With airline travel banned for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, how can punters continue to earn frequent flyer points?
Government officials and medical experts have warned it could be well into 2021 when recreational domestic flights restart, with international flights some time after that, and the aviation and tourism industries could be set for a long road to recovery.
The fallout from travel bans and border closures has most notably been seen in the case of Virgin Australia, which went into voluntary administration on Tuesday.
Despite the uncertainty around Virgin, as well as the flight restrictions and border closures, consumers can continue to earn and redeem frequent flyer points in a number of ways.
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Point Hacks spokesperson and frequent flyer expert Daniel Sciberras said while flights remain the best value redemptions, there are plenty of other options outside of flights for redeeming and earning points.
"Frequent flyers should consider reviewing their points strategy by finding new sources for earning and redeeming through their existing spending habits," Mr Sciberras said.
"The new Qantas Points Club has been launched at an ideal time, as it rewards frequent buyers with some of the benefits that frequent flyers receive.”
Mr Sciberras reassured Virgin Velocity members that their points would not be affected by Virgin entering voluntary administration.
“Velocity Frequent Flyer was deliberately structured as a separate entity to the airline, following the Ansett event in 2001," he said.
"While there is a temporary pause of Velocity point redemptions, members can still continue to earn Velocity Points and all previously redeemed awards will continue to be honoured.”
Here's Point Hacks seven next-best ways to maximise your point earnings and redemptions outside of flying during COVID-19:
1. Redeem points for gift cards
Using points to purchase products on a frequent flyer online store provides little value – nearly all product redemption values range between 0.4-0.6 cents per point, compared with the average 1-2c redemption value for Economy flights and above 3c for Business Class flights.
Instead, Daniel recommends redeeming points for gift cards (such as Westfield or Woolworths). Even though the value per point is the same as other product redemptions, you can use the cards to buy products that are on sale at that retailer, which artificially boosts the value per point.
For example, while a $50 gift card generally gets you around 0.45c per point, if you use that card for an item that is 50% off at the gift card’s retailer, the value per point becomes 0.9c per point.
2. Boost your points by linking a Mastercard to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account
Earn even more points on a single purchase when shopping at participating retailers with Qantas Shopping Card Offers by linking your Australian Mastercard credit or debit card to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account online and paying for purchases with the Mastercard.
Members will receive personalised alerts each week about offers from Australian partner stores which they can choose to activate.
The points earned with the Card Offers will be in addition to points earned with Qantas Shopping partnerships.
3. Take advantage of airline store promotions
Redeeming points on products at a frequent flyer’s online store won’t deliver great value on purchases, but this could be a financially favourable outcome if you buy during a sale or promotion.
Until 30 April, the Qantas Store is offering up to 50% off on selected homewares and appliances. For instance, the Tefal 13-Piece Ingenio Stackable Cookware Set is on offer for 36,000 points – usually 72,000 points.
4. Download the Qantas Points-Prompter, so you never miss out on points
It’s easy to miss out on points when we forget which retailers are Qantas partners. This will never happen if you download the Qantas Points-Prompter into your browser.
When you visit a Qantas partner retail website, a Points-Prompter pop up will notify you that you can earn Qantas Points when you make a purchase on this site. Partner retailers include Dymocks (where you can earn 5 points per dollar) on books, ASOS (3 points per dollar) for fashion purchases, and Lululemon (6 points per dollar) for your activewear needs.
5. Use exclusive Velocity eStore vouchers and promotional codes to save cash and earn points
Everyone wants to save on their shopping while also earning points, so take a look at Velocity’s partnerships with selected retailers on their eStore vouchers page.
Offers include percentage discounts on your purchases and free shipping.Currently, you can get 25% off TVs at Appliances Online and free delivery and returns at Sheridan bedding, and 20% of selected full-price items at The Iconic using the exclusive promotion code.
6. Consider switching utility providers to earn points through program partners
With many Aussies staying home due to lockdown restrictions, it’s a good time to review your utility bills. Not only could you be paying less, you could be earning points.
For instance, Qantas Red Energy allows Qantas Frequent Flyer members to earn 10,000 points just for signing up and two points for every $1 on their electricity bill. Flybuy members who switch to AGL can also earn 1 flybuys point for every $1 spent on their e-billing gas and electricity bills. (Two thousand flybuys points can be converted into 870 Velocity points.)
7. Earn points exercising daily while in isolation
While restrictions vary between States, exercise is one of the reasons Aussies are allowed to leave the house. Earn points for working out or walking when you download the Qantas Health app.
In the 28-day trial, you can earn up to 12 points for 30 minutes of running or 19 points for two hours of cycling. Complete the Daily Stepping Challenge of 6,000 steps, and you’ll earn 12 points, or even earn 5 points by putting down your phone half an hour before bed in the Sleep Challenge.
However, once the initial trial has ended, those who don’t have a Qantas insurance policy will earn points at half the rate of members.
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