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3 easy ways to boost your frequent flyer points, and travel for free

Crowds at Sydney airport lining up to catch a flight, Australian currency and the Qantas logo.
New customers can get up to 150,000 bonus points when they sign up for a frequent flyer credit card. (Source: Getty)

We all need to drive our dollar further right now.

And post all the pandemic ‘down’ time, you may be sitting on a pile of frequent flyer points… that could take you sky-high.

Do you like the sound of a fantastic and free holiday with your family or friends?

Here are three ways to boost your points balance to get a cheap, or even free, holiday.

Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

Tip 1: Get bonus points with a frequent flyer credit card

New customers usually collect between 75,000 and 150,000 bonus points when they sign up for a frequent flyer credit card.

In a partnership? Then both do this (remember cards can only be held in one name).

Indeed, sophisticated frequent-flyer aficionados swap cards as often as every 18 months.

This is a great strategy because annual fees can be lower in the first 12 months, so it doesn’t even set you back as much.

Yes, applying for credit too often can affect your credit score. But only applying this frequently should not have a marked detrimental effect.

Between two people in a couple, this strategy could even net you 600,000 extra points within three years.

Just a further note on this though: You need to also consider which is the card that is going to convert to the most points for you when you spend.

This may in fact be a card with a high annual fee, if the points accrual is more generous.

But it can be difficult to determine the card that will offer the largest advantage.

Comparison websites can help, usually overlaying a value calculation that shows the like-for-like return, factoring in fees and points accrual and redemption rates.

Tip 2: Never miss an opportunity to swipe for points

The next thing canny collectors do is always use their frequent-flyer cards when it is going to earn them points.

It’s also key to know that some expenditure does not attract frequent flyer points… it will be in the fine print of your credit card terms and conditions.

These exemptions are tax office bills, council bills, sometimes other utilities and perhaps any bpay transactions.

Know what counts and what doesn’t, bearing in mind that you don’t want to pay a surcharge on a credit card transaction if there is no bottom-line benefit – aka higher points advantage – to doing so.

Tip 3: Convert shopping rewards to frequent flyer points

Those supermarket rewards cards from which you accept a, say, free $10 every so often? Don’t.

Research by Finder.com.au says it is far more lucrative to hook schemes up to your Qantas or Virgin Velocity frequent flyer account, but few people realise it.

A survey of more than 1,000 Aussies shows just 13 per cent of us covert supermarket rewards to Qantas or Velocity points.

That means 15 million people miss out on potential frequent flyer points, with just 2.2 million taking advantage to travel.

A full two-thirds of people instead get cashback on their groceries, 13 per cent buy products and 5 per cent don’t use their points for anything (2 per cent responded “other”).

So, how much less value does using your points in store compared with for travel?

Amy Bradney-George, credit card expert at Finder, says: “If you used 16,000 Everyday Rewards points to get cash off your shop, you'd get $80 value. But if you transferred those points to Qantas Frequent Flyer, you'd get 8,000 points – often enough for a one-way flight from Sydney to Melbourne or Brisbane, worth well above $80."

Indeed, shoppers can earn around 50,000 points a year in this way, including possible generous and regular bonus points of 1000 or more.

Sure, a discount or cashback is appealing right now. But if you are hoping to travel in the next year, even domestically, you could be getting bigger bang for your grocery buck.

The Everyday Rewards scheme is available from Woolworths, Big W, BWS and partnering service stations.

Your redemption options are cash off your shop or Qantas points.

Flybuy partners include Coles, Kmart, Bunnings and various other service stations. Here, you can get discounts, retail items, or Velocity frequent flyer points.

Finder’s research reveals 75 per cent of Aussies use Everyday Rewards and 68 per cent Flybuys.

For points, 28 per cent of us collect Qantas points and 21 per cent Velocity points.

So savvy supermarket shopping with an eye to travel really depends on where you shop the most.

And what you will fly the most.

Don’t forget to stay on the lookout, too, for utilities and other providers who are offering points and frequent-flier tie ups.

Remember, unless you clear your balance in full each and every month, the high fees on frequent-flyer credit cards will cancel out your air-born benefits.

But could you take your money, literally, sky high?

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at www.nicolessmartmoney.com. Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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