Timing award points redemptions is a game of chance

Posted: 27 April 2018 6:00 am
News

Knowing when to move your points requires planning, and also a degree of luck.

It's straightforward to earn extra points for your frequent flyer scheme: start with a credit card with bonus points, rack up supermarket reward points, and sign up for bonus offers when they appear. But sometimes working out when to redeem those extra points is trickier, a point Virgin Australia is demonstrating with its flybuys partnership this month.

As Points Finder reported earlier in the week, Virgin is teasing a big redemption offer coming up on 1 May. We don't know the details yet, but Virgin is advising against anyone redeeming hotel, card or shopper points until the deal is revealed. What's more, a spokesperson told Points Finder that the deal would be "record-breaking".

Now that's all well and good. But just days before that announcement, flybuys has been promoting an offer where if you did convert your flybuys points into Velocity Points, you'd score an extra 100 (so you get 970 Velocity Points for 2,000 flybuys points, rather than the usual 870).

I had some points I hadn't converted, so after getting a reminder email, I went ahead. Then a day later the 1 May tease began. Now I'm wondering whether I'd have been better off waiting. Now I feel like a virgin that has been exploited.

But I guess I should have known better. Mixed messages in this area are common. For instance, at the same time that Virgin is encouraging customers to wait for the 1 May deal, it's also rolling out targeted deals which promise extra points if you make a flight booking.

I've seen examples offering both 500 and 1,000 extra points. Even 500 points is generous in the Virgin scheme of things, where a domestic flight can often only earn you between 500 and 1,000 points.

So what's the connection? If you go ahead and book a flight, then chances are you're not going to be redeeming any points flights for a while. When you've only got four weeks off a year, you need to plan ahead. So you'll be building up your cache of points if you take advantage of the new offer, but not necessarily spending them. That means Virgin will be making you feel good, but not being swamped with redemption offers.

Bottom line? It's foolish to expect airlines to behave altruistically. To make the most of your points, you need to have a clear strategy, and once you've made a decision, you have to live with it. So if it turns out I could have got more points by waiting rather than redeeming, them's the breaks. I still did better than would normally be the case.

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.com.au.

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