Virgin Australia Velocity vs Air New Zealand Airpoints

While Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand previously offered a code-share and frequent flyer alliance, their partnership is coming to an end in October 2018. If you have a frequent flyer membership with both Velocity and Airpoints, this change means that focusing on just one account could help you enjoy more points and perks.

So is it better to stick with Virgin Australia’s Velocity program or Air New Zealand’s Airpoints program? Here you can compare each option side by side to figure out which one will give you the biggest bang for your bucks.

The value of Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars

A major difference between these frequent flyer programs is the type of points you earn. With Virgin Australia Velocity, the points you earn have their own value that varies depending on the type of rewards you redeem. For example, an economy flight between Sydney and Melbourne starts from 7,800 Velocity Points.

With Air New Zealand Airpoints, the points you earn have an equivalent dollar value. For example, if you have 300 Airpoints Dollars, you could redeem them for a $300 flight.

Earning frequent flyer points

Both the Virgin Australia Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer programs offer you points for flights, hotel bookings, credit cards and a range of other activities with partners. Here’s a breakdown of each major option:

Domestic flights

The Velocity and Airpoints frequent flyer programs calculate point earnings for domestic flights in the following ways:

  • Virgin Australia Velocity. Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eligible domestic fares with Virgin Australia. If you’re a Silver, Gold or Platinum member you’ll get a points bonus for eligible flights, which is worth 50%, 75% or 100% respectively.
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints. The Airpoints Dollars you’ll earn are based on factors including flight distance, fare class and extras (ie baggage), meaning there is no fixed rate. But, as an example, a one-way flight from Auckland to Christchurch could earn you between 1 and 13.40 Airpoints Dollars for a basic seat and between 2.50 and 17 Airpoints Dollars for a Flexi Plus fare. You can use the Airpoints calculator on the Air New Zealand website to calculate your point earnings for different domestic flight routes.

International flights

With both Velocity and Airpoints you’ll earn the most points on international flights booked with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand respectively. Both frequent flyer programs calculate points based on factors including fare class and miles flown.

However, Velocity offers more transparency in terms of calculating your potential point earnings, with detailed tables available on the website. Airpoints, on the other hand, only has the Airpoints calculator.

So, for the sake of this comparison, here’s a look at the points you’d earn through each airline for a number of different flight routes. Note that Virgin Australia Velocity has different earn rates for international short-haul, trans-Tasman and long-haul flights, which have been factored into this table.

Flight route Fare class Velocity Airpoints
Auckland to Sydney Economy 671 Velocity Points 1 to 23.10 Airpoints Dollars
Melbourne to Auckland Business 3,296 Velocity Points 16 to 65.10 Airpoints Dollars
Brisbane to Christchurch Flexible economy 1,553 Velocity Points 5.90 to 53.10 Airpoints Dollars
Sydney to Los Angeles Economy (base) 3,748 Velocity Points (rounded to nearest point) 16 to 65.10 Airpoints Dollars
Auckland to London Business 22,810 Velocity Points 377.80 to 505.40 Airpoints Dollars

Partner airlines

Both Virgin Australia Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints allow you to earn points and enjoy other benefits with a range of airline partners. Below is a full list of each frequent flyer program’s partners as of April 2018.

Credit cardsWhile you can use an Australian or New Zealand credit card to earn frequent flyer points through either of these programs, there are limitations depending on which country your card is from.For example, in Australia you can choose between a wide range of credit cards that earn Velocity Points or those that let you transfer reward points to your Velocity or Airpoints account. Overall, there are fewer cards that allow you to earn Airpoints Dollars, with only the following credit card reward programs providing this option for individuals in Australia:

This situation is reversed in New Zealand, where the range of credit cards that earn Airpoints Dollars directly includes options from Kiwi Bank, American Express, ANZ (New Zealand) and Westpac (New Zealand). If you want a New Zealand credit card that earns Velocity Points, however, you’re limited to American Express Membership Rewards cards.

Australian credit cards that earn Velocity Points or Airpoints Dollars

Rates last updated October 19th, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Minimum Income Product Description
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
$35,000
Earn up to 70,000 bonus Velocity Points when you meet the spend requirement. Plus, save with a 0% interest for 18 on balance transfers.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
$65,000
Get 50,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 for the first 3 months. Plus, 100 Status Credits and luxury travel perks.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
$40,000
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases and save with a $0 annual fee for life and a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card
20.74% p.a.
$289 p.a.
$75,000
Take off sooner with up to 100,000 bonus Velocity Points, lounge passes and insurance covers. Plus, a 15-month balance transfer.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
$35,000
Save with a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for the first 22 months, with a 1% balance transfer fee. Plus, a reduced $64 first year annual fee.
American Express Velocity Business Card
N/A
$249 p.a.
$75,000
Download all your card expenses in a format readable by Quicken, MYOB, and more, helping you simplify your quarterly BAS reporting.
Westpac Altitude Black - Velocity
20.49% p.a.
$300 p.a.
$75,000
Earn 80,000 bonus Velocity Points when you meet the spend requirement. Plus, complimentary seat upgrades and lounge passes.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle - Velocity
20.24% p.a. (AMEX)

20.49% p.a. (Visa/MC)

$399 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($499 p.a. thereafter)
$75,000
Up to 100,000 bonus Velocity Points with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex). T&Cs apply.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated October 19th, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Minimum Income Product Description
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle
20.24% p.a. (AMEX)

20.49% p.a. (Visa/MC)

$150 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$50,000
Collect up to 110,000 bonus Altitude Points when you meet T&Cs with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued by Amex).
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
20.49% p.a.
$150 p.a.
$30,000
Earn 80,000 bonus Altitude Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, complimentary insurance and a personal concierge service.
Westpac Altitude Black
20.49% p.a.
$250 p.a.
$75,000
Earn 100,000 bonus Altitude Points when you meet the spend requirement. Plus, 2 yearly Priority Pass lounge invitations.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle
20.24% p.a. (AMEX)

20.49% p.a. (Visa/MC)

$349 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($449 p.a. thereafter)
$75,000
Up to 140,000 bonus Altitude Points with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex). T&Cs apply.
NAB Rewards Business Signature Card
18.50% p.a.
$175 p.a.
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on everyday business purchases in the first 60 days of account opening. ABN required.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
20.74% p.a.
$195 p.a.
$50,000
Receive a yearly $200 Travel Credit and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance, plus 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
American Express Platinum Business Card
N/A
$1,750 p.a.
$75,000
ABN holders w/ $75,000 p.a. revenue. Get 120,000 bonus points and up to 2.25 points/ $1 spent on eligible business purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

Prepaid travel cards

If you don’t want a frequent flyer credit card, you could use either of these prepaid travel cards to earn more Velocity Points or Airpoints Dollars:

  • Velocity Global Wallet. The Velocity Global Wallet allows you to load and spend in up to 11 currencies and earns 2 points per $1 spent in a foreign currency (ie not AUD) or 1 point per $3 spent in Australia.
  • OneSmart. Supports 9 currencies and earns 1 Airpoints Dollar per $100 spent in a foreign currency (ie not NZD) or 1 Airpoints Dollar per $200 spent in New Zealand.

Note that for both of these cards, you’ll need to be at least 16 years of age, a member of the associated frequent flyer program and a resident of the country where it’s based. So if you’re a resident in Australia you could get the Velocity Global Wallet, and if you’re a resident in New Zealand you could get the OneSmart card (providing you met the other eligibility criteria).

Other ways to earn points

Both Virgin Australia Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints offer a wide range of other ways to earn points through program partners. Some of the options that both programs offer include:

Hotels. Velocity and Airpoints both have a range of hotel partners that allow you to earn points on your accommodation. For example, both programs have partnerships with InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Starwood Hotels, AccorHotels and The Langham Hotels and Resorts. Keep in mind that partners and point options may also vary by brand or based on whether you’re booking a domestic or international hotel stay.

Car hire. Velocity has partnered with Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty, while Airpoints partners with Avis and Budget.

Online shopping. You can earn Velocity Points or Airpoints Dollars for your online shopping through the Velocity eStore or Airpoints Mall respectively. Major brands available through both services include ASOS, Book Depository, eBay and THE ICONIC.

Grocery shopping. Velocity has partnered with the Coles flybuys program, allowing you to transfer 2,000 flybuys for 870 Velocity Points. Meanwhile, in New Zealand you can earn Airpoints Dollars for your spending at New World supermarkets, Liquorland and Henry’s.

Fuel. You can earn Velocity Points at participating BP service stations in Australia, and Airpoints Dollars at participating Z service stations in New Zealand.

Electricity and gas. Velocity has partnered with Energy Australia to allow you to earn points on your electricity and gas, while Airpoints has partnered with Mercury.While these categories are available through each program, both Velocity and Airpoints also have a number of other partners and ways to earn points. Although it’s worth noting that you’ll have more ways to earn points through Velocity if you live in Australia and more ways to earn Airpoints Dollars if you live in New Zealand.

Virgin Australia Velocity Air New Zealand Airpoints
Virgin Samoa
Air New Zealand
Capital Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Etihad Airways
Hainan Airlines
Hong Kong Airlines
Singapore Airlines
Silk Air
Tianjin Airlines
South African Airways
Alitalia
FlyPelican
Hawaiian Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
Star Alliance airlines:
Air Canada
Adria Airways
Aegean Airlines
Air China
Air India
All Nippon Airways
Asiana Airlines
Austrian Airlines
Avianca
Avianca Brasil
Brussels Airlines
Copa Airlines
Croatia Airlines
EgyptAir
Ethiopian Airlines
EVA Air
LOT Polish Airlines
Lufthansa
Scandinavian Airlines
Shenzhen Airlines
Singapore Airlines
South African Airways
Swiss International
TAP Air Portugal
Thai Airways International
Turkish Airlines
UnitedCo-operation airlines:
Aerolíneas Argentinas
Aircalin
Air Rarotonga
Air Tahiti Nui
Air Vanuatu
Cathay Pacific
Etihad Airways
Fiji Airways
Jet Airways
Silk Air
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia

Frequent flyer status

Both the Virgin Australia Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer programs have different status levels that offer an increasing number of benefits. Here’s how they break down for each tier above standard membership:

Silver

Tier details Velocity Airpoints
Status Credits/Points required To reach tier: 250

To maintain tier: 200

To reach tier: 450

To maintain tier: 405

Benefit highlights
  • Two complimentary Virgin Australia Lounge passes
  • 50% more points compared to Velocity Red (standard) members on eligible flights
  • Additional baggage allowance
  • Two complimentary Air New Zealand lounge passes
  • One complimentary recognition upgrade per year
  • Priority airport standby if you want to travel on a different flight
Other key details
  • Status is valid for 12 months
  • You must also fly in 2 eligible sectors before you can be upgraded to Silver status
  • Status is valid for 12 months
  • At least half of the required Status Points must be earned on Air New Zealand-operated flights, qualifying-partner airline flights or Star Alliance flights

How long would it take to get Silver Velocity or Airpoints status?

While each of these programs has different requirements, here’s an example of how many flights between Sydney and Auckland you’d need to take to get Silver status when flying with the program’s main airline on a full-service economy seat:

Velocity. You’d need to take 9 one-way flights on an Economy fare (class L, K, H, B or Y). This would earn you 270 Status Credits – 20 more than the required amount for Silver Velocity status.

Airpoints. When booked on The Works (fare classes G, K, L, P, S, T, V, W or X), you’d earn between 12 and 30 Status Points per flight. This means you’d need to take between 15 and 38 one-way flights between Sydney and Auckland to earn the 450 Status Points required for Silver Airpoints status.

Gold

Tier details Velocity Airpoints
Status Credits/Points required To reach tier: 500

To maintain tier: 400

To reach tier: 900

To maintain tier: 810

Benefit highlights
  • Complimentary lounge access at Virgin Australia lounges and over 150 international lounges
  • 75% more points compared to Velocity Red (standard) members on eligible flights
  • Priority check-in, boarding, baggage and security screening at selected airports
  • Priority waitlist and “Fly Ahead” if you want to catch an earlier flight
  • Gold hotel rewards status with either IHG Rewards or Hilton Honors
  • Gold membership status for the Europcar and Hertz’s loyalty programs
  • Complimentary access to Air New Zealand, Star Alliance and partner airline lounges
  • Two complimentary recognition upgrades per year, plus access to dedicated “frequent flyer seating” near the front of the plane on eligible Air New Zealand flights
  • Priority check-in, boarding and baggage
  • Priority waitlist and priority airport standby if you want to travel on a different flight
  • Complimentary hotel upgrade voucher and complimentary car hire upgrade voucher
Other key details
  • Status is valid for 12 months
  • You must also fly in 4 eligible sectors before you can be upgraded to Silver status
  • Status is valid for 12 months
  • At least half of the required Status Points must be earned on Air New Zealand-operated flights, qualifying-partner airline flights or Star Alliance flights

Velocity Platinum and Airpoints Elite

Tier details Velocity Airpoints
Status Credits/Points required To reach tier: 1,000

To maintain tier: 800

To reach tier: 1,500

To maintain tier: 1,350

Benefit highlights
  • Complimentary lounge access at Virgin Australia lounges and over 150 international lounges, with more additional guest access at eligible lounges compared to Gold members
  • 100% more points compared to Velocity Red (standard) members on eligible flights
  • Priority check-in, boarding, baggage and security screening at selected airports
  • Priority waitlist and “Fly Ahead” if you want to catch an earlier flight
  • Platinum hotel rewards status with either IHG Rewards or Hilton Honors
  • Platinum membership status for the Europcar and Hertz’s loyalty programs
  • Complimentary access to Air New Zealand, Star Alliance and partner airline lounges, with more additional guest access at eligible lounges compared to Gold members
  • Two long-haul and one short-haul complimentary recognition upgrade per year, the ability to gift an upgrade and access to dedicated “frequent flyer seating” near the front of the plane on eligible Air New Zealand flights
  • Priority check-in, boarding and baggage
  • Priority waitlist and priority airport standby if you want to travel on a different flight
  • Complimentary hotel upgrade voucher and complimentary car hire upgrade voucher
Other key details
  • Status is valid for 12 months
  • You must also fly in 8 eligible sectors before you can be upgraded to Silver status
  • Status is valid for 12 months
  • At least 900 Status Points must be earned on Air New Zealand-operated flights, qualifying-partner airline flights or Star Alliance flights

Using frequent flyer points

Both Virgin Australia Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints offer travel-related rewards including flights, upgrades and car hire, as well as merchandise and gift cards.

However, you could be limited to flights and other frequent flyer staples if you’re a member of Airpoints and live in Australia, with rewards such as merchandise and gift cards limited to New Zealand members. This is not the case with Velocity, which offers shopping and gift card rewards to both Australian and New Zealand members, although some options may vary based on where you are.

Frequent flyer reward options

Virgin Australia Velocity Air New Zealand Airpoints
  • Reward flights
  • Flight upgrades
  • Car hire
  • Holidays and travel (including lounge membership)
  • Hotels
  • Sports
  • Velocity Rewards Store (shopping items and gift cards)
  • Reward flights
  • Flight upgrades
  • Car hire
  • Koru membership (airport lounge access and other exclusive travel benefits)
Rewards only available to AU members:
  • Fuel at participating BP service stations
Rewards only available to NZ members:
  • Travel insurance
  • Airpoints store (shopping items and gift cards)
  • Air New Zealand Wine
  • Air New Zealand merchandise
Note: Items available through the Velocity Rewards Store may also vary based on your location.

If you’re deciding between Velocity and Airpoints, it’s worth considering these reward options based on where you live so that you can use your points for perks you actually want.

Reward flight options with Velocity Points or Airpoints Dollars

As Velocity and Airpoints use different calculations for the cost of reward flights, it’s hard to draw a direct comparison. But you can get a basic idea of the value offered by each when you look at reward flight options with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand (as opposed to airline partners, which typically require more points for bookings).

Velocity. Velocity offers Reward Seats for flights with Virgin Australia and its partners based on the miles flown and fare class. For example, the cost of a one-way economy flight from Sydney to Auckland (approx. 1,345 miles) starts from 17,800 points plus AUD$129.17 in taxes and fees.

Airpoints. 1 Airpoints Dollar is equivalent to $1 value for flights with Air New Zealand.

The dollar value of both these reward flights will vary based on the market price of fares when you’re booking. However, it’s easier to see that difference if you’re using Airpoints Dollars, because the amount you’ll need always corresponds with the dollar price of an airfare.

With Velocity Points, there could be much more variation based on when you book. So in peak times, your points could be worth much more per dollar based on actual fare prices. During sales, however, your points could be worth less. Reward Seats are subject to availability though.

Velocity Any Seat rewards

You can also use your Velocity Points to book any seat on an eligible flight with Virgin Australia or one of its partners. Once again, points do not have a fixed value you can reference. Instead, you can check the price by logging in to your Velocity account, searching for flights and clicking the “Use Points + Pay” box to see the cost in points. This option typically requires a lot more points than Velocity Reward Seats.

Point expiry

Here are the basic point expiry conditions for each program:

  • Velocity. Your Velocity Points will only expire if your account is inactive for 24 months (ie if you don’t earn or redeem Velocity Points in a 24-month period).
  • Airpoints. Your Airpoints Dollars expire 4 years (48 months) after they were earned.

While both of these options give you plenty of time to use your points, only Velocity allows you to save up your points for more than four years (as long as you continue earning or using points in that time). With Airpoints Dollars, you’d need to make sure you redeemed your points in less than four years or you’d risk them expiring but, unlike Velocity, you would be able to keep your Airpoints Dollars balance for up to four years even if you didn’t earn or redeem any more points in that time.

How can I decide if Velocity or Airpoints is better?

If you regularly fly between Australia and New Zealand, sticking to just one of these frequent flyer programs will help you get more frequent flyer points and status. But the differences between these programs means that choosing between them ultimately depends on your circumstances and the types of benefits you want. So make sure you consider the following factors:

  • Are you based in Australia or New Zealand? While both Virgin Australia Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints are available for residents in Australia and New Zealand, the ways you can earn and use points vary. So, if you’re in Australia you’ll have more options with Velocity and if you’re in New Zealand you’ll have more with Airpoints.
  • Do you prefer to fly with Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand? If you prefer one airline to another, it could help you choose which frequent flyer program you pick. In particular, think about long-haul flights you plan to take, because they’re typically the flights that earn you the most frequent flyer points and status.
  • Which partner airlines are you more likely to fly with? If you think you’ll fly with other airlines when you go overseas, take a look at the airline partners for each of these programs to get an idea of how often you’d be able to earn points and status for flights with airlines other than Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand.

While you could previously have flown with Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand and enjoyed frequent flyer benefits through either airline’s loyalty program, the end of this alliance means it’s probably better to pick one frequent flyer account as your main option.

You can get started by weighing up the factors compared here based on your own circumstances and goals. Or check out the full guides for the Virgin Australia Velocity and Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer programs to find out more about each one and decide if choosing one or keeping accounts with both programs offers you more benefits.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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