Compare Australia’s two largest frequent flyer programs and find out which one offers you the most value.
For anyone who travels regularly, being a member of a frequent flyer program can offer a number of rewards. Virgin and Qantas dominate the Australian market and both have competitive frequent flyer programs. We’ve put the two head-to-head by comparing some of their most popular features to see which program comes out on top.
1. How can I earn points?
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Flights are a key way to earn Qantas Points. You can earn points and Status Credits from flights with Qantas, Jetstar and more than 50 partner airlines and affiliates. While some frequent flyer programs earn points based on the distance flown (such as per kilometre or mile), the Qantas Frequent Flyer program offers a base amount of points for each flight.
The point amount is determined by your flight details, including the airline you fly with, your departure and arrival locations and the fare class. Flights with Qantas and Jetstar earn a higher base rate compared to other airlines.
For example, a standard economy fare flight from Sydney to Los Angeles would earn a minimum of 6,750 points with Qantas, and 3,750 points with a partner airline. A higher fare class, such as business, would earn 13,500 points on a Qantas flight, and 9,375 on a partner airline flight.
Minimum points guarantee
Qantas, Jetstar and American Airlines flights also come with a “Minimum Points Guarantee”, even for shorter flights. The guaranteed amount of points varies based on your fare class, the airline and the location, with the following ranges available:
|Airline||Discount economy and economy fares||Flexible economy, premium economy and flexible premium economy fares||Business, flexible business and first class fares|
|Qantas and Jetstar flights (excluding Jetstar New Zealand Domestic)||800 points||1,200 points||1,400 points|
|Jetstar New Zealand Domestic flights||400 points||800 points||1,200 points|
|American Airlines flights||500 points|
Membership status bonus for flights
The amount of points you earn on flights also varies depending on your Qantas Frequent Flyer membership status level. The program has five levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One. Bronze is the base level and does not earn any bonus points, but from Silver upwards, you get the following “status bonuses”:
- Silver Frequent Flyers earn a bonus 25% more points on the base rate
- Gold Frequent Flyers earn a bonus 50% more points on the base rate
- Platinum and Platinum One Frequent Flyers earn a bonus 100% or double points on the base rate
For example, if the base rate for a flight was 10,000 points, Silver members would earn 12,500 points, Gold members would earn 15,000 points and Platinum or Platinum One members would earn 20,000 points. Read our guide to learn more about Qantas membership status.
Other ways to earn Qantas Points
Qantas offers a wide range of other ways to earn frequent flyer points for everyday spending. Some of the most popular options include:
- Qantas Frequent Flyer credit cards. Many rewards credit cards allow you to earn Qantas Points for your spending, or offer point transfers to the frequent flyer program. Depending on the card, you could earn between 0.25 and 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
- Travel extras. You can earn points on everything travel related, from travel insurance to holiday packages, hotel stays and car hire.
- Qantas Cash card. The Qantas Cash card is a prepaid travel money card that allows you to load and use up to 11 currencies when you go overseas or shop online. It earns 1 point per $1 spent overseas and 1 point per $2 spent in Australia and also doubles as your Qantas Frequent Flyer membership card.
- Qantas Online Mall. Shop online with thousands of partner retailers through the Qantas Online Mall and you can earn up to 5 points per $1 spent.
- Woolworths Rewards. If you’re a member of the Woolworths Rewards program, you can convert 10 Woolworths Dollars (or 2,000 Woolworths Points) into 870 Qantas Points from 31 August 2016. You’ll have to opt-in via Woolworths Rewards to earn frequent flyer points in this way. Find out how you can earn Qantas Points when shopping for groceries at Woolworths.
The extensive range of program partners means that it’s also possible to earn Qantas Points through insurance packages, gym memberships, dining and a wide range of other expenses. You can read this guide to find out about many other ways you can earn more Qantas Points.
Velocity Frequent Flyer
Flights are also a key way to earn Velocity Frequent Flyer points quickly. You can earn points on flights with Virgin Australia and partner airlines. Points are calculated differently for domestic and international flights:
- Domestic flights. Eligible domestic flights with Virgin Australia or Virgin Samoa earn 5 points per $1 spent. For example, a $150 fare would give you 750 points.
- International flights. For these flights, points are based on your flight details, including the airline, fare class and miles flown. The points you can earn range from 0.1 Velocity points per mile to 4 Velocity points per mile.
To give you an idea of how many points you might earn on an international flight, let’s say you’re flying from Sydney to Los Angeles. That’s around 7,495 miles according to the mileage calculator on the Velocity website. If you flew with Virgin Australia on a Saver fare, you would earn 0.5 points per mile, or 3,748 points (rounded to the nearest point amount). A Business fare with Virgin Australia, on the other hand, would earn 2 points per mile, or 14,990 points.
Silver, Gold and Platinum member point bonuses
As with Qantas, Velocity members can get bonus points based on their status or membership level. There are four levels in the Velocity frequent flyer program: Red, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Red members get the base rate of points (as outlined above), while the other tiers get the following bonus rates:
- Silver members get a 25% point bonus
- Gold members get a 50% point bonus
- Platinum members get a 100% point bonus
Other ways to earn Velocity Points
Velocity also has an extensive network of program partners and a wide range of ways you can earn points for everyday spending. Some of the key options include:
- Velocity Frequent Flyer credit cards. A range of credit cards allow you to either earn Velocity points for your spending or transfer credit card rewards points to your Velocity account. Depending on the card, you can earn between 0.25 and 3 points per $1 spent.
- Travel. You can earn Velocity points for most of your travel spending, including hotel bookings, car hire and travel packages.
- Velocity Global Wallet. The Velocity Global Wallet is a prepaid travel money card that allows you to load and spend in up to 11 different currencies. It offers 1 Velocity point per $2 spent in Australia and 1 point per $1 spent overseas.
- Velocity eStore. Similar to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Online Mall, the Velocity eStore allows you to earn points when you shop online with over 200 retailers, including Apple, eBay and THE ICONIC. Depending on the retailer, you could earn up to 4 Velocity points per $1 spent – or more if there’s a bonus points promotion.
- BP service stations. Velocity has partnered with BP to offer 2 points for every litre of fuel purchased up to 150 litres of fuel. You can also get 2 Velocity Points for every $1 spent in-store up to $100 per transaction at participating BP service stations. All you have to do is swipe your Velocity membership card before you pay.
- flybuys. If you're a member of the flybuys shopping rewards program, convert 2,000 flybuys points to 870 Velocity Points when you link your accounts. This offer is available from 20 October 2016 onwards. You'll also earn 1 Velocity Status Credit per $100 when you shop with Coles, Liquorland or First Choice Liquor and scan your flybuys card.
As well as these options, a range of Velocity program partners allow you to also earn points on dining, insurance, home and business services, gym memberships and even entertainment service subscriptions.
When it comes to flights, Velocity has a more straightforward way of calculating the points you will earn than Qantas does. The different methods these two frequent flyer programs use to calculate points means there is no clear winner between them as it could vary every time.
However, we can make somewhat of a comparison by revisiting the example flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. Flying business class with Qantas would earn you a base rate of 13,500 points, and flying business class with Virgin Australia would earn you 14,990 points. In this scenario, the Velocity program would be the winner.
In terms of earning other rewards, both Qantas and Velocity have extensive program partner networks. This means you have a variety of opportunities to earn points through either one of the frequent flyer programs, so the potential value ultimately depends on your spending habits and retail preferences, as much as anything else.
2. Flight partnerships and alliances
Qantas is a member of the oneworld alliance airline network and has over 50 partner airlines and affiliates, including American Airlines, Emirates, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. This allows you to earn and redeem points across a vast network that extends to over 1,200 destinations globally.
Velocity has 12 airline partners, including Air New Zealand, Delta Airlines, Etihad and Singapore Airlines. These partnerships allow you to earn and redeem points on flights to over 600 destinations worldwide.
When it comes to partner airlines, Qantas definitely has the upper hand. It boasts a network twice as big as Velocity’s, putting its miles ahead in this category.
3. Redeeming points
You can redeem Qantas points for a wide range of rewards, including flights, car hire, other travel options, merchandise and gift cards. In general, using your Qantas points for flights offers the most value.
For example, a one-way economy flight from Sydney to Melbourne costs 8,000 points (not including any additional taxes or fees). In comparison, a $50 Myer gift card costs 8,650 points. While the dollar value of an airfare can vary, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) puts the average economy fare for August 2016 at $79.50. That means you’d use 650 less points for a greater dollar value when redeeming a flight rather than a gift card.
The Qantas Frequent Flyer program also gives members the flexibility to use a combination of points and cash for rewards. This option allows you to receive benefits even when you don’t have enough points, and is available for flights, upgrades and redemptions through the Qantas Store. Note that minimum point amounts also apply. See our guide on how to use Qantas Points for more tips.
The Velocity Frequent Flyer program also offers a range of rewards, including flights, car hire, other travel options, merchandise and gift cards. As of July 2016, Velocity members can also use their points to pay for fuel at participating BP service stations, with 1,667 points equalling $10 of fuel. This initiative is the first of its kind in Australia, setting Velocity apart from Qantas for redemption options.
When it comes to value, Velocity points also tend to go further for flight redemptions. For example, a one-way economy flight from Sydney to Melbourne costs 7,800 points (not including any additional taxes or fees), whilst a $50 Myer gift card costs 9,000 points – a difference of 1,200 points.
Similar to Qantas, Velocity also allows you to use a combination of points and cash, although this is currently only available for flight redemptions. Minimum point values also apply. Compare the best* and worst ways you can redeem Velocity Points.
Verdict: Velocity for flights and Qantas for gifts
If you compare the same flight from the two different airlines, Velocity offers a slightly better redemption rate at 7,800 points compared to 8,000 points (excluding any additional taxes or fees). Velocity also gives you the flexibility of using points to pay for petrol, with redemptions starting from as little as 1,667 points.
However, for gift card redemptions, Qantas offers better value at 8,650 points for a $50 Myer gift card compared to 9,000 Velocity rewards points. Qantas also provides the flexibility of “Points Plus Pay” for most redemption options.
Overall, both frequent flyer programs offer flexibility and variety when redeeming points, putting them neck-and-neck in this category. In the end it comes down to whether you prefer to redeem points for flights and fuel (Velocity) or want the option of more affordable gift cards and Points Plus Pay redemptions (Qantas).
4. Point expiry
Qantas Frequent Flyer Points will not expire if you earn or use them at least once every 18 months. Note that family point transfers and the conversion of points from the Aquire program do not count towards these activities. If you have not earned or used Qantas Points for eligible activities within 18 months, your point balance will be reset, but your account will remain active.
Qantas recommends that you log into your account online and check your Account Activity Statement for details of potential point expiry. If you have Qantas Points that are due to expire, they will be listed 60 days before the expiry date.
Velocity Points will not expire if you earn or redeem points at least once every 24 months. Similar to Qantas, transferring points between family members or receiving points from a “Family Pooling” relationship is not considered eligible activity to prevent your points from expiring. Velocity also states that it will send an email notification about potential point expiry at least 30 days prior to the expiry date. Your account will also remain active even if your points expire.
Velocity offers a point expiry period that is six months longer than that of Qantas (24 months compared to 18 months). It also notifies members via email at least 30 days prior to point expiry, while with Qantas you have to actively check your statement for any upcoming point expiration dates. In this regard, Velocity clearly comes out on top.
5. Sharing frequent flyer points
Qantas allows you to share your points with eligible family members who also have a Qantas Frequent Flyer membership. This option is known as “Family Transfers” and has the following conditions:
- Minimum of 5,000 to maximum of 600,000 points per transfer
- Unlimited number of transfers in any 12-month period, up to a maximum of 600,000 Qantas Points
- Sharing points with family does not count towards the activity required to stop your points from expiring after 18 months
You can transfer your points to family members online, or by calling the Qantas Frequent Flyer Service Centre on 13 11 31. A fee of $35 per transfer applies to transfers made via the service centre. Find out more in our guide to transferring Qantas points to family members.
The Velocity Frequent Flyer program offers two options for sharing points with family:
- Point transfers. Similar to Qantas, you can transfer points from your account to the account of an eligible family member up to four times per membership year (which starts on the anniversary of when you signed up for the program). Each transfer must be for between 5,000 and 100,000 points.
- Family Pooling. Family Pooling allows you to group your points into the one account for your whole family to access. This service allows you to earn more points for faster redemptions and greater rewards.
You can transfer Velocity points by logging into your online Velocity account, clicking on the “Points Transfer” button on the left-hand side of the page and following the prompts to select the relevant pooling option and provide the necessary membership details. Use our Velocity family transfers guide for more information and tips.
Verdict: Velocity for pooling points and Qantas for family transfers
The Velocity Frequent Flyer program offers two options for sharing points with family, but it does limit point transfers to 100,000 points per transfer compared to 600,000 with Qantas. You can also make unlimited Family Transfers with Qantas each year, while Velocity limits you to four transfers in a 12-month period.
Ultimately, if you want to pool points, Velocity is the clear winner, but if you want to transfer points to family, Qantas provides much more flexibility.
6. Business rewards program
The Qantas Aquire Program is designed specifically for businesses, allowing them to earn and redeem Aquire points for a range of everyday business activities. It also offers flight savings of up to 10% off the base fare on select domestic and international Qantas flights, and it’s linked to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program for individuals, with one Aquire Point equalling one Qantas Point. Using the Aquire program can be broken down into three key steps:
- Earning points. Acquire offers points for a wide range of business expenses, including flights, freight, printing, parking, storage and car hire. If you’re also a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, you can even earn points twice for some activities: once as a business expense through your Aquire account, and once through your Qantas Frequent Flyer account.
- Converting points. A key advantage of this program is that you can convert Aquire Points into any Qantas Frequent Flyer account at a rate of 1:1. This allows businesses to collect a large number of points in one account, and gives them the flexibility to choose exactly who they wish to reward.
- Rewards. As Aquire is linked to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, you have the same redemption options available. The benefit for businesses is that these rewards can be used as incentives or for company savings, depending on how they are converted and redeemed.
To join Aquire, you must have a valid Australian Business Number (ABN) and a Qantas Frequent Flyer Membership. There is also a one-off membership fee of $89.90.
The Virgin Australia accelerate Program is designed as a corporate air travel solution for small and medium-sized companies. It rewards companies who spend a minimum of $20,000 per year on Virgin Australia flights and codeshare flights operated by Air New Zealand, Delta Air Lines and Etihad Airways. Highlights of the program include:
- No joining fee and no ongoing membership fee
- A “Fare Advantage” feature that saves companies up to 10% on a range of Virgin Australia ticketed flights
- Annual travel credits when you spend $20,000 or more on eligible flights
- Two Velocity Pilot Gold Memberships when you spend $2,000 within the first three months (Velocity terms and conditions apply)
- Monthly progress reports
- Discounted annual membership to the Virgin Australia Lounge for your employees
- Exclusive offers throughout the year
- Dedicated account management team to support your business
- Travellers also continue to earn Velocity Points and Status Credits
With a range of benefits that are specific to the business world, competitive incentives for spending on flights and no joining fee, the Virgin accelerate Corporate Program wins this round. However, the Qantas Aquire program does provide a range of options for businesses who want to easily earn rewards on everyday spending.
The final verdict
From the examples above, we can see that both the Qantas and Velocity frequent flyer programs have their winning and losing points, as well as some similarities. For example, both programs earn the most points and offer the greatest redemption value for flights.
Objectively, Velocity wins in more of the categories above, including earning points, point expiry, sharing points and business rewards. But the differences between these frequent flyer programs are just as important to consider when comparing these programs.
Factors such as airline partnerships, the flexibility of redeeming rewards with a combination of points and cash or the ability to use Velocity points to pay for fuel at BP will have an impact on how you earn and use points, and the value of the points will vary depending on your circumstances. So instead of working out the overall winner, use the information here to decide which frequent flyer program offers better value for you.Back to top