Some Australian credit card issuers are now blocking the transfer of points to Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program, following the airline’s entry into voluntary administration this week.
Among them, American Express, ANZ, Bank of Melbourne, Bank of Queensland, BankSA, HSBC, NAB, St.George and Westpac all of which are currently preventing credit card reward points from being converted into Velocity points.
This affects customers with credit cards attached to the American Express Membership Rewards, Amplify Rewards, ANZ Rewards, Bank of Queensland Q Rewards, HSBC Rewards Plus, NAB Rewards and Westpac Altitude Rewards programs.
Credit card points that had already been converted into Velocity points before these suspensions were enacted will remain in the Velocity program, alongside all other Velocity points the member has previously earned.
Although Velocity Frequent Flyer is a separate company to Virgin Australia – and unlike the airline, Velocity itself is not in administration – members of Velocity are currently unable to spend their Velocity points in any capacity for at least the next month.
Members of these credit card loyalty programs instead remain free to use their credit card points in other ways, such as by converting them into frequent flyer points with airlines other than Virgin Australia (as available), or by exchanging them for merchandise directly through each bank-operated program.
For example, American Express Membership Rewards members can continue to convert their points across to popular programs like Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Etihad Guest and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer – although Velocity Frequent Flyer has disappeared from that list, for now:
Similarly, ANZ Rewards members can continue to convert their credit card points into Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, while points transfers to Velocity have been blanked from the bank’s website:
Bank of Queensland, HSBC and NAB have similarly removed Velocity Frequent Flyer from their loyalty program reward options, joined by Westpac and its related companies Bank of Melbourne, BankSA and St.George.
At the time of publishing, other credit and charge card companies including Citibank, Commonwealth Bank, Diners Club and Suncorp continued to allow points transfers to the Velocity Frequent Flyer program.
Velocity points transfers from Flybuys, the loyalty program of Coles supermarkets and other stores, also remained available at the time of publishing – but with a warning on the Flybuys website reminding that Velocity points cannot be spent until at least May 19 2020.
Implications for ‘direct-earn’ Velocity co-brand credit cards
Spenders with a co-branded Velocity Frequent Flyer credit card will continue to earn Velocity points on eligible transactions, which are automatically credited to the cardholder’s Velocity account every month – rather than being manually converted from a separate bank-run loyalty program, as above.
This applies to cards such as the American Express Velocity Platinum Card, the AMEX Velocity Escape Card, and others like the Virgin Money Velocity Flyer and Velocity High Flyer cards – but of course, these points, like all others currently sitting in Velocity accounts, cannot be used until the program unfreezes redemptions.
In an email sent to American Express Velocity co-brand cardholders overnight, AMEX says that “no matter what happens next we remain committed to ensuring you will continue to enjoy a Card with the benefits you value.”
The email links to an FAQ page on the AMEX site, which advises that “we can’t stop the automatic transfer of points on your American Express Velocity product”, however, “you have the option of taking up an alternative Card,” suggesting that cardholders can migrate to a card attached to AMEX Membership Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer.
That said, American Express continues to accept applications for both the AMEX Velocity Escape Card and the AMEX Velocity Platinum Card, noting that the free return flight that comes packaged with the Velocity Platinum card remains available for booking and travel, subject to normal T&Cs and available flights.
Similarly, Virgin Money continues to market its Velocity Flyer Card and Velocity High Flyer Card, as Velocity points can still be earned, where available – just not spent, for the time being.
Restrictions on ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card free return flights
Although not directly linked with the Velocity Frequent Flyer program, the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card includes a complimentary return domestic flight with Virgin Australia every year in its package of benefits, in return for the card’s $225 annual fee.
However, for now, new ANZ complimentary flight bookings cannot be made.
“Due to the current uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the restrictions this has caused within the travel industry, we will not be accepting any new travel bookings at this time,” reads a message on the ANZ Rewards website.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation and we’ll open bookings back up once travel restrictions have improved.”
This suspension applies not only to Virgin Australia flight bookings made through ANZ, but also to any other travel booking made via the bank, including the use of ANZ Rewards points towards a specific itinerary.
As above, ANZ Rewards points transfers to Air New Zealand Airpoints, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer are unaffected, and can continue to be processed by calling the ANZ Rewards Centre on 1300 367 763 during business hours.