Make your travel spending work for you and continue earning frequent flyer points while you are away.
So you've diligently collected points and now you're about to take off on that dream holiday overseas. Well, like most who catch the travel bug, we're sure you're going to want to plan another trip as soon as this one is finished.
Don't despair at the near-zero balance you might have on your travel rewards account, use your holiday to keep racking up the points instead. That's right. There are plenty of ways you can make your travels add to your frequent flyer balance, from how you book your holiday to your hotel – it almost feels like you're double dipping on the holiday perks.
Ways to earn frequent flyer points while travelling
Whether you have a credit card attached to the Qantas or Velocity frequent flyer program, there are ample ways to keep your points ticking up and north. By booking with reward program partners and using your credit card, you can often earn points for the dollars spent as well as the points you get for the actual partnership booking.
Obviously if you're not using your reward points to book a flight then purchasing seats on a route that suits your program is a great way to get a huge injection of points. Other ways that you might like be rewarded include:
- Accommodation. During the research phase of planning your holiday, check your program's website and see where they have partners. Currently, Qantas offers 600 – 1000 frequent flyer points per stay at certain international hotels including Hilton, Langham, Stamford, Marriott and Radisson to name a few. Velocity Rewards offer a few different ways to book or earn points on accommodation. Some hotel bookings offer 3 points per $1 spent while other partnership hotels offer 600 - 1000 or more points per qualifying stay.
- Hire car. If you're hitting the road, say winding your way through southern France, then clock up the miles and frequent flyer points at the same time. Both the Qantas and Velocity programs offer flat rates per hire. For example, Qantas has partnered with Avis and Budget to offer 700 points per international car hire while Velocity offers 800 points per overseas car hire with Hertz, Thrifty and Europcar.
- Other ways to earn points. If your credit card is with the Qantas rewards program, then you might also want to remember that there are a few other ways you can earn points. If you want to book a cruise, safari or ski trip then check out your provider's website to see who their preferred holiday booking partners are. You can also get your member card out when booking travel insurance (though some credit cards offer free travel insurance), limousine services or when making purchases through their In Sky Shopping (Duty-Free). If you want to maximise your rewards points with a Velocity associated credit card, try booking via Virgin Australia Holidays or their cruise partner. You can also score points with their partners in travel assistance, airport parking and limousine services. If going to space takes your fancy, then Velocity also offers 1 million points for any budding astronauts who book a trip with Virgin Galactic.
Look for a card with a higher earn rate and overseas benefits
Cards like the Bankwest Zero Platinum give you the ability to save money by not paying foreign transaction fees when you're abroad. Add to this the complimentary insurance policies designed to protect you and your family from illness or injuries, and you've got a piece of plastic designed for the traveller.
Another card featuring a high earn rate and bonus travel insurance is the HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card. You will earn 1 Qantas Point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases in Australia and overseas and a bonus 60,000 when you apply before 30 June 2017.
The UK jaunt
Just on accommodation and car hire alone, Andy was able to accrue frequent flyer points as he traveled his way through Great Britain. Travelling from London to the north, Andy booked three hotels that offered a flat rate of 1000 Velocity points per stay and to make his way he hired a car that scored him 800 points.
This alone got him 3800 points for booking the basics of his holiday that he would have needed regardless. By putting the purchase on his Velocity Rewards NAB credit card he also scored 1 point for every dollar spent with American Express (and now the points can be spent on any Velocity Partner Airline – not just domestic routes like with some credit card rewards).
Be rewarded for overseas transactions
Now we know most credit cards offer 1 point per dollar on most purchases, however there are some credit cards that reward you with extra points for shopping overseas (a competitive deal if retail is a major part of your holiday experience).
When comparing frequent flyer credit cards, consider how much you will use it overseas and if the convenience of that will outweigh any associated fees. The American Express Qantas Ultimate credit card offers 1 points for every dollar spent on everyday purchases, however overseas purchases will earn you 2 points per dollar.
Higher end cards such as the range of Westpac Black Cards allow you to earn extra points on your overseas transactions. Not only do you earn more points, you also get a range of exclusive bonuses while overseas.
Before signing up to get bonus points for overseas spending, make sure you check the fine print. There may be certain actions that don't accrue points (bonus or otherwise) including cash advances, fees and charges for traveller's cheques and foreign currencies. So think ahead regarding how you plan to do the most of your holiday spending.
No foreign transaction fees (yes, it can happen!)
If you’re a big traveller - for work or pleasure - then you know one of the biggest stings when you get home is unpacking that credit card bill and seeing how much you’ve been charged on foreign transaction fees.
To help that post-holiday glow last longer, consider signing up to a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, like the Bankwest Qantas Platinum MasterCard. This handy credit card comes with quite a few perks for the frequent traveller, however be aware that it does have a slightly higher annual fee ($160) than some credit cards.
The bonuses, though, are music to the nomad’s ear, starting off with an absolute $0 fee for foreign transactions. Adding to that, you can accrue 0.5 Qantas Point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases and cardholders can access complimentary airline travel and accident insurance cover.
There are a few other credit cards that don’t have foreign transaction fees, but they aren’t all in partnership with a frequent flyer program so your travel perks might not be as great.
While racking up points while travelling is a great way to offset some of your spendings when you travel, be sure to check the terms and conditions before applying for any credit card. Have a look at your financial situation and determine which features will give you the most benefit.
There are a number of ways to maximise your frequent flyer point earning ability while travelling overseas. However, avoid making unnecessary payments in an attempt to rack up your points, as this could backfire when it comes to paying off your balance and avoiding high interest. When it comes to choosing a frequent flyer credit card to use overseas, compare the options available on the market in conjunction with your unique financial situation in order to select the most ideal card for you.
How do I know if I can earn frequent flyer points on a purchase?
The general requirement for earning frequent flyer points comes down to whether your transaction qualifies as an 'eligible purchase'. Eligible purchases exclude cash advances and cash related transactions. Read the terms and conditions to confirm what is considered an eligible purchase on your credit card.
How many points will I need for my next flight?
Most frequent flyer providers provide a miles or points calculator on their website. You can calculate how many points you'll need for your specific flight using this tool. If your provider has an e-store, they will also list how many points you need to redeem certain products or services there.
How do I know how many points I have accrued?
Most frequent flyer providers allow members to monitor and manage their frequent flyer points or miles through the relevant online portal. Usually you'll need your membership number and a password or PIN to sign in.