2017 Top 10 Travel Credit Cards to Apply for Malaysians (No, Citibank isnt one of it)

In 2016, we flew on Etihad Airways First Class Apartment & Malaysia Airlines Business Class paying less than Economy ticket. Stepping into 2017, we have accumulated 400,000 miles, which is sufficient to redeem 2 first class tickets and some business class flights.

How to achieve it? By redeeming our flight ticket with credit card points.

There are more than 50 different credit cards available in Malaysia however only few could boast as the best travel credit card. The rests are merely marketing gimmicks, in our opinion meant to trick consumers thinking they are good.

Most of us own a credit card but doesn’t know how to maximize the cards’ benefits. We usually get Free Business Class Flights (pay tax & fuel surcharge only), Free Airport Lounge Access, Free Hotel Room Upgrade and even Free Airport Taxi back home.

If luxury travel is your ideal goal, read on, cancel all your cash back, supermarket & movie ticket credit cards and apply these instead!

You can also compare the difference between 2016 & 2017 – Top 10 Travel Credit Cards to Apply for Malaysians in 2016

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1. Maybank 2 Cards Premier AMEX

The Maybank 2 Cards Premier AMEX successfully retained its crown as the best credit card in Malaysia for airline miles redemption earning holders 1 mile per RM0.95 for both local & overseas transactions.

This is the card you should own if possible to rack up all the miles especially on domestic transactions which is the best feature I like most.

Best for : Airline Miles Redemption

Redemption Rate :

  • Local & Overseas – RM0.95 for 1 Enrich, Asia Miles & KrisFlyer

Min Income to apply : RM120,000 p.a.

Annual Fees : RM800. FREE for the first year. Subsequent years FREE if spend a min of RM80,000 per annum

Advantage :

  • Highest airline miles redemption rate on domestic spending.
  • 50% Savings on F&B at Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur.
  • 50% Dining privileges at all Starwood Hotels in Malaysia.
  • Free Green fees access to over 79 Golf Clubs in 15 countries (17 clubs in Malaysia & 62 international club)
  • Free Travel Insurance & Retail Protection

Disadvantage :

  • High minimum income required to apply for this card
  • American Express is not widely acceptable compared with Visa & Mastercard
  • No airport lounge benefit

More info : Maybank 2 Cards Premier AMEX

2. Maybank 2 Gold & Platinum AMEX

The Maybank 2 Gold Card AMEX is the best card for most people who yet to qualify for the premium cards which generally need RM100,000 annual income. With only RM30,000 min income required, anyone with RM2,500 monthly salary should apply this card to rake in airline miles.

Best of all, this card has no annual fees. Unlike the Premier card, there are different rates when redeeming with Asia Miles at RM1.49 while KrisFlyer at RM1.70 and RM2.12 for Enrich. Both overseas & local transaction earns you the same points and you can max out your conversion especially on Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles.

Best for : Airline Miles Redemption

Redemption Rate :

  • Local & Overseas
    • RM1.49 for 1 Asia Miles
    • RM1.70 for 1 KrisFlyer
    • RM2.12 for 1 Enrich

Min Income to apply : RM30,000 p.a.

Annual Fees : Lifetime Free Waiver

Advantage :

  • High airline miles redemption rate
  • Free annual fees
  • Low minimum income to apply

Disadvantage :

  • Normal card without benefit
  • American Express is less acceptable in Malaysia

More info : Maybank 2 Gold Card AMEX

3. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer American Express® Gold

The Singapore Airline KrisFlyer AMEX Gold card is a medium entry card with a RM4,000 monthly salary to qualify. This card allows holders to earn up to RM1 per 1 KrisFlyer mile making it one of the highest miles redemption card in the market.

Also it allows holders 5X free access to Plaza Premium Lounge in Malaysia. This benefit used to be unlimited Plaza Premium Lounge access but was downgraded in 2016.

The downside, this card is limited to earn Singapore Airline KrisFlyer miles only and the miles are automatically transferred to your KrisFlyer account hence reducing your miles lifespan from 6 years to 3 years only. (Usual credit cards points are valid for 3 years and airline points valid another 3 years which makes it 6 years). So make sure you can earn enough points to redeem a worthy air ticket within 3 years when using this card.

Best for : Singapore Airline KrisFlyer miles redemption

Redemption Rate :

  • Local & Overseas – RM2 for 1 KrisFlyer
  • Double up your miles with minimum spend of RM60,000 within twelve (12) months Card anniversary year making it RM1 per 1 KrisFlyer mile.

Min Income to apply : RM48,000 p.a.

Annual Fees : RM250. 1st year fee-waiver.

Advantage :

  • Double up miles earned with RM60,000 spending making it one of the highest redemption
  • 5X Free Plaza Premium Lounge Access in Malaysia per year
  • Complimentary Travel Insurance Coverage

Disadvantage :

  • Miles redemption only limited to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • American Express less acceptable in Malaysia

More info : Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer American Express® Gold 

4. RHB Premier Visa Infinite

The RHB Premier Visa Infinite offers the highest point earning for overseas spending of all credit cards listed in this article at only RM0.75 per 1 Enrich Mile.

Card holders are given 10 complimentary access (below 100k spend a year) or unlimited access (above 100k spend a year) to Plaza Premium Lounges in Malaysia and 5 other locations – Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, London, Singapore and Taipei.

Since it is a Visa Infinite card, holders can take advantage on Free Hilton HHonors Gold status with 2 stays or 4 nights stay. Hilton HHonors Gold status are eligible for Free Room Upgrades, Executive Lounge Access and even 4pm Late Checkout which is very worth it. This status usually need 20 stays to attain.

Best for : Overseas Spending Airline Miles Redemption

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas
    • RM0.75 for 1 Enrich Mile
    • RM1.50 for 1 KrisFlyer
  • Local
    • RM2.00 for 1 Enrich Mile on local hotels, airlines, duty-free, dining and online spend
    • RM4.00 for 1 Krisflyer for local hotels, airlines, duty-free, dining and online spend
    • RM6.00 for 1 Enrich Mile on other local spending
    • RM12.00 for 1 KrisFlyer on other local spending

Min Income to apply : Invitation. Call RHB Premier Line to apply.

Annual Fees : Free For Life

Advantage :

  • Highest overseas spending Enrich miles redemption
  • Complimentary Green Fees at 8 Golf Club in Malaysia
  • Complimentary RM2 million Travel Insurance Coverage
  • No annual fees. Free for life
  • 10X to unlimited access to Plaza Premium Lounge

Disadvantage :

  • High income to apply
  • Very low local spending airline miles redemption

More info : RHB Premier Visa Infinite

5. Alliance Visa Infinite

The Alliance Visa Infinite isnt the best miles redemption card in the market but more of an all rounder between miles redemption and privileges. This card is the premium card from Alliance bank with RM150,000 income to apply.

Earning miles wise it is quite high for overseas spending at RM1.20 for 1 Enrich while normal earning for local spending at RM3 for 1 Enrich. This card comes with unlimited access to Plaza Premium Lounge in KLIA and 6X to unlimited access to worldwide lounge with Priority Pass. To achieve unlimited access you will need to spend RM300,000 in the current year.

Since it is a Visa Infinite card, holders can take advantage on Free Hilton HHonors Gold status with 2 stays or 4 nights stay. Hilton HHonors Gold status are eligible for Free Room Upgrades, Executive Lounge Access and even 4pm Late Checkout which is very worth it. This status usually need 20 stays to attain.

Best for : Worldwide Lounge Access

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas – RM1.20 for 1 Enrich Mile
  • Local – RM3.00 for 1 Enrich Mile

Min Income to apply : RM150,000 p.a

Annual Fees : RM848. Annual fee waiver with a minimum spend of RM30,000 per annum.

Advantage :

  • Complimentary 6X to unlimited (depend on annual spending) access to 850 VIP lounges in more than 100 countries and 300 cities worldwide with Priority Pass
  • Complimentary unlimited access to KLIA Plaza Premium Lounge
  • Free Hilton HHonors Gold Status with 2 stays or 4 nights
  • Free Travel Insurance Coverage

Disadvantage :

  • Only limited to earn Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles
  • High minimum income needed to apply

More info : Alliance Visa Infinite

6. Maybank Visa Infinite

The Maybank Visa Infinite offers one of the highest flight points earning on overseas spending with RM0.95 for 1 Enrich, Asia Miles & KrisFlyer while local spending net RM2.40 for 1 airline Mile.

Since it is a Visa Infinite card, holders can take advantage on Free Hilton HHonors Gold status with 2 stays or 4 nights stay. Hilton HHonors Gold status are eligible for Free Room Upgrades, Executive Lounge Access and even 4pm Late Checkout which is very worth it. This status usually need 20 stays to attain.

Best for : Hotel Privileges and high overseas flight miles earning

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas – RM0.95 for 1 Enrich Mile, Asia Miles, KrisFlyer
  • Local – RM2.40 for 1 Enrich Mile, Asia Miles, KrisFlyer

Min Income to apply : RM120,000 p.a.

Annual Fees : RM 800. Subsequent years FREE if spend a min of RM80,000 per annum

Advantage :

  • Free Hilton HHonors Gold status with 2 stays or 4 nights stay.
  • 5X Free Access per year to Plaza Premium Lounge in Malaysia & Worldwide.
  • Up to 50% off dining privilege in SPG Starwood Hotels.
  • Free Green fees access to over 79 Golf Clubs in 15 countries (17 clubs in Malaysia & 62 international club)
  • Free RM2 million Travel Insurance Coverage

Disadvantage :

  • High annual income required to apply

More info : Maybank Visa Infinite

7. HSBC Premier Travel World Master

HSBC Premier Travel World Master offers the 2nd highest airline miles earning on overseas spending at only RM0.91 for 1 airline mile.

Although the minimum annual income of RM36k per year is fairly simple to achieve, yet there is a catch. You will need to be a HSBC Premier Account holder with at least RM200k in total relationship with them. So if you are a high saver, apply this premium card to take advantage on its privileges.

One of the benefit of World MasterCard is you are eligible for Free SPG Gold member after 1 night stay in Asia Pacific. SPG Gold members are given Free Room Upgrades & eligible for 4pm late check out. This status usually requires 10 stays to attain.

Best for : Flight miles earning on overseas spending

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas – RM0.91
  • Local – RM4 for 1 Enrich, Asia Miles or KrisFlyer

Min Income to apply : RM36,000 per annum. Exclusively for HSBC Premier account holder with minimum RM200,000 in total relationship balance with HSBC

Annual Fees : Not Mention

Advantage :

  • 12X Complimentary Access to worldwide lounge with LoungeKey
  • Free SPG Gold status after 1 night stay in Asia Pacific
  • Unlimited Wifi worldwide with Boingo
  • Free RM750k takaful travel coverage

Disadvantage :

  • Need RM200k savings or banking relationship to apply.

More info : HSBC Premier Travel World Master

8. Ambank Visa Infinite

The Ambank Visa Infinite offers Unlimited Plaza Premium Lounge access in Malaysia, Taiwan, UK, UAE, Maldives, Singapore, Oman, India, Cambodia, Canada, Australia, Brazil & China making it one of the most generous card especially it is Free For Life.

Complimentary Hilton Premium Club Membership is given which offers up to 50% discount on dining and special promotion rate in Hilton hotels in Malaysia.

Since it is a Visa Infinite card, holders can take advantage on Free Hilton HHonors Gold status with 2 stays or 4 nights stay. Hilton HHonors Gold status are eligible for Free Room Upgrades, Executive Lounge Access and even 4pm Late Checkout which is very worth it. This status usually need 20 stays to attain.

Best for : Unlimited Plaza Premium Lounge Access, Airline miles earning on overseas spending, Hilton Gold Privilege

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas – RM1 for 1 Enrich, Asia Miles or KrisFlyer
  • Local – RM5 for 1 Enrich, Asia Miles or KrisFlyer

Min Income to apply : RM120,000 p.a.

Annual Fees : Free For Life

Advantage :

  • Free Hilton HHonors Gold Status after 2 stays or 4 nights stay.
  • Free RM2 million Travel Insurance Coverage
  • Complimentary Hilton Premium Club Membership Card

Disadvantage :

  • High income to apply

More info : Ambank Visa Infinite

9. Hong Leong Visa Infinite

Best for : Free for life card & Hilton HHonor Gold Privilege

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas – RM1.80 for 1 Enrich Mile
  • Local – RM2.80 for 1 Enrich Mile

Min Income to apply : RM180,000 p.a.

Annual Fees : Free For Life

Advantage :

  • Free Hilton HHonors Gold Status after 2 stays or 4 nights stay.
  • Free For Life
  • 4X Lounge Access 1st year.

Disadvantage :

  • High Income to Apply
  • The lounge access is only free 1st year. Subsequent year require minimum cumulative retail spend of RM100,000 by cardholder in the preceding year to qualify 4x free. Very cheapskate from Hong Leong Bank.

More info : Hong Leong Visa Infinite

10. CIMB Enrich World MasterCard

The CIMB Enrich World MasterCard earn holders RM1.50 for 1 Enrich Mile for overseas & RM3 for 1 Enrich Mile on local spendings.

One of the benefit of World MasterCard is you are eligible for Free SPG Gold member after 1 night stay in Asia Pacific. SPG Gold members are given Free Room Upgrades & eligible for 4pm late check out. This status usually requires 10 stays to attain.

This card also allows holders 8X Golden Lounge visits provided you fly with Malaysia Airlines making this benefit rather restrictive for premium card especially Golden Lounges are just available in Malaysia, Melbourne & London.

Best for : Enrich Miles Redemption & Free Starwood Hotel Upgrade

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas – RM1.50 for 1 Enrich Mile
  • Local – RM3 for 1 Enrich Mile

Min Income to apply : RM100,000 p.a

Annual Fees : RM588

Advantage :

  • Free SPG Gold member after 1 night stay in Asia Pacific
  • 8X MAS Golden Lounge Access when flying with Malaysia Airlines
  • Complimentary RM1 Million Travel Insurance Coverage

Disadvantage :

  • Limited only to earn Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles
  • Less route & lounge choice from Malaysia Airlines compare with Cathay & SIA
  • High annual income required to apply

More info : CIMB Enrich World MasterCard

Why Citibank cards aren’t in Top 10?

No, we dont hate Citibank at all. However that is the most frequent asked question from friends & readers. Apparently Citibank has great marketing, positioning themselves as the best credit card to own for travels however in reality they aren’t.

To avoid doubts, we have created a table on Citibank cards and how it fared badly compared to the 10 credit cards listed above.

No
Credit Card
Overseas Spend (RM spend to earn 1 Mile)Local Spend (RM spend to earn 1 Mile)
Min Income to apply
MAS EnrichSIA KrisflyerCathay Asia MilesMAS EnrichSIA KrisflyerCathay Asia Miles
1Citi PremierMiles VisaRM2.25RM2.25RM2.25RM4.50RM4.50RM4.50100,000
2Citi Prestige CardRM3.50RM3.20RM3.20RM7.00RM6.40RM6.40200,000
3Citi Rewards CardRM1.70RM1.40RM1.30RM8.50RM7.00RM6.5060,000
4
Citibank Rewards Platinum
RM8.50RM7.00RM6.50RM8.50RM7.00RM6.50
36,000
RM1.70RM1.40RM1.30RM1.70RM1.40RM1.30
“Bottom points only limited to transaction on few selected merchant only eg: Airasia, Malaysia Airline, Firefly. The rest will earn above points. Worst Cap for Travel is RM12,000 a year while other categories only RM1,000 per month

Conclusion

We rank the credit cards mainly by conversion of point to mile, privileges available, annual income required and lastly the annual fees. We do not receive any commission nor benefits from any banks. This article is purely for our readers benefits.

In 2017 we hope to engage closer with our readers instead of just 1 way flow. If you have any questions about travel, comment below, perhaps we can write an article on your questions and enlighten others as well.

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About Tommy Ooi 294 Articles
Luxury Hotel Reviewer & Destination Blogger. Passionate for travel, exploring new culture & indulging divine food, Tommy has traveled to 42 countries & 140+ destinations.

9 Comments

  1. This post is so wonderful with big money savings when our ringgit is falling like durians. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi Tommy, thanks for doing this research. It is greatly appreciated. May I ask, if I want to claim my Free Hilton HHoners Gold status after 2 stays or 4 nights stay, would I have to use my Maybank Visa Infinite credit card in the first place, to charge the stay? Or it’s not necessary? As long as i have Hilton HHoners membership? Same question for SPG Gold member. Thanks ever so much.

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