This week's frequent flyer wrap

By Chris C., June 17 2016
This week's frequent flyer wrap

It’s been a busy month for Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent flyer members with new charges levied when booking Etihad Airways reward flights, new ways for Platinum members to upgrade to business class when travelling with Virgin Australia, and new earning partners to boot.

On the ground, both Virgin Money Home Loans and Wilson Parking serve as new ways to scoop up Velocity points, while further abroad, Italian airline Alitalia also joins the fold with members able to earn and redeem points and enjoy familiar perks like lounge access and priority check-in.

Qantas flyers aren’t forgotten either with a round-up of this month’s highest-yielding credit card sign-up bonuses, and speaking of plastics, we examine the Reserve Bank’s upcoming credit card ‘interchange’ legislation and explain what it means for your frequent flyer balance.

Giving you a happy start to the weekend, we also highlight a deal in which one business class flight or one return economy flight with United Airlines is enough to unlock a groovy Star Alliance Gold card for up to 18 months, giving you privileges with United, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and more.

Virgin Australia hikes fees on Etihad reward flights

Now is your last chance to book Etihad Airways flights using Velocity Frequent Flyer points at the current cost rates, with new fees of up to US$1,200 per passenger, per return trip being applied to all new Etihad Airways reward bookings made from June 18 2016.

Travellers can then expect to pay US$300 per first class flight, US$205 per business class flight and US$50 per economy flight booked on Etihad using Velocity points, in addition to the usual amount payable in government and airport taxes and surcharges.

Read: Velocity hikes fees on Etihad Airways reward flights

How to get Star Alliance Gold status in a single flight

Yes, you read that right: here's a status match promotion that can land you Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status with just one flight.

That shiny Star Alliance Gold card is your key to primo perks like airport lounge access, priority treatment and extra baggage allowance with the likes of Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United, ANA, Lufthansa, Swiss and many more.

What's more, that card and those perks can be yours through to January 2018: that's almost 18 months of VIP treatment, even when you're flying economy class…

Read: Star Alliance Gold status, yours from a single flight

Velocity Frequent Flyer partners with Italy's Alitalia

Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer members can now earn frequent flyer points and status credits when travelling with Alitalia, Italy's flag-carrying airline.

Velocity Gold and Platinum members also gain access to selected Alitalia airport lounges in New York and across Italy in Catania, Rome, Milan, Naples and Venice.

On the table too are priority boarding and check-in privileges for Gold and Platinum members, along with a boosted baggage allowance for Silver members and above of one additional bag.

Here’s what you’ll earn: New Velocity, Alitalia partnership

How the interchange cap will affect credit card points

The number of Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyer points that you can earn via credit card spending is likely to plummet next year.

It's an unwelcome side effect of new government regulations, imposed by the Reserve Bank of Australia, to limit the fees charged to businesses to process credit card payments.

While that should lead to generally lower credit card booking fees imposed by airlines, brace yourself for a dramatic cut in the points-per-dollar earning rate on most credit cards…

Read more: How interchange caps affect credit card points

Business class upgrade perks for Velocity Platinum

Upgrading to business class just got even easier for Platinum-grade members of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program with new ways to use the four complimentary upgrades offered each year and also when using points to upgrade year-round.

Use Velocity Points or Platinum upgrade credits to fly in The Business...
Use Velocity Points or Platinum upgrade credits to fly in The Business...

Previously, the four annual upgrades given to each Platinum member could only be used on Virgin Australia domestic flights, but under recent changes can now also be used for a bump to business class on international flights – excluding Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi.

Also relaxed are the rules for Velocity Platinum members requesting same-day upgrades on domestic flights at the Virgin Australia lounge, when using either their upgrade credits or frequent flyer points…

Read: New business class upgrade perks for Velocity Platinum

Winter’s top Qantas credit card sign-up deals

Cosy up to a new credit card this winter and you could be toasting to 100,000 bonus Qantas frequent flyer points from just a single card application, or as many as many as 245,000 bonus points when applying with each of the banks below.

That's done by filing your applications, being approved and spending a modest amount on each card, but we'd of course not recommend applying for credit solely to earn points.

However, if your current bank is no longer meeting your needs of you've been eyeing off a new credit card on your own time, it makes sense to apply for one that rewards you both upfront and as you continue to spend….

Read: Winter’s top Qantas credit card sign-up deals

Velocity partners with Virgin Money, Wilson Parking

Virgin Australia now counts two more partners among its earning stable with Virgin Money and Wilson Parking dishing out points to Velocity members.

Virgin Money awards 1,000 points per $10,000 drawn at loan settlement time, a further 1,000 points per month throughout the loan period and 30,000 points for every three years the home loan remains outstanding, beginning at year three, plus bonuses on insurance purchases.

On the other hand, Wilson Parking is paying out 10 Velocity points per dollar spent on parking services booked via its online Book a Bay service throughout the month of June, reverting to a still-generous five Velocity points per dollar thereafter.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

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