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Air Miles Credit Cards

Earn frequent flyer points while spending on your air miles credit card and redeem them for travel rewards with your favourite airline.

Otherwise known as a frequent flyer credit card, an air miles credit card can be a wise way to monetise your daily expenditure. Since you’re already spending that money, why not reward yourself for spending by using an air miles credit card? This type of credit card typically caters to frequent travellers, but even infrequent travellers can enjoy the perks of earning points for a wide array of travel and non-travel-related benefits. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about air miles credit cards and how to maximise your rewards on plastic.

How do air miles credit cards work?

Simply put, air miles credit cards allow you to earn frequent flyer points directly as you charge purchases to your card. You can typically earn 0.5 to 3 frequent flyer points for each $1 spent on eligible purchases. The number of points you earn per dollar, otherwise known as your earn rate, differs among credit cards, and sometimes differs among transaction types too. For example, a credit card could let you earn 1 point per $1 on eligible purchases, but only 0.5 points per $1 spent on BPAY transactions.

As well as direct frequent flyer credit cards that earn points with one program, some rewards cards also allow you to transfer your points to several partnered frequent flyer programs (otherwise known as indirect earn cards). If you belong to several frequent flyer programs, this might be one way you can get more flexibility from your rewards card.

When comparing air miles credit cards, be sure to factor in the costs and make sure they don’t outweigh the value of any possible rewards and benefits. Air miles credit cards can be great tools for frequent flyers who pay off their account balances in full each month, but are probably not suitable if you wish to carry an outstanding balance on the account.

Compare air miles credit cards

Rates last updated October 22nd, 2017
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC) Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Westpac Altitude Black - Altitude Qantas 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
0.625
1.25
20.24% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 20,000 points on approval and an additional 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement. Ends 26 October 2017.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, take advantage of a long-term balance transfer offer and receive complimentary travel insurance.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
60,000 bonus points
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Reward Points per $1 spent as part of the Citi Rewards Program, plus receive complimentary international travel insurance.
Westpac Altitude Black - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
1.25
2.5
20.24% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 20,000 points on approval and an additional 80,000 bonus Altitude Points when you meet the spend requirement. Ends 26 October 2017.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Receive a complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership and take advantage of complimentary international travel insurance.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
50,000 bonus points
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Qantas Points and take advantage of complimentary international travel insurance and a 24/7 concierge service.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
75,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter)
Collect 75 bonus Status Credits when you meet the spend requirements. Plus, enjoy two complimentary Qantas Club Lounge invitations each year.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 3 bonus Velocity Points per $1 for the first 3 months, a first year annual fee refund and a yearly $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher.
St.George Amplify Platinum
40,000 bonus points
1
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn up to 1 Amplify Rewards Point per $1 spent and receive complimentary overseas travel insurance.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn Qantas points that can be redeemed for a one way, return or multi-destination Classic Flight Reward on over 50 partner airlines.
NAB Rewards Signature Card
90,000 bonus points
1.25
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a.
Take advantage of complimentary travel and purchase insurances, a 24/7 concierge service and up to 44 interest free days.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity points on purchases and redeem for a range of rewards including flights, accommodation, car hire and gift cards.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
0.66
0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$129 p.a.
Receive a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year, save with up to 44 interest-free days and complimentary international travel insurance.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive a $400 Travel Credit every year and up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport.

Compare up to 4 providers


How to earn air miles on your credit card

air miles logo

  • Eligible purchases. The most regular way to earn miles on your card is by charging eligible purchases to it. Eligible purchases typically include ordinary purchases and exclude cash advances, balance transfers, interest, fees and government payments, but you should read your credit card Product Disclosure Statement or contact your credit card provider to clarify.
  • Supplementary cardholders. Get your partner or family members to help you earn air miles by giving them a supplementary card. You can easily double or triple your earn rate this way, but it’s important to remember that you’ll be accountable for all purchases made on the additional card.
  • Bonus points on sign-up. This is now a common feature in credit card promotions where you can earn a chunk of points when you sign up for an introductory offer. Be aware that you may have to do something to activate the offer and receive your points, e.g. spend $500 in the first month to receive 10,000 bonus points.
  • Bonus points partners. Some card companies have partnerships with other stores and businesses, so you can earn extra points when using your credit card at their stores too. However, some conditions may apply, so be sure to read the fine print and make sure you’re doing what’s necessary to earn the bonus points, such as book online or within the promotion period.
  • Other bonus point offers. As well as bonus points on sign-up, some card issuers offer bonus points for existing customers during promotions. American Express, for instance, awards bonus points to card members for successfully referring friends and family members.

How to redeem your air miles

Once you’ve used your card for a while, you can exchange any accumulated points for rewards via your frequent flyer program. These days it’s as easy as logging in and shopping online. Otherwise, you can also redeem your points over the phone by contacting your frequent flyer program customer service team. You don’t need to have the full amount of points required either, because most frequent flyer programs now allow you to pay for rewards with a combination of points and cash.

How to spend your points

  • Flights. The mainstay of frequent flyer programs used to be flight redemptions, and although you can nowadays redeem almost anything via the frequent flyer store, flight redemptions still usually offer the greatest value in terms of dollar per point. You can redeem your flight through your frequent flyer online account or the airline website.
  • Flights with partners. You can usually use your points to redeem flights with any of your frequent flyer program’s partner airlines as well, although some routes and seat classes may be excluded. You should be able to do this through the partner airline’s website – you’ll just need to quote your frequent flyer number and nominate to pay with points before you finalise the booking.
  • Travel packages. The range of travel rewards has extended to include travel packages and holiday itineraries, so your frequent flyer store can now be your one-stop shop when it comes to vacations.
  • Hotel accommodation and car rental. Frequent flyer programs now supply the full gamut of travel needs. You can book your overseas hotel stay and car rental using your points at the same time, which can be done when booking through your frequent flyer website. If not, you might also need to provide your frequent flyer number and elect that you’d like to pay with points when making the booking.
  • Products from the rewards store. Frequent flyer stores these days appear more fully stocked than department stores, with their wide range of clothing, jewellery, homewares, electronics and toys. These online stores can usually be accessed through your online frequent flyer account.
  • Lifestyle offerings. You can even spend your points on theme park tickets, concert tickets, wine and restaurant dining.
  • Shopping and gift vouchers. Most frequent flyer programs have large retail partners, so you can exchange your points for store vouchers either to be used online or at their bricks-and-mortar outlets.

How to redeem your points

  • Online. This is the simplest and fastest way to spend your points; simply log into your frequent flyer store online. It’s also preferable because visuals always enhance our shopping experience.
  • Over the phone. You can also take the traditional route and have someone do it for you over the phone, although this seems like a less fun way to shop.

How to compare air miles credit cards

If you’re interested in getting one, consider these factors when shopping for your new air miles credit card:

  • Earn rate. The earn rate will determine how fast you can get your next reward. Note that credit cards with higher earn rates also usually come with higher annual fees and interest rates, so you should weigh these up when deciding.
  • Points cap. Some cards impose a cap on the points you can earn each month, e.g. earn 1 point per $1 spent up to $5,000 and 1 point per $2 spent subsequently. Consider how this may impede your earning capacity.
  • Bonus points offers. Getting a large number of bonus points when you sign up could be totally worthwhile, because some introductory bonuses give enough points for you to instantly redeem a return flight. Don’t be so eager that you don’t consider the downsides of the card though, such as the high annual fee and interest rate.
  • Partner airlines. Even if you’re an absolutely loyal passenger to your frequent flyer airline, it can be advantageous to have access to a large network of partner airlines. This is especially beneficial when you fly out further and require a variety of flight connections.
  • Available rewards. Browse your frequent flyer store before deciding if it’s the frequent flyer program for you. This will ensure that you’ll truly enjoy the rewards you’ll be earning.
  • Card perks. Air miles credit cards can come with a variety of complimentary benefits such as free travel insurance, airport lounge access, airport limousine services and personal concierge services.
  • Annual fee. This can be a major cost when it comes to air miles credit cards, with the annual fee often directly correlated to the earn rate and perks offered by a card. Make sure you’re not paying for perks you don’t need or won’t use.
  • Interest rates. As with all credit cards, card interest rates are important if you intend to carry a balance. If you make regular repayments and always pay in full, this will be less of a consideration.
  • Other fees. It’s always good to know exactly what you’re signing up for and what you may someday be charged for. Pay attention to fees like the cash advance fee, foreign transaction fee (especially if you plan to use the card overseas), and any other possible administrative fees.

As a general rule, always make sure your air miles credit card gives you more value than it costs. A simple way to calculate this is by adding up the value of rewards you’d receive in a year and comparing that with the amount of fees you’d pay each year. While air miles credit cards may be a great idea for some people, they’re not for everyone. When making your decision about which credit card type to choose, make sure you consider your personal needs, lifestyle and spending habits.

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