Want to book a reward seat or flight upgrade but don't have enough points? Some frequent flyer programs allow you to buy points or miles when you don’t have enough saved up for the redemption you want. This option can also help you avoid losing your points if they have an expiry but you don’t have enough to redeem the reward you want.
Here, we look at how you can buy frequent flyer points for a range of airline loyalty programs, including Qantas and Velocity. We also look at the costs of buying points and other factors you need to consider before deciding if you want to pay to top up your points balance.
How can I buy frequent flyer points?
There are usually a lot of terms and conditions around buying points or miles for a frequent flyer program. For example, almost all airline reward programs state that you cannot buy points off another member or from an unauthorised source (ie online). The other requirements vary significantly between programs, so we’ve outlined details for a range of popular frequent flyer programs below.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
The Qantas Frequent Flyer program offers “Top-up Points” for members if you meet the following conditions:
- Award redemption. You can only buy Top-up Points to redeem a specific award when you don’t already have enough points.
- Minimum and maximum purchase. You must buy at least 500 points, and can purchase up to 20,000 per year.
- Award percentage. The purchased points can only make up 15% or less of the points required for your redemption.
- Membership requirements. You can only purchase points for yourself.
- Purchase limit. You can only purchase Top-up Points once every 12 months.
Qantas Top-up Points prices are based on the amount of points you buy and range from $20 (for 500 points) to $557.50 (for 20,000 points), As this table shows, the more you spend, the greater the points per $1 value of the transaction.
Qantas Frequent Flyer Top-up Points price examples
|500||$20||$1 = 25 points|
|1,000||$40||$1 = 25 points|
|2,000||$77.50||$1 = 25.8 points|
|4,000||$147.50||$1 = 27.1 points|
|8,000||$275.00||$1 = 29 points|
|16,000||$480.00||$1 = 33.3 points|
Complete list of the price of Qantas point purchases
If you meet all the requirements, you can purchase your points by contacting the Qantas Frequent Flyer Service Centre on 13 11 31 between 7am and 7pm (AEST), Mondays to Sundays. Select “4” when prompted and make sure you have your frequent flyer membership number and PIN ready, as well as a valid payment option.
Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer
The Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer program allows members to buy points when they don’t have enough for a specific reward. The key requirements for a “Velocity Points Booster” purchase are:
- Existing points balance. You must have at least 80% of the points required for the redemption.
- Minimum and maximum purchases. You must buy at least 500 points, up to a maximum of 50,000 points.
- Membership requirements. You can only purchase points for yourself.
- Purchase limit. You can purchase points up to two times per year.
- Other conditions. You must nominate your intended reward and the number of additional points you require at the time of purchase. Velocity Points Booster purchases are also non-refundable.
Velocity Points Booster prices are based on the number of points you buy and range from $18 (for 500 points) to $1,172 (for 50,000 points). As this table shows, the more you spend, the greater the points per $1 value of the transaction.
Velocity Points Booster price examples
|500||$18||$1 = 27.7 points|
|1,000||$36||$1 = 27.7 points|
|2,000||$68||$1 = 29.4 points|
|4,000||$135||$1 = 29.6 points|
|8,000||$264||$1 = 30.3 points|
|16,000||$469||$1 = 34.1 points|
Full list of the prices for Velocity Points Booster purchases and any other information
To purchase Velocity points, call the Velocity Membership Contact Centre on 13 18 75. Make sure you have your membership details, redemption information and the minimum 80% points required to be eligible for a Velocity Points Booster transaction.
Cathay Pacific/Asia Miles
If you’re a Cathay Pacific frequent flyer you can buy additional Asia Miles when you have a specific reward in mind and meet the following requirements:
- Minimum points. You must have at least 70% of the required Asia Miles for your reward.
- Point cost. You can buy additional points in blocks of 2,000 at USD$60 per block.
To top up your Asia Miles account using this option, call 1800 129 264 (in Australia) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need to provide your account details and the reward you want to redeem.
The Asia Miles rewards program also allows you to buy “Gift Miles” for friends and family, with the following conditions:
- Membership. Asia Miles Gift Miles are only available to Asia Miles members (both buyers and recipients) who have earned Asia Miles at least once in the last 12 months from a valid transaction (such as booking a Cathay Pacific flight and including your Asia Miles membership details).
- Minimum purchase. You will need to purchase at least 1,000 Asia Miles at USD$32.50. Additional Asia Miles are available in blocks of 500 for US$16.25 per block.
- Service fee. A USD$20 service fee applies per purchase transaction.
You can buy Asia Miles Gift Miles by logging into your account online, going to “Your Account”, “Other Services” and selecting “Asia Miles Gift Miles”. Then just follow the prompts to make your purchase. Note that you will need the name and details of the Asia Miles member you want to transfer points to for this option.
Emirates Skywards program members can purchase Skywards Miles if you haven’t earned enough for a reward of your choosing, or if you want to give miles to another member. The conditions are:
- Minimum purchase. You must buy at least 2,000 Skywards Miles per transaction, and you can buy up to 25,000 miles every year.
- Purchase price. The cost of buying miles is USD$40 per 1,000. This means a minimum purchase of 2,000 points would cost USD$80 and you can spend up to USD$1,000 on Skywards Miles annually.
- Membership activity requirements. You must have an earning activity (e.g. an Emirates flight or partner transaction) listed on your account in the previous 12 months to purchase miles or to receive miles someone else has purchased.
- Other restrictions. Miles cannot be purchased for a member who has already bought 25,000 Miles themselves, or had 25,000 Miles bought for them by another member in the same calendar year. Purchased miles are non-refundable.
You can purchase Skywards Miles online by logging in to your account and going to the “My Account” section. Alternatively, you can request your Miles purchase by calling the Australian Emirates Contact Centre on +61 1300 303 777.
Etihad Guest only allows businesses to buy Guest Miles as an incentive for customers or employees. It does not list prices, and assesses applications on a case-by-case basis. If you have a business that is interested in buying Etihad Guest Miles for corporate reasons, you can do so using the following steps:
- Enrol in the Etihad Guest Partner Miles program. You will need to provide details of your business, including your company website, annual revenue and the amount of miles you plan to buy annually. You will be notified of your application approval via email within two business days.
- Buy Etihad Guest Miles. After your application is approved, you can start buying miles. While Etihad Guest does not provide public information on the cost of miles or the minimum purchase required, it does state: “The more miles you buy, the cheaper the rate per mile.”
Award your Etihad Guest Miles. You can assign Etihad Guest Miles to customers or employees online or through printed certificates.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer frequent flyers can buy miles if they don’t have enough points for an award flight or upgrade. It has the following requirements:
- Existing point balance. You must have at least half of the points required for your redemption.
- Minimum purchase. You must purchase at least 1,000 Miles.
- Purchase price. You can buy KrisFlyer Miles in blocks of 1,000 at a rate of US$40 per block.
- Payment method. Payment must be made by credit card.
- Redemption. The purchased points can only be used for award tickets (including upgrades) issued by Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Star Alliance airlines and other partner airlines unless otherwise specified.
- Other conditions. Purchased KrisFlyer Miles are non-refundable.
To purchase additional miles for your KrisFlyer redemption, log in to your account and follow the prompts. Alternatively, you can fill out a Miles Top-up Request form, although this option takes at least three days to process.
Factors to consider when buying frequent flyer points
While the terms and conditions for each frequent flyer program vary, here are the key details to consider before you buy points or miles:
- Point purchase limits. Most frequent flyer programs have minimum and maximum requirements for buying and using points for redemptions. The same requirements could also apply if you buy frequent flyer points for someone else. Either way, make sure you meet these requirements before you buy points so you can get the most out of this service.
- Immediate redemption. Usually frequent flyer programs require you to use purchased points for a reward as soon as you buy them. Some, such as Emirates Skywards, even require you to nominate your intended booking when you apply to buy points.
- Fees. Some frequent flyer programs charge an additional fee for buying points. For example, Asia Miles charges USD$20 per purchase of miles, while Qantas Frequent Flyer states that a refund fee of 5,000 points may be applied if the award ticket or upgrade you book with top-up points is cancelled.
- No reward guarantee. Any award seats, upgrade bookings or other redemptions made with the addition of purchased points or miles are subject to the terms and conditions of the frequent flyer program. That means there is no guarantee that there will be an award seat available when you want to book, even if you have purchased points already. If that happens, you may have to book on different dates or request another redemption.
- Non-refundable. Any frequent flyer points you buy are non-refundable, and some are also non-transferrable. Keep this in mind when you know what reward you want so you can calculate the points you need and also check on award ticket or upgrade availability.
Other ways to build up your points and redeem rewards
If you have a specific reward you want to redeem right now, there’s a few other ways you may be able to get it. These include:
- Points-plus-pay. This option allows you to use a combination of points and cash for your rewards. For example, if your reward flight cost 20,000 frequent flyer points but you only had 15,000 points, you could pay the rest of the fare using cash.
- Using a frequent flyer credit card. There is a wide range of frequent flyer credit cards that allows you to earn points for your everyday spending. These cards can help you save up enough points or miles for your reward without needing to spend more money buying additional points.
- Upgrading a purchased ticket. If you want to book a reward flight but don’t have enough points, another option is to buy a lower-class fare with your own money, and then use your points or miles to upgrade to a better seat.
What's better value: Buying or earning your frequent flyer points?
Emil wants to use Qantas Frequent Flyer points for a flight from Sydney to London in six months’ time. He needs 60,000 points for a one-way economy ticket, and currently has 54,000 points saved.
Emil is considering either purchasing the remaining points, or getting an HSBC Qantas Platinum credit card that earns 1 Qantas point per $1 spent*. The upfront costs for each option are:
- Point purchase: 6,000 points at $215
- Credit card: Annual fee of $199
To work out which option provides better value for him, Emil looks at his current spending habits. He calculates that he would spend an average of $1,000 per month on the HSBC Qantas Platinum card. This would earn him 1,000 Qantas points per month, or 6,000 points in 6 months, for an upfront cost of $199.
In this scenario, it is more affordable for Emil to apply for the HSBC Qantas Platinum credit card than to buy points. But if Emil had less than six months before his flight, purchasing points would be a better option.
*Earning rewards point as of 12 September 2016
Buying frequent flyer miles can be a convenient way to get the rewards that you want, when you want them. But before paying for your points, make sure you consider other options so that you can choose the most affordable and flexible option for your circumstances.Back to top