Calculating rewards points

You don’t have to be a mathematician when it comes to calculating rewards points. While it can be confusing as no reward program is the same, there is a fairly simple equation you can follow that will calculate the rewards points currency. This guide will hopefully help you make sense, the process of calculating rewards points so you can earn your free ticket to Bali in no time.

How to calculate which rewards will give you the best value

Each reward program has its fair share of differences including the value of the programs points. By calculating rewards points you can determine if you’ll get any value from the reward you’re after. You don’t want to feel like you’ve been ripped off do you!? If you follow the below equation you can calculate the point currency to redeem $1 worth of rewards. You can do this with several programs to find out which reward program will give you the best value.

Step 1:

Choose which type of reward program you’re interested in, for example, shopping rewards, cashback or frequent flyer.

Step 3:

Select a few of these type of reward programs to make comparisons with

Step 4:

Decide on a reward you’re interested in, find out how many points are required to redeem the award and look up the recommended retail price (RRP) of the reward.

Step 5:

Divide the number of points required to redeem the award by the RRP of the reward. This will give you the point currency to redeem $1 of rewards.

For example:
Sarah has decided she would like to get a $100 Myer gift card with her reward points. She has found one reward program that will require her to earn 12,000 reward points to redeem the $100 reward.

Option 1 equation: 12,000 (reward points) ÷ 100 (RRP of gift card) = 120 points per $1 spent

Sarah then does a comparison, calculating the value of the points with another program where she needs 13,000 reward points to redeem a $100 Myer gift card.

Option 2 equation: 13,000 (reward points) ÷ 100 (RRP of gift card) = 130 points per $1 spent.

It’s clear that the reward program for option one gives Sarah the best value. Just think, the lower the point currency the better the value of the reward.

Ways to earn reward points

There are endless ways to earn reward points but the best part is, you don’t need to spend more to earn more points. The key is to think where and how you’re going to make your next purchase. It’s also important to choose and stick to one credit card that is attached to one rewards program that matches your spending habits and interests. Then follow these tips on earning reward points and you can watch your tally climb up and up!

  • Shopping: Use your rewards credit card for all everyday expenses from grocery shopping to filling up with petrol to paying for movie tickets. The more you use your reward credit the more points you’ll earn. Avoid making purchases with cash or on your debit card.
  • Big purchases: Earn a truck load of points in one hit by using your rewards credit card to make large purchases. For example, if you’re paying for a family trip to Disneyland, use your rewards credit card to pay for the flights and you’ll see your reward point’s skyrocket.
  • AMEX vs Visa/MasterCard: Usually you can earn more points with an American Express (AMEX) card then a Visa or MasterCard. To maximise point earning use your AMEX card as often as possible but be mindful of the surcharge that you may incur. For example, with the ANZ Rewards card you earn 2 points per dollar on Amex but only 1.5 points per dollar spent on Visa.
  • Paying bills: You can even earn reward points when paying for bills such as electricity or your TAX. For more information head to our guide on credit card rewards and TAX.
  • Debts: Repay any outstanding debts you may have with your rewards credit card to earn a heap of points.
  • Partners: Shop and use services with affiliated partners of your rewards program, this includes flying with linked airlines. This is a great method to earning extra points. For example, if you have a Coles Rewards Mastercard and you shop with a partner such as Kmart or Liquorland you can earn an additional 1 point per dollar spent.
  • Your shout! If you’re out for dinner with friends offer to pay the full bill on your rewards credit card and they can reimburse you with cash. This is a great way to boost your reward points. Or if you’re planning a weekend away with mates offer to pay for any expenses from the flights to accommodation, this is another way to earn extra points.

Earning bonus points

There are two types of ways you can earn bonus reward points - sign up bonus offers and bonus partner offers. Sign up bonus points is an incentive from a provider to choose their reward credit card over another banks card. So when you sign up you'll get a stash of bonus points for the rewards program. You could get instant rewards points once you sign the dotted line or sometimes you will need to spend a set amount on your card within the first three months to earn the bonus points.

Most reward cards are affiliated with several retailers and service providers so when you spend money with them you’ll receive bonus points or more points than the standard earning rate per dollar spent. Sign up to email newsletters so you can be alerted to special offers to earn bonus points. Read our guide for information on bonus point cards.

The most valuable way to redeem points

It’s entirely up to you what you redeem your reward points on, it all comes down to your personal interests. However you will receive the best value from your rewards points when they are redeemed for flights rather than on low value products like a kettle or shopping vouchers. For example, with the NAB Velocity Rewards Premium Card based on an annual spend of $17,000 you would have enough points to redeem $293 worth of one-way Sydney to Melbourne flights. But if you were to redeem the points on a $100 gift card you would be in the red by $8 after deducting the card's $150 annual fee.

FAQ’S about rewards points 

Q1. Will my reward points expire?

Unfortunately points don’t last forever! You’ll have to read the terms and conditions of your rewards program around points and expiration as rules differ from one card to another. For example, you need to use your Qantas points at least every 18 months if not they will expire. Velocity points need to be redeemed within a three year period if not your account will become inactive and your points will expire.

Q2. Is there a cap on the amount of points I can earn?

Some reward cards have a limit on the number of points you can earn in a year or even a month. It’s important to look for a program that doesn’t limit your annual points earning or place other restrictions on your points or rewards. If there is a limit, make sure it isn’t so low you don’t get any value from the rewards on offer.

Q3. Are there fees with rewards credit cards?

Yes! Like all credit cards, reward cards have their own fair share of fees. The main one you need to be aware of is the annual fee, it’s usually very hefty, ranging from $100-$450. Make sure you choose a card where the annual fee doesn’t cost you more than what you’ll receive in rewards value. Other fees include; cash advance fee, late payment fee and currency conversion fee.  See our guide for tips on avoiding credit card fee’s.

Q4. When will I get my points?

Your points will usually hit your account within one or two days of making a purchase with a major retail partner. For some partners and bonus point promotions you may need to allow a week until you receive your points.

Q5. Can I transfer my points?

This is a case by case situation and will depend on the terms and conditions of your rewards card. So it’s best to check with your provider if you can transfer your points to a family member.