Qantas/Woolworths vs Virgin Australia/Coles Flybuys

By Chris Chamberlin, October 20 2016
Qantas/Woolworths vs Virgin Australia/Coles Flybuys

With Virgin Australia now paired to the Coles Flybuys scheme, shoppers can choose between earning Velocity Frequent Flyer points and status credits at Coles or Qantas Frequent Flyer points at Woolworths.

But which airline + supermarket partnership offers the best value, both in how many points you can collect and where those points can take you?

Australian Business Traveller pits the two schemes against each other to find out.

Woolworths Rewards (Qantas) vs Flybuys (Virgin Australia): earning points

Both Woolworths and Coles let you earn one of their own rewards scheme points – Woolworths Rewards or Coles Flybuys – for every dollar spent at supermarkets and some affiliated stores such as bottle shops.

When you've amassed 2,000 of those 'supermarket points' they can be converted into 870 Qantas or Virgin frequent flyer points, respectively.

That works out at 13 frequent flyer points on a $30 grocery basket or bottle of wine (for the mathematically-inclined, that's 0.435 frequent flyer points per dollar spent). 

With Woolworths Rewards you’ll pick up one Woolworths Point per dollar spent at Woolworths supermarkets, BWS liquor stores and Woolworths-Caltex service stations (excluding Star Mart and Star Shop) – but not at Woolies’ other brands like Big W, Cellarmasters or Dan Murphy’s.

Flybuys serves up one Flybuys point per dollar spent at Coles, First Choice Liquor and Liquorland, alongside Kmart, Target and a wealth of external partners including AGL Energy, Telstra and Medibank: many of which even deliver two or three points per dollar.

This drops to 0.5 Flybuys points per dollar at Coles Express service stations, although you also have the option to earn 2 Velocity points per litre buying fuel at BP, unrelated to the Flybuys link-up.

Woolworths imposes no annual limit to how many Qantas points you can earn; with Coles this is capped at 60,030 Velocity points (converted from 138,000 Flybuys points), but that's only relevant if you plan on spending $138,000 per year on groceries, wine and what-not.

Winner: Coles Flybuys + Velocity Frequent Flyer offers a much broader set of retail partners where you can earn points. 

Woolworths Rewards vs Flybuys: earning status credits

You’d normally need to fly to accrue status credits, but Flybuys shoppers can earn one Velocity status credit per $100 spent across Coles, Liquorland and First Choice Liquor, capped at a maximum of 10 status credits from Flybuys per month (this doesn't need to be $100 in a single spend).

This won't replace flying but if you're most of the way there and have no more trips planned, those extra status credits could be all it takes to nudge you up to the next Velocity tier or retain your current status.

What’s more, you can link your Flybuys account to both Velocity Frequent Flyer and Etihad Guest, enabling you to earn Velocity status credits and Etihad Guest tier miles simultaneously on your purchases.

Qantas awards no status credits via the Woolworths Rewards program or via any other partners on the ground: reserving these exclusively for members who take paid flights with Qantas and its partner airlines.

Winner: Coles Flybuys + Velocity Frequent Flyer

Woolworths Rewards vs Flybuys: redeeming frequent flyer points

It’s great being able to earn points, but an important yardstick is how many of those points you'll need to actually book a flight –  and how much those points will cost you.

Let's use the popular benchmark of a one-way economy flight between Sydney and Melbourne.

You’d need 8,000 Qantas points plus a payment of $34.18 to book that flight with the Flying Kangaroo; or 7,800 Velocity points plus $21.11 for the same trip on Virgin Australia.

To earn those Qantas points you'll have to spend $20,000 at Woolworths and its partners: that'll get you the 20,000 Woolworths points needed to convert into 8,700 Qantas Points so you can book your flight.

(Note that points can only be converted in multiples of 2,000 Woolworths points or 870 Qantas points, so this will also leave you with 700 spare Qantas points towards for your next trip.)

A lower spend of $18,000 at Coles and co nets you 18,000 Flybuys points, convertible into 7,830 Velocity points: just enough to book that Virgin Australia flight, which also has a lower co-payment amount.

Winner: Coles Flybuys + Velocity Frequent Flyer

Join other AusBT readers talking about the new Velocity/Coles Flybuys partnership in our Virgin Australia discussion group

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

VA

25 Aug 2014

Total posts 42

Great article Chris

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Great article. When you realise you would need to spend $400 every week at WW and partners (far more than most families would spend) for a year just to earn one single 'free' MEL-SYD flight while still having to pay $33 in taxes when that flight will often only be ~$100, its no wonder people say there's no value in FF programs.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2015

Total posts 22

Coles are very generous with bonus points offers though. Despite only spending ~$50 tops a week at Coles, I'm consistently making >5,000 flybuys points a month. Woolies doesn't seem to be offering as good bonus offers as it has back in the EDR days unfortunately.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2014

Total posts 50

I agree and will go further in stating that Woolies has never had a program was well developed as Coles. 

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 65

How many Etihad points and taxes are required to book the same flight? I believe the Etihad conversion is 10000flybuys to 4000 Etihad (2000=800)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 2

Excellent article Chris, thanks for saving me doing the analysis myself!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Nov 2014

Total posts 34

It is a con the whole Frequent Flyer/Supermarket Scheme. I suppose if you were 10 status credits short but then again you would still need to spend $1000 at coles to get those 10 status credits. You could've spent $200 on a cheap melbourne to sydney return flight and got 10 status credits and had a nice weekend away while you were at it.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Well you've just highlighted the exact reason the part that is a con.  So many people fork out money on useless flights just to keep their ego status alive, whereas they can simply connect their Velocity account and not do anything but have bonus points added to their account.

03 Jan 2012

Total posts 88

Luckily for us in Perth, we could spend +$500 to get a return flight to Kalgoorlie to get those precious 10 status credits if needing to nudge up a tier. So much nicer for a weekend away than that awful grind between Melbourne and Sydney.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

WW's 5% discounted Everyday giftcard can buy petroleum. This is the game changer.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Not for long when Woolworths offloads its fuel stations.

29 Apr 2014

Total posts 22

As someone who does their banking with NAB and is with Telstra for their mobile, I got quite excited about this. Except when I saw that you need to have Flybuys NAB credit card - my home loan with NAB counts for nothing. And Telstra only helps you with pre-paid - not a postpaid plan on contract. Oh well :(

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 8

Wow! You can earn status credits from shopping? Not a lot... but this is the difference for me between holding onto Gold and not. Which is a huge difference. Mind you, 10 SCs a month = $1000 spend a month. It's not cheap.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

No, but it's pretty much a guaranteed 4 status credits per month - I would say the majority spend $100/week on a shop.  A nice little ~50 status credits a year - for doing basically nothing.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

I think you have to look at supermarket FF schemes as added bonuses now. It's a pity, the old WW system was a great earner but as such, I'm not surprised they decided it was too generous. Now I see my flybuys and everyday rewards cards as a few bonus points rather than a primary source. Nice to have but not a game changer. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

This was only a matter of time.  This makes Coles/Velocity very attractive.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

For someone here that uses:

Coles/Liquorland
BP
Medibank
Telstra
NAB

This is a very nice little earner for doing hardly anything different.  Now with status credits at the checkout, it makes my gold status a little better than marginal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 496

Chris,

There's one other parameter that appears to have been overlooked in your excellent analysis of the two programs.

That is the time cycle for crediting supermarket points to airline points credit.

For those amassing Woolworths / QF points, whilst you might already have the requisite 2000 WW (converts to 870 QF points), these will not be converted to QF points until mid December - and my understanding is that the WW-QF conversions will then take place quarterly thereafter. This is a negative in that the prior WW EDR program converted on a weekly basis.

What will FlyBuys / Virgin conversion process be? 'On demand' or at set intervals?

20 Oct 2016

Total posts 2

Nice way to top up the old Velocity points and status credits. Shouldn't be your primary earner, but it does make shopping at coles and coles shell a lot nicer.


Amex Platinum Edge
3 pts per $1 @ Coles, now equals 4 points per $1
2 pts per $1 @ Coles Express, now equals 2.5 points per $1

There is also a bonus point at medibank going on to earn extra FlyBuys based upon steps and hospital+extra cover. Potentially an easy 40,000 Veloicty points for the right person!

11 Jun 2013

Total posts 17

Darren, how is it 4 points per $ now? 


Flybuys is $2000 for 870 points. So isn't it 3.435 points per $?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 132

I receive at least 4 offers a year to earn a bonus 10,000 FlyBuys points for spending anywhere from $80-100 a week for one month on groceries at Coles. This is bare minimum that we would spend anyway as a household. Have this far availed myself of every single one of them. The current one is $80 a week for a month to earn 15,000 points. They also send out a quarterly mailed statement with vouchers for smaller bonuses that you can use separately to the above, or concurrently to

11 Jun 2013

Total posts 17

Lucky with the bonus offers. 


The only ones I get is like $220 spend 4  times and get 10k points. I do have 4 households linked to one card so they prob think we spend heaps on groceries per year. 

What's the redemption level for EY F? I've always redeemed CX J return Aust-Europe for 160k Asia Miles 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 132

The algorithms PL use encourage those who only do a massive once a week shop to buy more regularly, albeit even though they then spend less per occasion. Give that a try; spend $40-50 once a week for a month & the system will start luring you with better offers!


My partner's flights will use my American points (100,000 + 62,500) & mine will be bought using my EY Guest points (76,229 + 124,302).


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