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Qantas Frequent Flyer Program vs Virgin Australia Velocity Rewards

We've crunched the numbers - here's how Australia's two largest frequent flyer programs compare.

Qantas Frequent Flyer has 15.8 million members, while Virgin Australia Velocity has 11.5 million. That's a lot of frequent flyers for both, but which one does it better? We've put the two head-to-head to see which program comes out on top.

Qantas and Virgin planes

Membership fees

Qantas Frequent Flyer: $99.50 (but it's easy to join for free)

Virgin Velocity: Free

Winner: Draw

While Qantas charges a $99.50 joining fee, there's no reason to pay it - we've rounded up all the different ways you can join for nothing. So this one is a dead heat in practice.

Earning points from flights

Qantas Frequent Flyer: Based on distance, minimum 800 Qantas Points

Virgin Velocity: 5 Velocity Points per $1 spent

Winner: Qantas

Qantas wins out here for two reasons: it covers more destinations, and it has a more generous earning structure. Velocity's "earn based on what you spend" means it's harder to take advantage of flight sales.

Earning points from credit cards

Qantas Frequent Flyer: 16 Australian banking card partners

Virgin Velocity: 12 Australian banking card partners

Winner: Qantas

There are lots of good credit cards that earn Velocity Points, but there are more credit cards that earn Qantas Points, which gives you more ways to score bonus points signup deals.

Earning points from supermarket shopping

Qantas Frequent Flyer: 1,000 Qantas Points/2,000 Everyday Rewards points

Virgin Velocity: 1,000 Velocity Points/2,000 Flybuys points

Winner: Draw

There's nothing separating the airlines here. Qantas lets you convert Woolworths Everyday Rewards Points, Velocity lets you convert Coles Flybuys, and the rates are identical. Both supermarkets also regularly run bonus points offers.

Earning points elsewhere

Winner: Draw

Both airlines have partnerships that let you earn points when shopping at partner retailers, booking hotel rooms, booking travel, renting cars or paying for insurance. You might be swayed if there's a particular brand you prefer with one airline.

Redeeming points for flights

Qantas Frequent Flyer: Classic Rewards, Points Plus Pay, upgrades

Virgin Velocity: Rewards Seat, Points Plus Pay, upgrades

Winner: Qantas

Getting a rewards seat can be tough, especially if you want Business or First. Finder research shows just 16% of Australians use our points for flights.

Qantas has the edge here because it flies to more destinations, both domestically and internationally, has more airline partners, and offers a wider range of seat classes. Getting a good seat will still require patience and luck.

Redeeming points for other benefits

Qantas Frequent Flyer: What Qantas Points are worth

Virgin Velocity: What Velocity Points are worth

Winner: Draw

If you're not spending points on flights or upgrades, you'll get less value. But there's no major difference in that value between Qantas and Velocity.

Points expiry

Qantas Frequent Flyer: Points expire if there's no activity for 18 months

Virgin Velocity: Points expire if there's no activity for 24 months

Winner: Velocity

With both programs, you can make sure your points don't expire even if you're not flying by earning points through your credit card or through supermarket transfers. However, Virgin definitely has a more generous policy here.

Sharing points

Qantas Frequent Flyer: Family Transfer

Virgin Velocity: Family Pooling

Winner: Velocity

Both Qantas and Virgin let you use your points to book flights for a family member. But Virgin takes the crown here because it lets you earn status from trips booked for other family members - a useful perk if you sometimes travel with your kids.

The final verdict: Qantas Frequent Flyer

Scale matters. Qantas' larger fleet and wider range of destinations ultimately means that there are more ways to get stuff from points, which is reflected in the categories above. But it's a competitive race.

Your preference also matters. If you like flying with Virgin better (or have to for work), if you're a loyal Coles shopper, or if the credit card deal you prefer is for Velocity, it's still a solid scheme. My approach? Stay a member of both but focus your earning strategy each year on just one.

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    johnOctober 12, 2016

    Checked for a VA rewards flight Sydney to Hong kong Business Class and it was 540,000 points. Same flight same class on Qantas was 60,000.
    what gives if points are meant to be roughly of equal value

      AvatarFinder
      SallyOctober 13, 2016Finder

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your question.

      Where were you calculating how many points were required for the flights? Unfortunately, both the Qantas and Velocity points calculators aren’t entirely accurate as the amount of points you’ll need will vary from specific flights. Instead, when you’re making your booking and select ‘pay with points’, that’ll give you the most accurate indication of how many points you need.

      Without knowing the specific routes of the flights it’s difficult to say why you need a different number of points for each flight. It could be because of different stopovers or the cost of the flight.

      If you have a query about how many points you’ll need for a specific route, you might like to get in touch with either of frequent flyer programs directly to confirm this information.

      Cheers,

      Sally

    Default Gravatar
    JohnJune 17, 2016

    Hello,I have had a citi platinum card on which I have amassed many points which I have attempted to transfer to my qantas frequent flyer account, citi has advised that this is no longer possible and as i earned the majority of these points on a valid scheme I feel that I am being discriminated against. What can I do with my points now? I do not wish to buy anything from stores. Thank you.
    John

      AvatarFinder
      SallyJune 21, 2016Finder

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your question.

      Just to confirm, which Citi Platinum card do you have?

      Unfortunately, if you’re unable to transfer your points to the Qantas program, you’ll only be able to redeem rewards within Citi’s own program. At the moment, the rewards options include gift cards and cash back, merchandise, and travel packages. You can compare your rewards options on the Citi Rewards website.

      In the meantime, if you still want to earn Qantas Points on your credit card purchases, you can start comparing Qantas frequent flyer credit cards.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

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