Vodafone Red plans: Qantas Points or subscriptions?

Alex Kidman 2 February 2016


Vodafone’s latest deal allows you to get Qantas Frequent Flyer Points with a 24 month contract, but if you do this, you miss out on a subscription to Stan, Spotify or Fairfax newspaper titles. Which option saves you the most money? We've crunched the numbers.

Vodafone’s announcement of a tie-up with Qantas yesterday saw the telco announce that it will be selling SIMs and phones on incoming Qantas planes, alongside the announcement of a free roaming period for Vodafone Australia customers travelling to New Zealand. But the big news was that "Qantas" branded Red plans over 24 months would be gifted with thousands of Qantas points as part of the deal.

Here are the points totals you’ll earn at each contract tier; if you apply online via either Qantas or Vodafone you’ll earn double the points.

Plan Price$80 (Handset contract)$45 (SIM-only)$100 (Handset contract) $60(SIM-only)$130 (Handset contract) $85 (SIM-only)
Base points400050007500
Online ordering bonus400050007500
Total points if ordering online80001000015000

Free frequent flyer points if you were already planning to sign up with Vodafone is nothing to sneeze at, but there’s a slight catch. While in terms of calls, texts and data inclusions the Qantas Red plans are identical to the "standard" Red plans, the one perk you miss out on is the option for six or twelve months of access to Stan, Spotify or Fairfax titles The Age or the Sydney Morning Herald.

This means you’ve got to weigh one virtually identical deal against another, which is a tricky prospect, because the "value" of a point isn’t a precise number, depending on what you use it for.

Qantas Points vs Subscriptions: Choose your metrics wisely

The issue with comparing Qantas Points with subscriptions that have essentially fixed pricing were you to buy them outright is that Qantas Points don’t have a "fixed" price; their value depends on what you use your points for. It’s long established that buying goods outright through Qantas’ online store is generally very poor value, with the best bang-for-buck coming from using your points to score rewards flights.

We’ve chosen for comparison the very standard flight to Melbourne from Sydney one way. Qantas lists the standard Classic Rewards price for this flight at 8,000 points; seat availability will vary depending on when you want to fly and your precise Qantas Frequent Flyer status.

The value of that flight is in no way fixed. Excluding spot specials -- at the time of writing Qantas is offering a $95 one-way flight along this exact route -- we found that the averages for this flight varied from a low of $159 up to $340. Predictably, you’ll typically pay less for less popular days, and especially if you book far in advance. Booking for flights within the next week is always more expensive, as well as significantly lowering your odds of actually being able to score a rewards seat.

Those prices can be compared against the value of a six-month or twelve-month subscription plan. Vodafone’s current deal only gives you a six-month subscription on the $80 plan, which significantly ups the comparable value of the associated 8,000 points you’d get if you ordered the plan online.

Stan and Spotify Premium are easy to calculate, with base prices for their services sitting at $10 and $11.99 per month. The Fairfax (Age/SMH) subscriptions are a little trickier, as they charge weekly and have multiple subscription tiers with discounts for longer periods. The SMH/Age subscription price is based on the top tier digital package without discounts, as you don’t get a physical paper delivered with the Vodafone deal; it’s entirely feasible you could get the digital Fairfax component somewhat cheaper than listed here. The base price is $5.80 per week also varies; at the time of writing you could score a half price deal on that option, but only for 13 weeks.

We’ve calculated out the pricing for all of these options, comparing them against the effective "points" cost and value for each option. In the case of the $100 or $130 plans, you’d be left with Qantas points left over from this flight option, while the $80 plan would burn all your points in one go.

Here are the real dollar values of the straight Vodafone Red entertainment options for both the 6 month and 12 month subscription offerings.

Vodafone Red Plan offerings6 Month Value12 Month Value
Stan subscription$60 $120
Spotify Premium$71.94 $143.88
Age/SMH digital subscription$113.10 $263.90

Here are the average flight values, low and high, for an 8000 point Qantas Classic Rewards flight between Sydney and Melbourne one way.

Flight: Sydney to Melbourne
Average low cost$159
Average high cost$340

Qantas Points vs Subscriptions: Is it worth it?

The value of either the subscription or the flight will depending on your needs or usage, but there are still some clear indications here. Presuming both options have appeal for you, there’s no scenario in which the value of either the Stan or Spotify Premium subscription is better than the regular value of a standard Qantas Classics Reward Flight even at its lowest available normal price.

The value equation is markedly more complex in the case of the SMH/Age subscription, however, because the value of that subscription may be higher than a number of available Classic Rewards flights in monetary terms, depending on your status and when you need to fly. That presumes, however, that you’re getting the full twelve-month subscription; if you’re on the $80 handset/$45 SIM-Only plan, there’s no scenario where it’s better value than the flight.

As always, what you can get for a given points value will depend on when and where you want to fly, your status, and even if you’re willing to do a points plus pay mix for your given flight.

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