How to travel further with flexible reward points

Explore credit card reward programs that offer more flexible points than frequent flyer schemes so you can get the best value.

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While frequent flyer programs are a popular way to earn points for flights, upgrades or other travel perks, they are not the only option. Credit card reward programs such as American Express Membership Rewards or NAB Rewards also earn points that offer more flexible rewards.

In some cases, these flexible points can give you better value than frequent flyer points when you redeem them for travel. So if you want to earn points for travel rewards, here’s how to decide if a flexible rewards program will offer you more bang for your buck.

What you'll find in this guide

What flexible credit card reward programs are available in Australia?

The majority of credit card reward programs in Australia offer flexible points that you can redeem directly or transfer to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. These include:

Many hotel loyalty programs also offer flexible points, including Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards and InterContinental Hotel Group’s IHG Rewards Club.

Comparison of Australian Rewards Cards

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Bonus points Rewards program Rewards points per $ spent Purchase rate Annual fee
Qantas Premier Platinum
100,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Get 100,000 bonus Qantas Points, 75 bonus Status Credits and a 0% p.a. balance transfer rate for 18 months (with a one-time 1% BT fee).
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
130,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$295 annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 130,000 bonus Qantas Points (100k when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days and 30k after 12 months). Plus, a reduced first year annual fee.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
120,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
20.24% p.a.
$425
Collect 120,000 bonus Qantas Points and $200 back when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, complimentary lounge passes.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
100,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$450
Receive 100,000 bonus Qantas Points and $200 back on your card when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. Plus, a yearly $450 Travel Credit.
Coles Rewards Mastercard
N/A
Flybuys
2
19.99% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy $100 off a Coles Supermarket, a $0 first-year annual fee and a 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months (1.5% fee applies). Ends 31 Jan 2021.
American Express Business Explorer Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
120,000
Membership Rewards Gateway
2
3.99% p.a. for 6 months, reverts to 19.99% p.a.
$149
Finder Exclusive. Ends 01 February 2021.
ABN holders w/ $75,000 revenue. Get 120,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, 2 airport lounge passes.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Qantas
60,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
20.49% p.a.
$99 annual fee for the first year ($200 p.a. thereafter)
Get 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days. Plus, a first-year annual fee discount and a long-term balance transfer offer.
St.George Amplify Platinum - Qantas
70,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.74% p.a.
$99
Earn 70,000 bonus Qantas Points, plus enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 15 months and complimentary insurance covers.
Qantas American Express Premium Card
80,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
20.74% p.a.
$249
Enjoy 80,000 bonus Qantas Points, $200 back and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Citi Rewards Card
N/A
Citi Rewards Program
1
21.49% p.a.
$49 annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Save on interest with 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 30 months with no balance transfer fee. Plus, a $49 first-year annual fee.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum - Qantas
70,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.74% p.a.
$99
Receive 70,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $1,500 each month for the first 3 months and earn up to 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
150,000
Membership Rewards
2
20.74% p.a.
$395
Get 120,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, 30,000 points in the second year. Ends 27 Jan 2021.
Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard
N/A
Flybuys
0.5
0% p.a. for 12 months, reverts to 19.99% p.a.
$0
Save on new and existing interest charges with 0% p.a. on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months. Ends 31 January 2021.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
50,000
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$375
Get 50,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 for the first 3 months. Plus, 100 Status Credits and luxury travel perks.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
N/A
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
20.74% p.a.
$0
Earn 0.75 Qantas Points for your everyday purchases, uncapped, and pay $0 annual fee for the life of the card on this no-frills frequent flyer card.
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What about Flybuys and Everyday Rewards?

These loyalty programs are similar to frequent flyer programs in that they favour specific, branded rewards and have limited travel partnerships. However, it’s worth noting that Flybuys does give you the option of transferring points to the Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer program, as well as using them for bookings through Flybuys travel. Everyday Rewards, on the other hand, lets you transfer points to Qantas Frequent Flyer.

What are the benefits of flexible reward programs?

As with frequent flyer programs, there are differences in the benefits and features of flexible reward programs. If you want to use points for travel, these are some advantages you could get with flexible points:

The ability to switch between frequent flyer programs

Most credit card reward programs give you the option of transferring your points to several different frequent flyer programs. Some American Express Membership Rewards cards actually offer point transfers to up to 10 different frequent flyer programs.

This means you can shop around for the most competitive reward option based on where and when you want to travel. So instead of using Velocity Points for a flight to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, for example, you could transfer your credit card reward points to KrisFlyer and redeem them directly to get more value per point.

Transferring flexible points to hotel reward programs

Some reward programs also let you transfer points to hotel reward programs. If you want to use points to book a hotel stay, this option gives you a way to book it directly through the hotel’s reward program. As a result you could get more value for your points when compared to redeeming a hotel stay through a frequent flyer program.

Frequent flyer point transfer bonuses

Sometimes frequent flyer programs offer huge point bonuses when you transfer points from a flexible reward program. For example, Velocity has previously offered up to 30% bonus points when you transfer credit card points to your frequent flyer account.

While most credit card points are transferred at a lower rate (such as 2 credit card points for 1 frequent flyer point), getting a 30% bonus helps balance this out. Depending on the card and earn rate, it could mean you actually get more points through flexible point transfers than you would if you had a credit card that earns frequent flyer points.

Other travel reward options

Flexible reward programs also offer other travel reward options. Depending on the program, you could use your points to book travel directly, take advantage of exclusive travel packages or get gift cards for travel agencies such as Webjet and Flight Centre.

While frequent flyer programs offer some of these options, you’ll usually get the most value from your points when they’re redeemed for rewards with the main airline. With a flexible reward program, on the other hand, you have more opportunities to shop around for the travel option that offers the greatest value at the time you want to use it.

Example: Comparing value between travel reward options

Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Hawaii in July and want to use points to pay for some or all of your flights. In this scenario, let’s say you have frequent flyer accounts with frequent flyer Velocity and KrisFlyer and an Amplify Rewards credit card account.

With Amplify Rewards, you can search for flights and accommodation with a wide range of airlines and hotel brands. Similar to other online travel-booking services, you can search based on your chosen travel dates and see the total points required. You can also change dates to search for cheaper options or flights with different airlines.

Then, you could check the points required if you redeemed travel through Velocity and KrisFlyer, to decide which one offers the most value. If one of the frequent flyer programs had a better deal, you could transfer your Amplify Rewards points to that program before redeeming your flight.

In comparison, if you only had a Velocity or KrisFlyer account, you’d be limited to the points already available. There could also be date restrictions, fewer airline options and less variation in the number of points required for your travel.

couples' hands on laptop

How can I decide between a frequent flyer program and a flexible points program?

While you may have any number of reward program memberships, usually you’ll get more value from focusing on earning points for one particular account. So if you’re trying to decide between a frequent flyer account and a credit card rewards account, consider the following:

A flexible reward program could be ideal when you:A frequent flyer program could be ideal when you:
  • Fly with a range of airlines based on where you’re travelling
  • Are a member of several frequent flyer and/or hotel rewards programs
  • Have worries about blackout dates and restrictions
  • Want to earn points through a credit card without being limited to one frequent flyer program
  • Fly everywhere with the same airline
  • Mainly use rewards for flight upgrades
  • Want other frequent flyer benefits, such as lounge access or priority boarding
  • Are happy to just earn points through travel, existing program partners and affiliated credit cards

Thinking about these goals and scenarios will help you figure out what type of reward program is right for you. For example, if you always fly with Qantas and use points for upgrades to business or first class, then focusing on your Qantas Frequent Flyer membership makes sense.

On the other hand, if you’re a member of Velocity, KrisFlyer and Hilton Honors, then earning points through a program like Membership Rewards could help you pick-and-choose how you redeem points so you can get the most value out of them. So remember to weigh up your options based on your circumstances, then choose the type of points that work for you.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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