How to earn frequent flyer points with Mastercard, Visa or eftpos gift cards

Earn extra Qantas or Velocity Points while spending money on whatever you like.

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One of the best ways to earn frequent flyer points is by picking up a credit card that offers bonus sign-up points and a solid earn rate (check out our round-up of current offers). That's well-known, but there's a less-obvious trick involving prepaid gift credit cards that can also boost your points total.

Both Coles' flybuys and Woolworths' Woolworths Rewards regularly offer bonus point bundles when you buy Mastercard, Visa or eftpos gift cards. A typical deal offers 1,000 or 2,000 bonus points with a gift card purchase.

2,000 Woolworths Rewards points convert to 870 Qantas Frequent Flyer points, while 2,000 flybuys points convert to 870 Velocity points. By buying prepaid gift cards when bonus offers emerge, you can score extra points. And unlike other gift cards (like those for Netflix or Uber, for instance), you can spend the card's value on whatever you like. Indeed, you could use the card to pay for other products that themselves earn points (such as flights).

One key thing to remember is that you'll usually have to pay a service fee to buy a gift credit card. Fees vary, but $5.95 for a $100 gift card is typical. While that means you'll be paying almost $106 in order to spend $100, you'll also score far more points than usual. To earn 2,000 supermarket reward points you'd usually have to spend $2,000, so even with the service fee, you're generally ahead as long as you convert your supermarket points to airline points and then spend them wisely.

You might also be thinking: "If I spend money with a gift credit card rather than my regular credit card, I'll miss out on the points I get when I spend on my regular credit card." However, you won't usually earn this many points spending with a regular credit card.

Here's an example. On the American Express Velocity Platinum Card, you can earn 2.5 points per $1 spent if you use the card to buy Virgin Australia tickets. For a $100 spend, that's 250 points simply for using the card. Use a $100 gift card and you'll potentially earn 870 points. (In both cases, you'll also earn points once you actually take the flight.)

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Traps to watch out for

Make sure you don't lose out on points when using prepaid gift credit cards by following these tips:

  • Make sure the fee justifies the offer. Paying a $6 service fee for a card that earns 2,000 supermarket points usually works out, but $6 for a 1,000 point offer can be more marginal. Equally, if the bonus points are the same on a $50 card as on a $100 one, there's not much point in spending extra for the higher-priced cards.
  • You can't buy multiple cards to score more points. Gift credit card offers at supermarkets invariably limit bonus points offers to one per household during each campaign. So that means you can't score more points by buying extra cards, regardless of whether the cards are for your own use or an actual gift.
  • Remember to scan your loyalty card. Sounds obvious, but if you don't scan your loyalty card prior to paying, you won't get the bonus points.
  • Your gift card purchases won't earn extra flybuys or Woolworths Rewards points. Gift card purchases don't earn supermarket reward points in their own right. You'll score the bonus points if there's an active offer, but you won't earn points otherwise. That's worth remembering if you've activated a targeted offer that promises bonus points if you spend a certain amount at a supermarket each week. Your gift card buy won't count towards that total.
  • Self-serve checkouts may not work. In Woolworths, you can't buy gift cards at a self-serve checkout at all. You can in Coles, but a staff member still has to authorise your purchase. So usually it's faster to go to an express checkout.
  • Your points can take time to appear. It usually takes a day or two for bonus points to show up in your card balance. After purchasing a card, keep your receipt until you've seen the points show up.
  • Remember to convert your points. For Woolworths Rewards, if you opt in to earn Qantas points, all of your points are automatically converted and added to your Qantas account on a regular basis. With flybuys, you need to log in and manually convert your points to Velocity.

THE POINTS FINDER TAKE

You won't be able to use this kind of deal for all your spending, but judicious gift card purchases can help juice up your frequent flyer total.

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