20% off Qantas Points flights: Watch out for the catch

Posted: 15 October 2021 12:44 pm
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I love a bargain, but I won't be booking any flights myself.

Qantas has launched a flash sale, with 20% off the Qantas Points needed for reward flights – but I won't be booking any.

The reason is simple. As often happens when Qantas runs a "points sale", the discount only applies to Points Plus Pay seats, not Classic Rewards.

Classic Rewards are always much better value. Here's an example.

An economy flight from Sydney-Melbourne costs 8,000 Qantas Points as a Classic Reward (plus $32 in fees). Using Points Plus Pay, it can require anywhere between 16,200 and 29,300 Qantas Points.

Let's assume the seat otherwise costs $200 (pretty typical) and that we're getting the rate of 16,200 Qantas Points for the Points Plus Pay. How much would we get for our points?

  • On a Classic Rewards booking, we'd get $21 of value for each 1,000 points we spend. (That's allowing for the $32 we have to pay in fees.)
  • On our Points Plus Pay booking, that would drop to just $6.80 of value for each 1,000 points we spend. That's less than a third of what we get with Classic Rewards. There's no contest.

To be clear, I probably wouldn't spend my points on this booking even as a Classic Reward. I'd prefer to use them on a more expensive flight, especially now that international flights are opening up again. But I certainly wouldn't want to waste my points on Points Plus Pay, outside of a major emergency.

If all that doesn't put you off, the sale runs from Friday 15 October 2021 through to 11:59pm on Monday 18 October 2021.

Qantas also has various other "deals" on offer. You can get 20% off Qantas Rewards Store products (excluding gift cards and charities). Qantas Wine has discounts on some mystery cases. And there's 20% off the points needed for Points Plus Pay bookings for The Ghan, Indian Pacific or Great Southern train journeys.

My advice on this never changes: Don't spend your points on anything other than flights. You just don't get the same value.

The one occasional exception would be for bookings on the Ghan or Indian Pacific. Those actually are reasonable value. But again the catch remains this time around: These are for Points Plus Pay bookings, not Classic Rewards.

A Points Plus Pay single twin share bed on the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Adelaide costs 143,741 Qantas Points with the discount. If you book a Classic Reward, you need 100,000 Qantas Points. If you paid cash in high season, it's $1,295. That works out at $9 value for every 1,000 Qantas Points for Points Plus Pay, or just under $13 per 1,000 for Classic Rewards. Neither is great, but Points Plus Pay is worse.

Bottom line? It's always worth checking sales, but not always worth taking them up.

Want to keep your frequent flyer points balance growing? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more.

Picture: Angus Kidman

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