So much information, so little time to sit down and work it out and no idea where to start.
Does this sound like you?
This is how I felt when it came to the serious business of rewards points and frequent flyer miles.
You hear the stories of your brothers, wife’s, friends, uncle taking their whole family to Europe for 4 weeks FREE on frequent flyer miles and you find yourself wondering…..
…..how the bloody h#ll they do it??
The study of frequent flyer rewards is serious business.
The internet is full of websites and online communities dedicated solely to the art of rewards point accumulation for those seeking cheaper, even free travel.
So many in fact that it’s easy to get analysis paralysis about the whole thing and just pay for the darn flights, than it is to try and work out the most effective way.
I should know, I was one of them!
But there are plenty of ways we (the lay woman) can accumulate significant rewards points which can convert into frequent flyer miles with your program of choice.
For example, at one time or another, we’ve all bought our groceries online or shopped online. We all use credit card cards and bank accounts, eat out and enjoy a glass of wine (every now and then).
All of these simple things can earn you points.
Here’s a quick guide for the beginners among us:
Step 1 – Define what your goal is with frequent flyer miles
Why are you collecting frequent flyer miles?
Are you saving for two first class tickets to Europe for your wedding anniversary? Maybe you’re after a business class upgrade on a planned international trip in the next few years or perhaps you’re looking to maximise the points you can earn to pay for the kids tickets on your family holidays?
With a goal in mind, you are able to work out your time frame and the points needed to get you there.
This will help determine how you go about accruing points, and will help you choose between the various frequent flyer programs, offers and deals.
For Qantas Frequent Flyers – you can use these calculators to work out the points needed for the trips you have in mind.
Step 2 – Choose a frequent flyer rewards program
Sounds obvious, but there are many rewards programs out there all with different points earnings rates, membership rewards, and partner offers.
This site highlights what frequent flyer programs are currently on the market and allows you to compare across points earnings, membership fees and the features and benefits of each program.
These programs run membership promotions from time to time ? where membership fees are waived. So always check to see whether there is promotion running before you sign up. I joined Qantas Frequent Flyers many years ago on a promotion which saved the $89.50 membership fee. This deal is currently running again until December 31st 2015 ? you can sign up for free membership here.
I wouldn?t rush out and sign up for every rewards program under the sun either. Not only will it complicate matters (again), but concentrating your point?s accumulation efforts on one, maybe two, programs only is the most effective way to grow your points balance quicker.
It will also help you reach higher levels of membership quicker, which in itself attracts even more benefits and traveller rewards.
Handy tip for Frequent Flyer point’s
Download the relevant frequent flyer point’s app. You can download the Qantas one here. It’s the handiest way to check your points balance and learn the ways you can earn points.
Step 3- Familiarise yourself with the features of the program you choose
There are two main areas you need to be familiar with here:
- Which partner airlines and affiliates are partnered with your frequent flyer program of choice so you know which airlines you will earn points for flying with; AND
- The many ways to earn points in your chosen frequent flyer program. Which hotels, restaurants, banks, hire car companies, phone & internet providers, retailers etc are affiliated with your frequent flyer program so can earn points with them as well
- Member specials deals for frequent flyer members only on travel, household appliances, online shopping etc.
For example with the Qantas frequent flyer program, frequent flyers can earn points and status credits with more than 35 partner airlines and affiliates, covering 1,000 destinations globally.
There are several ways to earn points with Qantas outside of air travel. We all know that you can earn Qantas points with your credit cards but did you know you can also earn points with your:
- Transaction account
- Home loan
- Life insurances
- Car loans
- Online trading account
Of course these are provider specific, but it’s worth a check to see if you’re not already missing out on points. If you’re considering a change in any of these areas, and you have a hefty frequent flyers point’s goal, it may be worth considering these partner products as an option.
For a full list of Qantas Frequent Flyer partners across all areas, visit this page.
Step 4 – Choose the right credit card
Every major bank now has at least one Qantas frequent flyer rewards card. So if you use a credit card to pay your monthly expenses then a rewards card is the way to go.
Most rewards cards also off bonus points for a successful application and these can be as high as 50,000 – 70,000 bonus points. It varies depending on the promotion and the bonus point are valid for new cards only. So usually only once.
The way these rewards cards work, is that you earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points of anywhere between 0.5 ? 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on the card.
So if you have a card where the ratio is 1.5 points per $1, for every $1,000 you spend, you will earn 1,500 Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
You will still need to be mindful of the applicable interest rate of the card as with any credit card, although carrying a balance on the card and paying interest is likely to strip away any real financial benefit achieved from accumulating rewards points.
The other thing to be mindful of is whether there is a minimum spend requirement for the bonus points to be awarded. You may need to spend ‘X’ amount on your new card in the first month or three months in order to be eligible for the bonus points. If this is more than you would normally spend it might not be worth it.
Also good to keep in mind the annual fee. For some cards, these can be as high as $400 or even $500 dollars. A good way to work out whether the annual fee is worth the bonus points for signing is to work out the equivalent dollar value of the bonus points.
Let’s use an example for Frequent Flyer points
Let’s say there is a bonus of 50,000 points for New Card A and the annual fee is $295. For 50,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points you could fly 1 person return for FREE to Fiji and have one return FREE interstate trip to Melbourne. Could you buy the same for $295?
No, you couldn’t. So you are in front, even with the annual fee, at least for the first year.
Sometimes this isn’t even necessary as the first year annual fee is waived. So you can take advantage of the bonus points without justifying the expense.
Qantas has a great tool for comparing frequent flyer credit cards of the major banks against the criteria discussed above. You can access it here.
Step 5 – Pay for all your monthly expenses on your card/s
Use your rewards credit card for as many expenses as possible. Have a look at what your expenses equate to each month, then multiply this number by the point’s earnings ratio that applies to your card.
For example, if you’re monthly expenses are $5,000 per month and you attract 1.5 points per $1 on your rewards card, then you could be accumulating 7,500 points per month or 90,000 points per year.
What can 90,000 points get you two return economy fares to Fiji.
Step 6 – Book date night with Qantas Restaurants
Next time you’re heading out for dinner with friends or on date night check to see if your restaurant affiliated with Qantas Restaurants.
You can 100 points per booking with an affiliated restaurant partner and there are over 2,000 to choose from. There are also exclusive restaurant specials for Qantas Frequent Flyers as well.
And by paying with your credit card, you will also earn Qantas points for the cost of the meal.
And if you use goCatch taxi’s to get there you’ll also earn Qantas Frequent Flyers as well!
Step 7 – Make your groceries count
Do you shop with Woolworths? Join Woolworth’s everyday rewards.
As partners with Qantas Frequent Flyer program, when you shop at Woolworths, you earn points via your Woolworths rewards card as well as by paying for groceries on your rewards credit card.
Step 8 – Shop online with major brands
Have you ever shopped online with Ebay, David Jones, ASOS, Kogan, Booktopia and Pottery Barn Kids?
In fact there are over 51 brands & stores where if you shop online via Qantas online mall you can earn as many as 5 points per $1 spent online.
Step 9 – Look out for competitions
You could be the lucky one to walk away with a windfall in frequent flyer points if you just enter! There’s no quicker way to boost your points balance.
For example iSelect have a competition at the moment where you can win 250,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer Points for taking out health insurance or an energy plan.
You can take a look at the competition here.
These are just some of the key ways all of us can work towards building our frequent flyer account balances.
Have I missed something?
Probably, but this is a beginners guide after all!