Overseas airline and hotel loyalty programs frequently encourage travellers to boost their account balances by buying points or miles, which can then be traded in for business and first class flights on the cheap.
Right now, we’re seeing a series of special deals centring on flights with both Oneworld and Star Alliance – including Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways – in addition to Virgin Australia.
These special offers can be used individually or in conjunction with each other: say, using one program to reach a destination and another to fly onwards or back home.
We’ll show you what’s on the table, and how to get the best value.
1. US Airways Dividend Miles: 100% bonus
The promo: Get double the usual serve of Dividend Miles when buying between 30,000 and 50,000. For smaller amounts, a 75% bonus applies when buying 20,000-29,000 miles, while a 50% bonus kicks in between 10,000 and 19,000 miles.
Best for: Booking cheap business and first class award flights from Sydney to London, Perth and Auckland.
Live until: Sunday May 25, so start hunting for award seats and then pull the trigger when you’ve found the right one!
2. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: up to 35% bonus
The promo: Buy between 5,000 and 19,000 miles for a 20% bonus, between 20,000 and 34,000 miles for an extra 30%, or take home the prize with a 35% bonus on purchases of 35,000 to 40,000 Alaskan miles.
Best for: Nabbing discounted premium economy, business and first class flights on Qantas to the USA, and on Cathay Pacific.
Live until: Sunday May 25. You can search for most award on the Alaska Airlines website without creating an account, so if you find something, snatch it up!
3. Avianca LifeMiles: double mileage offer
The promo: Buy LifeMiles and earn a 100% bonus, up to 75,000 base miles – totalling 150,000 under this limited-time special deal.
Best for: Star Alliance flights from Australia to London, Bangkok and Singapore, including in business class on Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380.
Live until: Friday May 30. If you’ve already created a LifeMiles account, you’re eligible to buy miles with the bonus attached. Unfortunately, if you haven’t, you won’t be able to take part this time… instead, sign up now and you’ll be ready for the next one!
4. American Airlines AAdvantage: bonus of up to 30%
The promo: Depending on how many miles you’re after, bonuses of up to 30% are on offer. Capped at a total handout of 18,000 miles, you’ll grab the full 30% by buying 60,000 miles – anything above this and you’re paying more per mile.
Best for: Oneworld flights from Sydney to Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai on Qantas, Cathay Pacific or Malaysia Airlines.
Live until: Friday June 13. Like Alaska, you can check for available seats before creating an account or buying miles, so start browsing!
5. Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG): 25% off Starpoints
The promo: Pick up 20,000 Starpoints at 25% off, which can then be converted into Virgin Australia Velocity points or into other airline loyalty programs with a further serve of 5,000 points.
Best for: A discounted return upgrade on Virgin Australia’s Airbus A330 flights to Perth, with enough left over for a third upgrade between Sydney and Melbourne.
Live until: Saturday May 31. In order to buy Starpoints, you’ll need to have been a member of SPG for at least 14 days – but if you sign-up today, you’ll still have plenty of time to buy.
6. United MileagePlus: 35% off miles
The promo: Buy miles at discounts of up to 35%. Purchases of 5,000 to 24,000 miles are 25% off, while you'll pocket a sweet 35% saving if you're after 25,000 to 150,000 miles.
Best for: Cheap business and first class flights from Australia to Asia, and cheaper United 'p.s' transcontinental treks in the United States.
Live until: Monday May 19. You can search for available awards online before you buy the miles, although note that Singapore Airlines redemptions can only be made over the phone.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT