How to keep earning frequent flyer rewards points while travelling overseas

Make your travel spending work for you and continue earning frequent flyer points while you are away.

While using frequent flyer points to book a trip can leave your rewards balance close to zero, there are plenty of ways you can use your holiday to rack up more points. From how you book your holiday to your hotels and overseas spending – it almost feels like you're double dipping on the holiday perks.

Ways to earn frequent flyer points while travelling

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. For example, Qantas Frequent Flyer offers 600 to 1,000 points per stay at participating international hotels including Comfort Inn, Langham, Radisson, Shangri-la Hotels and Travelodge Hotels. Velocity Frequent Flyer also offers between 600 and 1,000 points per stay with international hotel partners, including Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts. Both frequent flyer programs also let you transfer points from partnered hotel rewards programs, such as Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards.
  • 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 Frequent Flyer offers 700 points per international car hire with Avis and Budget, 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.

Look for a card with a higher earn rate for overseas transactions

Some rewards and frequent flyer credit cards offer more points per $1 spent overseas compared to on Australian purchases. This gives you a way to boost your points when you use a credit card overseas.

For example, the Qantas Premier Platinum offers 1.5 points per $1 spent overseas and 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on eligible purchases in Australia up to $10,000 per month (0.5 points per $1 spent after that). Meanwhile, the Emirates Citi World Mastercard offers 1.25 Skywards Miles for every dollar spent on eligible international spend (uncapped). In comparison, using this card in Australia earns you 1 Mile (up to $3,000 per statement period), and 0.5 Skywards Miles per $1 spent thereafter (up to $10,000 per statement period). With either of these cards, you earn more points for your overseas spending compared to spending in Australia.

Eligible purchases

If you're planning to use a frequent flyer credit card to earn more points when you're overseas, make sure you check what spending will actually earn points. Generally, most regular travel spending such as accommodation, entertainment or tour tickets, transport tickets and dining out costs will earn you points. But spending that usually doesn't earn points include cash advances, fees and charges for traveller's cheques and foreign currencies.

Also remember that you may be able to earn points twice if you use a frequent flyer credit card to pay for bookings you make with program partners: Once through your credit card and once through the frequent flyer program partner.

Example: Earning points while travelling in the UK

In this example, let's Andy is travelling in the UK and wants to collect more Qantas Frequent Flyer points as you go. He decides he wants to hire a car and driving from London up to Scotland. By booking his car hire with Budget, he earns 700 Qantas Points. He also makes two bookings at partner hotels that earn 1,000 Qantas Points each. All up, this earns him 2,700 points.

If Andy used a Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card for these bookings, he'd also earn points for every $1 spent on these bookings.

No foreign transaction fees

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 Points 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.


Jonathan Choi

Jonathan is a training and development manager at finder. He's driven by solving problems for consumers, helping them save money and find the right product for their needs.

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