You've been able to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points on the Woolworths Everyday Rewards card for more than a year, but a new option lets you trade petrol discounts for additional frequent flyer points. Is that option worth pursuing?
Picture by matt_hintsa
When Woolworths launched its Qantas partnership, we noted that earning points each time you spent more than $30 was "an expensive standalone way to get a flight, but a useful way to supplement your points total". The new option doesn't really change that, and depending on your own travel habits might represent worse value than using your discount vouchers for cheaper petrol.
The system is relatively straightforward. Woolworths awards petrol discounts (worth 4 cents a litre) every time you spend $30. If you elect to swap these for Frequent Flyer points instead, you'll receive 2 points for each litre of petrol you purchase at a Caltex/Woolworths outlet. If you get one of Woolworths' occasional higher value fuel vouchers, they'll convert at a rate of half the discount (so a voucher offering 10 cents off a litre would earn 5 frequent flyer points per litre). You can change your preferences online between getting discount vouchers or frequent flyer points, but no more than once a month.
Whether this represents good value or not depends on how badly you need the fuel savings and how you intend to deploy your points. Lifehacker reader Simo, who alerted us to the scheme, made his calculation on the basis of what Qantas charges for a $50 gift certificate:
If you use the fuel discount of 4 cents, you get a discount of $4.00 on 100 litres. If you convert that to QFF points you get 200 points. But given it takes 7250 points to earn a standard $50 gift certificate at Woolworths via Frequent Flyer, your 200 points are actually worth around $1.38. $4.00 immediately or $1.38 in rewards for later - which shall I choose??
Actually, the situation is worse than that: you gain the $1.38 but lose the $4.00 fuel discount, so you end up behind by $2.62. That particular analysis makes the choice look very straightforward.
However, the best value way to utilise Qantas points is purchasing flights, and on that analysis you could arguably do better. The cheapest points value flight available through Qantas' Classic Awards scheme is 8000, which covers Sydney-Melbourne and many other shorter hops. A discounted Sydney-Melbourne flight can cost as little as $100, which would make those 200 points worth $2.50, and still leave you in the red.
On the other hand, a non-discounted and flexible one-way seat between the two cities costs $440. On that basis, the 200 points are 'worth' $11 -- a much better bet, since you'd still be ahead by $7 even after allow for the lost petrol savings. (For the sake of simplicity, I haven't factored in the additional charges for airport tax here, but even if you paid $50 in cash for those, you'd still come out ahead overall.)
Bottom line? If you're saving frequent flyer points for a particular trip, and are organised enough to get a flight that would otherwise cost you big bucks, then converting your vouchers into points might make sense. For everyone else, I suspect the fuel vouchers will continue to be a more appealing option -- but I'd love to hear readers' thoughts on the topic in the comments. Thanks Simo for the pointer!