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How to earn frequent flyer points with Mastercard, Visa or eftpos gift cards

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Earn extra Qantas or Velocity Points while spending money on whatever you like.

One of the best ways to earn frequent flyer points is by picking up a credit card that offers bonus sign-up points and a solid earn rate (check out our round-up of current offers). That's well-known, but there's a less-obvious trick involving prepaid gift credit cards that can also boost your points total.

Both Coles' Flybuys and Woolworths' Everyday Rewards regularly offer bonus point bundles when you buy Mastercard, Visa or eftpos gift cards. One typical deal offers 1,000 or 2,000 bonus points with a gift card purchase. Another offers 10x the face value of the card as points.

2,000 Everyday Rewards points convert to 1,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points, and 2,000 Flybuys points convert to 1,000 Velocity points. By buying prepaid gift cards when bonus offers emerge, you can score extra points. And unlike other gift cards (such as Netflix or Uber, for instance), you can generally spend the card's value on whatever you like. Indeed, you could use the card to pay for other products that themselves earn points (such as flights).

One key thing to remember is that you'll usually have to pay a service fee to buy a gift credit card. Fees vary, but $5.95 for a $50 gift card is typical. That's what applies with an eftpos deal running at Woolworths in late September 2023, for instance, which offers a 10x multiple of the face value.

While that means you'll be paying $56 in order to spend $50, you'll also score far more points than usual. To earn 2,000 supermarket reward points you'd usually have to spend $2,000, so even with the service fee, you're generally ahead as long as you convert your supermarket points to airline points and then spend them wisely.

You might also be thinking: "If I spend money with a gift credit card rather than my regular credit card, I'll miss out on the points I get when I spend on my regular credit card." However, you won't usually earn this many points spending with a regular credit card.

Here's an example. On the American Express Velocity Platinum Card, you can earn 2.25 Velocity Points per $1 spent if you use the card to buy Virgin Australia tickets. For a $100 spend, that's 225 points simply for using the card.

Use a $100 gift card with a bonus deal and you'll potentially earn either 500 or 1,000 points, depending on the bonus points offered. (In both cases, you'll also earn additional Velocity Points once you actually take the flight.)

Traps to watch out for

Make sure you don't lose out on points when using prepaid gift credit cards by following these tips:

  • Make sure the fee justifies the offer. Paying a $6 service fee for a card that earns 2,000 supermarket points usually works out, but $6 for a 1,000 point offer can be more marginal given current points values. Equally, if the bonus points are the same on a $50 card as on a $100 one, there's not much point in spending extra for the higher-priced cards.
  • You often can't buy multiple cards to score more points. Gift credit card offers at supermarkets sometimes limit bonus points offers to one per household during each campaign. Check the rules for the specific offer before buying up multiple cards. These can usually be found in very small print in the supermarket catalogue.
  • Check if there are any restrictions on card use. Some Visa-branded cards can only be used in a subset of stores, rather than any retailer. For instance, Visa OnlyONE Home Improvement, DIY & Tradie cards can only be used in hardware stores. Don't buy a card that doesn't align with your plans on how you'll spend that money.
  • Remember to scan your loyalty card. Sounds obvious, but if you don't scan your loyalty card prior to paying, you won't get the bonus points.
  • Your gift card purchases won't earn extra Flybuys or Everyday Rewards points. Gift card purchases don't earn supermarket reward points in their own right. You'll score the bonus points if there's an active offer, but you won't earn points otherwise. That's worth remembering if you've activated a targeted offer that promises bonus points if you spend a certain amount at a supermarket each week. Your gift card buy won't count towards that total.
  • Self-serve checkouts may not work. In Woolworths, you can't buy gift cards at a self-serve checkout at all. You can in Coles, but a staff member still has to authorise your purchase. So usually it's faster to go to an express checkout.
  • Your points can take time to appear. It usually takes a day or two for bonus points to show up in your card balance. After purchasing a card, keep your receipt until you've seen the points show up.

We updated this guide in September 2023 with additional offer details.

Want to keep your frequent flyer points balance growing? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.

Image: Supplied: Coles/Woolworths/eftpos/OnlyONE

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