While our days of travelling may be on pause, there’s still no reason you can’t try and nab a free flight for the future.
Long before COVID-19 changed the way we moved, Australians with a love of adventure would take advantage of credit cards that helped them get free flights. Points chasers who tapped that plastic at every eligible sales point they could would try and nab complimentary flights through points earned or sign-up bonuses.
With the state of Virgin Australia still in murky waters, RateCity has crunched the numbers on Qantas affiliated credit cards to find a range that can help you to earn free flights through sign-up bonus points.
Just because planes are grounded now, doesn’t mean they will be forever. And when that day comes, you may want to consider looking at credit cards that reward you with free flights.
What to know about earning free flights from a credit card
If you’re looking to grab a free flight from a new credit card, you need to keep in mind that it will take some forward planning.
Typically, it will take around three to four months from credit card approval to the bonus points being deposited in your Qantas Frequent Flyer (QFF) account – assuming you begin spending immediately and meet all eligibility requirements.
There are typically a number of conditions or costs you will need to meet to earn a free flight from your credit card. These conditions may include:
- Annual fees – Most rewards credit cards will come with annual fees ranging anywhere from under $100 to over $1,000.
- Minimum spends – You generally will need to meet a minimum monthly spending amount to earn the rewards bonus points offered by your new credit card.
- Spending time frame – Not only will you need to spend a certain amount, but you will typically need to do this in a set time frame. An example of this may be $3,000 in the first three months.
- Eligible purchases – Not all purchases will earn you rewards points. Check the terms and conditions of the credit card to see what qualifies as an eligible purchase before applying.
Points to get you from Sydney to Melbourne
RateCity research has analysed the credit card market and found that, based on flights between Sydney and Melbourne, there are a number of cards available with bonus points that may take not only you, but also your family, between the two capital cities.
Currently, it costs a minimum 8,000 QFF points to get from Sydney to Melbourne, and 16,000 return.
There are 22 credit cards available that offer high enough bonus reward points on sign up that may help you get from Sydney to Melbourne without additional payment through QFF points.
In terms of which credit card from the Big 4 banks may offer the greatest bang for your buck, ANZ’s Frequent Flyer Black Card and the NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card allow customers to earn up to 103,000 points initially (sign up points plus generic earn rate points). Additionally, both cards can reward you a further 30,000 points if you keep your card for 12 months.
- The ANZ Frequent Flyer Black credit card offers a bonus point reward of 103,000 on sign up. It has an annual fee of $425, and to earn the rewards points bonus, you will need to spend a minimum of $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months from approval.
- The NAB Qantas Rewards Signature card also offers a bonus points reward of 103,000 on sign up. It does come with an annual fee of $395 and also requires a minimum spend of $3,000 on eligible purchases, but within 60 days of approval.
In terms of earning QFF points the fastest, there are a few card options that could see the points in your account much sooner than three months.
- Macquarie Bank’s Qantas Rewards Platinum Card and/or Black Card may see 22,000 bonus points in your account within 60 days of meeting the spend criteria of said cards. You will need to spend $2,000 on eligible purchases in the first 60 days from approval.
- Qantas Money’s Qantas Premier Titanium credit card could see 156,250 bonus points in your account within 6-8 weeks of card approval. However, keep in mind that this is one of the most premium cards on the market, with an annual fee of $1,200. You will also need to make a minimum spend of $5,000 within 90 days of card approval, so this credit card may better suit a certain type of high-earning Australian.
Top credit cards with the highest bonus points on offer in the first year
|Credit card||Annual fee||Bonus points on offer||Minimum spend to earn bonus points||Bonus Points Conditions||Time taken for bonus points to be credited to account||Notes:|
|ANZ Frequent Flyer Black||$425||103,000||$3,000||100k pts when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months from approval and 30k pts when you hold the card for more than 12 months||Within 3 months of the eligible spend criteria being met||75 bonus status credit, $150 back to card, earn rate changes after first $7500 spend per statement|
|NAB Qantas Rewards Signature||$395||103,000||$3,000||100k points if you spend $3000 on eligible purchases within 60 days of approval and 30k points when you keep your card open for over 12 months||Within 3 months of the eligible spend criteria being met||Earn rate changes after first $5000 spend per statement. $295 annual fee in the first year.|
|St George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA Amplify Signature||$279||94,500||$6000||Spend $6000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from approval||Within 12 weeks after meeting spend criteria|
|Qantas Money Qantas Premier Titanium||$1,200||156,250||$5,000||Spend $5,000 within 90 days from approval||Within 6-8 weeks of meeting spend criteria||20% bonus status credit on eligible Qantas flights|
|Westpac Altitude Platinum||$150||61,500||$3000||Spend $3000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days||within 12 weeks of meeting the eligible spend criteria||$99 annual fee in the first year.|
Source: RateCity.com.au. See full assumptions at end. Data accurate as at 28.08.2020.
Where else your bonus points could take you
If Melbourne is still on the no-fly-list for the foreseeable future, or just isn’t your cup of tea, there are other free flight destinations potentially in reach through credit card bonus points.
Popular flight routes from Sydney & QFF point cost
|Destination (from Sydney)||QFF points cost (one way, economy)|
Keep in mind that bonus points and free flights should not be the only factor that determines which credit card you sign up for. There are a range of factors to keep in mind, like purchase rates, ongoing fees and income thresholds that come into play.
Further, rewards credit cards like the ones mentioned above may have higher ongoing costs than a low-rate or low-fee option, as these costs help to pay for their rewards programs. Ensure you do your research around what type of credit card is best suited to your personal finances before you apply for any new products.
Notes: calculations are based on the following assumptions:
- You meet the minimum spend amount to receive the bonus points in the first month.
- If a credit card’s earn rate for each month is reduced once you hit a spend threshold, the calculations assume that you spend up to the threshold and then continue your spend the next month until you’ve hit the minimum spend required to obtain.
- The effective annual fee for the first year is the annual fee paid in the first year less any cash backs received.
As Lifehacker editors we write about stuff we like and think you'll like too. Lifehacker often has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.