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Frantic frequent flyers: Australians have a hard time redeeming points

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Frequent flyer points are a great way to save money on travel, but new research by Finder shows not everyone has an easy time redeeming them.

A nationally representative survey of 1,010 respondents revealed 1 in 4 (25%) Australians have tried to book a flight using points in the past 6 months.

The research revealed while 12% were able to use their points, it was more expensive or difficult than they had anticipated.

The data shows 5% had a bad experience and were unable to use points.

Only 8% were able to use their points as expected.

Angus Kidman, travel expert at Finder, said Australian households had bulked up their travel rewards stash during the pandemic but many were having a hard time cashing them in.

"Travel has returned and many Aussies aren't getting as much value from their points as they had hoped.

"Award-flight availability has been unpredictable post-lockdown which can be frustrating for travellers.

"The increased demand for travel coupled with the decrease in routes means it's much harder to get business class seats or upgrades," Kidman said.

There were 968,490 international departures from Australia in July 2022 – a monthly increase of 87,630 trips based on ABS statistics.

Kidman said getting an upgrade is the best way to use frequent flyer points.

"As soon as you book, you can apply for an upgrade and you get waitlisted. Remember – a discounted sale fare is typically not eligible for an upgrade.

"Being flexible with dates and destinations is the easiest way to redeem points.

"Typically upgrade requests are prioritised by membership status with those on a higher status given first priority. If you're on a lower status, consider booking a seat in economy instead. You'll still get really good value for your points and your odds of finding a seat are a lot higher."

Kidman urged consumers to always be on the lookout for how to earn frequent flyer points.

"You can accrue a significant bank of points through everyday spending and bonus points offers.

"Where you do your grocery shopping and fill up for fuel can all make a big difference to your points balance."

Kidman said the new financial year is a great time to consider a rewards credit card.

"Sign-up bonuses are lucrative right now with up to 150,000 points currently on offer," Kidman said.

Have you tried to book a flight in the past 6 months using frequent flyer points?
Yes, but I had a bad experience and was not able to use my points5%
Yes, I was able to use my points as expected8%
Yes, I was able to use my points but it was more expensive or more difficult than I expected12%
I don't travel16%
No, I haven't tried to book travel with points in the past 6 months60%
Source: Finder survey of 1,010 Australians, July 2022

Check out the best frequent flyer credit cards for September 2022.

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