This week marks another significant one for Virgin Australia Velocity members with Velocity Points now up for sale directly from the airline, while at the same time, Suncorp, Card Services, CUA and more will cut the number of frequent flyer points earned per dollar spent on credit cards.
Speaking of credit cards, we dive into the less-chartered waters of earning Emirates Skywards and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles on your monthly spend and highlight the best cards for each program.
We also take a look at the more traditional Qantas Frequent Flyer program and the five best ways you can redeem your Qantas Points, whether your balance is a mere 5,000 or you’re sitting on a princely six-figure sum.
Rounding things out for another week are new loyalty initiatives from Crown Hotels and Best Western, new reward booking features via Avianca LifeMiles and an in-depth guide to the Marriott Rewards program.
Credit card points slashed with Suncorp and more
Earning frequent flyer points on your everyday spend is about to become harder for Suncorp and Card Services customers with the earning rates slashed and airline conversion rates reduced on Citigroup’s broader range of credit cards.
Following similar changes seen with Citibank and Virgin Money, this latest round of cuts also applies to cards issued under the CUA, IMB Bank, QT Mutual and Southern Cross Credit Union banners, while Bank of Queensland cardholders aren’t immune from change either.
Hardest hit are Suncorp’s Clear Options Gold cardholders who will earn just 0.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent from May 1 2016, or 1 Suncorp Rewards point per dollar on the first $1,500 of monthly spend and 0.5 Suncorp Rewards points per dollar thereafter, with an annual cap of 65,000 points.
The top five credit cards for KrisFlyer miles
Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program is a favourite among high spenders thanks to some fantastic frequent flyer reward costs and a 15% ‘discount’ to the number of miles needed for award flights when booking online.
Earning KrisFlyer miles from your credit card spend is easy – just pick one of these top cards, or indeed any credit card in the market with a rewards partnership with Singapore Airlines, convert your bank loyalty points into KrisFlyer airline miles and then book your next flight.
For example, you’d need 46,750 KrisFlyer miles to book a one-way flight from Sydney to Singapore in business class or 63,750 miles for the same in first class including the online booking discount, whereas Qantas Frequent Flyer commands 60,000 and 90,000 points for the same, respectively (all plus taxes and fees).
Browse the top cards for Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles now.
How to buy Virgin Australia Velocity points
Virgin Australia’s Velocity members can now purchase frequent flyer points directly from Virgin Australia to top-up their Velocity balance.
Handy if you’re a few points short of a ‘free’ flight or upgrade to business class, members can buy up to 20% of the points needed for their desired award, provided they already have at least 80% of the points they require.
Sold in blocks of 500 points up to a maximum of 50,000 points per purchase, members of all tiers can buy Velocity points up to twice per calendar year with the cost varying based on the quantity obtained.
Here’s how it’s done: How to buy Velocity points
Australia's best cards for earning Skywards miles
Emirates Skywards is a powerful yet often overlooked frequent flyer program for Australian travellers – yet those in the know can boost their existing balance or begin from scratch thanks to a number of credit cards which can accrue Skywards miles on your everyday purchases.
In lieu of the more common Qantas or Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer points that many of us collect on our plastic, Skywards miles can be used to upgrade to business class or even first class on Emirates flights: something that can’t be done via Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Skywards miles can also be used around the globe with airlines such as Korean Air, Japan Airlines, South African Airways and Virgin America, plus of course with Qantas.
Continue reading: Australia's best cards for earning Skywards miles
New: earn Qantas Aquire Points at Crown Hotels
Qantas Aquire members booking hotel stays for themselves or their employees can now earn three Aquire Points per dollar spent at Crown Hotels, in addition to three Qantas Frequent Flyer points per dollar spent for the hotel guest.
To earn Qantas Points and Aquire Points on the one stay, simply book your next check-in via the Crown or Qantas websites, remembering to quote your ABN – which doubles as your Aquire membership number – plus the Qantas Frequent Flyer number of the traveller.
Not to be confused with IHG’s similarly-named Crowne Plaza brand, Crown Hotels boasts three properties in Melbourne – Crown Towers, Crown Metropol and Crown Promenade – plus the Crown Metropol and Crown Promenade in Perth.
The five best ways to use your Qantas Points
Whether you fly often or not much at all, it's still relatively easy to build up a stack of Qantas frequent flyer points, especially when you use the right credit cards.
But what's the best ways to spend those points? Here are five great ways to use Qantas points, to suit all balances and budgets.
Your guide to the Marriott Rewards loyalty program
Alongside the expected hotel perks like room upgrades for frequent guests and free Internet access for all, Marriott Rewards also treats top-tier members to free breakfast, hotel lounge access and even United Premier Silver/Star Alliance Silver frequent flyer status.
Those perks and more are earned by staying at JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Edition, AC Hotels, Courtyard, Autograph Collection Hotels, Residence Inn, Renaissance Hotels, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites and Marriott Vacation Club.
Check-ins at TownePlace Suites, Gaylord Hotels, Moxy Hotels, Protea Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay also earn you points and count towards your Marriott Rewards status, so whatever your budget you’re sure to find something both suitable and points-earning.
Here’s what you need to know: Marriott Rewards 101
Avianca enables split-cabin bookings
Avianca LifeMiles, a frequent flyer program most commonly used to buy miles and book flights at below retail cost, is now making it easier to book travel using those points with split-class bookings now possible.
Traditionally, multi-stop journeys such as Sydney-Bangkok-London could only be secured when the same class of service – first class, business class or economy – was booked for the entire trip, which meant that if the same cabin class wasn’t available for the full journey, you couldn’t book your trip.
Now, you can split the class of your booking as you please, whether that’s first class on one leg and business class on the next, a mixed business class/economy ticket or even an economy flight followed by a first class jaunt to make you appreciate the difference.
Best Western Rewards: new membership tiers
Best Western is beefing up its loyalty program to appeal to frequent and less frequent travellers alike by introducing two new membership tiers and axing its previous points expiry rules so that points now won’t expire.
Diamond Select, Best Western’s new top tier, comes after staying 50 nights in a calendar year at Best Western’s range of brands, making 40 individual stays or earning 50,000 points, and offers guests 50% more points than entry-level members, a welcome gift on check-in and room upgrades.
At the other end of the spectrum a new Gold tier rewards guests who stay just seven times, spend 10 nights or earn 10,000 points in a year with a modest 10% boost to the Best Western Rewards points they earn.
Best Western Rewards: New membership tiers, no points expiry
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