Which frequent flyer deal is best?

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Andrew usually chooses his airline based on the best deal, but would he be better off in a frequent flyer program? And, if so, which one is best?

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Q. Andrew
My daughter lives in Brisbane and I live in Melbourne. I usually go and visit her and my grandkids four to six times per year. I normally wait until I see the best deal and book my flights or book based on the best price I can find if I am going up for an event like a birthday or Christmas. Because I don’t generally fly with the same airline on these trips, I haven’t looked into the frequent flyer programs. But would I be better off signing up for one of these and sticking with the same carrier? If so, which one? Qantas or Virgin?

A. Qantas recently announced some changes to its frequent flyer program, which will be rolled out next year.

Qantas claims its revamp will mean 13 million members will pay fewer fees, have access to more seats and the ability to earn extra points while on the ground.

Consumer group Choice investigated the Qantas and Virgin frequent flyer schemes last year.

It found that the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme had roughly 12 million members, charged a one-off fee of $89.50, and points expired if none are earned or redeemed within an 18-month period.

Virgin Velocity frequent flyer had about eight million members, was free to join and points expired if none were earned, redeemed or transferred within two years.

According to Choice, points in both schemes were worth around one cent each, depending on how the points were used. Using the points for seat upgrades provided the best value in both schemes.

On Virgin, points redeemed for upgrades are worth an average 6.2 cents for domestic flights and 5.4 cents for international. This compares favourably with Qantas, where points redeemed for upgrades were worth an average 4.8 cents for domestic flights and 2.4 cents for international.

One of the only areas where the Qantas Frequent Flyer program offers superior value is if you use your points to book international flights, which doesn’t sound like your major concern.

It should be noted, though, the Choice investigation did find that in many instances you can save more money than the frequent flyer points are worth simply by buying the cheapest tickets, so it sounds like you already have the right strategy.

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10 Comments

Total Comments: 10
  1. 0
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    I don’t fall for the cheap looking tickets quoted in USD .this is australia you clowns why the hell do we have to put up with this crap, I for one am sick of the run around you get when trying to book online also.its more like bidding for a seat it changes the more times you go off and on the site.

  2. 0
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    The best thing to do is join both points programmes and still buy the cheapest tickets.
    win/win.

  3. 0
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    I am a member of both VA and QF programs. The last time I booked a “free” flight with QF I still had to pay for the “taxes and charges”. The last time I booked a “free” flight with VA, there was no charge for “taxes or charges”… no charge at all. This makes a difference I would have thought.

  4. 0
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    You can join Qantas Frequent Flyer free by joining Woolworths Rewards first as they are connected. Hairy, I was caught out once with Hawaiian Airlines. I got into the .com site rather than the .com.au site. Just check which site you are in first and you will be OK. Also look for the AUD (Australian Dollars) otherwise it just might be USD.

  5. 0
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    it says here that buying the cheapest sets is the best value, but does not take into account (what I believe) that these points are built into your purchases at places that offer the points like Woolworths, Coles and many others so not to acure the points leaves the business laughing, I know a person cant fly constantly on the points but the person mention seeing her daughter could probably have free flight every 4 or 5 times. Everything I buy that where I can earn points do it, eBay, power, shopping coffe, BankWest can I have a kickback they offer a very good dept card that offers Qantas point on every purchase and Coles the same with no fees.

  6. 0
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    I agree with Rayfrombondi. Everything goes onto credit card, BUT you must pay the balance off completely. I dont understand the fees/charges Qantas ask of you, but hey, a free flight every 3 or so years if ok with me.

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      oops you are correct, I use a debit card so that is not an issue, but on saying that people may have to use a credit card, and if so the coles master card seems a great deal with no fee’s, not having I am not sure but do think it is a credit card. I cahe Qantas points so it is not the best card for me.


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