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Moving from XX-US CITY to YY-Foreign City - Should I Stick w/ UA & Mileage Plus

Moving from XX-US CITY to YY-Foreign City - Should I Stick w/ UA & Mileage Plus

Old Nov 17, 14, 10:59 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: IAH
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 5
Question Moving from XX-US CITY to YY-Foreign City - Should I Stick w/ UA & Mileage Plus

I currently based in Houston but will be moving to Singapore in January/February. I'm a UA 1K, will be again in 2015. My wife is UA Gold but will decline to Silver for 2015. In addition, we do a fair of spending on UA branded credit cards, both personal and business (probably $75K total)

On average I fly about 125K/year with UA and minimal amounts spread among numerous others (50K total), star alliance if possible, but if not I just buy the most convenient and/or cheapest.

I tend to book economy and try to upgrade with miles, GPU or RPU (despite the experience of others, I have been pretty successful with upgrades) if the flight is more than 3-4 hours.

Reaching 1K PQD hasn't been an issue and as I read it will no longer be applicable given that I am moving outside the US.

In 2015 most flights will be from SIN to other locations in Asia (none more so than any other) as well as a couple trips a year from SIN to IAH, NYC, LHR and/or OKC.

Given my situation, would you stick with UA or take most of your business to another carrier? If you would move, which FFP/credit cards would you move to and why?

Last edited by goalie; Nov 19, 14 at 6:32 pm Reason: changed post title as it was the title of a new combined thread
houstonsooner is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 12:08 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Honolulu / DC
Programs: UA Gold / mm / Marriott Lifetime Titanium , Hilton Diamond
Posts: 822
If the PQD is the limit to your wife, that goes away. If you are well on your way to some multiple of million mile status, it would be a big chunk to give up. And if you will need to do some non-paid premium class flying on UA, 1K does matter.

But the other available premium products sure are tempting...
cmculp is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 5:03 am
  #3  
Formerly known as James Flannery
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Alameda CA
Programs: UA 1K, Hyatt Platinum, SPG Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 30
I would stick with United. I live in Singapore and Singapore Airlines is partners with United. If you do any traveling in the region for buisness Singapore Airlines probably has a direct flight there from Changi. I fly direct on Singapore to Bangkok, Manila, Cambodia, India, Burma, Hanoi.... the list goes on and on they have direct flights to ever major city between the Middle East and Tokyo. If you do any traveling to Oceania like Marshal Islands, Guam, Palau, United is literally the only airline that flys to most of those places. As a United Gold you will get access to Krisflyer lounges and Royal silk lounges (thai) which in my opinion are the best lounges in the region. Your only convenient options back to the US are either United or Delta usually via Tokyo or Singapore via London. Thai is also a United partner and has a great product. Vietnam Airlines is Sky Team but their product isn't that great and you would be connecting for regional trips thru ho chi min. Malyasian is One World but they are a pain because all regional trips will connect thru Kuala Lumpur. The only thing about Singapore Airlines is their regional partner Silk is not part of Star Alliance so if you are on Silk metal even if it is a code share Singapore flight and you booked the Singapore Airlines flight and not the Silk you can't get Star Alliance miles or use the lounge. You could just go all in and Use the Krisflyer program but that would depend how long you expect to be in Singapore. If you will return to the US in 2-3 years you probably won't really be able to use your Krisflyer miles. You don't get fare and status bonus miles flying on Singapore with United but you do on ANA which code shares a lot of flights back to the US with United on brand new 787s.

Also United has direct flights from Tokyo to IAH. You can also fly United to EWR close to NYC direct from Hong Kong and Tokyo. Service to IAH is only on 777 and 787 which is a plus because United 747s are GARBAGE. Service to EWR is only 777.

You will love Singapore. Great place to live! 3 trips back to US a year and minimal regional travel you will keep your United 1K. Or with United card and change your address to Singapore on your account and I think you avoid the new PQM that kicks in in March. My first year here because of my Mileage Plus Card I made gold with United just on regional travel on Singapore Airlines.

I stuck with United and also have a krisflyer account that I use when I am stuck on Silk and can't book an actual Singapore Airlines flight. I bank those miles hoping to one day have enough for an upgrade. In 2 years have flown 175,000 miles all on Star Alliance. Only 3000 on silk.

Last edited by Tareyton98; Nov 18, 14 at 5:18 am
Tareyton98 is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 5:32 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: SIN
Programs: TK *G, UA, AS
Posts: 48
It's impossible to give conclusive advice from the information given, especially with the RDM changes (starting 3/2015) and partner earning chart changes still very possible. Some points to consider:

1. Whatever you decide about FFP, most of your intra-Asia trips will not be on UA. Your only UA metal choices from SIN are HKG (~4hrs) and NRT (~8 hrs). Both flights leave early morning and return late night. Upgrades are GPU only. Other carriers offer many additional choices to both cities, and HND is more convenient than NRT if you are heading into Tokyo.

2. As the previous poster said, SQ gives you many nonstop options from SIN, but they do tend to charge a premium. Credit to MP is often <100% on the cheaper economy fares, and there is never status bonus. The cheapest buckets are 0% to UA but can be 10% to KF (KrisFlyer, the SQ FFP). Their regional carrier SilkAir is not a *A member, though they do credit to KF. You might do some SQ searches reflecting your expected travel patterns, especially around advance purchase, to see which buckets are common for you. You will probably end up with some KF miles in any case, though I've never been able to justify making it my primary program.

3. *A upgrades are often from high-fare economy fares only. Buying Premium Economy (on carriers that offer it) may be an acceptable alternative to Business for you on some flights, especially if you are traveling for work and policy prohibits paid Business.

4. Unless you maintain status on UA, access to E+ is not an official benefit. Some people value E+ very highly.
4.a. If you are one of those people, and you only take a few short flights within the US (e.g. gateway city to OKC), you can always pay for it. Paid E+ on your longer trips can get expensive, though (e.g. IAH and NYC will be at least 2 segments each way).
4.b. If you value E+ and plan to fly UA metal when practical to get it, that is a good reason to maintain UA Gold. And if you are doing that, you would probably decide to go for UA 1K (for the GPUs).

5. If award tickets are important to you:
5.a. Remember that non-US FFPs will charge YQ on award tickets, and with most programs you earn greatly reduced (sometimes zero) miles on cheaper fare buckets.
5.b. ANA just released a new award chart which might be interesting (http://travelisfree.com/2014/11/05/b...hart-for-2015/).
5.c. SQ never releases premium cabin seats on some of their planes (KF miles are the only way to get awards there), and UA is not showing SQ availability online (every booking is a phone call that can be painful and/or time consuming).

6. The UA Gold baggage allowance can be handy for returning from the US (3x 70lb bags when starting on UA metal). You can buy basically anything you want in Singapore, but it's often cheaper in the US.

7. About credit cards:
7.a. Singapore cards are fine for local spend, but check the fine print on foreign purchases. It seems to be common practice to convert to USD and then to SGD, and then tack foreign transaction fees on top of that.
7.b. It is also common practice to quote an annual fee for any card (not just rewards cards) but waive it if you meet spend threholds (sometimes published, sometimes not) and call to request the waiver.
7.c. Amex Membership Rewards does transfers to both ANA and KF, in case you are considering those programs.
7.d. If you most/all of your salary will continue to be paid in USD to a US bank account, then sticking with a US-based credit card will probably be easier.

Good luck with your FFP/travel planning... and your move!
ASELdriver is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 5:36 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: CHA
Programs: UA 1K 1MM
Posts: 43
Stick with UA. If you go Krisflyer, you'll have to pay fuel surcharges when you redeem award tickets. And, because of Star Alliance, you have the choice of SQ, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Thai, Turkish, LH, Swiss, etc... Definitely, lots of choices. There is a 1 downside, like, no direct *A flights from Hong Kong to Philippines. Other than that, I've found *A to be the best to stick with, hence, UA.
gaszlim is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 5:57 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SIN
Programs: UA 1K, KF
Posts: 54
One more vote for sticking with United out of SIN, with one twist. If you are able to fly SQ up front, I suggest joining KrisFlyer too. If you book premium cabins, you can credit your spend to PPS and your miles to United. Redeeming award tickets on KF is lousy, but PPS is fantastic. Great service. So if you can double dip, it's well worth it. You need $25k spend to qualify though.

I do 4-5 US trips (also to OK) and United is most convenient. My favorite combo is SIN-NRT-xxx out and xxx-HKG-SIN back so you just have a relatively short hop home at the end of a long trip. Lots of US gateways to choose from.

You will love flying out of Changi.
SGFlyer1 is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 6:58 am
  #7  
Formerly known as James Flannery
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Alameda CA
Programs: UA 1K, Hyatt Platinum, SPG Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 30
CHangi is awesome. A colleague of mine hates it because he says "It is all down hill after you experience CHangi!" Nothing can compare.

The united card which I use exclusively in Singapore and Asia charges no foreign transactions fees. The previous poster mentioned cards changing to USD... That is a scam that you need to be aware off. It is not the card comapny but the terminal used and in some cases the unreputable vendor. ALWAYS charge in local currency. If a terminal asks if you want it converted to US dollars say NO. You get a crappy exchange rate. If you charge in local currency you get the visa rate. Some ATMs also pull this. I did an experiment once and saved $40 on a $500 ATM withdrawal by saying no to using the local banks conversion rate and just going with the mastercard rate.
Tareyton98 is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 7:21 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: BOS and any place close to a lav
Programs: UA 1.6MM
Posts: 5,419
Keep in mind that many smaller stations out of SIN are served by SQ's regional (read: narrowbody) subsidiary, Silk Air.

As far as I know there's no Star Alliance benefits offered when flying Silk Air.

Silk Air does however, recognize and participate in the SQ KrisFlyer program.

Just something to think about... make sure the places you will be flying to are served non-stop by SQ (or other Star Alliance airlines) and not MI.

Oh and let's not even start to talk about SQ's other subsidiary, Scoot...
warreng24 is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 7:29 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Programs: UA 1K, AA, DL, LH, VX, HA
Posts: 5,976
Is this a one-year deal or longer term? That would affect my decision.
drewguy is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 9:51 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: SEA/PDX/NRT/SIN almost every month. I love my sanctuary at Sentosa Cove
Programs: AA EXP, BA Gold, UA LT-Gold, SPG Plat, HH Dia, Hyatt Dia, MR Gold
Posts: 2,219
One good thing about getting KF Gold or PPS is you can use it at United Clubs on domestic flights, so no need for Club membership.

Enjoy Singapore, and join a gym...it's easy to put on weight here with all the delicious food at your doorstep.

Originally Posted by SGFlyer1 View Post
One more vote for sticking with United out of SIN, with one twist. If you are able to fly SQ up front, I suggest joining KrisFlyer too. If you book premium cabins, you can credit your spend to PPS and your miles to United. Redeeming award tickets on KF is lousy, but PPS is fantastic. Great service. So if you can double dip, it's well worth it. You need $25k spend to qualify though.
ws8n is offline  
Old Nov 18, 14, 8:38 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: SIN
Programs: TK *G, UA, AS
Posts: 48
Originally Posted by James Flannery View Post
The united card which I use exclusively in Singapore and Asia charges no foreign transactions fees. The previous poster mentioned cards changing to USD... That is a scam that you need to be aware off. It is not the card comapny but the terminal used and in some cases the unreputable vendor. ALWAYS charge in local currency. If a terminal asks if you want it converted to US dollars say NO. You get a crappy exchange rate. If you charge in local currency you get the visa rate.
This is "dynamic currency conversion," and you can avoid it by choosing the local currency for all purchases/withdrawls. As a final poke in the eye, local banks in Singapore often pass along an 'administrative' fee of 0.8% on the charge, which was already charged in SGD (at a terrible rate from the local currency) by the merchant.

The common practice I referred to in Singapore, however, is indeed the issuing bank doing a double conversion. For example, if you make a purchase in Japan, the conversion is JPY->USD->SGD (at Visa/MC/Amex rates which usually reflect a 1% fee, so you are paying twice). To add insult to injury, the bank then applies another fee on the SGD amount (usually 2.5% or 3%). Here is the fine print from two of the biggest local banks:

DBS: http://www.dbs.com.sg/sites/personal...onditions.page (look for "Fees for Foreign Currency Transactions" and "Dynamic Currency Conversion Fee" sections towards the end)

UOB: http://www.uob.com.sg/personal/cards/credit/tnc.html (look for "Fees for Foreign Currency Transactions and Transactions Processed Outside Singapore" in Appendix 1)

If you use a US-based "no foreign transaction fee" card (like the Chase United card), the only fee you should pay on a JPY purchase is the 1% fee built into the Visa rate for a single JPY->USD conversion.
ASELdriver is offline  
Old Nov 19, 14, 12:57 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 10
Moved to Suzhou China...should I stay with Mileage Plus

I moved to Suzhou China (an hour from PVG) over a year ago, with a house in NJ. I'm currently a UA 1K, should be be again in 2015.

On average I return to US about 4 times a year and minimal amounts withing Asia & within US while I am there. I tend to book discounted premium or try to upgrade with GPU which traveling to/from US.

Reaching 1K PQD was a challenge for 2015, but I think I should make it, with my next trip to US for Christmas. However, i realized that it will no longer be applicable if I change my address to outside the US.

Given my situation, would you stick with UA or take most of your business to another carrier? I actually like ANA, but didn't take any in 2014 due to PQD requirement. If you would move, which program would you move to and why?

Thanks for your advice.
bwong99 is offline  
Old Nov 19, 14, 1:38 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: YYZ, PVG
Programs: Marriott Plat, Impending Ex-UA-1K
Posts: 428
I'd just stick with UA. You have the direct PVG-EWR when (if) you need to go home. The elite mileage bonuses on the asian airlines are a fraction of what the US ones give. It kinda depends on your priorities. The only alternative scenario I'd consider is doing NH/OZ, especially as you could be at Hongqiao Airport pretty damn quick from Suzhou and then fly to ICN/NRT before connecting on to the US. I've done that a few times when coming in from the west end and needed to get out quickly. It's nice not having to do the haul out to PVG.
mackenzie77 is offline  
Old Nov 19, 14, 1:38 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: SIN
Programs: UA 1K MM, SQ PPS, CX Silver, Accor Platinum, Marriott Gold, SPG Silver
Posts: 678
I would stick with UA, as it sounds like the miles are not a problem, and PQD would not be an issue.

Edit: it's also not like there are super clear cut options for other good FFPs, like the other thread on Singapore (where I will post when in front of my computer, as its a much more complex scenario there)

Last edited by Singapore_Schwing; Nov 19, 14 at 1:50 am
Singapore_Schwing is offline  
Old Nov 19, 14, 3:22 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: DEN
Programs: UA 1K, many others
Posts: 30
I hope you are enjoying Suzhou. I have gone there a lot on business over the last few years and have found it to be a pleasant city.

I think the key question for me would be what class of service do you normally purchase? When you said "discounted premium", did you mean discounted business class or discounted first? If so, I think you have a lot of options and should choose a carrier based on how you personally prioritize schedule versus hard product (e.g. lie-flat beds) versus soft product versus accumulating miles for future use.

If you are flying economy, I would probably stay with UA for the chance of being able to use upgrades to business class.

For me, I buy business and stick with UA (at least so far) because schedule and the certainty of lie-flat beds trumps everything else.
gadfly is offline  

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