The week's top news for frequent flyers

By Chris C., November 6 2015
The week's top news for frequent flyers

Travellers seeking Virgin Australia Velocity points from their credit card spend are in luck this month with a 15% transfer bonus on offer throughout November, while HSBC is delivering a bonus of its own to the tune of 25% on all spend until December 31 2015.

Also in this week’s wrap, Citibank’s controversial decision to cut its Velocity and also Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer ‘conversion rates’ has been overturned, a fortunate move as cardholders originally stood to lose significant value from points they had already earned via their credit card.

However, credit card users earning Qantas Points via the Commonwealth Bank aren’t so lucky with the Qantas ‘opt-in’ fee tripled from November 2, but which doesn’t affect those earning Virgin Australia Velocity points.

Winding things up for another week, Qantas is now dishing out up to eight Qantas+Aquire points per dollar spent on car hire with Avis and Budget, while we also take a look at a generous ‘status match’ offer with Star Alliance’s newest member Avianca Brazil.

Act fast: free Star Alliance Gold status match

Fancy perks like priority check-in, a boosted baggage allowance and free airport lounge access across the Star Alliance network including with Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United and more?

Any Gold or Platinum-level frequent flyer card with practically any airline – including Qantas and Virgin Australia – will see you ‘matched’ to Star Alliance Gold status with the alliance’s newest member Avianca Brazil, but you’ll need to be quick as this deal is only open for a short time.

Importantly, you get to keep your original frequent flyer status while also gaining access to the perks and privileges of Star Alliance Gold: yours to enjoy until March 31 2017.

Get started now: Free Star Alliance Gold status match

Virgin Australia serves up 15% more credit card points

Transfer your credit card points across to Virgin Australia Velocity this month and you could net an easy bonus of 15% more Velocity points.

The offer is open to American Express, ANZ, Bank of Melbourne, Bank SA, Commonwealth Bank, HSBC, St. George and Westpac credit card customers, although other lenders like Bank of Queensland, Card Services, Citibank and Diners Club are excluded.

Simply transfer your credit card points from the participating providers above to Velocity by November 30 and your bonus will automatically appear – no registration required.

Qantas boosts points on Avis, Budget car hire

Book your Avis and Budget car hire through the Qantas website and you could earn an impressive four Qantas Points per dollar spent on time and kilometre charges in Australia – up from three points per dollar previously.

As an added bonus, members of the Qantas Aquire scheme for businesses can also earn four Aquire Points per dollar spent on the same, in addition to the Qantas Points earned by the hirer.

Aquire Points ultimately convert across to Qantas Points on a 1:1 basis, taking the total to a whopping eight points per dollar spent – an impressive deal, particularly in return for an expense you’d have incurred anyway.

Citibank’s Velocity, KrisFlyer earning rates cut, then restored

Citibank has abandoned controversial changes to the frequent flyer 'conversion rates' linked to Virgin Australia Velocity and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer under the Citibank Rewards program.

Those changes resulted in an immediate effective 'devaluation' of Citi Rewards Points as high as 25% and was also to be applied to customers' existing Citibank points balances as well as future transactions.

Citibank cardholders can once again swap the bank's own points for airline frequent flyer miles at the previous, more generous rates.

Card Services customers who were also affected by similar unannounced changes – including credit card customers of Suncorp, CUA and QT Mutual – will too see their conversion rates restored.

Read: Citibank backs down on frequent flyer changes

CBA hikes fee to earn Qantas frequent flyer points

Commonwealth Bank customers that earn Qantas frequent flyer points on their CBA credit cards via the ‘Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct’ option will now be slugged $30 each year for the privilege: triple the previous fee of $10.

The change affects all Awards, Gold Awards, Platinum Awards and Diamond Awards cardholders who opt for Qantas Points, comes in addition to their credit card’s regular annual fee and for existing QFF Direct customers will be charged on the next anniversary of that fee from November 2 2015.

CBA credit card customers who first earn Commonwealth Awards points and later transfer these to Virgin Australia Velocity or for other items in the CBA Awards catalogue won’t pay this $30 fee.

From the same date, CBA has also axed frequent flyer points on personal credit card tax payments, so if your tax return delivered a tax debt or you’re looking to lower your HECS balance, be sure to use a card that actually earns points.

Also read: CBA axes Awards points on credit card tax payments

HSBC offers 25% more points on credit card spend

HSBC credit card customers can net an easy 25% boost to the Reward Points they earn throughout November and December, simply by using their HSBC credit card.

Better yet, HSBC Reward Points can then be swapped for Virgin Australia Velocity points on a 2:1 basis for Platinum cardholders or also to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles at the same rates for HSBC Premier customers.

When timed perfectly, this also stacks well with Virgin Australia’s own 15% bonus promotion on credit card points transfers made throughout November and can stretch the number of frequent flyer points earned per dollar spent to a respectable 0.898 for Premier members, up from 0.625.

HSBC cardholders who directly earn Qantas Points every month – including via the HSBC Qantas Platinum Visa – aren’t included as part of this deal.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

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