisFlyer Card

  • Potential to earn up to 3.1 KrisFlyer miles with every $1 spent on grab.
  • Get 2 KrisFlyer miles for every $1 of foreign currency spend.

Check with provider online.


Receive 5,000 KrisFlyer miles with your very first spend.


1. Is It Better to Have Rewards Points or Cash Back With a Credit Card in Singapore?

This depends entirely on your personal preference. Rewards cards probably make the most sense if you frequently shop with the same stores or retailers, while cash back affords far superior flexibility to consumers who want to be able to spend their cash rebates or cash rewards however they please.

2. What’s the Difference Between Rewards Points, Airline Miles, and Cash Back Bonuses?

Rewards points are intangible points that can be redeemed for free flights, merchandise, or discounts with select retailers. Conversely, airline miles earned with miles cards are airline-specific points that can only be exchanged for air miles with participating carriers. Finally, cash back bonuses will award you a tangible fixed dollar amount for each eligible purchase you make with a cashback credit card.

3. What Kind of Credit Cards Rewards Are Best?

Again, this all boils down to your unique spending habits. Miles cards are the obvious choice for jet-setters, whereas a cashback credit card will make a lot more sense for regular spenders who just want to take advantage of more basic rewards. Generally speaking, you should look out for a rewards card that offers low annual fees or a one year annual fee waiver, as well as attractive interest rates and repayment terms.

portrait of a young woman shopping with a credit card

4. Which Credit Card Has the Lowest Credit Card Bill Costs?

This will depend on numerous factors, such as the interest rate you are being charged, how much you spend each month and whether you’re using a cashback credit card, cash rebate card or air miles cards. We’d always recommend shopping around extensively to locate the best deals possible.

5. Can I Get a Free Flight When I Earn Miles with Credit Cards?

Ordinarily, there is no such thing as a free flight. That said, if you accumulate sufficient miles with the right miles cards, you may be able to redeem enough to cover a large portion of the distance that you intend on travelling with a select airline.

6. What Are the Three Main Types of Credit Card Rewards?

In simple terms, these are cash back, rewards points and air miles. What kind of rewards you are eligible to earn will depend on which type of credit card you are using and whether you are able to hit minimum spending thresholds with the right retailers, too.

7. Are Rewards Points Credit Cards Really Worth It?

This depends on several factors, including whether you are able to secure good annual fee costs and interest rates with the cards you are using. It’s important that your credit card balance doesn’t exceed the value of any rewards you accumulate each year, too.

8. Do I Need a Good Credit Score to Get a Credit Card?

You’ll almost always be subjected to a credit check when applying for a credit card in Singapore, though some banks and financial institutions are stricter than others when it comes to granting approval to customers with a lower credit rating.

9. What is the Minimum Annual Income I’ll Need to Get a Credit Card in Singapore?

Ordinarily, this sits at $30,000 for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs). If you are applying as a foreigner, however, there’s a fair chance you’ll need to be earning $45,000 or more.

10. What Alternatives to Credit Cards Should I Consider?

If you need to borrow money in Singapore, credit cards aren’t your only option. You can also look into personal loans or payday loans, which might sometimes be more appropriate to your unique circumstances.

See Also: How to Apply Credit Card in Singapore

Final Thoughts

With so many different kinds of credit cards available to borrowers in the city-state, it’s important to take a little time to familiarise yourself with how cash back, cash rebate and air miles cards work, and to compare the market widely to secure the best deal to suit you.

Don’t forget that

  • Cashback cards are great for regular spenders seeking cash rewards, cash rebate cards are suitable for large purchases, and air miles cards are best for frequent flyers.
  • A minimum income threshold, possibly higher for foreigners, is required to apply for a Singapore credit card.
  • All credit cards have drawbacks: air miles may expire, cashback cards might have foreign transaction fees, and rebate cards can cap rewards. Consider these potential disadvantages.
  • Online applications or using a bank’s app often yield sign-up rewards or bonuses.
  • Market comparison is essential for finding a credit card that aligns with your unique financial situation.

Loan Advisor keeps you updated with all the latest personal finance news. Additionally, we provide a user-friendly loan comparison service, allowing you to compare personal, business, and payday loans. Claim your three FREE quotes from licensed moneylenders at no charge!

Table of Contents

Looking For An Urgent Personal Loan?

Submit your details and receive up to 3 loan quotes from best Licensed Money Lenders picked by Loan Advisor
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.