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Everything you need to know about frequent flyer points

From what they are to how you can earn them, here’s your guide to frequent flyer points and the benefits they can provide.

If you're a member of a frequent flyer program, you'll be able to earn points for spending with associated airlines and other program partners. These frequent flyer points can be used to redeem a variety of rewards such as flights, flight upgrades, hotel stays, gift cards and merchandise. Depending on the frequent flyer program, you may even be able to use a combination of points and cash, or buy more points if you don't have enough for your chosen reward.

Use this guide to learn more about frequent flyer points, including how to earn and spend them, ways to maximise your frequent flyer rewards and key terms and conditions. We've also included information about different popular frequent flyer programs so that you can find an option that fits with your travel goals.

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How can I earn frequent flyer points?

frequent-flyer-girl-250x250Frequent flyer programs give you a variety of opportunities to earn points or miles as part of your membership benefits. Depending on the frequent flyer program and the activity, you'll earn points based on the distance flown, the amount of money spent, or a flat-rate of points per transaction (for example, 500 points per stay at a hotel). Some of the most popular ways you can earn frequent flyer points include:

  • Flights. You can earn frequent flyer points for flights you take with a partnered airline. For example, if you're a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, you can earn points for flights with Qantas, Jetstar and over 35 partner airlines around the world. The points you earn are usually calculated based on the distance flown but other factors, such as the fare class, ticket cost and your membership status level may also determine how many points you earn.
  • Hotels and accommodation. Most frequent flyer programs offer points for stays with hotel partners around the world. For example, if you're a Velocity Frequent Flyer member, you can earn points at over 600,000 properties around the world, with partners including Hilton Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels and Holiday Inn. Some frequent flyer programs also partner with other accommodation providers, such as airbnb, and it's common to earn either points per $1 spent or a flat rate of points per stay.
  • Car hire. It's common for frequent flyer programs to offer points for car hire with partners such as Hertz, Thrifty and Europcar. By giving the car hire company your frequent flyer membership number, you'll be able to earn either points per $1 spent on the hire, or a flat-rate of points for the hire.
  • Other travel. Depending on the frequent flyer program, you could be able to earn points for many other travel-related activities, including cruise bookings, holiday packages and travel insurance. Your frequent flyer program will have specific details of all the partners and the amount of points you can earn with them.
  • Credit cards. Frequent flyer credit cards earn points per $1 spent on your everyday purchases, giving you a way to maximise your frequent flyer rewards even when you're not travelling. Many of these credit cards also include introductory offers that could give you thousands of bonus frequent flyer points when you meet the offer requirements.
  • Shopping. As well as earning points for shopping with a credit card, some frequent flyer programs provide online shopping portals that allow you to earn points per $1 spent with a variety of partners. For example, the Qantas Online Mall offers between 1 and 5 points per $1 spent with partners including eBay, David Jones, Apple Store and The Iconic.
  • Other lifestyle partners. Your frequent flyer program could include a number of other program partners that allow you to earn points for other everyday activities and services, including health insurance, dining out, phone plans, electricity plans or even spending with a travel money card. Check your program's list of partners to see what's available as part of your membership.

Frequent Flyer Credit Card Comparison

Rates last updated October 24th, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Qantas Premier Everyday
40,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of up to 40,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $0 first year annual fee plus complimentary overseas travel insurance.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Qantas Points on your everyday spending, take advantage of complimentary overseas travel insurance and a 24/7 concierge service.
Qantas Premier Platinum
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$299 p.a.
Get 60,000 bonus Qantas points and a $300 Qantas Flight Voucher when you spend $4,000 in 90 days. Plus, complimentary lounge passes.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
60,000 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 60,000 bonus points in the first 3 months with a $64 first year annual fee. Plus, the chance to win 1 million Velocity Points.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card - Online Offer
90,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1.5
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
Receive 90,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. Plus, Status Credits & lounge passes.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months of card approval, plus enjoy complimentary travel insurance.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($200 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, a $50 first year annual fee.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
Membership Rewards Gateway
2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Get 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas
75,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria with this dual Visa (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
75,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a.
Receive 75,000 bonus Qantas Points and $75 back to your card when you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within 3 months.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with $64 first year annual fee and 0% p.a. balance transfer offer. Plus, the chance to earn 1 million Velocity Points. Ends 31 Oct 2018.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$425 p.a.
Earn 120,000 bonus Qantas Points and $150 back when you spend $7,500 in the first 3 months. Plus, 75 Status Credits and lounge passes.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
55,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.5
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$129 p.a.
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months. Plus, the chance to earn 1 million Velocity Points. Ends 31 Oct 2018.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle
75,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards
2
1
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$0 first year annual fee & up to 75,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with this Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
Westpac Altitude Black - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
20.24% p.a.
$300 p.a.
Earn 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases. Plus, 2 yearly Qantas Club lounge invitations.
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
Suncorp Bank Rewards Program
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Enjoy up to 60,000 bonus points, a long-term balance transfer offer and complimentary international travel insurance.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle - Qantas
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
0.75
20.24% p.a.
$300 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($499 p.a. thereafter)
Score up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the T&C with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
St.George Amplify Platinum - Qantas
50,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn 50,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas points per $1 spent.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle
120,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards
3
1.25
20.24% p.a.
$250 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($449 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 120,000 bonus Altitude Points when you meet the T&C with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
BankSA Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Receive 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days. Plus, a discounted first year annual fee and lounge passes.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Offers 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 in 90 days, 2 Qantas lounge passes per year plus a reduced first year annual fee.
BankSA Amplify Platinum - Qantas
50,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Qantas or Amplify Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn up to 0.5 Qantas points per $1 spent.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum - Qantas
50,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Qantas or Amplify Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn up to 0.5 Qantas points per $1 spent.

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What can I use my frequent flyer points for?

When you have accumulated enough frequent flyer points in your account, you can use them to redeem rewards. The amount of points you need for a reward varies based on the frequent flyer program and the type of reward you want. In general, flights or flight upgrades with a partner airline offer the greatest value (when rewards are compared to what you'd pay in dollars). The type of rewards available varies between frequent flyer programs but could include:

  • Flights. You can use frequent flyer points to book a flight with a partner airline instead of using cash for the fare. Known as "Award" or "Reward" seats, these fares are available for a specific amount of points, usually calculated based on the distance flown and the fare class (economy, business etc). Award seats are subject to availability, so they may be more limited than regular fares.
  • Flight upgrades. If you're already booked on a flight with a partner airline, you could use your frequent flyer points to upgrade your fare to a higher class. For example, from economy to business class. Flight upgrades can be a cost-effective way to get a more premium seat on your flight but, similar to flights booked with points, the option to use points for an upgrade is subject to availability.
  • Hotels. Some frequent flyer programs also allow you to use points to pay for your hotel stays. For example, if you're a Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer member, you can use your points for free nights or upgrades at any Shangri-La hotel when you convert your KrisFlyer Miles to GC Award Points.
  • Other travel rewards. Depending on the frequent flyer program, you could use your points for car hire, travel packages or additional baggage.
  • Merchandise and gift cards. While less common than flight or travel rewards, you could also be able to redeem frequent flyer points for gift cards or merchandise such as clothes, electronics and jewellery. For example, both Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer programs have online stores filled with merchandise and gift cards from brands such as Apple, David Jones and Myer.

What if I don't have enough points for my chosen reward?

Most frequent flyer programs give you the option of buying additional points or using a combination of points and cash when you don't have enough points for a specific reward. This gives you flexibility to use frequent flyer points on rewards that offer the most benefit to you.

Frequent flyer point pros and cons

Pros

  • It makes free flights possible. Frequent flyer points give you the chance to book flights you might not otherwise be able to afford.
  • You can collect frequent flyer points through everyday spending. If you have a frequent flyer credit card or debit card, or access to other program partners, you can earn points without flying.
  • You can skip queues and sit in the best seats. You can use your frequent flyer points for seat upgrades, securing yourself a spot in comfortable airport lounges, skip the check-in queue, obtain priority boarding, and nab free excess baggage.

Cons

  • The value of rewards are not always clear for free flights. For example, you may still have to pay fees and taxes on your reward flight, meaning it's not technically "free".
  • Limited seat availability for frequent flyer points. This often means one’s preferred flight time or destination is not easy to book.
  • Frequent flyer point programs require extensive research. There are so many different options for frequent flyers, and many airline websites require time to establish which is worthwhile and good value for money. The deals are there but patience is required to benefit.

Compare frequent flyer programs here


What else do I need to know about frequent flyer points?

Keep these factors in mind to make the most of your frequent flyer points:

  • Reward value. The amount of frequent flyer points you need varies based on the type of reward you redeem. This means the value of your rewards will vary when compared to the dollar value of them (and what you've spent accumulating points).
  • Flight rewards. Upgrading flights or booking award seats with the frequent flyer program's associated airline usually offer the greatest value when you compare points to dollar costs of rewards.
  • Points expiry. Some airlines attach an expiry date to points, so this should be checked regularly to ensure no losses occur. For example, Qantas Frequent Flyer Points expire if your account is inactive for 18 months. Once your points have expired, you can’t get them back.

Frequent flyer points are without doubt a bonus for travellers who accumulate large flight mileages annually and, if used wisely, they can offer worthwhile benefits. However, there are certain purchases that should be avoided and measures that should be taken if the buyer wishes to make maximum use of their points.


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