Your mid-January frequent flyer wrap

By Chris C., January 15 2016
Your mid-January frequent flyer wrap

Mid-January marks another busy period for Virgin Australia Velocity members with two partners departing from Velocity Frequent Flyer and a third lowering the number of points you’ll earn per dollar spent.

The first month of the year also marks the time when you’ll need to stay again at a Starwood hotel to continue earning SPG Starpoints on your Uber rides – fail to do so and you’ll stop earning points via Uber from February 1 until you’ve stayed again with Starwood this calendar year.

If that’s unlikely, be swift to take advantage of a double points offer from taxi booking app GoCatch, which lets you earn up to two Qantas frequent flyer points per dollar spent on taxi fares through the end of January.

Finally, we take a look at the strong business class award availability on Qantas’ new Sydney-San Francisco flights, and the five best ways to make the most of your Velocity Platinum membership.

Earning SPG Starpoints when riding with Uber

Starwood’s partnership with Uber allows members of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program to earn Starpoints – the chain’s version of hotel loyalty points – when riding around town with the on-demand car company.

But even if you’re currently earning points with Uber, that will change come February 1 unless you’ve also spent one night or more at a Starwood hotel this calendar year.

Here’s what existing users need to know, and what newcomers can do to earn Starpoints on their next (or first) Uber ride.

Read: Earning SPG Starpoints when riding with Uber

Qantas business class awards strong to SFO

Finding a business class seat between Australia and the United States using Qantas frequent flyer points is often a difficult task, but Qantas’ recently-revived Sydney-San Francisco route is making this a little easier over the coming months with ample business class awards on the table.

From late January until April, most weeks show at least one – if not three or even four – flights with ‘Classic Reward’ business class seats available from Sydney to SFO, with many flights each offering two business class award seats: perfect for trips with your spouse or partner, or business trips with colleagues.

That’s also when Qantas boosts the flight up from running only on ‘selected peak days’ to six-times-weekly, adding more flights to the schedule and ultimately more opportunities for frequent flyers to use their points at the aptly-nicknamed ‘pointy end’.

Your best chance to snag a seat is to fly mid-week, particularly Tuesday through Thursday, although in some weeks awards availability also pops up on Mondays and Sundays – just search for your preferred dates on the Qantas website to see what’s available when you need to fly.

Making the most of your Velocity Platinum status

So you’ve done the hard yards to reach Virgin Australia’s Velocity Platinum tier – congratulations, by the way – now all that’s left is to make the most of your new Platinum perks and privileges.

Certainly, Platinum gets you expected basics like airport lounge access, priority check-in and a faster boarding queue, but it proves useful in many other ways.

Among them: free business class upgrades, front-row seating and use of business lounges in many CBDs for getting things done on your next business trip.

Read: Five ways to make the most of your Velocity Platinum status

Virgin Mobile pares back Velocity earning rate

Virgin Mobile is reducing the number of Virgin Australia Velocity points that its customers can earn from next month on its range of post-paid mobile phone and mobile broadband plans.

Come February 1, the current earning rate of three Velocity points per dollar spent is lowered to two Velocity points per dollar spent on all eligible services.

Customers with pre-paid plans cannot earn Velocity points via Virgin Mobile, either now or after February 1.

For more information, head to the Virgin Mobile website.

Double Qantas Points on taxi rides with GoCatch

Frequent flyers using the GoCatch smartphone app to book their next taxi journey can earn double Qantas Points on trips booked through the end of January.

Ordinarily, GoCatch users earn one Qantas Point per dollar spent on taxi fares that exceed $10 – such as 15 points for a $15 fare but zero points for a $9 fare – but which rises to two points per dollar spent on the whole amount of all fares of $10 or more.

To earn points, passengers must book and pay for their trip via the GoCatch app, as hailing a cab on the street or booking directly earns no points.

Aussie Mortgage Brokers, IBIS World depart Velocity

Virgin Australia Velocity members soon to apply for a home loan are also affected this month with Aussie Mortgage Brokers parting ways with Velocity as of January 11 2016.

The tie-up allowed homeowners to net up to 75,000 Velocity points when taking out a new home loan, whether with Aussie directly or a different bank sourced through Aussie.

IBIS World, a business research and insight company, will also end its Velocity partnership from February 16 2016, until which time Velocity members can earn up to 5,445 Velocity points per industry report obtained from the company.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

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