Friday's frequent flyer wrap

By Chris Chamberlin, August 8 2014

Fancy upgrading to business class with Virgin Australia for just $18.75 on a Sydney-Melbourne or Sydney-Brisbane flight?

How about jetting to Hong Kong, Singapore or Shanghai and back with Qantas for only $1,703 in business class?

That’s all covered in this week’s frequent flyer wrap, along with a look at how you could soon earn Qantas Points when you putt.

To cap things off, there's a small window of opportunity to skyrocket to the elite Jade and Diamond tiers in Shangri-La’s Golden Circle loyalty program while earning double, or even triple points – and we give Australia’s elite Black credit cards a grilling on points, fees and overall value.

Points made easy: calculating your haul with both Qantas and its partner airlines

Qantas Frequent Flyer members can now determine exactly how many points and status credits they’ll earn with both Qantas and its partner airlines through a new online calculator.

While previously only available for Qantas flights, the new tool takes your origin, destination, travel date, Qantas Frequent Flyer status and even which airline you’re flying into account for an accurate quote:

It’s also easy to compare the earning rates for different airlines on the same route – such as Sydney-Singapore with both Qantas and British Airways – which is particularly useful after Qantas’ status credit shake-up.

Read: Qantas unveils new frequent flyer points calculator

Buying US Airways Dividend Miles for low-cost Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Oneworld flights

Psst... what if you could fly in business class to Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok and back for just $1,810?

It’s no gimmick – in fact, by stocking up on US Airways miles, you can do exactly that with Qantas and its Oneworld partners including Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Malaysia Airlines.

Selected Dividend Miles members are being offered a full 100% bonus on mileage purchases, dropping the cost of travel to the $1,800 range.

Others have been handpicked for less-generous, but still advantageous bonuses of 50% or 75%, while some members miss out on this one entirely.

See what’s on offer and whether you’ve been targeted: Buying US Airways Dividend Miles for low-cost Oneworld flights

The above-Platinum Black credit cards: which is best for frequent flyers?

Aiming squarely at the premium credit card market, the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ have all added black credit cards to their roster of plastic – no doubt inspired by the exclusive, titanium-made American Express Centurion charge card.

Boasting the highest frequent flyer earning rates of each respective bank, the Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards, ANZ Rewards Black/Frequent Flyer Black and Westpac Altitude/Earth Black all pack similar features – but how do they compare?

We give the crème de la crème of credit cards a grilling and see which emerges as the real victor.

Read more: The best of black: the top frequent flyer credit cards

Flying with Garuda or SkyTeam? Check out GarudaMiles

Garuda Indonesia isn’t a partner to either Qantas or Virgin Australia, which means you can’t earn points on Garuda flights through an Australian loyalty program.

Instead, look towards the airline’s own GarudaMiles scheme when flying to Garuda's hub in Indonesia and onwards to other cities such Amsterdam and London.

International business class on Garuda's Airbus A330s
International business class on Garuda's Airbus A330s

Whether you regularly fly through Indonesia or just roam there in your downtime, here’s what you need to know about GarudaMiles to make the program work for you.

Our guide: The GarudaMiles rewards scheme for Aussie flyers

Free Qantas Frequent Flyer memberships for Aussie, Kiwi residents

Anybody who reads Australian Business Traveller is definitely a frequent flyer – or at least aspires to be.

But, we're sure you know somebody who has yet to join the Qantas Frequent Flyer program and start earning points on their flights, along with selected shopping and other everyday activities.

Whether they live in Australia or New Zealand, point them here and get them hooked today:

Free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership: save up to $90

Pocket 40,000 Virgin Australia Velocity points for just $150

Savvy flyers can pocket 40,000 Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer points for just $150 when applying for new NAB Velocity Rewards Premium cards.

From Flexi fares, that’s enough for a business class upgrade on two return trips from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Perth on the Airbus A330, or on eight one-way flights from Sydney to both Melbourne and Brisbane.

Business class to Perth on Virgin Australia's newer Airbus A330 aircraft
Business class to Perth on Virgin Australia's newer Airbus A330 aircraft

Crunching the numbers, you’ll end up paying just $18.75 for each business class bump-up on those shorter flights, or a mere $37.50 for a lie-flat bed on each transcontinental trek.

See how it’s done: Grab 40,000 Virgin Australia points for just $150 with NAB

Earn double or triple points and skyrocket to Jade or Diamond status in Shangri-La’s Golden Circle program

Members of Golden Circle can reel in double or triple points plus double ‘qualifying nights’ until August 31 2014.

Double points are yours when staying for one or two nights, while visits of three nights or more earn the full bounty of triple points.

Better yet, you’ll earn double ‘qualifying nights’ at the same time, which could see you moving up to the elite Jade and Diamond tiers in no time.

Read more: Earn double, triple Golden Circle points with Shangri-La

Low-cost Qantas business, first class flights by buying American Airlines AAdvantage miles

Similar to US Airways’ bonus miles promotion, American Airlines is holding one of its own – but with discounts as opposed to mileage bonuses.

With purchases of 65,000-80,000 miles attracting a 25% rebate, you could turn those points into a return business class trip to Hong Kong, Shanghai or Singapore for just $1,703, plus taxes upon redemption.

Business class on Qantas' Airbus A380s, found on select flights to Hong Kong
Business class on Qantas' Airbus A380s, found on select flights to Hong Kong

AA miles can also be used for first class travel – such as to Hong Kong or Singapore on the Qantas A380 or British Airways Boeing 777 – although not premium economy.

Our how-to guide: Low-cost Qantas business, first class buying AA frequent flyer miles

Qantas Golf Club: earn points on the green

And finally this week, Qantas is set to launch a new online community for frequent flyers who are also frequent golfers.

The aptly-named Qantas Golf Club will tee off this summer – allowing members to book tee times online at participating golf courses across Australia, while earning Qantas Points as well.

Although standard membership to the Qantas Golf Club will be free, paid premium membership (at an as-yet-undisclosed fee) will include the ability to list an official handicap with program partner Golf Australia.

Read more: Qantas Golf Club lets frequent flyers earn points when they putt

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

therealqueen Banned
therealqueen Banned

19 May 2014

Total posts 40

Love the AA points purchase bonus.

I have confirmed first class melbourne/dubai November return for approx $1600.

And taxes are negligible. 

Only way to fly, and once again qantas will make no money out of me. Lol

10 Aug 2013

Total posts 30

Hey therealqueen,

Just wondering how you got $1600? With the 25% off i'm still getting 120,000 points return in first class on that route.

Cheers.

therealqueen Banned
therealqueen Banned

19 May 2014

Total posts 40

Every year AA allows for 80000 points transfer.

knowing this , once a year make a points purchase when promtional points are being offered.

every year for last ten years have been purchasing points so there is always plentyof points to play with.

I never purchase unless promotion is offering 40 or 50% bonus.

I also gave alaskan air and united who I find is usually mot great value for money.


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