How to use reward points to fly to China
Here’s how you can save on flights to China by cashing in your frequent flyer or credit card reward points.
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From giant pandas and the Great Wall of China to bright and busy cities such as Beijing or Shanghai, China offers an exciting mix of both natural and man-made wonders. It’s also one of the top destinations for Australian travellers, with a growing number of travel packages and flight options to help you get there.
While you could be able to find a flight deal for your next trip, another way to save money is to use reward points instead. Here, you can explore the different options you’d have with six popular reward programs in Australia, including Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer. You can also find out how many points you’d need for a flight from one of the major capital cities in Australia to China’s busiest airport – Beijing Capital International – and learn how to redeem points through your reward program.
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How to fly to China with Qantas Points
If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, you can redeem your points for Classic Flight Reward seats on eligible flights with Qantas, Jetstar and partner airlines. This includes flights with Cathay Pacific, China Eastern and oneworld alliance airlines. Classic Flight Rewards seats are limited and subject to availability though, which means you should plan ahead with this – especially if you’re travelling with others.
Qantas Classic Flight Rewards to China
This table shows how many Qantas Points you need for a reward flight to Beijing when flying in economy or business class, based on the Qantas Frequent Flyer website’s Using Points calculator.
|Departure city||One-way economy flight||Return economy flight||One-way business class flight||Return business class flight|
|Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne||40,000 points||80,000 points||84,000 points||168,000 points|
|Canberra, Sydney||35,000 points||70,000 points||72,000 points||144,000 points|
|Darwin, Perth||45,000 points||90,000 points||96,000 points||192,000 points|
Point values are based on search results from 4 April 2018.
It’s worth noting that Qantas does not offer direct flights to Beijing from every capital city or on every day. This means your reward flight could have a stopover (or stopovers), as well as codeshare flights with partner airlines. As well as affecting the amount of time your flights take, this can influence the amount of points you need because it may add extra miles to your flights. Still, the table above gives you an idea of the base rate for Flight Rewards when you’re travelling to China.
How can I use Qantas Points to book a Classic Flight Rewards ticket?
You can make a Classic Flight Rewards booking using the following steps:
- Log in to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account online and enter your travel details in the flight search box.
- Click on “Search Classic Flight Rewards” and hit “Search Flights”. This will show you options for each fare class, as well as different airlines.
- Browse and choose available reward seats in your chosen fare class. Note that “No Seats” will be shown if there are none available through Classic Flight Rewards.
- Review the point cost, click “Continue” and follow the prompts to complete the booking. Any additional fees and charges payable to Qantas will be shown on the “Check” page before you confirm your booking.
Alternatively, you could book your flights by calling the Qantas Contact Centre on 13 13 13 (from Australia). An additional booking fee of $70 per person applies for this option.
What else do I need to know?
Keep these details in mind to make the most of your Qantas Points and avoid extra charges when you want to use Qantas Points for a trip to China.
- Fees and taxes. Additional airport and airline fees, charges and taxes may apply to your tickets. When these costs apply, they will be shown before you confirm your booking. Usually, you can choose between paying them with cash or points, although it’s typically better value to pay with your own money.
- Booking fee. If you make your booking through a Qantas Contact Centre, you’ll be charged a booking fee of $70 per passenger or a Reward Assistance Fee of 6,000 Qantas Points.
- Limited availability. Classic Flight Rewards seats are limited and subject to availability. During popular travel times, such as school holidays or public holidays, there may not be any seats available. So make sure you plan ahead to find flight options for your travel dates.
- Points-plus-pay. If you don’t have enough Qantas Points for a Classic Flight Reward, you can use cash to make up the difference.
- Flight upgrades. If you’ve already booked tickets to China with Qantas, you could also think about using your points for a flight upgrade. These rewards can offer great value for your points and mean you’ll get added luxuries for your flights, but they are also subject to availability.
Compare Qantas Frequent Flyer credit cards
Velocity Frequent Flyer
The Velocity Frequent Flyer program gives you two ways to use Velocity Points for flights to China with Virgin Australia or any of its partner airlines:
- Reward Seats. These seats are available exclusively for Velocity members who want to fly using points and offer you the highest point value when compared to paying for flights. Similar to other frequent flyer programs, these Reward Seats are limited and subject to availability.
- Any Seats. With this option, you can use your points to pay for any seat booked with Virgin Australia. Any Seat rewards costs more but can give you more flexibility in your booking.
Velocity Reward Seat point estimates
The amount of Velocity Points you need to get a Reward Seat flight to Beijing can vary depending on factors including your location and when you’re booking. But to give you an idea of how many points you’d need, here’s a look at the minimum amount of points you’d need to fly from a capital city in Australia.
Note that these details are based on the Velocity Frequent Flyer website’s Points Tables, which shows the minimum points required based on miles flown. We’ve looked at flight miles for direct flights, so you will need more points if there are stopovers involved.
These minimum point values are based on Reward Seat flights with Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand (trans-Tasman only), Alitalia or Delta.
|Miles range||Departure city||One-way economy flight||Return economy flight||One-way business class flight||Return business class flight|
|3,601-4,800||Darwin||27,800 points||55,600 points||59,500 points||119,000 points|
|4,801-5,800||Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth||34,800 points||69,600 points||71,500|
|5,801-7,000||Hobart||39,800 points||79,600 points||83,500 points||167,000 points|
Data sourced from the Velocity website on 4 April 2018.
Velocity Point requirements
Considering Virgin Australia does not currently offer direct flights to Beijing, it’s also likely any reward flight you look at will require more than the minimum point amounts listed here. But as these costs could vary based on availability, you can at least use this table to get a rough idea of the absolute minimum points you’d need for your flight to China.
These minimum point values are based on Reward Seat flights with Air New Zealand (New Zealand domestic services), Capital Airlines, Etihad, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Hawaiian Airlines and South African Airways.
|Miles range||Departure city||One-way economy flight||Return economy flight||One-way business class flight||Return business class flight|
|3,601-4,800||Darwin||35,000 points||70,000 points||65,000 points||130,000 points|
|4,801-5,800||Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth||42,000 points||84,000 points||78,000 points||156,000 points|
|5,801-7,000||Hobart||50,000 points||100,000 points||92,000 points||184,000 points|
Velocity Any Seat point estimates
The amount of Velocity Points you need for an Any Seat reward varies depending on the commercial cost of the flight and fare class you’re looking at. As an example, we looked at the cost in points and dollars for a one-way flight from Melbourne to Beijing on 27 September 2018.
While Any Seat bookings are available for all eligible Virgin Australia and codeshare partner flights, not all options included the cost of different fares available. So for our example, we chose a Virgin Australia codeshare flight with Singapore Airlines that offered both economy and business class options. Here’s what we found:
One-way flight from Melbourne to Beijing with Virgin Australia (codeshare with Singapore Airlines) on 27 September 2018
|Booking payment option||Economy Elevate||Economy Freedom||Business Saver||Business|
|Any Seat points (excluding fees and taxes)||148,300 points||169,500 points||560,500 points||706,800 points|
|Cash payment cost||$889.58||$1,016.58||$3,362.58||$4,240.58|
|Approximate point value per $1 of fare (to nearest one-decimal place)||1 point = 0.6 cents||1 point = 0.6 cents||1 point = 0.6 cents||1 point = 0.6 cents|
Fare costs based on flight search from 4 April 2018.
In this case, the flights we looked at all offered 0.6 cents of value per point for Any Seat redemptions, when rounded to the nearest decimal place. It is worth noting that this value could be lower or higher depending on the flight and travel times.
When compared to Reward Seat options, all of these Any Seat options are more than double (and in some cases triple) the minimum point amounts. But if you can’t find a Reward Seat option that works for your trip to China, looking at Any Seat does offer more flexibility.
How can I book a flight to China with Velocity Points?
Whether you’re planning to book a Reward Seat or use the Any Seat option, the steps are the same:
- Log in to your Velocity account online.
- Select “Search and Book Flights” from the left-hand side of your account summary page.
- Enter your travel details, tick the “Use Points+Pay” option and click on “Find Flights”. This will show you your flight options in points.
- Browse the flights and choose one that works for you, then follow the prompts to complete the booking.
Alternatively, you can call the Guest Contact Centre on 13 67 89 and make your booking that way. Note that a fee of $70 applies each time you make a booking through the Guest Contact Centre.
What else do I need to know?
Here are the other essential details you should look at when you’re planning to use Velocity Points for your trip to China.
- Fees and taxes. Additional airport and airfare fees, charges and taxes may apply to your tickets. When these costs apply, they will be shown before you confirm your booking.
- Booking fee. If you make your booking by calling the Guest Contact Centre, you’ll be charged a booking fee of $70.
- Limited availability. Reward Seats are subject to availability and may not be available on certain dates. If you’re flexible with your dates, it may be worth searching for flights across a range of days to find one that works for you. Otherwise, you can consider the Any Seat option.
- Points+Pay. If you don’t have enough Velocity Points for your chosen reward, you can use cash to make up the difference.
- Flight upgrades. If you already have your tickets to China, you could also look at using points to upgrade to a higher fare class. While flight upgrades are subject to availability, they can offer you competitive value for your points.
Compare Velocity Frequent Flyer credit cards
American Express Membership Rewards
If you have an American Express credit card that earns Membership Rewards points, you have two main ways of using them to fly to China:
- Direct bookings with points. Redeem your points for travel bookings made directly through your Membership Rewards account.
- Frequent flyer transfers. You can transfer your Membership Rewards points to an eligible frequent flyer program and the redeem flights from there.
Using Membership Rewards points for direct bookings
Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for your travel bookings with American Express Travel Online, Webjet or at selected Helloworld locations. The amount of points you’ll need for your reward flight to China depends on the retail cost of the fare.
The value of your points could also vary depending on the Membership Rewards stream you’re enrolled in. As a general guide, the American Express website says 10,000 Membership Rewards points equals $100 of value for Webjet and Helloworld bookings. So here’s a table to show how many points you’d need based on examples of the prices you might pay for one-way and return fares to Beijing:
|Fare cost||Membership Rewards points needed|
Costs sourced from American Express website on 4 April 2018.
Transferring Membership Rewards points to a frequent flyer program
Membership Rewards also gives you the option of transferring your points to a partnered frequent flyer program, including Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Asia Miles (linked to Cathay Pacific, among others). From there you can use your points to get a flight to China with your preferred airline (or its partners). This can offer you more value per point but does add another step to the redemption process.
It’s also worth noting that the amount of frequent flyer points you’ll get varies depending on your Membership Rewards program stream and the frequent flyer program. Generally you’ll receive between 0.75 and 1 frequent flyer point for each Membership Rewards point you transfer. You can check the applicable rate by logging in to your Membership Rewards account, going to the rewards options and selecting your chosen frequent flyer program.
Example: How many Membership Rewards points would I need for a flight?
Say you have 100,000 Membership Rewards points on the American Express Platinum Edge and want to use them to fly from Melbourne to Beijing with Cathay Pacific or another Asia Miles partner.
As the Platinum Edge is enrolled in the Membership Rewards Ascent program, you can transfer your points to the Asia Miles frequent flyer program at a rate of 1:1. After transferring your points, you’d have enough Asia Miles to fly return in either premium economy (from 96,000 Asia Miles) or economy (from 80,000 Asia Miles). You could also get a one-way business class flight from 70,000 Asia Miles, while a one-way first class flight would start from 105,000 Asia Miles.
How can I redeem Membership Rewards points for my flight to China?
Whether you want to book directly or transfer your points to a frequent flyer program, you can follow these steps to use your Membership Rewards to help you get to China.
- Go to membershiprewards.com.au and browse for the travel reward you want.
- Select the travel partner or frequent flyer program you want to use your points with and click “redeem”. You’ll then be prompted to sign in to your account.
- Check you have enough points and then follow the prompts to confirm your redemption.
You can also call American Express on 1300 363 276 and redeem your points that way.
What else do I need to know?
Make the most of your Membership Rewards points by keeping these details in mind before you redeem them for your trip to China.
- Additional fees. Booking fees or other charges may apply if you use your points through Webjet, Helloworld or American Express Travel Online. If you don’t have enough Membership Rewards points, you may want to consider using a combination of points and cash or buying more points.
- Transfer times. If you decide to transfer Membership Rewards points to a frequent flyer program, keep in mind that it usually takes between 1 and 5 business days for points to show up in your frequent flyer account.
- Points-plus-pay. If you don’t have enough Membership Rewards points for a travel booking, you can use cash to make up the difference. Note that this is not an option when you transfer your points to a frequent flyer program.
- Complimentary insurance. If your Amex card also offers complimentary credit card travel insurance, using Membership Rewards points to pay for some or all of your flight should activate the cover.
Compare American Express Membership Rewards cards
The points you earn with a CommBank Awards credit card can be used to pay for travel bookings you make at Flight Centre. The CommBank Awards program also gives you the opportunity to transfer your points to Qantas Frequent Flyer (if you opt in) or Velocity Frequent Flyer.
Using CommBank Awards points at Flight Centre
You can use CommBank Awards points to pay for your trip to China at selected travel agencies around Australia including Flight Centre, Escape Travel, Student Flights and Travel Associates. You’ll need a minimum of 2,500 points and can also pay with a combination of points and cash.
The CommBank Awards program does not openly list the amount of points you’ll need to pay for travel bookings made at Flight Centre or another participating travel agency. However, you may be able to see the value of your CommBank Awards points by logging in to the app or by calling the CommBank Awards Centre on 13 16 61 between 8am and 8pm (Sydney time) on weekdays.
Transferring CommBank Awards points to frequent flyer programs
You can also use your CommBank Award points to get Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer points. The amount of frequent flyer points you get for each CommBank Awards point varies depending on the card you have. We’ve outlined details for each program below.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
If you want to transfer your CommBank Awards points to Qantas Points, you need to opt-in to the CommBank Awards Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct program. This attracts an annual fee of $30. Your points are then transferred to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account at the following rate:
- 2.5 CommBank Awards points = 1 Qantas Frequent Flyer point
Based on this transfer rate, you’d need to earn the equivalent of 87,500 CommBank Awards points to redeem a one-way economy flight from Sydney to Beijing (35,000 Qantas Points) or 100,000 points for a one-way economy flight from Melbourne to Beijing (40,000 Qantas Points).
Velocity Frequent Flyer
You can transfer your CommBank Awards points to your Velocity Frequent Flyer account at any time, as long as you transfer a minimum of 3,600 Awards points. Any additional transfers must be increments of 1,000 points. The transfer rate is different depending on your CommBank Awards account level (Awards, Gold, Platinum or Diamond), with the following conversions:
- CommBank Awards and Gold cards: 2.5 CommBank Awards points = 1 Velocity Point
- CommBank Awards Platinum and Diamond cards: 2 CommBank Awards points = 1 Velocity Point
If you have a CommBank Awards or Gold Awards card, you’d need around 87,000 CommBank Awards points to get a one-way flight to China from Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart or Sydney (starting from 34,800 Velocity Points). If you have a Platinum or Diamond card, you’d need around 69,600 Awards points for this option.
How can I redeem CommBank Awards points to get to China?
Follow these steps to redeem your CommBank Awards points for Flight Centre bookings or frequent flyer points online:
- Log in to your account via NetBank and click on the “Awards” icon next to your credit card. This will take you to the Awards website.
- Search for your chosen reward and follow the prompts to redeem it. This includes your online bookings with Flight Centre and Velocity Point transfers. For Qantas Frequent Flyer transfers, you’ll need to follow the prompts to confirm your enrolment in Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct (remembering there is a $30 annual fee for this option).
Alternatively, you can call the CommBank Awards Centre on 13 16 61 between 8am and 8pm weekdays (Sydney/Melbourne time).
What else do I need to know?
Here are some key details to remember when you’re using CommBank Awards points to get to China:
- Additional fees. Booking sites and services may add extra fees that increase the cost of your flights. If you don’t have enough CommBank Awards points, you may want to consider using a combination of points and cash or buying more points.
- Points-plus-pay. If you don’t have enough points for a travel booking, you can use cash to make up the difference. Note that this option is not available if you’ve decided to transfer your points to a frequent flyer program.
- Subject to availability. Travel bookings and offers from Flight Centre are subject to availability, as are any flights you book through a frequent flyer rewards program after transferring your points.
- Frequent flyer point transfers. Once you have transferred your points to Qantas or Velocity Frequent Flyer, the transaction cannot be reversed and the points become a part of that program. Keep in mind that you can only transfer CommBank Awards points to a frequent flyer account that matches the name on your CommBank credit card.
- Reward values. With no public information about the value of your CommBank Awards points for Flight Centre bookings, you may want to check how many points you’ll need before you redeem them. That way you can compare the value of your points when redeemed through Flight Centre or transferred to a frequent flyer program.
- Complimentary insurance. If you have a CommBank Awards card that also includes travel insurance, you can enjoy this cover by logging in to your NetBank account and activating it before your trip to China. No minimum spend is required for this insurance.
If you have a credit card linked to the NAB Rewards program, you can use your points to pay for flight bookings online or transfer them to your frequent flyer account with Velocity, Asia Miles or Air New Zealand Airpoints.
Using NAB Rewards for flights with Webjet
You can use NAB Rewards points to pay for flight bookings made directly through Webjet. NAB Rewards doesn’t list a fixed value for your points when they are redeemed in this way, so you won’t know how many points you’ll need until you’re logged in to your NAB Rewards account and/or begin your redemption through Webjet.
However, you could get a basic idea of the potential cost by looking at the points required for a Webjet gift card. In this case, you’d need 96,150 NAB Rewards points for a $500 gift card (with a maximum of 8 vouchers per booking). Based on these details, here are some examples of the points you’d need for a flight to China:
|Fare cost||NAB Rewards points needed|
Costs are accurate as of 4 April 2018.
Transferring NAB Rewards to a frequent flyer program
You can also transfer a minimum of 3,000 NAB Rewards points to your frequent flyer account. The following transfer rates apply:
Velocity. 3,000 NAB Rewards points = 1,500 Velocity Points
Asia Miles. 3,000 NAB Rewards points = 1,000 Asia Miles
Air New Zealand Airpoints. 3,000 NAB Rewards points = 15 Airpoints Dollars
To give you an idea of the potential cost, you would need to transfer at least 69,600 NAB Rewards points to your Velocity account if you wanted to redeem a one-way Velocity Reward Seat economy flight from Melbourne to Beijing (from 34,800 Velocity Points plus fees and taxes). For a return economy flight, you’d need at least 139,200 NAB Rewards points.
How can I redeem my NAB Rewards points?
Follow these steps to use your NAB Rewards points to pay for a booking through Webjet or to transfer them to your frequent flyer account:
- Go to rewards.nab.com.au and log in to your account.
- Click on “Travel” and choose either “Webjet” or “Airline partner programs”.
- Follow the prompts to complete your transaction.
You can also redeem your points by calling the NAB Loyalty Team on 13 22 65 between 8am and 8pm (AEST) on weekdays.
What else do I need to know?
Keep these details in mind to make sure you get the most value from your NAB Rewards points when you use them to travel to China.
- Points-plus-pay. If you don’t have enough NAB Rewards points to pay for your flights with Webjet, you can use cash to make up the difference.
- Additional fees. Remember that there could be additional fees and charges when you’re using NAB Rewards points to make bookings through Webjet or when you’ve transferred them to the frequent flyer rewards program.
- Point transfers. If you’ve decided to transfer your NAB Rewards points to Velocity, Asia Miles or Air New Zealand Airpoints, remember that it could take several business days before the points show up in your frequent flyer account. You also need to transfer a minimum of 3,000 NAB Rewards points at a time.
- Complimentary insurance. If your NAB Rewards credit card offers complimentary travel insurance, keep in mind that any reward points you use to pay for travel won’t count towards activating the cover. This means you’ll still have to use your card to spend at least $500 on eligible prepaid travel costs to get cover for your trip.
Compare NAB Rewards cards
If you’re a member of the Flybuys rewards program, you can use your points to pay for flights booked through Flybuys travel or transfer them to your Velocity Frequent Flyer account.
Using points to pay for flights to China through Flybuys travel
Flybuys travel offers flights to Beijing with a range of airlines including Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air China, Sichuan Airlines, Hainan Airlines and China Southern. With this option, each point you earn is worth 0.5 cents towards the dollar value of your flight booking.
As the retail cost of flights to Beijing varies depending on when you book (among other things), here are some examples of the points you’d need for different one-way fares.
|Fare cost||Flybuys points needed|
How can I redeem Flybuys points through Flybuys travel?
Follow these steps to use points to book your flights to China through Flybuys travel:
- Go to the Flybuys travel website and log in using your Flybuys membership details.
- Search for flights to China and select the flights that suit you.
- Follow the prompts to confirm your booking, providing all relevant travel details, then click through to the payment section.
- Use the points option to select how many points you’d like to use. If you don’t have enough points you’ll also be given the option of using cash to pay the remaining balance.
Transferring Flybuys points to Velocity
If you’re a member of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program, you can boost your point balance by transferring Flybuys points to your account. With this option, a minimum transfer of 2,000 Flybuys points equals 870 Velocity Points.
Based on this transfer rate, you’d need at least 80,000 Flybuys points if you wanted to transfer them to your Velocity account for a one-way economy Reward Seat from Sydney or Melbourne to Beijing (from 34,800 Velocity Points). Considering this is the absolute minimum points you’d need through Velocity, it may be worth searching for Velocity Reward flight options before you actually transfer your Flybuys points.
How can I transfer Flybuys points to Velocity?
Here are the basic steps you can take to use Flybuys points to help you book reward flights to China through your Velocity Frequent Flyer account:
- Go to flybuys.com.au/velocity and click the “Transfer now” button.
- Choose the amount of points you want to transfer.
- Click “Sign in to redeem” if you have not already signed into your Flybuys account, or “Get it now” if you are signed in.
- Follow the prompts to confirm the reward.
If you haven’t redeemed Flybuys points for Velocity Frequent Flyer points before, you will need to link your accounts. You can do this by visiting flybuys.com.au/velocity, clicking on the “Link now” button and following the prompts to enter your Velocity membership details so your accounts are linked.
What else do I need to know?
If you want to use Flybuys points to get to China, here are the key factors to keep in mind:
- Points plus pay. If you don’t have enough Flybuys points to pay for your flights with Flybuys travel, you can use cash to make up the difference.
- Additional fees. Remember that there could be additional fees and charges when you’re using Flybuys points to make bookings through Flybuys travel or when you redeem them after transferring them to your Velocity account.
- Point transfers. If you’ve decided to transfer your Flybuys points to Velocity, remember that you’ll need to transfer a minimum of 2,000 Flybuys points each time. You can transfer up to 138,000 Flybuys points per year.
When it comes to travel hacks, using points to pay for flights is a popular option that could help you get to China without paying a fortune in upfront costs. Just remember to look at the different ways you can use your points and consider the value of each option so that you can get the most out of your hard-earned points.
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