Pooling your frequent flyer points

Lisa and her husband both collect Velocity Rewards from Virgin Australia, and she’s sure there’s a clever way to combine their accounts to maximise their benefits.

Q. Lisa

My husband and I both have Virgin velocity cards, and because he flies more than me, he has access to the lounges, whereas I collect points mainly on shopping and through card purchases. While on the Velocity website, I noticed that we can pool our accounts, but how does this work? Does it mean that when I fly I can also access the lounge? Is there any disadvantage to pooling our accounts?

A. Frequent flyer programs are all different and all notoriously complicated, so I asked Virgin Australia’s media team to unpack the Velocity program for me.

The good news is that pooling is the most effective way to maximise rewards, and there’s no downside.

Joining is simple; just do it through Virgin’s website. Virgin allows up to six family members to pool their points and status credits (the crux of all this) into one account, but requires that one member is nominated as principal or the “beneficiary” member.  He or she is then responsible for authorising the use of points in the pooled account.

As your husband flies more than you, I would suggest he be the beneficiary member. The reason being that while points accrued through shopping, credit cards etc. can be used for flights and upgrades, only flights, either on VA or its international partners, accrue status credits – and these are the key to benefits, such as the lounge access you were asking about. (I told you they were important.)

Also, realistically, as a frequent flyer, your husband needs the benefits of lounges, priority boarding etc. more often than you, an infrequent flyer but great shopper!

So, in a nutshell, what happens is that the more you fly, the more status credits you accrue, which leads to a higher level of membership and ultimately more benefits.

Libby Armstrong of Virgin Australia explained the importance of status credits this way to me:  “You can have 1 million points, but if you don’t have any status credits (because you haven’t flown anywhere), you will still be at the base membership level (red). So if you are a gold or platinum member, because you do a lot of flying, this will allow you into the lounges of Virgin Australia and our partner lounges around the world.”

It’s also worth noting that with family pooling, any status credits you gain when you fly goes to the beneficiary member, keeping his higher status (and benefits) in place.

This is an important point of difference to the family sharing option also offered by Velocity. The thing being that infrequent flyers are unlikely to improve their status beyond red, but frequent flyers might jump to a higher level if the rest of the family is pushing their status credits towards him or her.

As I said, the workings of all the airlines’ frequent flyer programs are terribly complicated, so I am certain your question will help a lot of other people.

Written by kayo