Best Freqent Flyer Programs

Find the Best Frequent Flyer Program

Information verified correct on May 31st, 2016

How to compare and find the best frequent flyer program for you.

Australian travellers have been embracing frequent flyer programs in growing numbers. With great benefits such as flight upgrades, member lounge access and even free flights, travellers are keen to sign up. With the large variety of frequent flyer programs currently available it's important to know what features you want your program to have and the benefits that you want to get out of it.

No one frequent flyer program can be 'the best', because people want different things from different programs. The way to choose the best program for you is to compare the features of different programs and pick the one that best suits your needs.

How to compare frequent flyer programs

The different features of frequent flyer programs can make them difficult to compare, but if you think about what you want you can see what's important to you when it comes to earning rewards.

  • Points earned per $1 spent

Finding a frequent flyer program that will maximise your rewards points by providing points for your type of spending and a higher earn rate will mean that you can redeem the rewards you want sooner. Earn rates can vary depending on whether you are using MasterCard or American Express with dual credit cards so be sure to check which card is required in order to earn the higher rewards points.

  • Types of rewards available

Even though frequent flyer programs provide the same types of rewards and benefits including travel, retail purchasing and lifestyle rewards the companies and brands who they partner with can widely vary. Taking the time out to compare your options and go through the program information below will allow you to find out how to get the most bang for your buck and get the rewards you want.

  • Points expiry

When people sign up for frequent flyer programs they usually like to save up for larger benefits which require more points, such as flights or expensive products. The trouble is most programs have an expiry date on points which can limit your earning potential. If you know it will take you a while to earn enough points to get the rewards you want, then you should opt for a program with no points expiry or one which allows you to extend your points. Qantas and Virgin let you keep your points as long as your account stays active.

  • Membership levels or tiers

Frequent flyer programs usually have different membership levels or tiers which depend on how many points you have and how often you fly. As you move up the tier levels your ability to earn points increases and your benefit level may also increase. You can judge a frequent flyer program on how easy it is to move up the tiers and what you need to do to maintain your membership level. Also take into account what each tier grants you in comparison to other programs.

  • Partners

Frequent flyer programs will have a number of partners through which you can earn and redeem points. Partners can be other airlines, linked credit cards, hotels, rental car companies, retail and entertainment stores, telecommunications companies or financial service providers. The more partners a frequent flyer program has the more opportunity you will have to earn rewards points and also greater choice when it comes to redeeming your rewards.

  • Credit cards options

Most frequent flyer programs have an option of a linked credit card from a partner provider. These rewards credit cards are a great way to earn frequent flyer points on your everyday purchases. Some frequent flyer programs offer more credit card options than other, so be sure to compare the available cards before you choose a program. Most overseas-based frequent flyer programs usually will have more limited choices when it comes to Australian credit cards which earn points. Find out more about your options here.

  • Pooling points with your family

Pooling rewards points with your family is a great way to boost your earning potential. Currently, only a few programs, like Etihad Guest and Virgin Velocity offer this feature.

Compare Frequent Flyer Credit Card Offers

Rates last updated May 31st, 2016
Bonus Points Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
Earn up to 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 within the first three months and 1.5 points per $1 spent. Get complimentary airport lounge access, 24/7 concierge with $0 annual fee in the first year.
75,000 bonus points VISA/MC: 0.75 AMEX: 1.5 19.99% p.a. $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Receive 40,000 bonus Qantas Points on eligible spend within 3 months. A balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 6 months with access to premium benefits and complimentary insurance.
40,000 bonus points VISA/MC: 1 AMEX: 0 19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 6 months $199 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
Receive 10,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points. Plus, enjoy 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
10,000 bonus points VISA/MC: 0 AMEX: 1 20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $195 p.a. Go to site More info
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
A balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 14 months. Earn 10,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months plus receive a free Virgin Australia $129 Gift Voucher each year. Available from mid-2016.
10,000 bonus points VISA/MC: 0.66 AMEX: 0 20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 14 months $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
Earn up to 1.5 Qantas Frequent Flyer points per $1 spent on purchases. Plus 50,000 Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 on purchases within the first 3 months and no annual fee offer in the first year.
50,000 bonus points VISA/MC: 0.5 AMEX: 1.5 19.99% p.a. $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info

What frequent flyer programs are currently on the market?

Here are some of the more popular programs in Australia.

Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer

Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer

The Velocity Frequent Flyer program lets you earn rewards points and benefits with Virgin Australia airlines. Depending on your level of membership you can take advantage of priority check-in, flight upgrades and VIP lounge access. Velocity's program is also linked to a number of different credit cards to make it easier to earn points. The points on this program never expire as long as you redeem or earn points at least once in a three year period.

  • Points earning and expiry: When flying domestically, members earn points per dollar spent, whereas on international fares it depends on the fare class, the distance you travel and your level of membership. Rewards points don't expire as long as you earn more points or redeem rewards them within three years - this just means that they want you to keep your account active by earning or redeeming at least one point.
  • Membership fee: Free.
  • Pros: Family benefits such as pooling points and the option of taking 'parental leave' which gives members a pause on their membership. Virgin also offers frequent flyer earning for pets. You can also redeem points internationally which gives more earning options for frequent travellers.
  • Cons: When flying internationally on partner airlines the earn rates can be confusing as they vary depending on the airline and the cost of the flight. You should also be careful when using family pooling because if somebody pools their points with yours, the person who gets the upgrade depends on your status levels.
Qantas Frequent Flyer

Qantas Frequent Flyer

The Qantas frequent flyer program gives you access to a great range of benefits, all with one of Australia's largest airlines. You can earn points by using a Qantas linked credit card, shopping with one of Qantas' many partners or flying with Qantas or a partner airline. Qantas Frequent Flyer gives you a range of ways to redeem your points with travel options, shopping, insurance and gifts cards. Qantas has different membership levels that offer you an increasing range of rewards and benefits as you move up.

  • Points earning and expiry: Members earn one points per mile flown with more points earned in higher classes and those with a higher status. Your Awards points don't expire as long as you earn more points or redeem rewards within 18 months. In other words, keep your account active by earning or redeeming at least one point.
  • Membership fee: $89.50.
  • Pros: There is a wide range of awards available to redeem using your points, including a dedicated Qantas store and numerous Qantas partners. Qantas is also part of the OneWorld alliance which gives you earning and spending options internationally. In Australia, there's also a large number of potential credit cards which earn Qantas Points.
  • Cons: Most frequent flyer programs do not charge a joining fee, although this fee is waived when you join through some partner programs, such as a linked credit card. Anecdotal evidence also suggests taxes and fuel surcharges can be quite high when using Qantas Points to pay for flights.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines has become an increasingly popular option for Australians travelling overseas. The KrisFlyer program gives you access to benefits such as priority boarding, lounge access, increased baggage allowance and upgraded fares. Singapore Airlines has a range of partner credit cards which help you to earn points, along with hotel partners, rental car partners, telecommunications partners and cruise holiday deals. There are some limits to this program, as Singapore Airlines does not offer a store where you can redeem items using points. Also, your points only have a three year life.

  • Points earning and expiry: You can earn KrisFlyer Miles by flying with Singapore Airlines or by making purchases with one of their partners. The amount of points you earn on flights will depend on your booking class and the distance travelled, but some flights are exempt from earning points. KrisFlyer Miles expire after three years unless they are earned in a contest and then they last one year.
  • Membership fee: Free.
  • Pros: It is easier to climb status levels than other frequent flyer programs and anecdotal evidence suggests better seat availability when redeeming KrisFlyer Miles for flights.
  • Cons: KrisFlyer members miss out on some of the options which are offered by other similar programs, so be sure to check your options before choosing this program. There are also limited credit card options available if you'd like to directly earn KrisFlyer Miles on everyday purchases; however, if you're willing to use a bank rewards card and then convert these points to KrisFlyer Miles, there are more choices.
Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles

The Marco Polo program is Cathay Pacific's dedicated frequent flyer program and when you join you also get membership to Asia Miles. The Marco Polo club earns status points to help you get to a higher status tier, whereas Asia Miles get you rewards such as flights, items and more. You have the option of earning Asia Miles through partner airlines, hotel partners, linked credit cards and other dining and shopping partners. You can use your points to redeem flights and upgraded fares, as well as shopping for products and services through Asia Miles iRedeem and iAuction.

  • Points earning and expiry: Asia Miles are earned at a rate which is based on your status level and can be earned on flights, partner airlines, hotel partners, linked credit cards or retail partners. When you fly economy you can earn 50% to 100% of your actual miles flown and 0.5 to 1 Club sector for every sector flown. Marco Polo club points last for one year and miles collected through Asia Miles are valid for three years.
  • Membership fee: USD 50.00.
  • Pros: There are numerous options to choose from when it comes to redeeming rewards because you earn rewards through Air Miles rather than directly with Cathay Pacific. Members also have the option of extending the validity of their miles.
  • Cons: Cathay Pacific charges a joining fee whereas most Airlines programs do not, although this fee is waived when using a linked credit cards. The points expiry can also limit your rewards earning-potential.
Emirates Skywards

Emirates Skywards

Emirates Skywards lets you earn points to spend on flights, upgrades, rewards, car rentals and hotels. Membership is free and points last for three years and there are no blackout dates so you can spend your points whenever you choose. This program still has limited benefits for Australians, with only one Australian credit card partner and limited Australian retail and lifestyle partners, but if you are a frequent flyer and prefer to fly with Emirates then this may be a good program for you.

  • Points earning and expiry: Members earn Skywards points through car rental partners, hotel partners, linked credit cards, airline partners or retail and lifestyle partners. Points will expire after three years with no offer for extension.
  • Membership fee: Free.
  • Pros: Generous rewards structure compared to other programs. Emirates also organises your points to expire after your birthday month which gives you a great excuse to spend your points before they expire.
  • Cons: There are limited benefits for Australians because there's only one linked credit card option. There are also limited rewards benefits aimed at Australians. Emirates also does not offer benefits at the same status level as other programs - for example there's no priority phone service and only 25% points bonus with their Silver tier, compared to a 50% bonus with the equivalent tier in Virgin or Qantas.
Etihad Guest

Etihad Guest

Etihad's Guest program offers you three different tier levels that offer you options for earning and spending rewards points. Etihad has a range of partners through which you can earn points, including linked credit cards (including Velocity earn cards), hotels, car hire, financial service providers, retail, entertainment and telecommunications. You can spend your rewards points on travel benefits such as seat upgrades, flights and excess baggage, or other benefits such as raffle tickets or the at the rewards store.

  • Points earning and expiry: Earn rates for points depend on the membership tier you belong to, with your ability to earn points increasing as you move up the levels. Earn rates on flights depend on the factors such as the route flown and the cabin class. The earning ratio also depends on the type of fare you have purchased.
  • Membership fee: Free.
  • Pros: You can pool your Guest Miles with your family and as one of the largest airlines in the Middle East you have a lot of flight availability. Etihad Guest also offers free membership.
  • Cons: Moving up the membership tiers requires more flying than with other frequent flyer programs. There are also no credit cards available in Australia which allow you to directly earn Guest Miles, so members will have to opt for a bank rewards card instead.

There is a huge range of frequent flyer programs currently on the market and the way to choose the best program is by comparing them online. Here are some other programs which you might want to consider:

Jetstar

This program gives you access to both Jetstar and Qantas rewards program which gives you increased access to travel benefits.

Malaysia Airlines

The Malaysia Airlines rewards program helps you to earn great rewards and travel benefits and also gives you the ability to earn Velocity rewards points.

British Airways

As the second largest air carrier in Europe, membership to the British Airways rewards program gives you access to a huge range of travel benefits and ways to earn points.

American Airways

If you regularly fly with American Airlines or their partner airlines, which includes Qantas, you can have access to some great reward options.

JAL

JAL is one of Japan's top airlines and as a member of their rewards program you can have access to some great travel benefits.


Marc Terrano

A passionate publisher who loves to tell a story. Learning and teaching personal finance is his main lot at finder.com.au. Talk to him to find out more about home loans.

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36 Responses to Find the Best Frequent Flyer Program

  1. Default Gravatar
    sue | April 3, 2016

    Can I transfer Dynasty Flyer points to Velocity points bank?
    If so, how do I do that?

    • Staff
      Sally | April 4, 2016

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for your question.

      As Dynasty Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer aren’t partners, you can’t transfer points between the two.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  2. Default Gravatar
    Daniel | March 26, 2016

    Where can I fly with 60000 points?

    • Staff
      Sally | March 29, 2016

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your question.

      This will depend on the frequent flyer program you’re with. If you could please confirm which frequent flyer program you’re with, we can help you discover where your points can take you.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  3. Default Gravatar
    chris | March 22, 2016

    I spend around $3,000 weekly on credit card what would be best frequent flyers points for me how much qpoints would I need for a flight to Singapore

    • Staff
      Sally | March 23, 2016

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your question.

      As a financial comparison service, we’re unable to confirm exactly which credit card would be right for you. You can start comparing frequent flyer credit cards here. If you’re spending $3,000 a week on your credit card, you might want to look for a card that has low interest on purchases and doesn’t have a cap on points, so you’re not limiting the number of points you could earn.

      How many points you’ll need for a flight to Singapore will depend on your departure location and the status of your flight (e.g. economy, business, first). You can use the Qantas Points calculator on the Qantas website to determine how many points you’ll need for your preferred flight.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  4. Default Gravatar
    Colin | November 5, 2015

    I would like to join frequent flier

    • Staff
      Sally | November 9, 2015

      Hi Colin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Did you know which frequent flyer program you were interested in joining? If you could confirm this, we’ll be able to direct you to the relevant sign up page.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  5. Default Gravatar
    Maria | September 17, 2015

    I want open my account in Frequent Flyer, Please

    • Staff
      Sally | September 17, 2015

      Hi Maria,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Just to confirm, you have come through to finder.com.au, not a frequent flyer program.

      Just to confirm, if you’d like to open a new Frequent Flyer program, you’ll need to contact the program provider (e.g. Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer) or complete an application form online.

      If you’re referring to an existing Frequent Flyer program, you should be able to access your account by logging in to your online portal using your username or membership number and password.

      If you could specify which frequent flyer program you’re referring to, we may be able to provide you with further assistance.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  6. Default Gravatar
    anne | July 13, 2015

    How do I join frequent flyer program with Jetstar?

    • Staff
      Sally | July 13, 2015

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your question.

      You can join the Jetstar rewards program by using either the Jetstar MasterCard or Platinum MasterCard to accumulate Jetstar dollars. As the Jetstar is a part of Qantas, you will also have the option to join the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program and accumulate Qantas points using your Jetstar credit card.

      You may wish to visit our guide to the Jetstar Frequent Flyer program for further information.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  7. Default Gravatar
    Mohammad | May 31, 2015

    like to know my frequent flyer miles status

    • Staff
      Sally | June 1, 2015

      Hi Mohammad,

      Just to confirm, you have come through to finder.com.au, not an airline website.

      If you have access to your frequent flyer membership number and password, you should be able to log into your chosen frequent flyer online portal and view your points there. If you do not have access to your frequent flyer membership number or password, you might need to contact the customer service team of your chosen frequent flyer provider.

      I hope this has answered your question.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  8. Default Gravatar
    hartnsoul77@gmail.com | May 1, 2015

    Hi team :-) I have recently signed up for the Royal Orchid and Krisflyer programs and will earn miles on both this year. Would it be possible to transfer Krisflyer miles to the Royal Orchid account since they are both under Star Alliance?

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | May 1, 2015

      Hi hartnsoul77,

      Thanks for your question.

      You aren’t able to transfer your miles between programs, but as they are both members of Star Alliance you can use miles from either program to redeem award seats and also upgrades from any other airline that’s a part of Star Alliance.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

  9. Default Gravatar
    Tracy | April 24, 2015

    Hi

    I have a Bankwest Lite Credit Card at the moment, but this isn’t connected with any frequent flyers. So I’m looking at changing to either the Bankwest Qantas Mastercard or the HSBC CC, not sue if there is anything other than the HSBC platinum though), what is your suggestion on which card would suit me. I don’t normally use my CC, but if its gaining me points i will be using it more than normal. I do travel interstate at least once a year and go overseas every two years.

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | April 24, 2015

      Hi Tracy,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately, I’m unable to recommend a specific product to you. This is largely because the right card for you depends on a number of factors, including your finances, what features you want out of your card and what kind of fees/rates you believe are competitive. You can compare these two products and see what features are available, then weigh up these features in relation to their fees (including annual fee) and the interest rates you’ll be charged on the card.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

  10. Default Gravatar
    Chiara | March 23, 2015

    Hello!

    I’ve just found out that you can merge your avios between Iberia and British Airways (moving the avios you’ve collected from one account to the other without any issue).
    I was wondering if it’s possible also to merge a Qantas account – since it’s all under the One World alliance.

    Thanks!

    • Staff
      Shirley | March 23, 2015

      Hi Chiara,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately since the Qantas program has different terms and conditions, it’s not possible to merge your points.

      However, you can redeem your Qantas Points for rewards on Iberia and British Airways, and vice versa.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

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