Points, glorious points. It is a pretty satisfying feeling of boarding a flight entirely fueled by rewards card points. But with the value of rewards cards generally on the decline, you may be one of the many Australians who now aren’t getting that feeling often enough.
So to help you boost your points pile and squeeze every last ounce of value out of your favourite piece of plastic, we’ve tracked down some of Australia’s top rewards points gurus, getting their top tips and tricks so that you can set yourself up for a load of free travel once the new year rolls around.
First up is rewards points expert and founder of IFLYflat, Steve Hui, who says that, when it comes to earning points, we should go with the approach that no purchase is too small.
“The number one tip is that you have to use your card to earn points. Some people might feel like the item is too small - say if it is just a $3 coffee - but when you add all of those points up it could tally up to hundreds of points each week,” said Hui.
And once you’ve stashed up enough rewards points to fund a flight, it’s all about understanding which ticket will offer you the best value overall.
“I always recommend that Aussies use their points to book business because you’re getting more value out of each point,” he said.
“For example, to fly business to LA might cost you around $6,000AUD but you’ll only need to spend 192,000 points which works out at roughly 3 cents per point. Compare that to an economy flight which will cost you around $1,000AUD but 96,000 points - by booking business you’re really maximising every single point you’ve earned.”
Matt Graham is the editor of the Australian Frequent Flyer Forum and has seen a fair few rewards tips flying around the online chatrooms during his time.
“My number one tip is to take advantage of bonus offers when you sign up, even if there is a minimum spend attached,” said Graham.
“For example, at the moment the NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card comes with 100,000 bonus points and with that you can get a return trip to somewhere like Indonesia or Bali - just by getting the card.”
When it comes to booking your flight, it isn’t always easy to nab a seat going to your desired destination and it is far less likely when you only have one airline to choose from. To remedy this, Graham recommends you look out for rewards cards that will allow you to transfer your points to a number of frequent flyer programs.
“A lot of cards will lock you into a particular program - so you’re only earning Qantas Points or Velocity Points - but some cards will give you the flexibility to earn rewards points and then transfer them into a program so that you can actually get a flight to where you need to go.”
Kathryn Drew, Head of Loyalty and Airline Co-Brand Partnerships for Australia & New Zealand, American Express
The king of credit cards, American Express took out Mozo’s Credit Card Provider of the Year gong in October after winning an astonishing 11 Experts Choice Awards.
With that kind of a track record, Kathryn Drew weighed in on how Aussies can make the most of their plastic during the festive period, and this one involves food!
“Offer to pay the bill when you’re out with friends – for example at a restaurant – on your own credit card or mobile wallet (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay) and simply ask your fellow guests to pay you their portion. That way, you earn a higher number of reward points without spending more yourself,” she said.
While points are the major appeal for rewards card holders, Drew gave a friendly reminder of the other travel freebies up for grabs that you should definitely take advantage of abroad.
“Think about the extra benefits that a card can offer you – free travel insurance or mobile phone screen protection could save you hundreds of dollars a year, while VIP access to airport lounges or entertainment venues is pretty hard to put a price on!”
Nathan Warne, Mozo
Last but not least, Mozo’s resident points guru Nathan Warne gave us a timely reminder of the extra points that you could be collecting when shopping online.
“A lot of rewards programs will give you bonus points for heading to one of their retail partners’ sites via an online portal. For example, you can rack up 5 bonus Qantas Points per dollar spent simply heading to THE ICONIC via the Qantas Online Mall - just have your membership details ready.”
While the temptation to splash your points stash on some retail goods is strong at this time of year, Warne says you’re better off saving them for when it is time to book a flight.
“It might take some planning, but try your best to use your points for flights because they represent the most value. 300,000 rewards points might not even get you a new flat screen television on some rewards programs, but it could get you a first class ticket to London.”
If you’re after a card that’ll help you fund your next family holiday you can check out a some of the popular options right now. But if you want to see more, head to Mozo’s rewards card hub to discover a range of powerful point collectors.