Ask Finder: Should I use my flybuys points to book flights?
Whether flybuys beats Virgin depends on where you want to fly.
Free flights have always been a key attraction for flybuys (it's right there in the name). As noted, you have two options for reward flights with flybuys:
- Redeeming directly with flybuys in its travel rewards category. This has the advantage of letting you choose from multiple airlines, though you'll unsurprisingly need more points for flagship airlines than for low-cost carriers, and availability will vary.
- Converting your flybuys points to Virgin's Velocity scheme. You'll get 870 Velocity Points for each 2,000 flybuys points you convert, which you can use with Virgin and several of its partner airlines. (Our detailed guide tells you more about how this works.) Obviously, this wouldn't be a sensible choice if your nearest airport doesn't have Virgin services, but that doesn't apply in any of Australia's capital cities.
So which offers better value? Let's crunch the numbers for flights on Virgin itself. As a first example, I'm using a flight between Sydney and Melbourne, with a nominal booking date in early May.
For a one-way economy flight on Virgin between Sydney and Melbourne, you'll need 21,800 flybuys points. If you were to convert those points to Velocity instead, you'd have 8,700 Velocity Points (with 1,800 flybuys points left over).
To book Sydney to Melbourne using Velocity, you need 7,800 Velocity Points. You'll also have to pay carrier charges of around $27.24. (To avoid those, you need to pay 12,400 Velocity Points.)
Purely off that route, I'd call it a dead heat. Going with Velocity uses fewer points, but that means you have to pay the carrier charges. With that factored in, the value is similar.
So what happens with a longer-distance flight? Let's switch to Sydney to Hong Kong instead. The cheapest flybuys routing I could find direct on Virgin requires 124,400 flybuys points. That would have converted to 53,940 Velocity Points.
On Velocity, you need either 27,800 Velocity Points with $126.28 in carrier charges, or 48,900 Velocity Points with no charges. Even if you choose the no-carrier-charges option, that's better value than using your flybuys points. If you don't mind the carrier charges, you can get four seats using Velocity for the same price as one seat using flybuys.
The lesson here is that there's no single best choice. On some routes and for some dates, you'll get better value going through flybuys direct. On others, Velocity will give you much more bang for your points.
So a basic starting rule might be: keep your points with flybuys, check first with both flybuys travel and Virgin, and then move your points from flybuys if you decide Virgin is the better-value choice. That gives you maximum flexibility.
One aspect that approach doesn't take into account is that there are regular bonus offers where you get a higher number of Velocity Points (typically 15%) when you transfer from flybuys. These typically happen at least twice a year. That has the effect of making Velocity look like a more impressive deal. I usually keep my points in flybuys until this offer comes up, and then transfer them into Velocity.
My take? If your goal is to build a long-term frequent flyer stash and maximise its value, converting to Velocity makes more sense. If you're just after a single free flight, then flybuys' flexibility could appeal (and you can always move those points to Velocity if needed). Happy flight hunting!
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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Picture: Angus Kidman