How I Earned 65,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points in 4 months
When I first started researching budget travel, almost every blog I followed mentioned frequent flyer programs (or reward miles programs as they are also called) as a way to secure cheap flights around the world. The problem with these really inclusive guides is that they were all on the US frequent flyer market. Finally I managed to discover an Australian based rewards website www.pointhacks.com.au. The term points hacking or travel hacking refers to the method of gaining free or discounted flights through rewards programs. For anyone new to travel hacking I’d definitely recommend checking out this site for a more inclusive guide than the summary I am going to give you today.
What options do you have on the Australian frequent flyer market?
While you can transfer AMEX rewards or other types of card rewards over for flights, I’d recommend either sticking to Qantas rewards or Virgin Velocity Awards. I choose Qantas based on their partnership with Woolworths that gave me the opportunity to earn more points on my shopping and their One World Alliance. You can find a guide comparing the two programs over at points hack, but my one word of advice is to stick to one, it’s no use spreading your points over the two programs.
The Qantas program is free to join if you do it through the Woolworths Everyday Rewards site- www.everydayrewards.com.au
Calculating your points value
The most important thing I’ve learnt about points hacking is that on the Australian market you can’t expect to get your points for completely free. Unlike some US cards that offer massive rewards for no annual fee, most Australian cards, particularly the ones that come with large bonus points will charge you an annual fee. Thus it’s really important that you calculate the value of every point you earn so you can work out if it’s worth paying the annual fee for a certain amount of bonus points.
You need two pieces of information for this- the amount of points needed on the flight you are aiming for and the actual ticket cost of that flight. Input them both into this handy calculator to work out how much each of your points is worth:
I usually then halve that amount to account for taxes which you need to pay on top of redeeming your points. For me I usually work on the assumption that 1 point = 1 cent.
How I’ve Earned my Frequent Flyer Points
Credit Card Bonuses- 40,000 points
ANZ Frequent Flyer Card
- This was my first frequent flyer card and it came with 20,000 bonus points and a $100 annual fee.
- It also gives me 0.5 points for every $1 spent on my VISA card and 1 point per $1 spent on AMEX. Both cards are linked to the exactly same account/bill which is super handy.
- I use this card for everyday spend and try not to pay with cash whenever I can help it. Most places accept AMEX these days but it’s great to have the option of using my VISA card when they don’t.
- Lucky for you this card is now offering 50,000 bonus points if you spend $1500 in the first three months and they are waiving the annual fee. If you are going to get just one credit card to start your points hacking I would recommend this one as it’s easily the best deal currently on the market.
NAB Qantas Rewards Card
- This card comes with 20,000 points for a $65 annual fee.
- There is no minimum spend, just make one purchase on the card after you receive it and you will get 20,000 points credited to your account following the end of the month.
- I basically only used this once for the bonus points and otherwise they just really sit in my wallet unused.
Credit Card Spending- 11,000 points
I haven’t actually spent $11,000 worth of points on my own. Whenever I go out with friends for dinner I pay the bill on my credit card and just get them to bank transfer my share. I put heaps of my mum and sister’s spending on my credit card when they went shopping with me, or when we wanted to buy tickets for an event and they bank transferred me their share. Most of the utility bills went on my credit card and my housemates bank transferred me their share. I do lots of grocery shopping for my nanny job and that goes on my credit card and my boss just adds it to my pay at the end of the week. There is lots of ways to bump up your credit card spending but just be careful that you have very trustful friends and family and make sure you keep track of what they owe you or it might get lost. In terms of my own spending I put absolutely everything on my card- eating out, groceries, petrol, utilities etc. I’ve even started avoiding cash only places because I can’t get any rewards from eating there. Obviously you need to be extremely careful that you don’t spend money you don’t have. I always make sure to pay the balance in full at the end of each month to avoid any interest charges.
Bankwest Transaction Account- 12,000 points
Bankwest is the first bank account offering actual rewards just for your transactions.
- Depositing $2,000 each month for the first three months after you open the account will give you 10,000 bonus points. As long as you have $2,000 in savings you can literally just keep transferring this money in and out each month. Be aware this is each calendar month, so make sure the transfer is done by the end of each month.
- So long as you deposit the $2,000 the account has no fee. The only money you lose is perhaps the small amount you would have gotten for interest.
- 5 Qantas points per eligible purchase- I use this card at small coffee shops or whenever I am making a purchase less than $10 on my VISA or $5 on my AMEX.
- 12 Qantas Points per $100 balance in your account per month- this is where the extra 2,000 points came from for me. I’ve since stopped earning points this way now I’ve satisfied the bonus simply because in points value it’s not worth the high interest I get paid in my other account.
Everyday Rewards at Woolworths- 1,431 points
You get 1 point for $1 spent over $30 at Woolworths’ stores as well as other stores with the same affiliation like Big W.
This might not seem like a lot but it’s really worth subscribing to their emails as they often offer bonus periods where you can earn bonus points if you spend a particular amount of money in store that week. I once got 750 bonus points for spending $120 in store which works for me given I often cook a heap of food and put it into my freezer.
Other Easy ways to Earn Points
My earn rate on these things was minimal but there are a few extra ways to earn points.
- The Qantas toolbar will earn you up to 150 points a month, 1 point per valid search through the toolbar.
- Qantas Cash
Qantas Cash is a travel card similar to the MasterCard and Visa Travel Cards you can get from Australian post or the travel cards offered by the Big Banks. You can load different currencies on the card and use them overseas, as well as in Australia. You don’t end need to carry around an extra card, the back of your frequent flyer Qantas card is the Qantas cash card. This is particularly handy because it has your name and signature on it- two things that I’ve often found make it difficult to use these types of cards overseas. It offers 0.5 points per $1 spent in Australian currency and 1 point per $1 spent in another currency. I use this card for Amazon and other online purchases I make in USD currencies as I avoid the hefty international transaction and currency conversion fees.
SO WHAT IF I CAN’T GET CREDIT?
Obviously many students don’t earn enough money or have enough of a steady job to be able to get a credit card. My experience firstly is that the easiest way to get a credit card is apply at the bank you regularly use as they can see how much you have saved, the money that goes into your account etc. This is why ANZ gave me a credit card when no one else would.
However there are also ways to earn points without a credit card:
- Bankwest transaction account- you only need $2000 in savings to earn 10,000 bonus points.
- Qantas cash- this charge card will get you 0.5 points per $1 spent which isn’t too bad. No credit needed. You just load it up with own funds in AUD and use it for your everyday spending.
- Everyday rewards card
- Qantas toolbar
- Life Insurance and Income Protection Insurance
- Qantas Online Mall- I’ve explained the benefits of this here.
One Path and ANZ are currently offering 10,000 points for 6 months of premiums paid on life insurance or income protection policies. I selected the lowest pay outs and premiums possible and all up it’s costing me less than $50 in six months premiums to gain the points. You can earn up to 20,000 points- 10,000 on Life Insurance and 10,000 on Income Protection Insurance.
Another 50,000 points coming in hopefully in the next 6 months!
- I’ve got a Bankwest credit card coming in the mail that offers 30,000 bonus points once you spend $1500 (there is no set time limit for spending this).
- 20,000 points should arrive after I’ve finished paying my 6 months of One Path Life and Income Insurance Premiums.
So where can this get me?
- 56,000 points will get me my first trip to Cairo or to most places in Europe if I decide to skip the Middle East
- 20,000 points will get me from the Middle East to Europe
- 56,000 points will get me my flight home from Rio to Melbourne (a flight that usually costs upwards of $1500).
If you have any questions about the frequent flyer program in Australia feel free to comment here with your questions, or to head over to pointhacks.com.au for more information!