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Qantas has a strict use-by date on the frequent flyer points sitting in your account. If your account is inactive for 18 months – that is, if no points are earned or spent in that period – then all of your points disappear in a puff of smoke. Expired. Vanished. Gone.
It's a gotcha which has caught countless Australians, often including the friends, family and colleagues of our readers.
Of course, the ideal scenario is to keep the Qantas Points ticking over in your account so that they don't expire. That's easily done, even without flying – using a Qantas Cash debit card or a Qantas credit card, or buying some wine from the online Qantas Wine store, will all keep your points safe from oblivion.
But, when worse runs to worst and that mountain of Qantas Points is levelled overnight, is there a way to have all your missing points reinstated?
Conventional wisdom, and Qantas policy, says no: they're gone for good.
But Qantas does, in fact, have a little-known mechanism for returning all of your vanished points.
It's almost a secret, and one which the airline doesn't like to talk about – indeed, a Qantas Frequent Flyer spokesperson declined to offer an on-the-record comment to Australian Business Traveller for this article.
How to recover lost Qantas points
As soon as you discover your points have been wiped due to that 18-month inactivity period, telephone Qantas Frequent Flyer and make your case to have them reinstated, and ask if you're eligible for what's sometimes called the Qantas Points 'challenge'.
Let's set some expectations here. The Qantas Points challenge is not a standing deal available to everybody – it's offered on a case-by-case basis, after assessing factors such as the QFF member's previous travel- and points-earning pattern.
Several Australian Business Traveller readers have shared their own experience in helping friends or family members get their missing points back, and all outline the same process.
Qantas sets a goal such as earning at least 2,500 points, within a period such as six months – and, let's face it, that's not a hard ask. You can often earn more points than that as a bonus offer buying a half-dozen bottles from Qantas Wine, or paying a few bills with your credit card.
Sometimes those points need to be earned from at least two sources, so be prepared to spread the love and think strategically. But with six months up your sleeve, again, this isn't Kilimanjaro.
Once those new points have landed into your account, the entire previous balance magically reappears.
The Qantas Points challenge is much like the Qantas Tier Accelerator status challenge – it's offered at the whim of Qantas – but at least now you know that such an option exists.