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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.
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.
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.
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.
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