Getting an airline's gold member status is a luxury that is highly coveted by frequent travellers. Its numerous benefits include free access to lounges all over the world, priority airport check-in and boarding, faster security and immigration process and even accelerated mile rewards. For those who travel more than just a few times a year, these benefits can be an invaluable asset that reduces both financial cost and mental stress. However, just how much does it really cost to achieve Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer Elite Gold Status? We explore this issue and some ways consumers can get it more cheaply.
True Cost of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Gold Status
By our calculation, one would have to spend at least around S$17,000 to S$25,000 per year on Singapore Airlines economy flights to earn its gold membership status. Singapore Airlines requires one to earn 50,000 Elite miles in 12 months in order to qualify for its gold membership. While you can earn Elite miles from most Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Star Alliance airlines, the rate of accumulation varies depending on the distance flown and the booking class of your tickets. In case of a flight from Singapore to Korea, for example, a round-trip economy class ticket could cost anywhere between S$950 to S$1,600. The most expensive ticket earn 100% of the miles flown, while the cheaper ticket earns only 50% of the distance travelled. By comparing the cost of ticket to Elite miles awarded across different flights, we found that one can earn about 2-3 miles per S$1 spent on a flight with Singapore Airlines.
Can You Get Gold Status for Less?
Based on our calculation above, it's quite clear that it will be very difficult for most people to actually spend enough on flights in a year to get gold status. To satisfy such requirement, one would have to fly dozens of times in a year or at least fly only on business class. However, hope is not all lost for those who can't spend S$20,000 on flights each year. There are several ways one can reduce this cost.
Fly with Other Star Alliance Airlines
Because Singapore Airlines tends to be quite expensive, it's often much more efficient to fly with other Star Alliance airlines whenever possible to earn miles. For example, ANA and Asiana Airlines rewards 5-6 miles per S$1 spent on an economy ticket, while Thai Airways also beat out Singapore Airlines by almost 50% for flights between Bangkok and Singapore. If you are able to accumulate KrisFlyer miles through Star Alliance with other airlines, you could possibly earn 50,000 miles in a year by spending S$8,000 to S$16,000 per year.
Use Asiana Airlines' Loyalty Program Instead
By leveraging the Star Alliance network even further, you could actually achieve Star Alliance Gold Membership (which is the essentially same as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Gold status) while spending much less money. In particular, Asiana Airlines in Korea has the least forbearing requirements to qualify for its Diamond membership program (equivalent to Star Alliance Gold): instead of earning 50,000 miles in 12 months, you only need to earn 40,000 miles over 24 months! If you are able to concentrate your miles into Asiana's loyalty programme via Star Alliance, you could potentially enjoy all the perks of Gold status by spending only S$4,000 to S$8,000 on flights each year.
Accelerated Gold Status with American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
Though this might be less effective than the previous 2 tips, getting American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card can still provide you with a faster way of qualifying for Singapore Airlines's Gold status. For those who hold this card, American Express provides an automatic upgrade to Gold Membership to those who spen S$15,000 on Singaporeair.com within the first 12 months of getting the card. While this is still a lot of money, it is nevertheless thousands of dollars less than what you would otherwise have to spend on flights to get that coveted status.
Alternatives to Gold Status
Sometimes, you don't have to spend so much money to get the Gold Membership status so that you can enjoy free lounge access. While only a few cards will provide priority boarding or expedited immigration clearance at airports, most miles credit cards in Singapore come with accelerated mile rewards (typically at least 1.2 miles per S$1 spent) and complimentary lounge access through Priority Pass. Since they typically cost only about S$200 of annual fee to use and don't impose much of a spending requirement, using these credit cards can be a very economical alternative to pouring thousands of dollars into flights just so you can get the elite status with an airline.