What is the best frequent flyer program for Australians?
From Qantas to Velocity and all the programs in between, we compare best for earn rate, status perks and associated credit cards.
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 for all.
See our picks for the best programs, compare key features to find the best program for your needs and how much reward flights can cost including Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer.
Best for international travel: Qantas Frequent Flyer
Why we chose this program: Qantas is a member of the oneworld alliance allowing you to earn and transfer frequent flyer points across 13 different airlines. In total, Qantas has 26 airline partnerships making it the best program for those who travel across multiple continents.
Best for families: Velocity Frequent Flyer
Why we chose this program: Velocity allows members to transfer points to family members and combine their Status Credits into a single account for a family of up to 6 including 2 adults and 4 children, allowing the primary holder to spend those points wisely.
Best for flight redemptions: Velocity Frequent Flyer
Why we chose this program: The cheapest available flight redemptions for Velocity come down to 7,800 points just beating Qantas by 200 points. This means you'll be off flying for free with Velocity ever so slightly sooner.
Best for Businesses: Velocity Frequent Flyer
Why we chose this program: Unlike Qantas, there's no joining fee and Velocity has far more benefits including 2 Velocity Pilot Gold Memberships when you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months.
Best for earning points without flying: Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer
Why we chose these programs: When it comes to earning points without flying in Australia, Qantas and Velocity are equally matched. Both are paired with 1 of the 2 largest supermarket chains and each has partnerships across hotels, car hire, energy companies, insurers and many more.
Best for credit card point transfers: Velocity Frequent Flyers
Why we chose this program: Velocity wins because it has far more cards than Qantas does which let you transfer directly so you can be rewarded sooner.
How to find the best program for you
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.
Points are the bread and butter of any rewards program and all frequent flyer programs offer points (sometimes called miles) for flights you take with them.
The exact number of points you can earn per flight depends on factors such as flight distance, fare class, connections, codeshare segments and even the cost of the ticket in some cases.
Not every program calculates points earned the same way for example with Velocity Frequent Flyer you earn 5 points per dollar spent on domestic and international flights while Qantas Frequent Flyers earn different amounts depending on how far they're flying and in what cabin class.
Other ways to earn points include:
- Airline partners. Fly with partner airlines and earn points on flights where your regular airline doesn't fly. Typically you'll earn fewer points on partner 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 Everyday 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 also be able to earn points on online shopping, utilities, and plenty of other ways.
After flights, credit cards are the next fastest and most popular way to earn frequent flyer points. They typically offer a set rate of points for each $1 you spend. Some cards automatically credit 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.
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.
Beyond flight rewards, the options you have for using your points can vary wildly between frequent flyer programs. However, some of the other rewards you could get include:
- Hotel stays
- Discount 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.
Point expiry and status
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 avoid point expiry with programs such as Qantas or Velocity if you earn or redeem points continuously. On the other hand Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles expire 3 years after they were earned so you'll need to redeem them more often.
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 4 tiers: Entry-level (sometimes called Bronze), Silver, Gold and Platinum.
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.
Compare frequent flyer programs
Here are a few of the more popular frequent flyer programs available in Australia, compare the number of points for the cheapest reward flight, the number of airline points and ways to earn and spend your points.
|Program||Joining fee||Airline alliance||Earn points on flights?||Earn points on credit cards?||Use points on upgrades||Points expiry|
|Air New Zealand Airpoints||Free||Star Alliance||Yes||Yes, via transfers||Yes, only Elite members||After 4 years|
|Cathay Pacific||Free for Asia Miles, US$100 for Marco Polo Club||oneworld Alliance||Yes||Yes via transfers||Yes||Asia Miles, after 18 months of inactivity Marco Polo Club Points, after 12 months|
|Emirates Skywards||Free||None, 15 partners||Yes||Yes, see Emirates credit cards||Yes||After 3 years|
|Etihad Guest||Free||None, 23 partners||Yes||Yes, via transfer||Yes||After 18 months of no activity, never for Platinum members|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||Free||oneworld Alliance||Yes||Yes, via transfer||Yes||After 3 years, extension possible|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||$99.50*||oneworld Alliance||Yes||Yes, see Qantas credit cards||Yes||After 18 months of no activity|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Free||Star Alliance||Yes||Yes, via transfer||Yes||After 3 years|
|Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer||Free||None, 13 partners||Yes||Yes, see Velocity credit cards||Yes||After 24 months of no activity|
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.
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