Ask Points Finder: Jetstar Dollars or Qantas Points?
What's the easiest way to score reward flights when you're regularly flying with Jetstar?
Dear Points Finder,
I'm looking into credit card frequent flyer programs, with the intention of using points toward domestic Jetstar flights from the Gold Coast to Adelaide/Melbourne/Sydney.
I see Jetstar offers some reasonable earning ability on its Jetstar Platinum Mastercard ($50 of Jetstar dollars per month for a $2,500 spend). But there are also some high Qantas point credit card offers around too.
Does 1 Jetstar dollar equate to 1 Qantas point when booking Jetstar flights? And are there any limitations on using Qantas Points to pay for Jetstar flights?
Thanks, Jetstar Jetsetter
Jetstar Dollars work quite differently to Qantas Points. With Jetstar Dollars (available on the basic Jetstar Mastercard as well as the Platinum Mastercard), your spending on your credit card turns into a dollar credit which you can spend on Jetstar flights.
One benefit of this is that you can spend your Jetstar Dollars on any Jetstar flight, rather than being restricted to seats available through a frequent flyer program. You can't use Jetstar dollars for Qantas flights. Note than $1 spent on your card doesn't equal one Jetstar Dollar. On the Jetstar Platinum Mastercard, you'll earn 0.02 Jetstar Dollars for each dollar spent, meaning you get 1 Jetstar Dollar for every $50.
Qantas Points convert to flights using a fixed ratio (a set number of points needed for a given flight), so there's no direct way of comparing Jetstar Dollars to Qantas Points. How many points you earn per $1 spent depends on the card, but you won't see a 1:1 ratio unless you're on a very high tier platinum card (and even then the total is likely to have a monthly cap).
With Qantas you can choose either Classic Flight Reward flights, which sometimes have limited availability, or Points+Pay, which can be applied to any flight but chews up points much faster. You can use Qantas Points for both Qantas and Jetstar flights (but you can't book Jetstar using Points+Pay). From the Gold Coast, here's what you'll need for a one-way economy Classic Flight Reward to your preferred destinations:
You'll need to pay taxes and charges on top of the points total here. A one-way flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney attracts around $39.18 in charges.
So let's compare the two scenarios. Imagine you're spending $2,500 a month on your credit card. Over 12 months, with the Jetstar Platinum Mastercard, you'd earn $600 in Jetstar credits. That would easily be enough for three return Sydney-Gold Coast flights on Jetstar (and might stretch to four if you took advantage of sale fares and didn't check any baggage). You'll have to pay $69 as an annual card fee in the first year (and $169 thereafter at current rates).
Where Qantas Points might work out better for you is once you take bonus point offers into account. Consider the Westpac Altitude Platinum. This currently offers 60,000 bonus Qantas Points if you are approved and spend $3,000 in the first 90 days (that's $1,000 a month, much lower than our example). Those points alone would easily be enough for you to make three return Sydney-Gold Coast flights. Indeed, each trip costs 16,000 points, so you'd spend 48,000 in total and still have some to spare.
If you did spend $2,500 a month on the card over 12 months (as in our first example), you'd also earn an additional 15,000 Qantas Points. That value could help offset the taxes and charges you'll pay on reward flights. The annual fee for this card is $50 in the first year and $150 thereafter.
There are a couple of other aspects to note. While only Jetstar serves Gold Coast to Adelaide with direct flights, you can choose between either Qantas flights or Jetstar flights to Sydney or Melbourne from the Gold Coast if you're using Qantas Points. Qantas flights include checked luggage and in-flight refreshments, but with Jetstar you'll need to pay for both. Conversely, there are more Jetstar flights to both destinations, so seat availability is generally better. The further in advance you book, the better the range of rewards seats you'll have.
Ultimately, your choice will depend on your credit card spending habits, how often you want to fly and even whether you want to check luggage. You'll also want to consider interest rates and other card features. Our guide to frequent flyer credit cards is a great place to start comparing. Happy travels!
All rates and fees correct at time of publication. General advice only. Got a question for Points Finder? Hit us up on Facebook.