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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 greater value from travel rewards.

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

Rates last updated October 21st, 2019
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Qantas Premier Platinum
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Get up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points (20,000/month) when you spend $1,500/month for the first 6 months. Ends 31 October 2019.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
70,000 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 70,000 bonus Velocity Points when you meet the spend requirement. Plus, save with a 0% interest for 18 on balance transfers.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Get 120,000 bonus Qantas Points. Plus, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Collect up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points. Get 90,000 when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 60 days and 30,000 after 12 months.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
30,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for the first 22 months, with a 1% balance transfer fee. Plus, a reduced $64 first year annual fee.
St.George Amplify Platinum - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas points per $1 spent.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a $0 first year annual fee and a long-term balance transfer offer. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
120,000 bonus points
Citi Rewards Program
1
21.49% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
80k bonus Citi reward Points when you spend $3,000 in 90 days and 40k the second year, up to 120,000 total. 120k Points = 48k Velocity Points.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle
110,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards
2
1
20.24% p.a. (AMEX)

20.49% p.a. (Visa/MC)

$150 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
Collect up to 110,000 bonus Altitude Points when you meet T&Cs with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued by Amex).
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle
140,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards
3
1.25
20.24% p.a. (AMEX)

20.49% p.a. (Visa/MC)

$349 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($449 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 140,000 bonus Altitude Points with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex). T&Cs apply.
Qantas Premier Everyday
42,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$29 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Get up to 42,000 bonus Qantas Points (7,000/month) when you spend $1,000/month for the first 6 months. Ends 31 October 2019.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn up to 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.74% p.a.
$139 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Get 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $6,000 in 90 days and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.74% p.a.
$139 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Offers 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $6,000 in 90 days, plus, 2 Qantas lounge passes per year and a discounted first year annual fee.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
0% for 14 months, reverts to 20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months, a reduced first year annual fee and Velocity Points per $1 spent.
American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card
100,000 bonus points
Qantas Business Rewards
1.25
N/A
$450 p.a.
ABN holders w/ $75,000 p.a. revenue. Get 100,000 bonus Points, 3x points on eligible Qantas flights and 2 yearly lounge passes.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
50,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
Get 50,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 for the first 3 months. Plus, 100 Status Credits and luxury travel perks.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
20.49% p.a.
$200 p.a.
Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, complimentary insurances and a personal concierge.
St.George Amplify
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.74% p.a.
$79 p.a.
Earn uncapped Amplify or Qantas Points per dollar spent, plus, up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Velocity
60,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.5
20.49% p.a.
$200 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, 2 complimentary Economy X Seat Upgrade Vouchers each year.

Compare up to 4 providers

What about flybuys and Woolworths 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. Woolworths 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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