Qantas vs Virgin Australia: which is best for points on petrol?

By Chris Chamberlin, October 23 2015

Want to earn frequent flyer points every time you fill the tank?

Qantas and Virgin Australia both offer two points per litre at selected Caltex and BP service stations, which provides an easy way to top up your points balance and edge your way closer to that free ticket or upgrade.

But which 'points at the pump' partnership represents the better value?

Qantas vs Virgin Australia: finding points-earning pumps

Not every Caltex or BP petrol station is a partner in the respective Qantas and Virgin Australia schemes – and you certainly don't want to waste time (and fuel!) driving to a particular servo to get points.

The Qantas partnership covers around 630 Woolworths/Caltex fuel outlets across Australia (excluding Tasmania).

(Note: as of December 31st 2015 you'll no longer be able to earn Qantas points at Woolworths/Caltex petrol stations due to changes to the Woolworths Everyday Rewards scheme).

Virgin Australia's frequent flyer footprint is much larger, with over 1,000 participating BP service stations under its umbrella in every Australian state and territory.

Winner: Virgin Australia + BP

Qantas vs Virgin Australia: how to earn points

You'd think this would be an easy proposition: fill your tank, swipe your frequent flyer card before paying the bill, and those points are headed your way.

That's how the Virgin Australia/BP system works, and if you've forgotten your Velocity frequent flyer card you can grab a temporary card at the service station (or use last year's now-out-of-date Velocity card).

The path to earning Qantas points at the pump is far more complicated. You'll need to join Woolworths’ Everyday Rewards (EDR) program, link your Qantas and EDR memberships, and then opt to earn Qantas points in lieu of a 4c/litre discount.

You also have to spend at least $30 at Woolworths to earn a single-use fuel discount voucher, and at the service station, hand over your Everyday Rewards card (not your Qantas Frequent Flyer card) to earn those two points per litre.

Both the Qantas/Caltex and Virgin Australia/BP hook-ups are capped at earning 150 litres of fuel per transaction, although you can also earn two Velocity Points per dollar spent in-store with BP on items such as snacks, drinks and car wash facilities (at up to $100 per transaction).

Winner: Virgin Australia + BP

Qantas vs Virgin Australia: which earns the most points?

Both airlines offer the same two points per litre through their respective outlets, capped at 150 litres of fuel per transaction.

On top of that, however, you can earn two Velocity Points per dollar spent in-store with BP on most items such as snacks, drinks and car wash facilities, at up to $100 per transaction.

That’s available even if you’re not paying for petrol at the same time, but does exclude tobacco, lottery tickets, mobile phone recharge vouchers and gift cards.

Conversely, Qantas Frequent Flyer members don’t earn any points on in-store purchases at Woolworths/Caltex – and also won’t earn points on their fuel unless they’ve previously spent at least $30 on groceries and also have a fuel savings voucher to swap for frequent flyer points.

Winner: Virgin Australia + BP

Qantas vs Virgin Australia: how many points you need

Of course, the whole point (pardon the pun) of this exercise is to earn enough frequent flyer points to do something useful – such as booking a 'free' flight or an upgrade.

We've crunched the numbers on three popular routes: Sydney to Melbourne, Sydney to Perth and Sydney to Los Angeles, in both economy and business class.

As detailed in the table below, any given Qantas route demands more frequent flyer points and a higher 'taxes and fees' cash payment compared to flying with Virgin Australia.

[Click the table above to enlarge it.]

Winner: Virgin Australia

Opt for Velocity Frequent Flyer points and you'll be smiling too...
Opt for Velocity Frequent Flyer points and you'll be smiling too...

The bottom line? With more service stations, a simpler method of earning points at the pump and better value when it comes to redeeming those points on a free flight, Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer partnership with BP is the clear winner.

More great ways to earn and redeem Velocity points:

For the latest information for business travellers, frequent flyers and on loyalty programs including Velocity, follow @AusBT on Twitter.

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!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 586

Neither is particularly compelling.  If you spend $100 per week on fuel (about 83 litres but varies a lot) you'd earn the grand total of 8600 points per year.    

Shell probably has the better scheme in that you can take the 4c/litre and still earn Fly Buys points plus have the opportunity for greater fuel discounts via in-store purchases.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Of course it's a ploy for the customer to go out of their way to buy fuel at those servos, but if you already use them, then thats a free flight from Sydney to Melbourne each year.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

BP/Velocity have also recently had points offers, such as triple points when you fill up...definitely worth while.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 180

I have 4 BP and no Caltex or Shell service stations anywhere near me, my drive to work is an hour each way, with one Caltex service station, and 2 out of the way Shell outlets, but 5 additional BP service stations along that drive - guess which I use.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 340

But I find BP fuel price is usually a bit higher than Caltex. At least around where I live. 

Also Velocity points are getting harder to redeem awards nowadays. Try SYD/BNE-LAX, you'll struggle to find any award seats in business or premium economy. Arguably worse than QF now. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

BP is almost consistently higher priced than other stations, but their fuel is of a better quality.  Also, you occasionally hear about Caltex fuel contaminations, but rarely BP.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 340

Now you mention it, that make sense! I topped up my Diesel engine car with BP 4 weeks ago taking advantage of the 500 point bonus. For some reason the fuel last forever! I managed only 250 bonus point because of that! With Caltex normally I need to top up every 2 weeks but seems to last longer with BP! 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Dec 2015

Total posts 1

The Velocity Card is the only card in my wallet that gives me benefits without any cost. Every other card has an associated cost factor. Not my Velocity card. If I fill up at BP which I do all the time, (Fuel, coffee, food, drinks, oils, auto) I get points, Use my AMX I get points I can transfer to VFF, transfer money to the card to pay the AMX and more points come my way.

Work the system and enjoy the rewards.

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