Top 10 Travel Credit Cards to Apply for Malaysians in 2016

UPDATE: 2017 Credit Cards List has been published – READ HERE

Very often friends and readers will ask How can we afford to fly in Business Class or How to enjoy Airport Lounges for free or complimentary Room upgrades in 5 star hotels every time we travel?

Though most privileges entitled are from our frequent guests programs, owning the right credit card will also pamper you with such privileges as well! This is very useful for most people who doesn’t travel often yet able to enjoy exclusive benefits when they travel.

Here are the lists of Top 10 Travel Credit Cards to Apply in 2016 if you are a travel addict and ways to fully utilize their benefits.

1. Maybank 2 Cards Premier – Best Flight Redemption Card

MaybankMaybank 2 Cards Premier’s Reserve American Express Card is the ultimate card to own for flight redemption as it is the fastest Air Miles conversion credit card in Malaysia at RM1.00 / 1 Air Miles. (Except Government expenses, Education Institutions & Insurance)

Not only that, card holders get to enjoy up to 50% discount on F&B at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur & Starwood Dining Privileges, Free Travel Insurance Coverage if air ticket payment is paid with the card, Complimentary Green Fees to play at 71 Golf Clubs in 13 countries (17 Clubs in Malaysia & 54 International Clubs).

Best for : Flight Miles Redemption

Redemption Rate : Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles & Enrich Miles – RM1.00 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : RM800 – FREE for the first year. Subsequent years FREE if over RM80,000 spending per annum

Advantages : Lowest Flight Miles Redemption, 50% discount on F&B at Shangri La KL & Starwood Dining Privileges, Free Travel Insurance Coverage and Complimentary Golf Green Fees.

Disadvantages : High requirement RM180,000 annual income to apply, American Express not widely accepted in Malaysia, No Airport Lounge Benefit and RM80,000 spending for annual fees waiver.

For More Info : Maybank 2 Cards Premier

2. Maybank 2 Gold Cards – Best Low Entry Card for Flight Redemption

Maybank

Most travel credit cards are reserved for the top elite bank customers earning more than RM100k per year, so ordinary folks are ineligible to apply.

However Maybank 2 Gold Cards requires only RM30k a year to sign up with free lifetime waiver, earns 5X Treat points for all purchases except Government expenses, Education Institutions & Insurance on its American Express Card making its redemption from as low as RM1.49 per 1 air miles. Lock the other Visa/Master away as it doesnt benefit at all.

Best for : Low Entry Flight Miles Redemption

Redemption Rate : Asia Miles – RM1.49 / 1 miles ; KrisFlyer Miles – RM1.70 / 1 miles ; Enrich Miles – RM2.12 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : Free For Life

Advantages : Low Flight Miles Redemption, Low Entry & Free Lifetime Waiver

Disadvantages : American Express is not widely accepted in Malaysia & No other privileges.

For More Info : Maybank 2 Gold Cards

3. Maybank World Mastercard – Best for Worldwide Unlimited Airport Lounge Access

maybank

Maybank World Mastercard is the card to apply if you are flying often, with a complimentary Priority Pass, you have unlimited access to 850+ worldwide airport lounges making air travel much more comfortable. With Treat AirMiles that doesnt expire, cardholders get to accumulate points for longer period to redeem worthwhile flights.

World Mastercard provides cardholders complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status after just one night stay when you pay with a World MasterCard at participating resorts in Asia Pacific. The annual fees is quite high and ridiculously high spending rate of RM120,000 to get it waived.

Best for : Worldwide Free Lounge Access, Hilton Dining Discount & SPG Hotels Room Upgrade

Redemption Rate : Local – Enrich Miles – RM3.18 / 1 miles ; Overseas – Enrich Miles – RM1.27 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : RM 1,000 for 1st year. Subsequent years FREE if spend a min of RM120,000 per annum

Advantages : Free 50,000 Treat AirMiles when signup, Treats AirMiles that never expire, Complimentary Hilton Premium Club Membership Card, Complimentary Priority Pass Card with unlimited access, Free SPG Gold Status, Starwood Dining Privileges & Complimentary Golf Green Fees to play in 17 Clubs in Malaysia & 54 International Clubs.

Disadvantages : Restricted only for Enrich Miles redemption, no other airline choice. High Annual fees and High Income Requirement of min RM180,000 to apply.

For More Info : Maybank World Mastercard

4. Ambank Visa Infinite

Ambank

Ambank Visa Infinite Card is one of the card we enjoy the most. First of all, the card is free for life with no annual fee that always appear on high tier cards.

Cardholders are pampered with complimentary Premium Plaza Lounge access in 23 airports in Malaysia & other countries with every 3 overseas spending charged to card. It is not beneficial for local spending but a different story when it comes to overseas spending. You get to earn 5X AmBonus Points for every RM1 overseas spending making flight miles redemption at only RM1 per 1 miles.

Not only that, cardholders are given a Complimentary Hilton Premium Club Membership Card that entitles members to get special rates for Hilton Hotels in Malaysia and up to 50% discount on dining at all participating Hilton Hotels in Malaysia, Thailand & China. Best of all, Visa Infinite cardholders are given Free Hilton Gold status which usually requires 20 stays to attain and comes with exclusive privileges such as early check in, late check out, room upgrade and also executive lounge benefits.

Best for : Lounge Access, Hilton Hotel Room Upgrades & Overseas Spending

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas Spending – Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles, Enrich Miles & AirAsia Big – RM1.00 / 1 miles
  • Local Spending – Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles, Enrich Miles & AirAsia Big – RM5.00 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : Free For Life

Advantages : Free Plaza Premium Lounge access with 3 overseas spending, Free Hilton Gold Status & Hilton Premium Club Membership Card and No Annual Fees

Disadvantages : Minimum RM150,000 annual income is required to apply and Low miles exchange rate for local spending.

For More Info : Ambank Visa Infinite

5. Ambank World Mastercard

Ambank

Like its sibling, the Ambank World Mastercard is another great card to own. Both Ambank Visa Infinite & World Mastercard’s benefits are almost identical – Free For Life, Complimentary Plaza Premium Lounge access in 23 airports in Malaysia & other countries with 3 overseas spending charged to card, 5X Ambank Bonus Point on overseas spending making miles redemption at RM1 per 1 miles and Free Hilton Premium Club Membership Card for special rates in Hilton Hotels in Malaysia and up to 50% discounts on dining at all participating Hilton Hotels in Malaysia, Thailand & China.

The differences are Ambank World Mastercard requires lower annual income of RM100,000 to apply and instead of Hilton Gold Status, World Mastercard provides cardholders complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status after just one night stay when you pay with a World MasterCard at participating resorts in Asia Pacific. This status usually requires 10 stays to attain and comes with exclusive privileges such as early check in, late check out and room upgrades.

SPG Gold is less valuable than Hilton Gold as it doesn’t come with Executive level access which available mostly for Hilton Gold members. However SPG has some of the most exciting hotel brands lineups such as St Regis, W Hotels, Le Meridien & Westin.

Since both Ambank Visa Infinite & World Mastercard are Free for life, why not apply 2 cards if you are qualified to enjoy both Hilton & Starwood Hotels benefits?

Best for : Lounge Access, SPG Hotel Room Upgrades & Overseas Spending

Redemption Rate :

  • Overseas Spending – Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles, Enrich Miles & AirAsia Big – RM1.00 / 1 miles
  • Local Spending – Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles, Enrich Miles & AirAsia Big – RM5.00 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : Free For Life

Advantages : Free Plaza Premium Lounge access with 3 overseas spending, Free SPG Gold Status & Hilton Premium Club Membership Card and No Annual Fees

Disadvantages : Minimum RM100,000 annual income is required to apply and Low miles exchange rate for local spending.

For More Info : Ambank World Mastercard

6. Maybank Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer American Express Gold

maybank

Maybank Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer American Express Gold is one of the fastest way to earn Krisflyer miles in Malaysia especially at a lower entry level of RM48,000 income per annum to apply. Also the card allows complimentary unlimited access to Plaza Premium Lounge in Malaysia making it an ideal travel card companion. If you hit RM60,000 spending in a year, they will award you double miles up to 100,000 miles a year.

The downside are it is only restricted to KrisFlyer points & the points are auto transferred to your Krisflyer account making the points lifespan shorter. Normally credit card points will have 3 years lifespan and upon converted to your frequent flyer account, the miles will again have 2 or 3 years lifespan.

Best for : Singapore Airlines Flight Redemption

Redemption Rate : KrisFlyer Miles – RM2.00 / 1 miles (Double the miles with RM60,000 spending a year. Max 100,000 points extra)

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

Advantages : Complimentary unlimited Plaza Premium Lounge access in Malaysia

Disadvantages : Redemption limited to Singapore Airlines only. American Express not widely accepted in Malaysia. Points are auto transferred to Krisflyer account hence shorter miles life.

For More Info : Maybank Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer American Express Gold

7. UOB Preferred Platinum

uob

The UOB Preferred Platinum provides 6X complimentary access per year to Plaza Premium Lounges in Malaysia with a minimum of RM500 per month in the past 3 months. It only requires RM48,000 annual income to apply this card.

Best for : Low Entry Lounge Access

Redemption Rate : Asia Miles – RM6.00 / 1 miles ; KrisFlyer Miles – RM7.00 / 1 miles ; Enrich Miles – RM8.50 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : RM198 per year.

Advantages : Low Requirement of RM48,000 income per annum to apply card.

Disadvantages : No other benefits, Exorbitant high UOB points to miles exchange rate and requires min RM500 spending in the past 3 months to utilize benefit.

For More Info : UOB Preferred Platinum

8. Citibank Prestige Card

citibank

The Citibank Prestige Card is the creme de la creme card for Citibank emphasizing on unforgettable experiences for their top tier clienteles. With a requirement of min RM200,000 annual income to apply, most people are excluded from their card.

However if you do fall into this bracket, you are pampered with a complimentary Priority Pass that provides Unlimited Worldwide Airport Lounge access, Complimentary Ride Home from KLIA by swiping your card overseas 3 times and present the sales slips along with Citi Prestige card at the Citibank Airport Limo Priority Booth, free upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status, complimentary green fees at over 2,400 golf courses around the world, evergreen non expiring Citi Rewards Point and also 200,000 Citi Reward Points when sign up.

Best for : Lounge Access & SPG Hotel Room Upgrade

Redemption Rate :

  • Local Spending – Asia Miles – RM6.40 / 1 miles ; KrisFlyer Miles – RM6.40 / 1 miles ; Enrich Miles – RM7.00 / 1 miles
  • Overseas Spending – Asia Miles – RM3.20 / 1 miles ; KrisFlyer Miles – RM3.20 / 1 miles ; Enrich Miles – RM3.50 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : RM1,060 per annum

Advantages : Unlimited Worldwide Lounge Access with Priority Pass, Free Ride home from KLIA with 3 overseas transactions, Complimentary SPG Gold Status, Complimentary Golf Green Fees, Non Expiring Citi Rewards Point,

Disadvantages : Very high annual income requirement of min RM200,000 to apply, Very high Citi Rawards points to flight miles exchange rate and RM1,000 annual fees.

For More Info : Citi Prestige Card

9.  CIMB Enrich World Elite MasterCard

CIMB Bank

Cimb Enrich World Elite Mastercard is one of CIMB highest tiered card with min RM250,000 annual income to be eligible. The card is restricted to redeem Enrich miles only at a rate of RM2 to 1 miles for local spending and RM1 to 1 mile for overseas spending. Cardholders has complimentary access to Malaysia Airlines domestic & worldwide lounges if they are flying on MAS.

With such high requirement to apply and touted the highest tier card for CIMB, it is quite surprising the card is almost as worthless as it seems. Annual spending of RM1,000,000 is needed to waive the RM1,288 annual fees. Lounge access is limited if you are flying with Malaysia Airlines and not other airlines.

To be honest, even if I’m eligible to apply, I wont bother applying with such minimal benefits when Maybank or Citibank high tiered cards offer so much better benefits. The reason it is on this list is because it is still better than other cards not listed here. So you can imagine how worthless other cards are.

Best for : Miles Redemption

Redemption Rate : Local Spending – Enrich Miles – RM2.00 / 1 miles ; Overseas Spending – Enrich Miles – RM1.00 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : RM1,288 per year. RM1,000,000 spending to get fee waiver.

Advantages : Slight Better Redemption Rate & Malaysia Airline Lounge Access when flying on MAS

Disadvantages : Restricted only for Enrich Miles redemption, no other airline choice. High Annual fees and High Income Requirement of min RM250,000 to apply.

For More Info : CIMB Enrich World Elite Mastercard

10. Standard Chartered WorldMiles Card

Standard Chartered

The Standard Chartered WorldMiles Card is one of the most clear cut travel credit card available. Cardholder earns 1 miles for every RM3 local spending and 1 miles for every RM2 overseas spending. The fast conversion from points to miles is very appealing especially for last minute flight, the fastest we received our points was within 3 working days.

Once or twice a year, cardholders can enjoy special AirAsia points redemption. RM90,000 annual income is required to apply. Not sure if they increased the income requirement, it seems not that high when we applied.

Best for : Flight Miles Redemption

Redemption Rate :

  • Local Spending – Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles, Enrich Miles & AirAsia Big – RM3.00 / 1 miles
  • Overseas Spending – Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles, Enrich Miles & AirAsia Big – RM2.00 / 1 miles

Annual Fees : RM190.80 per year with first year Free.

Advantages : Clear Cut conversion rate, Fast conversion to miles via online, AirAsia special points redemption

Disadvantages : High salary requirement at RM90k per annum without additional benefits like lounge access & RM190 annual fees (call to waive with reasonable spending)

For More Info : Standard Chartered WorldMiles Card

How Valuable are the Benefits?

So does all these privilege thing actually save me money or what are the values for the benefits? Many are not aware or have no idea regarding to this hence unable to fully utilize them well.

Etihad Airways Business ClassBusiness Class on Etihad Airways

120,000 air miles is able to earn you one Return Business Class flight to Europe though you still need to bear the fuel surcharge and taxes. Return business class flight to Europe averagely cost RM10,000 and above. You can read our business class experience on Malaysia Airlines A380 Paris to KL.

Airport Lounges such as Plaza Premium Lounge charges RM120 per entry. With complimentary access, no more taking picture sitting on a hard airport bench but on comfortable sofa sipping ice cold draft beer every time we travel. Averagely we enter airport lounge 30 times a year, all on complimentary basis.

Hilton Sukhumvit BangkokOur King Executive Plus Room at Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok

Hotel Room upgrades at Hilton & Starwood easily earn you RM3oo to RM800 differences per night depending which room you are upgraded. Most Hilton & Starwood higher end hotels upgrade also comes with Executive Lounge Benefits such as Early Check in, Late Check Out, Free Breakfast, All day beverages, Complimentary High Tea & Evening Cocktails.

If you are qualified to entitle all these benefits, why not fully utilize them since it is complimentary?

2016 Best Travel Credit Card Award – Maybank

With its bank’s card taking up 40% in this list, undoubtedly Maybank deserved the award & recognition for providing some of the best Travel Credit Cards in Malaysia.

Maybank

Conclusion

Hopefully this article will help you to decide which travel credit cards to apply this year. Since there is not 1 credit card which could beat others hands down, it is better to apply several cards to overcome the disadvantages and also to increase & maximize the benefits from each cards during your travels.

However please do check on the annual fees (call the card center for annual fees waiver, it works 100% for us if there is reasonable spending on your card) and discipline yourself on spending to avoid being debt ridden.

We do hope with this clear cut yearly explanations & recommendations on travel credit cards, banks are more keen to improvise their offerings instead of manipulating the public with misleading ads proclaiming their card is ideal travel cards but in reality offer barely few scratches of benefits. For example on the ads it stated Free Airport Lounge Access but in terms & conditions stated only limit 2 times a year which to us is deemed ridiculously useless.

Lastly we do notice some banks often downgrade their credit card benefits after a certain period they launched the card. They are not genuine in providing the benefits but only hope to entice & sign up more customers with attractive benefits and upon reaching the target, they start to stripped out all benefits & hope most customers doesnt notice it. I have encountered elderly people telling airport lounges the credit card salesman told them they can enter the lounge for free so they apply the card, but when they actually flying, the benefit is no longer available as it has been downgraded.

  1. Citibank AirAsia-Citi Platinum Visa holders NO LONGER receive ONE complimentary Flat Bed Upgrade after March 2016. It will be downgraded to one measly RM200 discount per year instead – Read HERE
  2. UOB Preferred Platinum downgraded Lounge Access from 12 times to 6 times a year effective 5 Jan 2016. – Click for ScreenShot
  3. Alliance Bank Visa Infinite Card downgraded their Unlimited Access Priority Pass benefit to RM300,000 spending required to get the unlimited airport lounges access.

SHARE this post to your friends & family! FOLLOW us on Facebook & Instagram for latest travel tips, updates & promotions!

If there are Singaporean readers interested to know the top 10 travel credit cards in Singapore, just leave a comment below, I might start analyzing it.

Search for Cheapest Hotel Rates

About Tommy Ooi 327 Articles

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

10 Comments

    • Hi Tan, as we wrote this article, we dont find it attractive. Glacing through again now, here are the brief. RM3 = 1 PremierMiles but 1500 PremierMiles = 1000 Miles Redeem. So RM4500 = 1000 Miles making it RM4.50 to earn 1 Mile. Also the Premium Lounge access does not include domestic flight which most people will actually enjoy. Since banks keeps on changing their T&C some details might differ since the article was written

  1. Thanks for the article, very informative. Are conversions to airmiles always worth it? For example, how does it compare to the monetary equivalent if I convert my credit card reward points into cash vouchers?

    • Hi Cy, a first class ticket cost Rm50,000 but you can convert with credit card points, but I dont think you can squeeze out RM50000 out from your points.

  2. Hi Tommy, for Ambank Visa Infinite, in their website T&C did not mentioned it required any spending on the overseas. it just stated it is unlimited access for infinite holders. Pls advice. thanks.

Leave a Reply