Ask Finder: What’s the best way to use my points apart from flights?
Flights offer the best value for money, but there are other choices.
We regularly point out (ahem) that if you want to get maximum value from your frequent flyer points, you should spend them either on flights or on flight upgrades.
The chart below shows the typical value you'll get for 1,000 Qantas Points when redeeming them. The same broad principles apply across most other frequent flyer schemes.
My own personal rule is that I won't settle for anything less than $20 worth of value for each 1,000 points, which puts economy flights into the mix. Many frequent flyers are even stricter and will only use their points for business or first-class flights or upgrades.
That's all well and good, but as you've said, flying isn't on your radar in the near future. So what are your options? (I'll concentrate here on Qantas and Virgin since they're the most popular choices for Australians.)
Looking again at the chart, you can see that the maximum value you get for your points outside of flights comes from charity donations. Qantas lets you make donations to 11 different charities, with 2,900 Qantas Points equating to a $25 donation.
The next-best choice value-wise is to spend your points on hotel bookings. This will score you between $6 and $8 of value for each 1,000 points. Using your points for a romantic break while the grandparents babysit or to give visiting relatives somewhere to stay is definitely an option.
Spending your points on physical goods (like toasters and coffee makers) doesn't deliver the same value, with 1,000 points typically equating to around $3-5 in value. While that's not anywhere near as much value as you'll get from flights, it isn't zero. If you're taking time off work and thus have a reduced household income, using your points could be a budget-expanding tactic.
With that said, it's also worth remembering that you're not obliged to spend your points immediately. You can hang onto them, wait a few years and use them to help pay for family holidays.
In this scenario, you just need to make sure your points don't expire. Qantas Points expire after 18 months of inactivity, while for Virgin Velocity Points the figure is 24 months.
Remember, you don't have to fly to earn points. If you have a credit card that earns points, everything will remain active. Similarly, you can earn points for Qantas through Woolworths Rewards or for Velocity through Coles/flybuys.
Ultimately, it's your choice. It's better value to spend your points on flights, but it's better to spend them before they expire than to let them go to waste.
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.