How to turn your credit card points into frequent flyer points

By Chris Chamberlin, August 12 2016

Most Australian credit cards allow customers to earn frequent flyer points with Qantas, Virgin Australia and other airlines – and in many cases, the equivalent loyalty programs of hotel chains such as Hilton and Starwood.

But often, you'll start by picking up 'reward points' in the card's own currency such as American Express Membership Rewards, ANZ Rewards and Westpac Altitude Rewards.

Those reward points then have to be converted into your preferred airline or hotel loyalty scheme, provided that scheme is listed as one of the card's points partners.

(It's a bit like a currency exchange based around points, including the fact that it's not always a straight 1:1 swap.)

Converting to frequent flyer points: how it’s done

Transferring points from credit cards to a frequent flyer program is easy.

In most cases you log in to your Internet banking account, click through to the rewards area, choose your desired airline or hotel partner, and select how many points to convert.

Each bank sets their own rules when it comes to conversion rates, minimum transfer amounts and any minimum transfer increments (such as in blocks of 3,000 points). Your frequent flyer points will usually appear within a few days of the transfer.

Cardholders earning Qantas Points via their plastic will usually find an option to have those points automatically shipped over to their Qantas Frequent Flyer account on a monthly basis.

American Express Membership Rewards

Key cards: Centurion Card, Platinum Charge Card, Platinum Edge, Business Accelerator, Essential Card, David Jones Card, David Jones Platinum Card

Centurion, Platinum Charge partners, 1:1 unless indicated: Qantas Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia Velocity, Air New Zealand (100:$1), Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Hilton HHonors, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1), Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic.

Platinum Edge partners, 1:1 unless indicated: Virgin Australia Velocity, Air New Zealand (100:$1), Cathay Pacific, Emirates (4:3), Etihad, Hilton HHonors, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1), Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic.

Essential Card partners: Virgin Australia Velocity (4:3), Air New Zealand (400:$3), Cathay Pacific (4:3), Emirates (4:3), Etihad (4:3), Malaysia Airlines (4:3), Singapore Airlines (4:3), Thai Airways (4:3).

David Jones card partners: Qantas Frequent Flyer (0.75/$1 via opt-in), Virgin Australia (2:1), Air New Zealand (200:$1), Cathay Pacific (2:1), Emirates (2:1), Etihad (2:1), Malaysia Airlines (2:1), Singapore Airlines (2:1), Thai Airways (2:1), Virgin Atlantic (2:1).

Top tip: Qantas and Virgin Australia points can also be earned via a range of American Express direct-earn cards such as Discovery, Premium and Ultimate (Qantas) and Escape and Platinum (Velocity).

Amplify Rewards

Key cards: St. George/Bank SA/Bank of Melbourne Amplify, Amplify Platinum, Amplify Signature

Partners: Qantas Frequent Flyer (2:1, via opt-in), Virgin Australia Velocity (2:1), Malaysia Airlines (2:1), Singapore Airlines (2:1)

Top tip: Earning and conversion rates are the same regardless of which of these three banks issues your Amplify credit card. Qantas Points are only earned by choosing the ‘Amplify Qantas’ rewards option.

ANZ Rewards

Key cards: Rewards, Rewards Platinum, Rewards Travel Adventures Card, Rewards Black

Partners: Virgin Australia Velocity (2:1), Air New Zealand (200:$1), Cathay Pacific (3:1), Singapore Airlines (3:1).

Top tip: Qantas Points can only be earned via ANZ’s basic, Platinum and Black range of direct-earn Qantas cards. Customers opting for KrisFlyer miles can also boost their haul by 10% by converting from ANZ to Velocity points, and then from Velocity points to KrisFlyer miles.

Read: How to convert Velocity points into KrisFlyer miles

Bank of Queensland Q Rewards

Key card: BOQ Platinum Visa

Partner: Virgin Australia Velocity (3:1)

Top tip: To earn Qantas Points via BOQ, you’ll instead need a direct-earn BOQ Specialist Signature or Platinum card.

Citibank Rewards

Key cards: Citi Platinum, Citi Signature, Citi Prestige

Platinum, Signature partners: Virgin Australia Velocity (2.5:1 for Platinum, 2:1 for Signature), Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (2.5:1 for Platinum, 2:1 for Signature)

Prestige partners, 2:1 unless indicated: Qantas Frequent Flyer (1/$1, via opt-in), Virgin Australia Velocity, Air France/KLM, Cathay Pacific, Club Carlson (1:1), Delta, Emirates (2.5:1), Etihad, EVA Air (3:1), Garuda, Hilton HHonors (1:1), IHG Rewards Club (1.5:1), Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways.

Top tip: Qantas Points can also be earned via the branded Citi Qantas Signature card, while Emirates miles can too be scooped up using the direct-earn Emirates Citi World MasterCard.

Commonwealth Awards (CBA)

Key cards: Awards, Gold Awards, Platinum Awards, Diamond Awards

Partners: Qantas Frequent Flyer (2.5:1 for all, via opt-in), Virgin Australia Velocity (2.5:1 for basic and Gold, 2:1 for Platinum and Diamond)

Top tip: Qantas points can only be earned by opting for ‘Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct’ at an extra cost of $30 per year. CBA is also more generous with Velocity points for Platinum and Diamond cardholders, using a 2:1 conversion rate as opposed to 2.5:1 for Gold and Awards.

Diners Club Rewards

Key card: Diners Club Personal + World MasterCard

Partners, 2:1 unless indicated: Virgin Australia Velocity (1.5:1), Air France/KLM, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Club Carlson, Delta, Emirates (2.5:1), Etihad, EVA Air (3:1), Garuda, Hilton HHonors, IHG Rewards Club, Malaysia Airlines, Starwood Preferred Guest, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways.

Top tip: You can boost your points further by first shipping them to Starwood Preferred Guest, and then onwards to your airline of choice with Starwood’s 25% bonus for every 20,000 points or miles converted. Qantas Points can only be earned via the dedicated Qantas Diners card.

HSBC Rewards

Key cards: HSBC Platinum, HSBC Premier

Partners: Virgin Australia Velocity (2:1), Cathay Pacific (2:1), Singapore Airlines (2:1).

Top tip: Points transfers to Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are only offered to Premier cardholders, while Virgin Australia Velocity is an option provided to both Platinum and Premier customers. You can also earn Qantas Points via HSBC with the separate Qantas Platinum card.

Suncorp Rewards

Key cards: Clear Options Platinum Visa

Partners: Qantas Frequent Flyer (0.5/$1, via opt-in), Virgin Australia Velocity (2.5:1), Emirates (2.5:1), Singapore Airlines (2.5:1)

Top tip: Qantas Points can only be earned by paying an additional $49/year charge. Qantas Points at a lesser rate are also offered via the Clear Options Gold Visa, but only Platinum cardholders can convert points to Virgin Australia, Emirates and Singapore Airlines.

Westpac Altitude Rewards

Key cards: Altitude, Altitude Platinum, Altitude Black

Partners: Qantas Frequent Flyer (2:1, via opt-in), Virgin Australia Velocity (2:1), Air New Zealand (160:$1), Cathay Pacific (2:1), Malaysia Airlines (2:1), Singapore Airlines (2:1).

Top tip: From September 28 2016, Westpac is changing the conversion rate to 2.5:1 for Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines and to 180:$1 for Air NZ Airpoints. Qantas Points are only earned by choosing the ‘Altitude Qantas’ rewards option.

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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!

deanr

deanr

04 May 2015

Total posts 231

Always hate it how banks trumpet things like "earn 3 points per dollar!", and then you look into it and you actually have to divide that number by 2 or 3 to work out how many actual FF points are coming your way.

Why can't the banks make it as transparent as this article does?! Citibank doesn't even list these rates on its public website... why would I apply for a card unless I know how many real points I could earn?

Mark77

Mark77

06 Sep 2015

Total posts 26

agree Dean. this article would be better as actual FF points earned per $ spend. not program points.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2948

Hi Mark, this particular article is written to explain the ratios at which frequent flyer points are converted from each bank's own loyalty program, not how many points are earned per dolalr on each individual credit card, as those differ even within the same banks.

(That's also why we've not featured direct-earn cards in this article such as Virgin Money's Velocity Flyer Card, except for where direct earning is an option from the same bank or program.)

There are over 100 points-earning credit cards in the Australian market, so detailing earning rates of each one and with each airline would be a massive task and a very long article – instead, we've done that on an airline-by-airline basis and have pulled out the top five for each, which you'll find below:

Jono

Jono

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 246

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like American Express MR is the one with the most 1:1 ratios? Oh wait, I just saw the 'Essentials' and 'David Jones' products.

Anyone else in the AustBT universe think it's a little douchey to have different types of 'Membership Rewards' (MR) such as David Jones MR, Essentials MR, Ascent MR?

andyf

andyf

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 122

So with ANZ, Velocity converts at 2:1 and Singapore Airlines at 3:1.

Am I right in thinking therefore its better to always convert to Velocity at 2:1, and then if wanting to use Singapore Airlines convert from Velocity to Singapore at 1.35:1? You end up with more Singapore points this way?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2948

Correct - you end up with about 10% more KrisFlyer miles at the end of the day by converting to SQ via Velocity.

Spy

Spy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 9

I am seeking a Visa card that gives uncapped Qantas points. I am finding that very few retailers, apart from petrol stations and supermarkets, will take Amex, or if they do, the surcharge exceeds the value of the points.  I have also found that Visa cards are now capping Qantas points to 3,000 per month, and/or covert 1$ to 0.5 points.  Does anyone know of a card that dioes what I want?


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