What frequent flyer programs are available?
The two major frequent flyer programs based in Australia are Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer. There are also many other frequent flyer programs based overseas, such as Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
Data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) shows that there are 11 major international airlines that Australians fly with. Each of these airlines also has an associated frequent flyer program, so there are plenty of ways for Aussies to pick up points when in the air.
Key details of popular frequent flyer programs in Australia
The more you fly with an airline, the more likely you are to be aware of its frequent flyer program. So, based on BITRE’s information on airline market share, here are summaries for the frequent flyer programs that are popular in Australia.
|This program offers minimum point guarantees for flights with Qantas and Jetstar and has a large number of program partners that allow you to earn more points, including many credit cards. Qantas Frequent Flyer has a standard joining fee of $89.50, although there are sometimes offers that waive this fee.|
|The Skywards rewards program is focused on earning and redeeming points for flights and other travel. It is also one of the only international loyalty programs linked to an Australian credit card: the Emirates Citi World Mastercard.|
|Jetstar is linked to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. It also has a credit card that offers Jetstar Dollars you can redeem for flights or other airline purchases.|
|This is the official frequent flyer program for Singapore Airlines and Silk Air and has over 200 partners, including Star Alliance airlines, hotels, car hire companies and credit cards.|
|As Virgin Australia’s official loyalty program, Velocity offers a wide range of ways to earn points both in Australia and overseas. Like Qantas Frequent Flyer, there are a range of Australian credit cards that earn Velocity points. But unlike Qantas, this program has no joining fee.|
|The frequent flyer program of Air New Zealand is focused on flight rewards, allowing you to earn Airpoints Dollars that you can spend on flights, upgrades, hotels and rental cars.|
|The loyalty program for Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific offers Marco Polo points for flight benefits and Asia Miles that you can redeem for rewards including flights, upgrades, other travel, entertainment and even merchandise.|
|The Enrich frequent flyer program offers points for flights with Malaysia Airlines and its partners, including oneworld Alliance members, hotels and car hire companies.|
|This frequent flyer program allows you to earn points for flights with Etihad Airways and a wide range of other partners, including Australian American Express Membership Rewards credit cards and the flybuys rewards program.|
Other travel and loyalty reward programs
The popularity of frequent flyer programs has helped fuel many other loyalty schemes for travel and everyday spending. Many of these programs are also linked to frequent flyer programs, allowing you to earn more points. Some of the most popular reward programs in Australia include:
- flybuys. Owned by Wesfarmers, this loyalty program offers points for spending with brands including Coles, Target, Kmart and Liquorland. It has its own travel booking service, and rewards ranging from flights to cash back, merchandise or frequent flyer points for Velocity or Etihad Guest.
- Woolworths Rewards. This loyalty program allows you to earn points for your spending with Woolworths supermarkets and BWS. Points can go towards money off your next shop with a program partner, or be converted into Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
- Hilton Honors. This hotel loyalty program offers points for stays within the Hilton portfolio. It also allows you to earn frequent flyer points for over 65 different programs including Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity, Emirates Skywards and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
- Marriott Rewards. This program allows you to choose between earning and redeeming Marriott Rewards points or frequent flyer points when you stay with Marriott hotels and associated brands.
- IHG Rewards Club. The InterContinental Hotel Group rewards program allows you to earn either IHG Rewards Club points or frequent flyer points for stays at over 5,000 properties across 12 brands including InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.
How to compare frequent flyer programs
With so many frequent flyer programs available, it’s important to choose one that suits your lifestyle and travel goals. Considering the following questions for each program you’re interested in will help you maximise your points and benefits.
- Which airline or airlines do I usually fly with? If there is one airline you prefer over others, joining its frequent flyer program will enhance your travel experience and allow you to earn points that could go towards your next trip.
- How many of the program partners do I already spend with? Frequent flyer program partners give you opportunities to earn points on everyday spending. If you already spend a lot of money with program partners of a particular frequent flyer program, you’ll be able to earn points faster when you join.
- Could I use a credit card to earn more frequent flyer points? With introductory bonus point offers and points per $1 spent, credit cards are one of the fastest ways to earn frequent flyer points outside of travel. But a card can end up costing more than it’s worth if your current spending habits don’t include a credit card, or if you regularly carry a balance. Make sure you consider this when choosing a program, and also look at the range of credit cards to decide if there is an affordable option for you.
- What are the costs? Some programs have a joining fee. For example, Qantas Frequent Flyer charges a fee of AUD$89.50 for Australians and NZ$50 for members in New Zealand. Also be aware of costs that come with a frequent flyer credit card, such as interest charges and annual fees.
- How often do I actually fly? If you don’t fly regularly, it could be years before you earn enough frequent flyer points for a free flight or other reward. Make sure you consider this in terms of the value of the program so that you don’t end up spending more time and money on it than it’s worth.