Ask Finder: Is it worth buying airline gift cards?
When does a gift card for flying make more sense than cash?
In Australia, Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair all sell gift cards through a variety of retailers, including supermarkets. Qantas doesn't sell cards in retail stores, but you can buy gift vouchers online to redeem for Qantas flights.
Obviously, if you think a loved one or friend would enjoy a flight, a gift card can be an appropriate choice. It's a not-so-subtle way of hinting that maybe it's time for a visit. But for your own use, there are only two scenarios where I would recommend gift cards.
The first is if there's a discount offer. For instance, in the week that I write this, Coles is offering 10% off Virgin Australia gift cards purchased in store. If you use those cards to purchase a flight, you'll effectively get 10% off the price, even if the flight is already on sale.
One key point to bear in mind: there are normally restrictions on how many cards you can purchase. For the offer I've mentioned above, it's a maximum of 10 cards. At $50 each, that gives you $500, which would cover most Virgin domestic flights easily.
The other (and similar) scenario is if a supermarket is offering bonus flybuys or Woolworths Rewards points. That would give the opportunity to top up your points total. This kind of offer is fairly rare, however.
One consideration in both these cases is that booking with a gift card can sometimes be a little more hassle than paying by credit card. For instance, Virgin will let you redeem a single gift card for payment online, but if you want to use multiple cards, you'll have to ring the contact centre instead. Similar conditions apply with other airlines. Similarly, Jetstar won't let you use a gift voucher for more than one booking; if there's "change", you won't get it back.
Bottom line: I'm not planning on keeping a bank of gift vouchers right now, but if there's a good discount on offer and you know you'll be flying that airline in the future, they're potentially worth considering. Happy flying!
Ask Finder is a regular column where Finder's expert writers answer your questions. All rates and fees are correct at time of publication and we only give general advice. Got a question for Points Finder? Hit us up on Facebook.
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