Make a New Year

By Chris Chamberlin, January 6 2015
Make a New Year

Chances are you’re already earning Qantas or Virgin Australia frequent flyer points on the things you do every day, but why not make it your New Year’s resolution to really push that to the max?

Here are our top five ways to boost your frequent flyer points without spending a dollar more.

1. “Do you take American Express?”

American Express cards typically earn more points per dollar than their Visa or MasterCard counterparts, so asking that simple question could double or even triple your points haul.

To compare, the NAB Velocity Rewards Premium AMEX reels in 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent, while the attached Visa earns just half a point per dollar.

At those rates, a $250 transaction would amass 375 frequent flyer points on the American Express or a mere 125 points on the Visa, so don’t commit a ‘frequent flyer faux pas’ by swiping your Visa when you could be using your AMEX.

You’re of course bound to encounter the odd American Express surcharge – and need to decide if it’s worth the extra points you’ll pick up – but you’ll find that most major retailers and many independent outlets and restaurants accept the card surcharge-free.

2. Use the right card at the right time

Don’t just settle for a store that accepts your AMEX – many cards also deliver bonus points at various merchants, so investigate where you could be earning more and then spend accordingly.

It’s common for direct-earning Qantas or Virgin Australia frequent flyer credit cards to deliver an extra point per dollar spent on airfares with the respective airline: an easy one to remember as the airline logo likely appears on your credit card.

Groceries, petrol, restaurant dining and transactions made overseas are also great ways to earn extra points if you have the right credit cards.

For example, HSBC’s Qantas Platinum Visa awards double points on all foreign spend, the Qantas American Express Ultimate card serves up three points per dollar at restaurants and the American Express Platinum Edge gives triple points at supermarkets and double points at the bowser.

3. Look for ways to ‘double dip’

After optimising your credit cards, it’s time to explore ways to ‘double dip’ on frequent flyer points – that is, earning points from both a merchant directly and also your credit card.

Heading to the shops? Buy what you can from Woolworths, Big W and BWS, swipe your Everyday Rewards card and pick up between 0.5 and one Qantas Point per dollar spent (above $30) atop what you’d normally earn on your frequent flyer plastic.

That $30 shop at Woolies also gives you a fuel voucher that can later be swapped for two Qantas Points per litre when you fill up your tank at Caltex Woolworths outlets – again in addition to your usual credit card earn.

Another oft-overlooked way of earning extra points is to make your restaurant reservations via the Qantas or Velocity websites for a bonus 150 Qantas Points per diner or 300-500 Velocity points per booking.

4. Shop online via the Qantas Mall and Velocity eStore

Before filling your virtual shopping cart, start your expedition at the Qantas Mall or the Virgin Australia Velocity eStore to earn between two and five extra points per dollar spent.

Among the list of partners are big name retailers such as Apple, Microsoft, David Jones, eBay, Macy’s and Adairs – all of which dish out bonus points with either one or both airlines.

Buying an iPhone 6? The 64GB version retails for $999 and can be bought at the Apple Store: a frequent flyer partner of both Qantas and Velocity.

At two points per dollar, that doubles to an easy 1,998 points with either airline, plus what you’d earn by paying for the latest pocket gadget with your points-earning credit card.

(Note that some Apple products can also be bought through David Jones, which earns you 5 Qantas points per dollar compared to just 2 Qantas points per dollar at the Apple store.)

5. Choose an airline alliance and stick with it

Where price and schedule permits, always opt for the same airline and their web of partners to build a sizeable points balance in a single frequent flyer account – making it easier to unlock business and first class awards and upgrades.

For Qantas loyalists, that means flying with the Red Roo, Emirates, Fiji Airways and Oneworld member airlines such as British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

In the Velocity camp, book instead with Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Delta, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines and Airberlin – all of which award Virgin Australia Velocity points.

Where travel with another airline is necessary, look for Star Alliance members such as United, Thai Airways and Air Canada, which also allow you to earn Velocity points indirectly through Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer scheme.

And as you begin to travel more, you’ll generally build status credits and climb the frequent flyer ladder, unlocking perks such as even more points when you fly, along with other niceties such as lounge access and priority boarding.

Also read: Five credit card strategies to maximise your points

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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 not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 135

In regard to the Apple Store in the frequent flyer 'malls' however, although the iPhone 6 is eligible to earn the bonus points, the iPhone 6 Plus is currently not. The David Jones mall also does not appear to offer iPhones at all for the purpose of this offer either.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Note you you have to be very quick with your purchases with the cookie tracking reward stores. Apple, in particular, decouples rapidly - so don't dawdle, hit that buy button as soon as and make sure you rush through those options/additional screens as fast as you can. I was very lucky to get my points on my new iPad buy recently - it timed me out within minutes (which you have no visibility of) and it took repeated representations and much evidence to get the points to award (you can't buy anything online from Aplle without wading through multiple seperate screens making this a risky proposition). It's questionable whether those points were worth all that effort (at least to me) but I never would have bought through the Online Apple Store without that enticement so I stuck with it. Seamless it was not. It may have just been a glitch (I didn't have any problems last time I did this a year or so back) but it was a nasty surprise (especially since the transaction showed up as pending on the reward store, even though it wasn't recognised by Apple).


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