The thrill of the chase, the excitement of a freebie, and our innate human tendency to collect things can make frequent-flyer programs extremely attractive. Unlike loyalty cards for your local cafe where 10 coffees equals the coveted prize of one free coffee, the calculations of what frequent flyer points are worth is more complex.
The thing you need to remember is that the value of your rewards should outweigh the amount you spend in earning them for the whole endeavour to be worth it.
So, how do you maximise the points you can earn and make the most out of your frequent-flyer program?
Making the most out of credit cards
An easy way to collect frequent flyer points is to get a credit card that earns points for every dollar you spend, with additional bonuses for reaching a certain spend per year.
You can earn frequent flyer points on over 50 different credit cards from major lenders like American Express, Citibank, NAB and ANZ, offering sign up bonuses from 50,000 to 150,000 points.
You’ll usually earn points on most everyday purchases, but it's a good idea to watch out for the exceptions, including the fact that lenders may not reward points for cash advances, balance transfers and BPAY payments. Also, be mindful not to incur excessive credit card fees: some credit cards charge over $100 per year, just to earn 100,000 points sign up bonus.
If you’re a frivolous spender, who struggles to pay back their credit card debt in full every month, this may not be the best way for you to earn points. Many credit cards come with a minimum of 20% interest on purchases, which can blow out the budget of many an undisciplined spender.
Choose credit cards wisely
Unsurprisingly, if you're looking to make a dent on your Qantas Frequent Flyer membership, the real value lies in the use of Qantas credit cards. The Qantas Premier Titanium, for instance, will get you 150,000 bonus points on sign up, up to two points for every dollar spent, and 20% bonus status credits on Qantas flights. This card does carry an annual fee of $1200 a year, so you may in fact be better off going with the Qantas Premier Everyday credit, which only charges a $49 annual fee, and offers a 42,000 point sign up bonus.
That's not an amount to sneeze at, either: 42,000 frequent flyer points will currently get you a one-way business class flight from Sydney to Christchurch, or one way economy to Singapore or Shanghai, with overall values sitting closer to $700 and $1300.
Comparatively, grabbing 150,000 frequent flyer points could potentially get you three one-way business class flights, as these can vary between 30,000 – 56,000 points. However, with a cash value of between $2100 and $3900 plus that $1200 annual credit card fee, this appealing sign up bonus could end up costing you in the long term.
Turning shopping into points
If you're a fan of online shopping, why not see if your favourite brands are partnered with Qantas. Brands including David Jones, Dell, Sephora, Mr Porter and Country Road are currently offering up to 6 points for every dollar spent at the Qantas online shopping mall, and if you were going to shop anyway, why not make points out of it?
Depending on where you buy groceries or grog, you might want to consider spending for your frequent-flyer program. Woolworths, BWS and Deliveroo are also Qantas partners, which could be beneficial if you already shop at these brands, or handy to switch the next time you need something to eat.
This is especially useful if the restaurant you're thinking of ordering from is both on UberEats and Deliveroo. Essentially, you can get the same food from the same restaurant, but earn points at the same time.
Insider Tip: Being clever about who you shop with and checking whether your favourite brands are partnered with a frequent-flyer program can really boost your points balance. In fact, it’s possible that you’re already paying for goods and services that offer points, but you're just not aware. It literally pays to check these things.
The bigger the better
Did you know you can earn points for those big purchases in life like buying a home or a car?
Qantas presently works with LJ Hooker, Amity Property Group, Rental Rewards and LK Property Group to offer rewards points for both renting and buying new property.
LJ Hooker is currently offering 20,000 points when you list and sell your residential, commercial or industrial property in Australia or New Zealand, and 10,000 points if you appoint LJ Hooker as your exclusive Property Management Agent for a residential property in Australia.
Qantas is also currently partnered with Macquarie Bank, and is offering one point for every dollar financed for car loans. So, if you were already in the market for a car loan, you could earn up to a maximum of 100,000 points for doing exactly what you were going to do anyway.
Insider Tip: It’s important to remember that points for home loans are allocated only once the property has settled or is leased, and there are often hidden fees and charges applied to these types of promotions. Be smart, look at the PDS before you sign anything, and make sure you’re not just shopping to earn.
Book direct to earn more points
Joining a frequent-flyer program with a household name like Qantas comes with many perks. Specifically, your ability to earn with 13 major airlines in its Oneworld alliance, including British Airways, American Airlines, Japan Airlines and Finnair.
As a part of this alliance, you may also be able to access 650 lounges around the world, but you need to be a Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyer or Gold Frequent Flyer member to claim this, or you need to be on an Emerald or Sapphire tier in the Oneworld alliance.
As a rule, if you're intending to maximise Qantas points, it's best to book flights directly through Qantas to make the most of the points you can earn. Even if you are travelling on a partner flight on your Qantas ticket, booking through Qantas will get you more points than booking on Cathay Pacific’s website, then adding the frequent flyer details after.
Insider Tip: When you buy something from a Qantas partner, and pay using Qantas Travel Money or a Qantas Points earning credit card, you'll earn twice.
There are now hundreds of different ways for you to earn frequent flyer points, and other frequent-flyer programs like Virgin Velocity, Asia Miles and Singapore Airline's Krisflyer have their own points systems and partnerships available.
Shopping with your frequent-flyer program in mind can be useful, but make sure you look beyond the points you will earn. Location, prices, quality, service and product range are far more important than rewards you will earn, so they should only play a small part in your decision process.
Insider Tip: The true value of rewards points is in finding the best use for them. Using rewards points to upgrade your flights to business class or first class could mean you get four times more value for only double the points.