Ask Finder: Should I use my Velocity points to pay for lounge access?

We weigh up the value in Virgin Australia's pay-with-points lounge deal.

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Hey Finder, I've just noticed that I can use my Velocity Points to pay for entrance into a Virgin lounge in Australia, and I'm thinking of doing that for an upcoming trip. Is that a good way to use the points? Thanks, Lounge Longings

Somewhat unusually, Virgin offers the option of paying to get into its lounges around Australia.

For $65, you can make a single visit to any lounge (assuming it's not already packed to the rafters, which is often the case on Friday and Sunday afternoons and Monday mornings). If you don't want to spend the cash, you can also buy a lounge pass for 10,000 Velocity Points.

For a handful of less-popular airports, you can book a lounge access pass for $44 when you book your flight. That option's only available for Alice Springs, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Mackay, Perth and Wellington.

As our reviews testify, the Virgin lounges are generally excellent. However, that doesn't mean that lounge access is a great use of your points.

Spending 10,000 points for what's effectively $65 in value means you're getting an average value of just $6.50 per 1,000 points. That's well below the target we always suggest at Points Finder: make sure you're getting at least $20 in value for every 1,000 points you spend. (If the airport is one where you could pay $44 for access in advance, the value on offer is even worse.)

You can get better value from those 10,000 points simply by spending them on a flight. A one-way trip from Melbourne to Sydney costs 7,800 Velocity Points (plus $27.24 in charges). The typical price for that route is between $135 and $215. That equates to a value of between $13 and $24 per 1,000 points.

That's not the maximum-value way to spend those points. Using them on an international flight or a domestic route where fares are more expensive (think regional Queensland or Western Australia) will take the total up much higher. But even a Melbourne-Sydney flight is already at least twice as good a use of points as spending them on lounge admission.

So our recommendation? Hang onto those points rather than using them for a lounge pass. If you're looking at other ways to access Virgin lounges, consider Velocity-earning credit cards, some of which include lounge admission options. Happy travels!

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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