Travel borders open: Which frequent flyer credit card is best now?

Posted: 24 February 2022 3:22 pm
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The border is open, travel is back and right now you can get up to 120,000 bonus frequent flyer points with one of these credit cards.

With Australia fully opening its borders on 21 February 2022, dreams of overseas travel can finally become a reality. Frequent flyer points give you a way to get there (or some of the way there) without forking out all the cash you need for an airfare.

One of the fastest ways to get enough frequent flyer points for an overseas rewards flight is by signing up for a credit card with a bonus points offer. So, here's our pick of bonus point credit card offers available right now, covering Qantas Points, Velocity Points and rewards you can transfer to other frequent flyer programs.

How did we pick these cards?

We selected this line-up based on the amount of bonus points offered and other valuable features of credit cards offered through Finder in February 2022.

A great frequent flyer credit card has big bonus points offer and lounge access, travel credit or other perks that can justify the cost of the annual fee. We picked cards available through Finder with the biggest bonus point offers and then weighed up their other features. There's no 1 best credit card for everyone, so check details that matter to you.

Best for Qantas Frequent Flyers

Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

  • Bonus points offer: 120,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn rate: 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 (0.5 points per $1 with government bodies) and 2.25 points per $1 for eligible spending with Qantas
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Purchase rate: 20.74% p.a.
  • Other key features: $450 Qantas Travel Credit, complimentary insurance and 4 airport lounge passes per year

The Qantas American Express Ultimate Card is suited to serious Qantas Frequent Flyers who travel with the airline a few times a year.

With its current 120,000 bonus points offer, some of the flights you could take include the following:

  • Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney to Auckland in business class (83,000 points for a return flight)
  • Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney to Vancouver in economy class (83,000 points for a return flight)
  • Darwin to London (Heathrow) in premium economy (94,900 points one-way)

While the $450 annual fee is on the higher end of the scale, you can balance out the cost by using the $450 Qantas Travel Credit it offers each year. Add in the 4 airport lounge passes – 2 for Qantas and 2 for American Express lounges – and this card offers a lot of value to frequent travellers.

What about American Express acceptance?

You can pay with American Express at a lot of major businesses, including Bunnings, Coles, Chemist Warehouse, David Jones and Woolworths. It's also accepted by a lot of small businesses – and the Shop Small campaign gives you a way to earn more points if you get your card, register and shop with it before 31 March 2022.

I've had an American Express credit card since 2017 and rarely have a problem using it. But if you want to know more, the Amex website and app has details on where you can pay with your card.

Best for Velocity Frequent Flyers

The American Express Velocity Platinum Card

American Express Velocity Platinum Card

  • Bonus points offer: 100,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn rate: 1.25 Velocity Points per $1 (0.5 points per $1 with government bodies) and 2.25 points per $1 for eligible spending with Virgin Australia
  • Annual fee: $375
  • Purchase rate: 20.74% p.a.
  • Other key features: A complimentary Virgin Australia domestic return flight, complimentary insurance, 4 airport lounge passes per year and 100 bonus Velocity Status Credits if you spend at least $50,000 of eligible purchases in a year

The 100,000 bonus Velocity Points offered on the American Express Velocity Platinum Card would give you enough points for any of the following reward flights:

  • Melbourne to Fiji in business class (99,000 points return)
  • Sydney to Los Angeles in business class (95,500 points one-way)
  • Brisbane to Bali (Denpasar) in business class (99,000 points return)

This card's $375 annual fee marks it out as a more premium choice, although you could offset this cost with the complimentary Virgin Australia domestic return flight you can take each year. As well as other travel perks, it's also one of the only frequent flyer credit cards to offer bonus Status Credits when you meet a yearly spend requirement.

Status credit tip

Velocity Frequent Flyer typically opens up reward flights to members with higher status. So if you reach Velocity Silver, Gold or Platinum status, you'll have more choice of how and when you redeem your points for flights.

It's a similar case with Qantas Frequent Flyer and other airline loyalty programs.

Best frequent flyer credit card on a budget

Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card

Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card

  • Bonus points offer: Up to 100,000 bonus Velocity Points (25,000 bonus points per month when you spend $1,500 in each of the first 4 months)
  • Earn rate: 0.66 Velocity Points per $1 spent up to $1,500 in a statement period, then 0.5 points per $1 for the rest of that period
  • Annual fee: $64 for the first year, then $129 per year
  • Purchase rate: 20.74% p.a.
  • Other key features: Yearly $129 Virgin Australia gift voucher, complimentary insurance

The Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card's bonus points offer runs over the first 4 months you have the card if you apply by 31 March 2022.

If you earned the total 100,000 bonus points on offer, you'd have enough for the same reward flight examples we gave for the American Express Velocity Platinum Card.

If you wanted to redeem your points for a flight with a partner airline, you could get a return economy flight to Singapore with Singapore Airlines (70,000 points) or a return economy flight to Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines (84,000 points) – with points to spare.

This card also has a relatively low annual fee for a frequent flyer card: just $64 in the first year, then $129 per year. On top of that, it gives you a $129 Virgin Australia gift voucher each year and complimentary travel insurance.

Best credit card for flexible travel plans

The NAB Rewards Signature Visa Card

NAB Rewards Signature Card

  • Bonus points offer: Up to 140,000 NAB Rewards points (100,000 when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days and 40,000 after 12 months)
  • Earn rate: 1.25 NAB Rewards points per $1 on most everyday spending, with up to 3.75 points per $1 with bonus partners
  • Annual fee: $295
  • Purchase rate: 19.99% p.a.
  • Other key features: Complimentary insurance and point transfers to Velocity Frequent Flyer, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Asia Miles and Air New Zealand Airpoints

If you want to keep your options open for now, the NAB Rewards Signature Card gives you a way to transfer your points to a partnered frequent flyer program. So, if you earned all 140,000 bonus points, transferring them would give you the following:

  • 70,000 Velocity Points
  • 46,667 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles
  • 46,667 Asia Miles
  • 700 Air New Zealand Airpoints dollars

But if you didn't want to transfer your points straight away because of uncertain travel plans (or anything else), you also have plenty of other ways to use NAB Rewards points. For example, you could get $600 of digital gift cards for Bunnings, Uber Eats or Uber (122,450 points for a couple of $250 gift cards and a $100 gift card) or $560 cashback to your credit card or NAB bank account.

The NAB Rewards Signature Card doesn't offer lounge passes like the other cards here, but it does have complimentary international travel insurance. So if you earn enough points and use the insurance, you could be able to justify its $295 annual fee.

Expert tips on redeeming your points

"Credit card bonuses can give you a huge points boost, but you don't want to squander that by wasting the points when you eventually spend them," said Finder editor-at-large and frequent flyer expert Angus Kidman. "Save your points to spend on flights or flight upgrades – that's how you'll get the most bang for buck."

"It's common to lust after a business-class seat, but even an economy fare to a regional location or overseas offers great points value. That's especially true if you're travelling with family – competition for business seats is stiff, and the chance of getting multiple bookings is low."

Compare these bonus points offers side by side

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Bonus points Rewards program Rewards points per $ spent Purchase rate p.a. Annual fee
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
100,000
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74%
$450
Earn 100,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months. Plus, a yearly $450 Travel Credit.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
120,000
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1.25
20.74%
$375
Earn 120,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,500 in the first 3 months. Plus, a complimentary return domestic flight per year.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
100,000
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
20.74%
$64 for the first year ($129 thereafter)
Get up to 100,000 bonus Velocity Points on eligible spending. Plus, a reduced first-year annual fee and a yearly $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher.
NAB Rewards Signature Card
140,000
NAB Rewards
1.25
19.99%
$295
Earn up to 140,000 bonus NAB Rewards Points (100,000 when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days and 40,000 after 12 months).
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Compare up to 4 providers

This is a selection of credit cards with competitive frequent flyer and rewards offers available right now on Finder. You can also compare more frequent flyer credit card offers here.

Images: Finder, Getty Images, Supplied

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