Redeeming Qantas Frequent Flyer Points and Why I Booked Business Class
There gets to a point where you have accumulated enough frequent flyer points with programs like Qantas that you can actually consider using/redeeming them.
However not all redemptions are the same and it’s really important that you think about exactly what you are purchasing in order to get the most value out of your points.
I mentioned in my very first post on frequent flyer points that the Australian frequent flyer options are different to the US and the main difference is that in most situations you won’t just scoop up a heap of points for nothing.
Whether it’s a $60 credit card fee for a 50,000 point bonus or the $50 I recently spent buying life insurance in order to get a 20,000 point bonus, you do have to spend a little to gain points.
Thus when you are choosing to use your points you need to make sure you do the relevant calculations to ensure that you aren’t actually losing money. There are some redemptions that are so bad in value you wouldn’t even be saving money by purchasing them.
So here are my tips for redeeming Qantas frequent flyer points!
1. Remember your points won’t disappear
Qantas has a policy where your points won’t expire as long as you earn or use a point in a 15 month period. This means as long as you are using a Qantas points credit card, shopping and earning points at Woolworths, or even downloading the Qantas Toolbar and doing one search your points aren’t going to expire.
Therefore don’t feel like you are in a rush to redeem them on undervalued redemptions and actually wait to get the best value out of them.
2. Don’t redeem in the Qantas Store
The Qantas Store is very different to the Qantas Online Mall- where you earn points for purchasers at many of Qantas’ online partner stores. At the Qantas Store you can use your points to purchase products from Apple Macs to kitchen accessories and even jewellery. In almost every situation you will never get as much value out of purchasing something through the store than using your points on something like a flight.
At the moment the Qantas Store is having a mid year sale but even with these specials your redemptions are not looking too good.
Let’s take the Ipad Air 16GB for an example. You can purchase this for 89,000 frequent flyer points in the Qantas Store at the moment (it’s usually 100,000 points). If you were to buy this normally through the Apple Store it would cost you $619.
If you read my old post you’ll know that when earning points I calculate the value of points as 1 point = 1 cent. Thus for me 89,000 points is worth about $890. Without the current sale that would mean I would be purchasing a $619 Ipad Air for what amounts to $1000 (100,000 ) worth of points for me. Definitely not the best value.
3. Remember to take into account any taxes when purchasing flights
I recently thought about using frequent flyer points to book a flight for my upcoming trip to South Korea. However when I did the calculations I realised it would be better to save my points for a more worthwhile redemption.
At first glance the points redemption seemed like OK value. For 100,000 frequent flyer points I could get a return flight to Seoul with Qantas and Cathay Pacific.
This flight cost me $1010 with Vietnam Airlines, which is clearly inferior to carriers, like Qantas and Cathay. Thus it might have been worth using $1000 worth of points just to get a nicer flight on a nicer aircraft with less of a crazy stopover.
But that was until I clicked next and saw the taxes. The $400-$500 worth of taxes meant I was now only saving $500 off just paying for the airline ticket outright and blowing 100,000 Qantas points. Not worth it at all, especially given my frequent flyer account was not looking as plump as before I booked my flight to Europe for the end of the year.
Needless to say I ended up paying $1000 and booking with Vietnam Airlines.
4. You will always get the most value out of Business Class Flights
I was more than ready to book a flight to Europe in Economy Class. I am a budget traveller to the point I’m planning on taking an 18 hour bus at some point while I’m in South America to save the $400 I would have paid for a flight. I’ll couchsurf and stay in dorm beds for most of my trip. I surely didn’t need to be in Business Class for my flight.
However I worked out that I would get a lot more value out of my points if I booked in Business Class to Paris.
A typical one way flight to Europe from Melbourne costs about $1000. When searching for available reward flights in my Qantas Account I was able to find a flight with Emirates- a partner with Qantas and one of the nicer airlines by all accounts- for 64,000 frequent flyer points and $250 worth of taxes.
If I did the maths it isn’t the worst redemption especially when the difference is between me flying with Malaysia Airlines or with Emirates.
But then I got tempted and checked out the business class redemption. If I was to purchase a business class ticket for this flight I would be paying $6000- six times the price of the economy ticket.
In terms of points- the redemption is only double the points needed for an economy ticket- 128,000 points instead of 64,000 points. Taxes came in at just over $500. Clearly I was getting more value out of the business class ticket.
So of course I booked the business class flight! I get the amazing experience of flying in style to Paris, including a private car to and from the airport and drinking at the bar in the sky pictured above, and I got the most value possible out of my points.
5. Book early
While I don’t always believe that booking early will secure you the cheapest flights, when it comes to booking frequent flyer seats you do need to get in early. Airlines only release a certain amount of reward seats per flight so if you leave it too late there will not be anything to purchase with points.
The world of earning and using points can be ridiculously complicated and I’m only just getting my head around it now. If you have any questions about whether a redemption offer is good value, or even if an earning method is worth it please comment below and I’ll try to respond to all questions.
You can read my other frequent flyer posts here.