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If you’re a few Qantas Frequent Flyer points short of booking an award flight or landing an upgrade to business class, you can actually buy ‘top-up points’ directly from Qantas to make up the difference.
That’s particularly handy when your only other option is to pay full price for a regular ticket, yet you have a nice balance of points that you’re keen to swap for a seat at the pointy end.
The price you’ll pay – and whether it’s ultimately good value – depends on how many points you plan to buy, with the cost varying between 2.787 and 4.0 cents per point.
It’s really a double-edged sword: you’ll pay more per point when only buying a small amount, yet the overall cost of buying a hefty sum makes upgrading from a paid fare the better choice.
Qantas top-up points: the fewer the better
Let’s say you’re hoping to nab a 120,000-point return business class ticket from Sydney to Hong Kong, but you’re only sitting on 115,000 points.
You could buy 5,000 Qantas Points for precisely $182.50, which gets you over the line to book the full trip in confirmed business class – plus a payment just shy of $400 for the flight’s taxes and surcharges when burning through your balance.
Using dates in February next year, you’d have otherwise paid $3,904 including taxes and surcharges to sit in exactly the same seat, whereas the total cash outlay when booking the award is around $580.
While you won’t earn points or status credits on the award flights, paying less than $200 to avoid spending thousands isn’t a bad move.
When the numbers don’t stack up…
At the upper end, somebody with only 102,000 points would have to cough up $520 for the deficit, on top of the same in taxes and surcharges when booking the flights.
Pushing the cash cost of the booking to almost $1,000, you’d find better value in spending that dough on a paid return economy ticket that earns points and status credits, and could instead use your existing points balance for upgrades to business class without paying a penny more.
From the relatively cheap ‘Saver’-type fares, it’s only 80,000 Qantas Points for a round-trip upgrade – and while international points upgrades aren’t a sure thing, Platinum members are generally in with a decent shot and would also pick up 15,600 points and 80 status credits on that paid fare.
Looking at the net cost, you’d return home with 80 status credits, roughly the same cash amount charged to your credit card an end points balance that’s just 64,400 points lighter – so keep the ‘buying points’ trick up your sleeve and play the upgrade game instead.
The fine print
Top-up points are sold in blocks of 500 up to a maximum of 20,000, and travellers can only trade cash for points once every year.
You also need to have a specific award in mind before you can purchase points – such as that return business class jaunt to Hong Kong – and can’t buy more than 15% of the total redemption cost.
Points can’t be bought as gifts for friends or family members, although you can transfer up to 400,000 of your own Qantas Points to eligible relatives every year, or vice versa, at no cost.
Finally, you’ll also want to make sure that there’s a suitable frequent flyer award seat available on your travel dates before shelling out for the points – if there’s not, look for other routes, dates and airlines to see what might work before diving in.
If you’re all set, head to the Qantas website for more information, and when you're ready to purchase, give the Frequent Flyer team a buzz on 13 11 31 between 8am and 7pm Sydney time, Monday to Saturday.
More ways to buy and share frequent flyer points:
- Bulk-buy United miles for huge savings on business, first class flights
- Aussie travellers win under new Avianca LifeMiles award rates
- Buying US Airways Dividend Miles for low-cost Oneworld flights
- Virgin Australia points transfers and family pooling
- Low-cost Qantas business, first class: buying AAdvantage miles
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