Updated December 14th, 2019
Updated December 14th, 2019
If you want to find the most rewarding card to earn points for every $1 you spend, you can use this guide to compare frequent flyer credit cards based on bonus points offers, rewards programs, points per dollar and the costs that apply. You can also find out if frequent flyer credit cards are worth it, discover the traps you should look out for and get answers to the most frequently asked questions about earning points with your credit card.
Best frequent flyer credit cards* – trending now
Compare these frequent flyer credit cards in Australia to decide if one is right for you:
How do frequent flyer credit cards work?
You can use a frequent flyer credit card to earn points on everyday, eligible purchases. These cards are linked to an airline loyalty program (such as Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer) and offer a set number of points per $1 you spend (such as 1 point per $1 spent). Many cards also come with thousands of introductory bonus points, which can give your rewards balance a quick boost.
With a frequent flyer credit card, you’ll earn points on most everyday purchases, although transactions that aren’t eligible for points usually include cash advances, balance transfers and BPAY payments. Once you’ve earned enough points, you can redeem your points for flights, flight upgrades, accommodation and more.
Video: How to get bonus frequent flyer points
What type of frequent flyer credit card do you want?
Are frequent flyer credit cards worth it?
A frequent flyer credit card can be a great way to reward your spending with points, but they usually come at the cost of high annual fees and interest rates. Before you apply, you can decide if a card is worth it based on the bonus points offer, how many points you’ll earn per $1 as well as extra features (such as airline lounge passes or travel credits) compared to the annual fees. The value of these rewards and extra perks should exceed the cost of the card.
You can read this guide for examples of how you can tell if a frequent flyer credit card is worth it for you.
What are my frequent flyer points worth?
The dollar value of your frequent flyer points will vary depending on what you redeem your points for, but here’s an illustration to show how far your points can take you.
Let’s look at where you could travel with a credit card with 100,000 bonus points. For example, it would cost 90,000 Qantas Points or 89,600 Velocity Points to fly return in economy from Melbourne to Los Angeles. Neither of these examples account for the extra taxes and fees but let’s look at how much these flights would usually cost in cash.
The cost of a flight will vary depending on the time and date of the booking, but economy return Qantas flights from Melbourne to Los Angeles can start at $1,099 at the time of writing. This means that one Qantas Point is roughly worth 0.81 cents if you use them to redeem this flight. You can find return economy Virgin Australia flights from Melbourne to Los Angeles for around the same price, so you can expect roughly the same value of points for this reward flight.
To get the most value from your frequent flyer points, compare a few options and redeem the one that offers the highest dollar value for your points. You can see our finder’s guide to how much 1 Qantas Point is worth for more examples.
What’s the catch with a frequent flyer credit card?
Frequent flyer credit cards have their perks, but these are the traps you should watch out for:
High annual fee. Most frequent flyer credit cards come with an annual fee that can range between $50 and $450. You need to make sure that the yearly value of the reward and extra perks of the card can outbalance these fees. There are $0 annual fee frequent flyer cards on the market, but these usually come with less competitive rewards offers and extra features.
Promotional offers and spend requirements. You usually need to spend a specific amount in a set period (such as $4,000 in the first 90 days) to take advantage of bonus points offers. Before you’re enticed by the idea of thousands of bonus points, make sure that these spend requirements aligns with your budget and that you can still afford to pay it off in full.
Higher interest rates. Frequent flyer credit cards usually have high purchase interest rates between 19% and 22%, so they are best suited to cardholders who can pay off their balance in full each month. Otherwise, the interest you’ll collect could easily outweigh the value of the rewards.
Temptation to spend. If you do struggle to stick to a budget and pay your balance in full each month, the promise of frequent flyer points could tempt you to overspend. If this is the case, you might want to consider a low interest rate credit card instead.
Who are frequent flyer credit cards best suited to?
Frequent flyer credit cards are designed to suit regular spenders who usually pay their balance in full each statement period. This is because you’ll earn more points based on how much you spend, but your rewards won’t be outweighed by interest if you clear your balance each month.
They’re also designed to benefit frequent travellers who will make use of the extra features such as airline lounge passes, complimentary travel insurance and travel credits.
How can I compare and find the best frequent flyer credit card for me?
You should ask yourself the following questions before deciding which frequent flyer credit card is right for you:
Which frequent flyer program do I belong to?
In Australia, most frequent flyer credit cards are linked to either the Qantas or Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer programs. However, if you belong to other frequent flyer programs (such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Air New Zealand Airpoints, Emirates Skywards or Etihad Guest), you could also consider a rewards credit card that allows you to transfer your credit card reward points to a number of partnered frequent flyer programs.
What if I'm a member of several frequent flyer programs?
If you belong to more than one frequent flyer program, you could also consider a rewards card that’s linked with a bank loyalty program. These cards offer you points that you can transfer to partnered frequent flyer programs. For example, if you have an American Express card, you can exchange your Membership Rewards for points with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Etihad Guest or Velocity. However, when you convert the points to frequent flyer points, you usually get a lower rate per $1 spent compared to what you'd earn with a frequent flyer credit card.
How many bonus points can I get?
Introductory bonus points offers generally vary between 20,000 and 100,000 points (or more!). You can also judge how much value you can get from the bonus points based on the reward you can redeem as well as the spend requirements to get it. For example, let’s say you have to spend $4,000 in 60 days to get 100,000 bonus Qantas Points. That boils down to roughly 25 Qantas Points per $1 spent. You can redeem 100,000 Qantas Points for a return economy or one way business class flight overseas, so that could help you justify the spend to get the points.
How many points can I earn for my spending?
Earn rate. As well as the bonus points offer, you should also compare how many points you can earn per $1 spent. These earn rates can be as low as 0.5 points per $1, but 1 point per $1 (or higher) is considered competitive.
Points tiers and caps. Depending on the card, the number of points may vary depending on the purchase. For example, you may earn 0.75 points per $1 spent in Australia, 1 point per $1 spent on foreign transactions and an additional point when per $1 spent with a partnered airline. So if you regularly travel overseas or shop with international merchants, a card with a higher earn rate on foreign transactions could boost your rewards. Some cards also cap or reduce the number of points you can earn after you reach a spend threshold each statement period. For example, you may earn 1 point per $1 up to $10,000 per statement period and either a reduced earn rate or no more points until the next statement period. If the card does have a points cap, consider how much you spend each month and opt for a card with a higher or no points cap if you spend more than the threshold. Otherwise you’ll restrict your points potential.
How much is the annual fee?
Although some frequent flyer cards come with $0 annual fee for the first year or for life, others charge fees that can set you back tens or hundreds of dollars. You can justify paying an annual fee if the yearly value of the rewards you’re redeeming and extra features you’re taking advantage of (such as travel credits, complimentary flights and airline lounge passes) outweigh this fee.
In Australia, most frequent flyer credit cards are a Visa, Mastercard or American Express. While Visa and Mastercard are accepted more widely, you’ll usually find that Amex cards often offer better points earn rates.
Are there extra features?
Most frequent flyer credit cards come with extra features that can help you get more value from your card. These can range from complimentary flight vouchers, travel credits and airline lounge passes to complimentary travel insurance and concierge services. Make sure you compare the extra features and determine whether you would actually use them before you apply for the card.
How can I get approved for a frequent flyer credit card
Like all credit cards, you’ll need to meet eligibility requirements to receive approval for a frequent flyer credit card. The application criteria could include a minimum annual income amount, Australian residency status and credit history details. However, as these are premium products, you may find that some of frequent flyer cards have higher income requirements than other options.
If you’re eligible to apply, you’ll also be required to provide documents including payslips and proof of identification. The bank will then assess the details and documents you provide to determine if you’ll receive approval or not.
Frequent flyer credit cards can reward you for every $1 you spend on plastic. Plus, the extra perks can help you offset some of the weighty annual fees. As there are a bunch of competitive frequent flyer credit cards on the market, get started by comparing your options now so you can find the most rewarding one for you.
Want to stay on top of the latest frequent flyer deals? Visit Points Finder for all of the latest news, offers and reviews.
Popular Searches on finder
Popular frequent flyer cards on Finder
*The products compared on this page are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market. There is no perfect order or perfect ranking system for the products we list on our Site, so we provide you with the functionality to self-select, re-order and compare products. The initial display order is influenced by a range of factors including conversion rates, product costs and commercial arrangements, so please don't interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us. We're happy to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions, but we'd like you to make your own decisions and compare and assess products based on your own preferences, circumstances and needs.