The Telstra Plus loyalty scheme is nothing like a frequent flyer program
There are points and tiers on offer, but not much flexibility.
Yesterday Telstra began unveiling details of Telstra Plus, its new loyalty scheme. Superficially, it sounds a lot like a frequent flyer program: you earn points for everything you spend with the carrier, you can spend those points on a variety of products, and there are tiers to reward customers who spend more.
However, on closer examination the resemblance is slight. The main issue? Right now, Telstra Plus only lets you earn points for spending with Telstra, and you can only redeem them for gadgets and services through the Telstra Rewards Store.
You'll get 10 points for every $1 you spend. It's hard to assess what those might be worth right now, as Telstra hasn't unveiled details of how many points you'll need for any specific item. You can't sign up for the scheme until 14 May 2019.
However, one thing we know about most frequent flyer schemes is that you'll always get better value redeeming your points for flights or upgrades than for other goods (whether those are gadgets, bottles of wine or coffee makers). If you don't have a wide choice of options, it's unlikely you'll get as much value.
Similarly, the best schemes let you earn points from a variety of activities, not just through buying from a single provider. At that level, Telstra Plus is more like a coffee shop loyalty card than a frequent flyer program.
Telstra's loyalty strategy has varied over the years. Until 2016, you could earn flybuys points from Telstra. In recent years, the emphasis has been on Telstra Thanks, which offers early access to concerts and sporting events. Telstra Thanks is being retired for Telstra Plus.
Other telcos let you earn points more directly. Vodafone has a partnership with Qantas, for instance, that lets you earn points on some contract plans. Optus used to have a partnership with Qantas, but earlier this year announced that it will be working with flybuys.
It's too early to give a full verdict on Telstra Plus, as details of the scheme are scant right now. But the general principles won't change.
If you've shopped around and decided Telstra is the best provider for your mobile phone or home broadband, then you might as well join Telstra Plus and potentially score some bonuses. But do the comparison first. Finder's mobile plan and internet comparison tools can help.
That doesn't mean you can't boost your frequent flyer points total while signed up to Telstra. Pay for your bill with a credit card that earns points and you'll potentially have the best of both worlds.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on Finder.
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