Through the recent tie-up between Virgin Australia and BP, motorists may now be tempted to ditch the traditional ‘four cents per litre’ fuel saving vouchers in favour of earning Velocity Frequent Flyer points on their tank of petrol.
But are consumers getting the best value when paying the full sticker price at the pump with ‘free’ frequent flyer points on the side, or are they better off taking advantage of supermarket fuel discount vouchers provided by Coles and Woolworths with the purchase of groceries?
We take a look at the major options available to car owners including with BP and Virgin Australia Velocity, Woolworths/Caltex and Qantas Frequent Flyer and Coles Express (Shell) and Flybuys to find the best deal.
Option 1: Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer + BP
By filling up at participating BP service stations you’ll collect two Velocity Points per litre of petrol purchased (up to 150 litres per transaction), which comes out at 100 Velocity Points on your average car-sized fill-up of 50 litres.
Looking at a one-way Sydney-Melbourne flight with Virgin Australia, you’ll need 6,900 Velocity Points and $21.11 for an economy ticket or 13,800 Velocity Points and $21.11 to fly in business class.
The same seats can often be bought outright for $149 in economy and $699 in business class between Sydney and Melbourne, which means those two Velocity Points you’re earning per litre are fetching 3.706 cents of value (combined) when flying down the back, or 9.824 cents all-up in business class.
The verdict: If you only use points to book economy flights, stick to the 4c/litre discounts offered elsewhere – but if your points are destined for business class travel, you’re much better off taking two points per litre than a four cent discount.
As an added bonus, most in-store purchases at BP also attract two Velocity Points per dollar spent (up to $100 at a time) which could get you that free flight even faster.
Option 2: Qantas Frequent Flyer + Woolworths/Caltex
Members of Woolworths’ Everyday Rewards program can likewise earn two Qantas Frequent Flyer points per litre of petrol at participating Woolworths/Caltex outlets (up to 150 litres per transaction), yet only after spending at least $30 at a Woolworths supermarket or with Woolworths Online.
That’s how shoppers pick up a 4c/litre fuel discount voucher, which Everyday Rewards members can either redeem at face value or can instead opt to earn two frequent flyer points per litre in lieu of fuel savings.
Redeeming those points for a Sydney-Melbourne flight with Qantas, you’d be looking at 8,000 points and $30.13 for an economy seat that can often be nabbed for $159 outright, or 16,000 points and the same $30.13 for a business class ticket that normally sells for $749.
The verdict: Combined, your two points per litre attract 3.22 cents of value when booking economy and 8.985 cents when flying in business class on this particular route – so again, either save your points for a business class ticket or take the 4c/litre fuel saving.
Option 3: Flybuys + Coles Express (Shell)
Coles Express (Shell) service stations award one Flybuys point per $2 spent on most purchases including fuel and snacks, but unlike Woolworths/Caltex you can still earn points when redeeming a 4c/litre fuel discount voucher – picked up from your last shop of at least $30 with Coles or Bi-Lo.
Flybuys members can swap 10,000 points for $50 of Webjet credit, but to book that same one-way flight from Sydney to Melbourne, you’d instantly lose $32.90 in unavoidable Webjet fees.
With Webjet offering no fee-free payment methods, add to that a further $7 fee when booking a Qantas flight or $7.70 to do the same with Virgin Australia, and your $50 Webjet credit has diminished to an ultimate discount of just $10.10 with Qantas or $9.40 with Virgin Australia, over what could be booked directly on the airlines’ own websites.
Instead, convert your Flybuys points into ‘Flybuys Dollars’ at the rate of 0.5 cents each, with a true $10 saving on groceries possible after earning 2,000 points.
Assuming a petrol price of 139.9 cents per litre, a 4c/litre discount on 50 litres of fuel is $2, with 33 Flybuys points on the side. That works out at 0.66 Flybuys points per litre – adding a return of 0.33 cents per litre – for an all-out benefit of 4.33 cents per litre.
The verdict: If fuel savings make the most sense for your circumstances, earning a handful of Flybuys points with every tank is still a better deal than taking fuel discounts alone, but doesn’t compare in value for travellers looking to fly at the pointy end.
Also read: What is a Qantas frequent flyer point worth?
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