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 August 21st, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas - Online Offer
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Offers 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days, two yearly Qantas Club lounge passes and a reduced first year annual fee.
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 Velocity Points in the first 3 months and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($200 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, a $50 first year annual fee.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months of card approval, plus enjoy complimentary travel insurance.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle
75,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards
2
1
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$0 first year annual fee & up to 75,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with this Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$129 p.a.
Buy now and pay later with 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months. Plus, 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 6 months.
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.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
Citi Rewards Program
1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, enjoy a long-term balance transfer offer, a discounted first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle - Qantas
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
0.75
20.24% p.a.
$300 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($499 p.a. thereafter)
Score up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the T&C with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity 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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