What is the best frequent flyer program?

Frequent flyer programs offer a range of features and benefits to suit all kinds of travellers, which means there isn’t really one “best” option. Instead, you’ll find that some people swear by one particular frequent flyer program, while others stick with another.

List of Frequent Flyer Programs

  • Virgin - Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore - Airlines Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Cathay Pacific - Marco Polo Club
  • Emirates - Skywards
  • Etihad - Etihad Guest
  • Jetstar - Jetstar Frequent Flyer
  • Malaysia Airlines - Enrich
  • British Airways - British Airways Executive Club
  • American Airways - AAdvantage Frequent Flyer
  • JAL - JAL Mileage Bank
  • United - Mileage Plus

So if you’re trying to find the best frequent flyer program for you, here are the key features to consider when you’re comparing your options. We’ve also got a rundown of five of the most popular frequent flyer programs in Australia, including Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer, as well as a comparison of how much reward flights can cost.

Find out what frequent flyer programs you can choose from

How to compare frequent flyer programs

While the structure of frequent flyer programs can vary, these are the major features to consider when you want to get the most value out of being a frequent flyer member.

Earning points

All frequent flyer programs offer you points or miles for flights with the main partner airline. The number of points you earn for each flight is based on factors such as the flight distance, fare class, connections or codeshare segments that are part of your trip and even the cost of the ticket in some cases.

Some frequent flyer programs also have different earning rates for points depending on whether you’re flying domestically or internationally. With Velocity Frequent Flyer, for example, you earn points per $1 spent for eligible domestic flights but points per miles flown for international flights.

As well as earning points for flights you take with the frequent flyer program’s main airline, you could collect more rewards through some of the following options:

  • Airline partners. Most frequent flyer programs offer points for flights with a range of partner airlines. Although you’ll typically earn fewer points for partner flights, this gives you more flexibility depending on where you’re travelling and what kind of price you want to pay for flights.
  • Hotels. Frequent flyer programs often partner with hotel companies so that you can earn points when you stay with particular hotels or brands.
  • Car hire. It’s also common for frequent flyer programs to offer points when you book a car with a partnered car hire company. For example, Qantas Frequent Flyer offers points for bookings with Avis and Budget, while Velocity offers points for bookings with Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty.
  • Supermarket shopping. If you're in Australia, you can earn Qantas Points or Velocity Points for your supermarket shopping via the Woolworths Rewards and flybuys rewards programs respectively. If you’re overseas, you may be able to earn frequent flyer points with other supermarkets or retailers, but it does depend on the frequent flyer program and where you’re based.
  • Other program partners. Depending on the frequent flyer program, you may be able to earn points through online shopping hubs, wine subscription services, restaurant booking services or for everyday expenses. Make sure you check out these options so you can decide what frequent flyer program offers you the most relevant opportunities for earning points.

Credit cards

Apart from flying, credit cards are one of the fastest and most popular ways to earn frequent flyer points and typically offer a set rate of points for each $1 you spend. Some cards automatically credit your points to your frequent flyer account, while others let you transfer points to a frequent flyer program.

In Australia, the main frequent flyer credit card options are linked to Qantas and Velocity. However, a wide range of credit card reward programs also let you transfer points to other airline loyalty schemes, including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Asia Miles/Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand Airpoints.

Compare frequent flyer credit cards in Australia

Rates last updated November 14th, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive:
Up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria with this dual Visa (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Qantas Points on your everyday spending, take advantage of complimentary overseas travel insurance and a 24/7 concierge service.
Qantas Premier Everyday
40,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of up to 40,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $0 first year annual fee plus complimentary overseas travel insurance.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card - Online Offer
90,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1.5
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
Ends 14 November 2018. Receive 90,000 bonus Velocity Points and enjoy complimentary lounge passes, a domestic return flight and insurance.
Qantas Premier Platinum
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$299 p.a.
Get 60,000 bonus Qantas Points and a $300 Qantas Flight Voucher when you spend $4,000 within the first 90 days.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Enjoy 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
60,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus points in the first 3 months and save with a $64 first year annual fee. Plus, a long-term balance transfer offer.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
Membership Rewards Gateway
2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Get 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.

Compare up to 4 providers

Reward options

All frequent flyer programs allow you to use points for reward flights. Most also allow you to use points for flight upgrades, although there are often more rules and requirements for this option.

For example, with Qantas Frequent Flyer, you can use points for an international flight upgrade regardless of your membership status, while Velocity Frequent Flyer has restrictions on international flight upgrades unless you are a gold or platinum member.

Beyond flight rewards, the options you have for using you points can vary wildly between frequent flyer programs. However, some of the other rewards you could get include:

Hotel stays
Car hire
Gift cards
Retail rewards

Although having options can be useful, in most cases flight rewards offer the most value when you compare the retail cost of rewards to the point requirements.

How many points do I need for a reward flight with different frequent flyer programs?

As well as considering reward options and requirements, it can also be useful to look at how many points you’ll need for reward flights or upgrades with different frequent flyer programs.

To give you an idea of the differences, this table shows the number of points you’d need for a one-way economy flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with five different frequent flyer programs. We have also included examples of how many economy flights you’d need to take between Sydney and LA to earn your free flight, rounded to the nearest whole number.

Frequent flyer program Points required How many one-way flights would I need to take to earn these points?
Qantas Frequent Flyer From 45,000 points 7
Velocity Frequent Flyer From 44,800 points (excluding taxes and fees) 6
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 55,000 miles 10
Asia Miles 40,000 points 6
Air New Zealand Airpoints 555 Airpoints Between 9 and 35 flights

Table information sourced on 23 May 2018

In this example, you can see that both Velocity and Asia Miles require the least amount of points for a reward flight from Sydney to Los Angeles – closely followed by Qantas. Both Air New Zealand Airpoints and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, on the other hand, would require a lot more flights before you’d be able to redeem this reward.

Point expiry

If you don’t fly that often or if you fly with a lot of different airlines that aren’t linked to the same frequent flyer program, point expiry will be a key factor in choosing which scheme you join. These conditions are very different between frequent flyer programs.

For example, you may be able to avoid point expiry as long as you continue to earn or redeem your points as a Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer member. On the other hand, if you're a member of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, your KrisFlyer Miles will expire three years after they were earned. However, if these miles are expiring for the first time, you can request to extend them for a fee.

These kinds of conditions can be the difference between getting value or losing value from a frequent flyer program, so make sure you weigh them up. Otherwise, you could be giving a scheme access to personal details for nothing.

Membership status

The more you fly with an affiliated airline, the more status credits you’ll earn. This status is your key to unlocking a growing number of frequent flyer benefits, such as additional points, lounge access, extra checked baggage allowances, priority check-in and complimentary flight upgrades. Frequent flyer status is usually grouped into four tiers:

Entry-level. This is your basic frequent flyer membership status, which allows you to earn and use points, but not much else.

Silver. Silver frequent flyer status could give you perks such as additional points for flights, additional baggage allowances, priority boarding and a limited number of lounge passes.

Gold. Gold status typically unlocks complimentary lounge access, priority booking, check-in, boarding and reward preferences. Depending on the program, you may also enjoy complimentary flight upgrades or hotel stays.

Platinum. This is usually as high as you can go with a frequent flyer program and offers more premium benefits on top of the perks available to gold members. Some of these perks could include complimentary companion flights or upgrades, special offers, first preference on reward or everyday flight bookings, complimentary airport transfers and free hotel stays.

Most of these benefits focus on the main airline that’s linked to your frequent flyer program (e.g. Qantas if you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer member). But you may be able to enjoy some or all of the perks that come with higher status if your frequent flyer program includes partnerships or alliances with other airlines.

Each frequent flyer program has different requirements around how many status credits you’ll need to earn to reach a new membership level. The benefits also vary between programs, so make sure you check these details to figure out what’s realistic for you.

Which frequent flyer program should I join?

The main airline loyalty programs in Australia are Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer. However, there are many other frequent flyer programs you can consider – particularly if you regularly fly overseas. So, here you'll find details of some of the most popular frequent flyer programs in Australia.

Program Details
Qantas frequent flyer logo Qantas Frequent Flyer offers minimum point guarantees for flights with Qantas and Jetstar and is partnered with over 50 airlines. It also has a large number of other program partners that allow you to earn more points, including many credit cards. Qantas Frequent Flyer has a standard joining fee of $89.50, although there are sometimes offers that waive this fee.
Emirates Skywards logo This frequent flyer program offers you Skywards Miles when you fly with Emirates and airline partners, including Qantas and Jetstar. It’s also one of the only international loyalty programs linked to an Australian credit card: the Emirates Citi World Mastercard.
jetstar logo 2017 Jetstar is linked to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, which means you can earn and redeem Qantas Points for eligible Jetstar flights. It also offers reward credit cards that earn Jetstar Dollars, which you can redeem for flights or other purchases with the airline.
Singapore Airlines logo The Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program allows you to earn KrisFlyer Miles with over 200 partners, including Star Alliance airlines, hotels, car hire companies and credit cards. You can also transfer points between KrisFlyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer.
Velocity Frequent Flyer logo As Virgin Australia’s official loyalty program, Velocity offers a wide range of ways to earn points with the airline and other partners around the world. Like Qantas Frequent Flyer, there are a range of Australian credit cards that earn Velocity points. But unlike Qantas, this program has no joining fee.
Air NZ Airpoints logo The Air New Zealand Airpoints loyalty program is focused on flight rewards, allowing you to earn Airpoints Dollars that you can spend on flights, upgrades, hotels and rental cars.
Cathay Pacific Marco Polo club logo Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is linked to two loyalty programs: the in-house Marco Polo Club, which offers you points and status for flights, and Asia Miles – a broader travel reward program that allows you to earn and redeem miles for rewards including flights, upgrades, hotels, car hire and more.
Malaysia Airlines logo The Enrich frequent flyer program offers points for flights with Malaysia Airlines and its partners, including the oneworld Alliance members, hotels and car hire companies.
etihad guest logo This frequent flyer program allows you to earn Etihad Guest Miles for flights with Etihad Airways and a wide range of other partners, including Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand. You can also transfer reward points from Australian-issued American Express Membership Rewards credit cards to earn more Etihad Guest Miles.

What’s next?

If you want to find the best frequent flyer program for you, start by comparing different schemes based on your travel plans and airline preferences. Make sure you also check out the program partners, especially other airlines, credit cards and retail companies that could help you earn more points on the ground as well as in the air.

If you’re already a member of one or more frequent flyer programs, head to the Points Finder homepage for the latest offers, tips and insights to help you get more out of your membership.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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44 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    MichelleJune 19, 2018

    Hi
    I am a Qantas Frequent Flyer who makes regular visits to the UK. In the past I saved my points and used them to upgrade to Business. Since joining with Emirates, I cannot do that.

    My main purpose for saving points is to do this. Can you suggest a better way? Should I join a different program?

    Thank you

    • finder Customer Care
      NikkiJune 20, 2018Staff

      Hi Michelle!

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      While we provide you with general information, please know that we are a product comparison website, therefore we are not in the position to make recommendations.

      You may read the “How to compare frequent flyer programs” and you can see this information above to help you choose the best one for you.

      Hope this clarifies!

      Regards,
      Nikki

  2. Default Gravatar
    RodSeptember 25, 2016

    Hi, I am a member of the BA executive club and have around 40,000 pts if I join Qantas FF programme can I transfer those points to my Qantas balance when I join?

    • finder Customer Care
      JonathanSeptember 27, 2016Staff

      Hi Rod, thanks for your inquiry!

      Unfortunately transferring British Airways Avios points to another program is not eligible.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  3. Default Gravatar
    BPSeptember 14, 2016

    Hi
    I’m a platinum Virgin Flyer and Gold Qantas, but as I live in Perth (Aust) the points and tiers are of little value when travelling internationally as neither airline flys overseas from here. (eg flight upgrades or premium lounge access).
    Would it be better to join one of the main middle east airlines or Singapore Air to obtain such benefits and earn points on Australian travel via the code share arrangements?

    • finder Customer Care
      SallySeptember 20, 2016Staff

      Hi BP,

      Thanks for your question.

      As a comparison service, we’re unable to confirm which frequent flyer program will be best for you as the right one will depend on your rewards goals and travelling habits.

      Consider which airline you fly with the most and the rewards you want and start comparing your options with those factors in mind. Otherwise, you might also want to consider the partner airlines associated with Virgin Velocity and Qantas Frequent Flyer. For example, while you might not fly with Qantas very often, you could earn Qantas Points on flights with partner airlines such as Emirates, Cathay Pacific and more.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  4. Default Gravatar
    PeterJune 27, 2016

    Hi Sally,
    I have membership of both Qantas and Virgin FF programs. I have over 500,000 Westpac points that I would like to transfer for use on flights to Japan and Hawaii. Can you advise which membership program (including other than Qantas/Virgin) would deliver best value for the transfer? Thank you.

    • finder Customer Care
      SallyJune 27, 2016Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you’re not interested in transferring your points to Qantas or Virgin, you can see the transfer ratio to various frequent flyer programs below. Once you’ve read over this, you can see which airlines have available flights that suit you and determine which one offers the most value:

      – Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
      Redeem 3,000 Altitude points for 1,500 KrisFlyer Miles.

      Asia Miles
      2 Altitude Points = 1 Asia Miles point

      Malaysia Airlines Enrich
      2 Altitude Points = 1 Enrich Mile

      As you can see, most of these programs have a transfer ratio of 2:1.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  5. Default Gravatar
    sueApril 3, 2016

    Can I transfer Dynasty Flyer points to Velocity points bank?
    If so, how do I do that?

    • finder Customer Care
      SallyApril 4, 2016Staff

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for your question.

      As Dynasty Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer aren’t partners, you can’t transfer points between the two.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  6. Default Gravatar
    DanielMarch 26, 2016

    Where can I fly with 60000 points?

    • finder Customer Care
      SallyMarch 29, 2016Staff

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your question.

      This will depend on the frequent flyer program you’re with. If you could please confirm which frequent flyer program you’re with, we can help you discover where your points can take you.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  7. Default Gravatar
    chrisMarch 22, 2016

    I spend around $3,000 weekly on credit card what would be best frequent flyers points for me how much qpoints would I need for a flight to Singapore

    • finder Customer Care
      SallyMarch 23, 2016Staff

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your question.

      As a financial comparison service, we’re unable to confirm exactly which credit card would be right for you. You can start comparing frequent flyer credit cards here. If you’re spending $3,000 a week on your credit card, you might want to look for a card that has low interest on purchases and doesn’t have a cap on points, so you’re not limiting the number of points you could earn.

      How many points you’ll need for a flight to Singapore will depend on your departure location and the status of your flight (e.g. economy, business, first). You can use the Qantas Points calculator on the Qantas website to determine how many points you’ll need for your preferred flight.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  8. Default Gravatar
    ColinNovember 5, 2015

    I would like to join frequent flier

    • finder Customer Care
      SallyNovember 9, 2015Staff

      Hi Colin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Did you know which frequent flyer program you were interested in joining? If you could confirm this, we’ll be able to direct you to the relevant sign up page.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  9. Default Gravatar
    MariaSeptember 17, 2015

    I want open my account in Frequent Flyer, Please

    • finder Customer Care
      SallySeptember 17, 2015Staff

      Hi Maria,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Just to confirm, you have come through to finder.com.au, not a frequent flyer program.

      Just to confirm, if you’d like to open a new Frequent Flyer program, you’ll need to contact the program provider (e.g. Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer) or complete an application form online.

      If you’re referring to an existing Frequent Flyer program, you should be able to access your account by logging in to your online portal using your username or membership number and password.

      If you could specify which frequent flyer program you’re referring to, we may be able to provide you with further assistance.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  10. Default Gravatar
    anneJuly 13, 2015

    How do I join frequent flyer program with Jetstar?

    • finder Customer Care
      SallyJuly 13, 2015Staff

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your question.

      You can join the Jetstar rewards program by using either the Jetstar MasterCard or Platinum MasterCard to accumulate Jetstar dollars. As the Jetstar is a part of Qantas, you will also have the option to join the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program and accumulate Qantas points using your Jetstar credit card.

      You may wish to visit our guide to the Jetstar Frequent Flyer program for further information.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

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