🎂 Turned 31 this year? Get health insurance before your price rises.
Get cover
holiday-prep

Are frequent flyer credit cards worth it?

Frequent flyer credit cards offer you points per dollar spent, but do the rewards outweigh the costs?

Australians love travelling and freebies, so it's no wonder why the banks and airlines are cashing in off their frequent flyer members. However, unless you're a big spender, frequent flyer credit cards may not be as rewarding as you think. Some frequent flyer credit cards cost hundreds of dollars a year to own, and if you're not getting the most out of your rewards, the costs can outweigh the benefits.

For many frequent flyer credit cards, spending less than $20,000 a year on the card means you’ll end up in the red. The higher the card’s annual fee, the more you have to spend to ‘break even’, otherwise you’re just handing over money to your bank.

Exclusive to finder.com.au - Westpac Credit Card Offer

American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas - Exclusive Offer

Up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points on eligible spend
$50 annual fee for the first year

Offer ends 31 July 2018

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

Exclusive to finder.com.au - Westpac Credit Card Offer

Exclusive to finder, receive up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points (75,000 on Visa and 15,000 on Amex) when you meet the spend criteria and save with a reduced annual fee of $50 in the first year.

  • $50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter).
  • 20.24% p.a. on purchases
  • Cash advance rate of 20.74% p.a.
  • Up to 45 days interest free
  • Minimum income requirement of $50,000 p.a.
Go to site
Promoted

Compare frequent flyer credit cards

Rates last updated June 23rd, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1


0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria with this dual Visa (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
60,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer


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 and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Qantas Premier Everyday
40,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of up to 40,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $0 first year annual fee plus complimentary overseas travel insurance.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months of card approval, plus enjoy complimentary travel insurance.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards


2


1
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$0 first year annual fee & up to 90,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with this Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
Citi Rewards Program


1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, enjoy a long-term balance transfer offer, a discounted first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer


0.66
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$129 p.a.
Buy now and pay later with 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months. Plus, 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 6 months.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($150 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, a $50 first year annual fee.
Qantas Premier Platinum
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$299 p.a.
Get 40,000 bonus Qantas points each month (up to 80,000 pts) for the first 2 months when you spend at least $3,500. Plus, a long-term BT offer.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
Citi Rewards Program


1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn reward Points per $1 spent, take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 26 month balance transfer offer, plus complimentary international travel insurance.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Velocity Frequent Flyer


1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
St.George Amplify Platinum
50,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Amplify or Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas Points or 1 Amplify Point per $1 spent.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum
50,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn 50,000 bonus Amplify or Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas Points or 1 Amplify Point per $1 spent.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer


0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 18 months. $64 in the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter), plus, bonus Velocity Points.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
Membership Rewards Gateway


2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
55,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1.5
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Qantas Points on your everyday spending, take advantage of complimentary overseas travel insurance and a 24/7 concierge service.
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Receive 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and receive two complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
BankSA Amplify Signature
90,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Receive 90,000 bonus Amplify or Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and earn up to 1.5 Amplify or 0.75 Qantas points per $1 spent.
St.George Amplify Card
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 3% p.a. interest on balance transfers for 36 months. Plus, a $0 first year annual fee and Amplify or Qantas Points per $1 spent.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to calculate the required spend to ‘break even’ with a frequent flyer credit card

The Break-Even formula

What does it mean to break even?

When we say break even, we’re referring to the amount you need to spend on the card to get the cost of the product’s annual fee back in rewards. Finder estimates that 5,000 frequent flyer points is worth approximately $100 when redeemed for flight rewards.

Want to know how much you have to spend on the card to 'break even' while comparing frequent flyer products? Here's how we figure it out:

For frequent flyer credit cards, we’ve estimated the value of 5,000 frequent flyer points at $100 when redeemed for flight rewards.

  • Step 1: Find out how many points you need to get $100 worth of rewards value.
  • Step 2: Divide the credit card’s annual fee by the dollar value of the reward ($100).
  • Step 3: Multiply this figure by the number of points needed to redeem $100 worth of dollar value.
  • Step 4: Take this figure and divide it by the card's earn rate.

This gives you the annual spend required to earn the product’s annual fee in the chosen rewards format. You can then divide this number by 12 to get to how much you need to spend on the card each month. If your monthly spend is less than this figure, a frequent flyer credit card may not be worth your time and it’s probably a good idea to consider another type of credit card.

Using this formula, let’s have a look at the break even spend on a couple of different types of frequent flyer credit cards:

Assumptions:

The rates and fees on this page are correct at the time of writing: 20/06/18.

No bonus point offers have been considered and the full balance is paid off every month.

Back to top

What is the difference between direct or indirect earn?

Direct earn frequent flyer credit cards

You have two ways of earning frequent flyer points on a credit card. The first is with a direct earn frequent flyer product. This type of credit card generally has the airline in the name, such as the HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card, for instance, and any spending on the card will automatically earn points on your frequent flyer account.

The second way of earning frequent flyer points with a credit card is through a non-direct earn product. This type of card earns you points with the card provider’s rewards program, think Altitude Rewards or Commonwealth Bank Awards Points for example. Rewards points are converted to frequent flyer points at the cardholder’s discretion. Non-direct earn products can leave you worse off if you convert your rewards points to frequent flyer points due to the conversion rate between rewards and frequent flyer programs. Furthermore, some providers won't allow you to convert your rewards points to frequent flyer points with certain airlines.

What should I consider when comparing no annual fee frequent flyer credit cards?

No annual fee frequent flyer credit card

Rates last updated June 23rd, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards


2


1
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$0 first year annual fee & up to 90,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with this Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
Qantas Premier Everyday
40,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of up to 40,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $0 first year annual fee plus complimentary overseas travel insurance.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
60,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards


1
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($150 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 60,000 bonus Altitude Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, a $0 first year annual fee.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Velocity Frequent Flyer


1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.

Compare up to 4 providers

  • Pros:

  • These frequent flyer credit cards don’t charge an annual fee and, therefore, cost nothing to own. There’s no spend required to ‘break even’. Take advantage of interest-free offers to get the maximum value from a no annual fee frequent flyer credit card
  • These cards give you return value from the first eligible purchase you make on the account.
  • Cons:

  • Although no annual fee frequent flyer credit cards give you value from the first dollar you spend, you’ll miss out on value adding features like travel insurance or concierge services
  • American Express offer the majority of no annual fee frequent flyer products. Keep in mind that there may be some places where you’re unable to use these cards as American Express cards aren't accepted by some Australian merchants.
Back to top

What can I expect with most frequent flyer credit cards?

Standard frequent flyer credit cards

Hallmarks of a standard frequent flyer credit card can include: an annual fee, an earn rate of approximately 1:1 and companion accounts — you get an American Express and a Mastercard or a Visa Card (depending on the provider) to use in all situations. Both cards earn points, but the American Express will get you more.

  • Pros:

  • Access to frequent flyer benefits without breaking the bank
  • Earn points on everyday purchases as well as travel costs, so infrequent flyers even have the chance to make the most out of a frequent flyer credit card.
  • Cons:

  • Most standard frequent flyer products come with an annual fee which is comparable to a platinum frequent flyer credit card. When we had a look at the difference between the ANZ frequent flyer credit card and the HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card, even though the HSBC Platinum has an annual fee of approximately $100 more, you only had to spend slightly more on the platinum account to ‘break even’.
Back to top

What are the perks of going platinum?

The next ‘tier’ of frequent flyer credit card are platinum accounts. Platinum frequent flyer credit cards offer more than 'no annual fee frequent flyer credit cards', there’s usually an insurance package and a higher earn rate. However, the extra benefits come at the price of an annual fee.

HSBC Credit Card Offer

HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card

Receive up to 60,000 bonus Qantas Points

Offer ends 30 June 2018

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

HSBC Credit Card Offer

Accelerate your Qantas Points with HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card. Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points on signup plus earn 1 point per $1 spent on eligible purchases.

  • $199 p.a. annual fee.
  • 19.99% p.a. on purchases
  • Cash advance rate of 21.99% p.a.
  • Up to 55 days interest free
  • Minimum income requirement of $40,000 p.a.
Go to site
Promoted

Platinum frequent flyer credit card comparison

Rates last updated June 23rd, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months of card approval, plus enjoy complimentary travel insurance.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1


0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria with this dual Visa (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Suncorp Bank Rewards Program


1.25
20.74% p.a.
$99 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive: Receive a long 18-month, 0% p.a., no fee balance transfer and earn Suncorp Rewards Points or Qantas Points per $1 spent.
Qantas Premier Platinum
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$299 p.a.
Get 40,000 bonus Qantas points each month (up to 80,000 pts) for the first 2 months when you spend at least $3,500. Plus, a long-term BT offer.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($150 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, a $50 first year annual fee.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards


2


1
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$0 first year annual fee & up to 90,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with this Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
St.George Amplify Platinum
50,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Amplify or Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas Points or 1 Amplify Point per $1 spent.

Compare up to 4 providers

  • Pros:

  • Platinum credit cards offer cardholders a number of benefits like complimentary lounge access, travel and purchase protection insurance
  • Platinum frequent flyer credit cards often come with a higher earn rate, allowing you to get more for your dollar.
  • Cons:

  • Some of the features included with platinum frequent flyer accounts can go to waste. If you pay for the benefits that come with these accounts, make sure you use them
  • The benefits usually come at a cost, whether it be higher interest rates or an annual fee.
Back to top

How can big spenders benefit from black frequent flyer credit cards?

Black frequent flyer credit cards

A relatively new product offering, black credit cards represent the highest tier or frequent flyer product. Cardholders benefits from the highest possible earn rates with the promise of the largest range of rewards on offer. Remember, these features come at a price. Black credit cards are for big spenders and high-income earners, which is reflected in the product’s minimum income requirements.

Black frequent flyer credit card comparison

Rates last updated June 23rd, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle - Qantas
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1.25


0.75
20.24% p.a.
$499 p.a.
Up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Pts when you meet the criteria with a Mastercard (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Receive 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and receive two complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Westpac Altitude Black - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
20.24% p.a.
$250 p.a.
Earn 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases. Plus, 2 yearly Qantas Club lounge invitations.
Citi Prestige Card
150,000 bonus points
Citi Rewards Program


3
20.99% p.a.
$700 p.a.
Reward yourself luxuriously with 150,000 bonus Points, free hotel stays, exclusive events and unlimited airport lounge access with Priority Pass.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle
120,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards


3


1.25
20.24% p.a.
$449 p.a.
Up to 120,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet the criteria with a Mastercard (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
Membership Rewards Gateway


2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
Westpac Altitude Black
80,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards


1.25
20.24% p.a.
$250 p.a.
Earn 80,000 bonus Altitude Points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases. Plus, 2 yearly Priority Pass lounge invitations.

Compare up to 4 providers

  • Pros:

  • Black credit cards offer the full package of travel-centric credit card benefits, making them handy travel comparisons while venturing overseas
  • Black frequent flyer credit cardholders have access to everyday extras such as concierge services, complimentary lounge access and complimentary insurance.
  • Cons:

  • Although the benefits offered with black credit cards may be enticing, these accounts are not for everyone. The annual fee and minimum income requirement make these products inaccessible to people on a low or average income
  • Like platinum frequent flyer credit cards, if you don't make use of all of the extra features and services on offer, you will be wasting money in the long run.
Back to top

Considerations when choosing a frequent flyer credit card

Looking at the earn rate and the annual fee is a simple way of determining whether a product is going to be worth your while; however, this calculation doesn’t look at the entire picture. The following points should also be considered in your comparison of frequent flyer credit cards.

  • Are there any sign up bonuses? Some accounts will give you a number of frequent flyer points when you first apply for the card or when you spend a certain amount after you apply. Bonus frequent flyer points go some way towards minimising the break even spend on the product in the first year. If you plan on keeping the credit card for longer than one year, be careful, in the second year you have the account, you’ll need to spend more on the card to make up the value of the bonus points.
  • Insurances and perks. Frequent flyer credit cards are aimed at people who like to fly. And insurance is pretty much a necessity for anyone who wants to head to foreign shores. Complimentary international travel insurance, which comes as a perk with most premium frequent flyer credit cards represents a saving of a few hundred dollars. Also consider extra cardholder benefits like airport lounge access. Anyone who has had a 10 hour stopover in a foreign airport will appreciate this perk.
  • Increased earn rate. You should also consider that once you have reached the break even spend on your credit card, cardholders who have gone for a black or platinum credit card will rack up points quicker due to their card’s increased earn rate.
  • Redemption options. Another point to consider is the frequent flyer program’s redemption options. Using your points for a flight means you have to play by the airline’s rules, which can change at any time, and with little prior warning from the carrier. Qantas changed the way Qantas Frequent Flyer members could redeem their points for flights not too long ago, which saw the value of a Qantas Point drop in value.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re comparing frequent flyer credit cards and it’s all important. In the end, it’s your money, right? Why bother with a frequent flyer product that’s going to drain your bank balance? Compare your options and find a frequent flyer credit card that's going to help you take to the skies sooner.

Back to top

FAQs

Back to top

Finder

Our goal is to make sure you find what you're looking for, whether that's saving money, getting more rewards or just learning something. We want to give you the most we possibly can. That means more quality products from more providers in a larger variety of categories. Everything we do at finder is designed to help you make an educated decision that improves your situation. Learn more about our editorial guidelines.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Westpac Low Rate Card
Westpac Low Rate Card

Interest rate

13.49

Annual fee

59
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
HSBC Platinum Credit Card

Interest rate

19.99

Annual fee

129
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer

Interest rate

12.74

Annual fee

99

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site