Virgin Australia is about to shut down the Velocity Rewards Store
But that's not a reason to panic and start spending all your points.
From 29 June, Virgin Australia is planning a temporary shutdown of its Velocity Rewards Store. The Velocity Rewards Store lets Virgin frequent flyers spend their frequent flyer points on gadgets, gift cards and other products.
An email sent to Virgin passengers overnight confirms the plan. "We are writing to advise you that the Velocity Rewards Store will be going offline temporarily from Thursday 28 June, however, we will be coming back soon," the email reads. "We are working to minimise disruption for all members throughout this transition period. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time."
There's a blunter version of the message on the Rewards Store site urging customers to "shop using your Velocity Points today before we go offline".
Revamping sites is a fiddly business, and it's arguably sensible for Virgin to take the store offline altogether rather than attempting a partial upgrade or trying to execute a seamless switch from "old store" to "new store". Regardless, I don't think Velocity frequent flyers should panic.
Indeed, I don't think they should pay attention to it at all because the fact remains that spending your points in a rewards store always gives you far less monetary value than other alternatives.
Let's take a simple current example. Right now, the Rewards Store is offering a discount on gift cards. You can pick up a $100 gift card from David Jones, Harvey Norman or a bunch of other retailers for 16,200 points. That means you're getting about $6.17 in value for each 1,000 points you spend.
That compares poorly to using those points for a flight. You could book a return flight from Adelaide to Melbourne with 16,000 points. Right now, Virgin has a sale on with those fares available for $85 each way. Even at that price, you're getting $10.62 in value for each 1,000 points.
At non-sale prices, the value becomes higher. The fare for Melbourne to Adelaide can easily range as high as $169 each way. That works out at $21.25 in value for each 1,000 points.
When Virgin relaunches the Velocity Rewards Store, I imagine there will be a range of specials to try and attract customers. Those specials will have to be truly extraordinary to make them better value than an everyday flight booking (let alone using your points for an upgrade, which is a whole separate topic).
Making the most of your points requires careful planning – check out our detailed Velocity guide for more insights. But planning not to spend your points in a rewards store is the easy part. So don't fall for the hype.
THE POINTS FINDER TAKESave your points for flights – don't waste them on lower-value reward purchases.
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.