What is a Qantas frequent flyer point worth?

By David Flynn, October 16 2014
What is a Qantas frequent flyer point worth?

You may have hundreds of thousands of Qantas Frequent Flyer points, or you may have just a handful, but the question remains the same:

What’s the actual value of a Qantas Frequent Flyer award point?

Would you be surprised to hear that it's rarely more than 1c, and can be as low as half a cent? It depends entirely on how you 'spend' your points.

Make an award booking or upgrade to business class on a Qantas flight and your points are worth 2.8-5.89 cents each.

Go shopping at the Qantas Store and the value of your points can plummet to half a cent each.

We used the retail price of a series of items in the Qantas Store, along with domestic and international award bookings to determine how much a Qantas Frequent Flyer point is really worth.

Redeeming points in the Qantas Store

As it happens, Qantas pegged its own points at 2.28c each in its recent one million points competition, but in actuality sets what could be considered a ‘base rate’ of just 0.66c per point on its Frequent Flyer store by offering $100 Myer Digital Gift Cards for 15,000 points.

Some items on the store hover around the same value.

With a sticker of $399, Bose QC20 noise-cancelling headphones sell for 58,000: yielding a value of 0.69c per Qantas Frequent Flyer point.

However, not all items at the store represent the same dollar value for your Qantas points.

The toaster test

Qantas will let you trade 12,000 points for Breville's 'The Bit More' toaster (above). But if you buy this direct on Breville.com it’ll cost you $79.95 including delivery to Australia.

Do the maths and this means your points are valued at an appallingly low 0.66c each.

Yet while Apple's 16GB iPad mini with Wi-Fi costs six times as much as that toaster, with an RRP of $479, Qantas’ redemption price of 56,000 reward points is only 4.6x higher than the toaster.

This boosts your points' buying power slightly higher, to 0.85c each.

Even Qantas’ own wireless Q Bag Tag which sells in a pack of two for $49.95 is costed at 10,000 points – a weak 0.5 cents per point for what turns out to be one of the cheapest items in the store!

Another standout in the value stakes: 140,500 points buys a 16GB iPhone 5s worth $749, while 149,000 points gets you a higher-value $1,000 Myer Gift Card.

Of course, that many Qantas points can also be traded on some great flights.

Redeeming points for Qantas economy flights

No matter what you buy in the store, there’s no doubt that using your Qantas Frequent Flyer points to make an award booking is the best way to go.

A Sydney-Melbourne return trip costs around $290 outside of sale periods or 16,000 points + $65 for taxes and surcharges as an award redemption, for a value of 1.4c/point.

By comparison, you could waste times as many points at the Qantas Store for an iPad that’s not even double the cost of your airfare.

A Qantas economy class return ticket to London can be had for as little as $1,984 if you’re canny with booking dates, or 128,000 points + $952 as a Classic Award booking – although at 0.8c/point, the value isn't as high as the domestic flight.

Still, compare that to buying a 13 inch Apple MacBook Pro through the Qantas Store for 212500 points when the same laptop sells for $1,349 – suddenly your frequent flyer points lower to a mere 0.63 cents each.

To put it another way: you could spend almost the same number of Qantas Frequent Flyer points on a MacBook Pro laptop or two return trips to London with taxes on the side. I know which one I’d choose…

Redeeming points for Qantas business class flights

At the pointy end, you'll find even greater value – Qantas' paid business class fares are often around four times the price of economy, but command only twice the number of points.

Looking to the Lion City, return business class flights to Singapore with the Red Roo come in at around $4089, or 120,000 points + $622 on the side.

Crunching the numbers, your points then take on a value of 2.88 cents each – nearly four times their worth against using them for international economy.

On home soil between Sydney and Melbourne, paid return fares start at around $1,400... but, those same flights are just 32,000 points + $65 for taxes and surcharges.

That boosts the value of your points to a whopping 4.37 cents each.

Using points to upgrade to business, first class

Your points take on even more value when upgrading from economy to business class on long flights, such as from Sydney to London on the Qantas Airbus A380.

Using dates in October 2014, we found upgradeable one-way economy fares for $1,265 on the return journey, and paid business class tickets for $6,923.

In this case, there is a catch-22 – you can't upgrade from the cheap 'Sale' seats, but shelling out for a more expensive, upgradeable 'Saver' fare (above) could quite easily see you stuck in the same economy seat, hundreds of dollars poorer.

That said, if you're a Gold, Platinum or Platinum One frequent flyer, you're in with a fighting chance to part with 96,000 points for that upgrade.

Business class on the Qantas Airbus A380
Business class on the Qantas Airbus A380

Looking at the fares on our dates, those points could come out at 5.89 cents each if the upgrade is successful – nearly 12 times as valuable against redeeming for a Q Tag and more than quadruple the bang you'll get from a domestic economy flight.

Read more: Qantas business class upgrade guide

First class upgrades are also a fantastic way to burn through your points, although aren't as good on paper as a move from economy to business class.

Upgrading from business to first class on that same London flight costs 60,000 points. With a one-way first class fare of $8,953, you're getting a return of around 3.38 cents per point.

First class, seat 1A on the Qantas A380
First class, seat 1A on the Qantas A380

On a return business class ticket – just $7,539 on our dates against return first class at $10,996 – the value descends to just 2.88 cents per point for a round trip upgrade.

Continue reading: Qantas first class upgrade guide

All considered, the 'sweet spot' for redeeming your points is an upgrade from economy to business class.

You'll not only see the biggest difference during the flight (a Skybed compared to an economy seat), you'll also get the most value back on your hoard of points.

And, if you earn most of your points from credit card spend at 1.5 points per dollar, you're pocketing an 8.83% return on your spending, which more than covers the odd 2% surcharge.

Additional research by Chris Chamberlin.

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


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 283

That's some good number-crunching guys. 

I have a related question.  Is it ever worth paying a retailer a surcharge of 1% or 2% in order to get some points, or should I just pay cash in such a situation and forgo the points?


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 533

I'm building a house and I'm trying to convince the builder to let me put it on the credit card at 00.3%, virgin money gets 1.25 points for every $1.00. Qantas is coming second on so many points at the moment even the point when is it safe to try and land in bad weather.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2431

Hi Phil - any surcharge increases the 'acquisition cost' of Qantas Points (ie the cost to you to 'buy' them), which then has a carry-on impact when it's time to use the points.

If you really need the points and intend to use them wisely – for example, a business-to-first upgrade, which yields ~3.38c/point in value - then paying a slight surcharge could be considered better than it you're simply stocking away points 'just because' and will be using them to buy toasters etc.

QF Platinum

24 Jan 2013

Total posts 141

Depends on how much you spend (eg. 1% on $20 c.c. spend is reasonable cf. 1% on $1000 spend), how many points earned per dollar on the c.c (eg. some amex gets 3 pts per dollar at restaurants), and what you spend the points on (eg. more bang for points if used for J class awards). Don't forget the interest free period. You are already saving money spending the bank's money first and keeping your hard earned in a offset account or high interest savings account until it's time to pay the card off. And obviously always pay the card off in full. Late fees and interest charges on c.c. make any points earned a worthless endeavour.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Excellent article Chris. I''m just getting into the QFF program as there are currently a load of great offers for new customers. As I don't book flights 365 days in advance (and hate those fuel surcharges!) I'm thinking domestic J awards will be the best use for me, especially once the new A330 J suites come online. Much better availability, and no fuel surcharges.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 168

just booked 2 one way flights europe to mel on qatar in J ( jan 15!)for 260,000 QFF points. retail on qatar website is 7000 euro ( c$10,000) so 3.85 c per mile and $900 taxes, "paid"  0.002 c for them using credit card to pay my BAS!! so pretty good return. (OPTUS EASY PAY CHARGES 0.4% which is tax deductible ie, 0.2%. for visa / mastercard. see citibank or hsbc fo 1 point per dollar spend)

Also if I want to cancel all I forfeit is 6000 points the rest is fully refunded

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 168

sorry should read 0.2 c or 0.002 dollars !! not 0.002 c

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

I cannot imagine paying a lot for a long-haul flex economy ticket purely to try and upgrade, then be unsuccesfull in my upgrade and spend the whole flight in an overpriced Y seat I don't even want. What a horrible start to a holiday. Has anyone had this happen before?

My partner is on the cusp of getting rid of his QFF account. He has found it pretty worthless, particularly considering the dollar payment required for redemption. I've converted him to the dark side...

I've been trying to work out a mathematical equation to measure the value of frequent flyer programmes with reference to redemption but have been unable to factor in the cost of dollar co-payments associated with redemptions. 

At the moment accruals and redemptions are variables across different programmes. So in effect you're comparing apples with oranges. There is anecdotal evidence that some programmes are better than others but I'm trying to ascertain a systematic method, with defined parameters.

Granted, I've not invested an enormous amount of time on this - merely doodling on a pad during lunch. But has anyone out there worked out this model?

I have in the past compared a couple of programmes on the basis of status acquisition with respect to a basket of sectors but I'm looking to develop something with more of a plug-and-play feature.

Theoretically, if you're able to develop a consistent method of measurement for all features of a programme, assign a weightage to prioritise some features over others, you could in effect assess value across all programmes.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

There really is no simple way to work it out as every program has different earn and burn methods and rules. What I would do is pick one common burn method that most programs have (i.e. redeem for J awards, or Y to J upgrades) and then pick 5 different routes that most carriers fly (i.e. SYD-LHR, SYD-HKG, SYD-LAX, SYD-SIN and SYD-DXB) and work out the value of each point when redeemed based on the points required and co-pay of taxes and charges. This should give you the rough ‘worth’ of a FPP in each program. This would then make it easier to assess offers like CC sign-on bonuses – i.e. ‘if Im “buying” 50k points as a sign on bonus for $299 annual fee then which program should I credit to given I’ve worked out a different earn rate for each program’.

Another thing many people don’t consider is that a seat is worth what you would be willing to pay for it, not what price the airline sets. QF may say their F seats to LHR are ‘worth’ $15,000 each, but if you would only be willing to pay $5k for it, it’s not worth $15k! Just because you’re getting a substantial discount on something doesn’t necessarily mean its good value.

15 Jun 2014

Total posts 9

I recently flew SIN-SYD in full price Y (for work) and tried upgrading to J as a Gold. No luck so cant imagine I woule ever try the same appraoch with my own money.

J to F is the only ugrade I would try as at least I would be happy in the seat I paid for.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 481


I agree upgrades from economy to Business are best value. I landed this morning from a 7-d trip to the US. The fare SYD-LAX-SJC-LAX-BNE was $2100 all up. 72k points each way to go fm economy to biz. These sectors for equivalent day departure next week show a total cost of $10,768. So $8,668 of value for 144,000 points (LAX-SJC was economy btw).  

This is the only way I redeem points - and yes, I'm a platinum flyer with Qantas so I am towards the head of the queue for upgrades - but my opinion is that I'm loyal to Qantas and they are loyal in return by ensuring I get the upgrades I ask for...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Nov 2014

Total posts 24

If you are flying Qantas to London it is 60000 points per direction to upgrade Business to First. However if you are flying to a European city on Qantas code share with Emerates, the 60000 points will only get an upgrade on the Australia to Dubai leg provided that leg is on a Qantas aircraft.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Dec 2012

Total posts 41

It's only 45K points to upgrade from SYD/MEL to DXB from Business to First. 15K from DXB-LHR and 60K for the entire journey. If booking a fare which has sectors on both QF and EK you can request upgrades on the QF sectors and will be deducted points from the successfully upgraded QF sectors only.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Apr 2014

Total posts 37

Very nice article. Puts things into perspective!

But like someone before me, how does this QFF program compare to others..??

For example Malaysia's Enrich program converts 1 Australian AMEX MR point for 1 Enrich mile, offers a 15% online booking discount for award bookings, and I believe this results in SYD-KUL-LHR Return in Business class to be only 161,500 miles (when flying on Malaysia aircraft)..! But then again, I don't know availability-wise how they compare..

Same numbers for Singapore Airlines Krisflyer on the same sector.. And also they convert from AMEX MR points, or 0.7 milers for 1 point from Velocity..!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Feb 2015

Total posts 2

Very useful analysis thanks. Appreciate the comparisons. I have long used 1c as my comparison for buying local economy flights so I can work out when to buy and why to use points and it seems to work well. You really have to do this live with each flight as it varies so much by flights, specials etc. The long haul economy business upgrade is the best value for sure but the risk of flying at the back is a worry if you're on a work trip.

Thanks again. With 1.4 million points in the bank, QFF is a serious second currency in our lives! 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 9

Is there a Velocity varient of this comparison?


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