The worst possible ways to use your Qantas frequent flyer points

By Chris C., January 7 2016
The worst possible ways to use your Qantas frequent flyer points

This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.

Having earned a stack of Qantas frequent flyer points from flying or using your credit card for your everyday purchases, you'll want to get the best value out of them.

But it might surprise you to learn that this 'points value' can range anywhere from barely half a cent through to a much more impressive six cents, depending on how and where you use those points.

So if you've got 10,000 Qantas Points on hand, they would be worth as little as $50 or as much as $600 – and naturally you'd be eager to avoid the 'chump change' end of the spectrum.

With that in mind, here are the three worst ways you can possibly use your points. If any of these strategies sound familiar to you, it’s time for a re-think.

1. Shopping for goods at the Qantas Store

You can trade Qantas Points for an array of products at the online Qantas Store, but you'll be saddled with a terrible 'exchange rate' in terms of the actual purchasing power of your points.

Tempted by a new iPhone XS Max 512GB? That'll be 333,970 Qantas Points (512GB model) at the Qantas Store or $2,369 at the Apple Store, delivering a low 0.71c of real value for each Qantas Point.

Or consider the Apple TV 4K, for another example. It can be yours for 43,930 Qantas Points at the Qantas Store, or $249 in real money at the Apple Store. This translates to each of those points having a real-world ‘value’ of an even lower 0.56c.

Of course, when you're shopping around at brick-and-mortar stores or online you'll find prices can sometimes be below retail – and there's always room to haggle and even price-match.

2. Book your next hotel stay

Airline frequent flyer points never stretch as far on the ground as they do in the air, and redeeming Qantas Points for hotel bookings is no exception.

Using dates in mid-January, we found a two-night stay at the Sofitel So Singapore selling for $934 via the Qantas Hotels website when paying with real money…

… but switch the payment method to ‘points’ on the same nights and you’ll be asked for 145,493 Qantas Points to cover the same:

That again puts the return from each frequent flyer point at around 0.64c – even less than that iPhone you were eyeing off!

As the number of Qantas Points needed for a free hotel night is also pegged against the actual price of the room, there’s also no way of knowing how many points you’ll need for a stay until it’s time to book, by which time the cash price, and therefore the points cost, may have changed again.

3. Book your next flight in economy

Using Qantas Points to book travel in economy has never been a great way to use them as the cash amount you’ll also be asked to pay in taxes, fees and airline surcharges can often approach, and sometimes exceed, the price of simply booking your flight during a cut-price sale.

Qantas has improved this somewhat by lowering the number of points needed to fly in economy on many international routes by roughly 10% and the associated carrier charges by 15-40%, with a return trip from Sydney to Singapore now billed at 56,000 Qantas Points and $294.68 in fees.

Compare that to a recent Qantas sale which offered return Sydney-Singapore flights for $599 outright, and each of those 56,000 points kicks in 0.54c of value towards an ultimate cash saving of $304.32.

You’ll find a little more value when cash fares are higher yet frequent flyer award seats are still available at the same cost – such as stretching 1.6c per point when booking a trip that otherwise flight that other sells for $1,200 – but the real value of points very much remains at the pointy end.

So what are some of the best ways to use your Qantas Points?

Upgrades (especially from business class to first class between Sydney/Melbourne and London), a round the world business class ticket and even an indulgent first class flight on an Emirates Airbus A380 from Sydney to Christchurch will all deliver better value for your points!

Read more: Top ways to use your Qantas frequent flyer points

More AusBT articles for Qantas Frequent Flyers

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1422

I think points plus pay as well works, as you will get around 15% of your points back. So if it is around 0.7 cents per point then it goes to around 0.9 cents per point.  But I agree upgrades is the best, but then that is a lottery as well especially if there are two of you travelling.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Points plus Pay can be a good option for a discounted economy fare v.a.v a classic award-- rarely works in any other classes.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 138

Only we do not ever want the general populace to truly understand the practicalities of the art of redemptions, given that the chumps who underutilize their points subsidise the rest of us who educate ourselves on how to use them the best!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jul 2014

Total posts 9

I  think redemption for a hardly discounted domestic economy ticket i.e. Adelaide to Exmouth represents a good deal too! Or across the pond to Queenstown. Easily more than 1.0 cent per point. 


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1422

If you get bonus points from your FF status or Aquire then the value (of points plus pay) increases quite a bit.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 31

The reasons why some of these other "low value" options exist is that there are some people who do not want to spend their points on travel, even if it could be in Business or First Class. They may not have a family member (or "first cousin") who likes travelling where the family member can travel on their points in exchange for their buying the desired Qantas Store item for them. Some people are "in" QFF for any number of reasons which is not related to flying at all (credit card, old Woolworths), so some never fly / may never fly / don't want to fly, but still have points that need using. Of course, they're probably not reading AusBT in the main...

Some members have far, far, far too many points than they know what to do with; some of them may have been travelling too much for their liking anyway (with much of that necessary cash expense or billed through the company, so no opportunity to really use points). I know what you're thinking - that's a problem that I would like to have!

Some members have a small amount of points, e.g. less than 20,000 or so, which could get them a domestic flight but otherwise is too small to bother with much else flying. Unless they have a way to rack up a decent total to get them to a balance which will enable them to go Business to somewhere nice, those 20k points are a sitting waste. Here's where sometimes delayed gratification (very delayed in some cases!) might be a good thing to keep in mind......

Finally, although Economy redemptions aren't fantastic, when you have multiple travellers, sometimes the poor value doesn't mean it's a poor decision. For example, take MEL/LAX as an example (numbers taken from the Qantas email recently sent to everyone). Four people on Y redemptions is 360,000 points plus $1678 altogether, round trip. In cash, it would be about $4400. The cash saving is $2722. The "exchange rate" is still poor, but that is a lot of cash for the points, the latter of which may have been much easier to obtain for whatever reason.

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