What is the best frequent flyer program in Australia?
- Where do you want to travel to?
- How easy is it to collect the points?
- Are there actually seats available to redeem?
These are the questions we’re going to answer so you can decide what the best frequent flyer program is for you.
Table of Contents
Points value is important but not the whole story
London searching six months in advance of when this was written. First up is Qantas Frequent Flyer. You can see that the total cost is 55,200 points and $243 in taxes. There is one available Qantas flight for the day and no seats in other classes available.
Where you want to travel to affects the program you should join
When starting your points-collecting journey and picking a frequent flyer program, it’s important to start with a goal in mind. Where do you want to travel to? It doesn’t have to be very specific. It could be a region, a country, or city you frequently visit. In the end there’s no point collecting these points if they can’t take you where you want to go.
Every program has its own partnerships and alliances that they allow you to redeem points with. It’s important to consider the partners and their route network. My family is from Kenya, and a priority is to be able to fly regularly from Australia to Kenya to visit family. It is difficult enough finding a short flight to Kenya from Australia without looking for reward seats. If you look at the Krisflyer program, the only partners they have that fly to Nairobi are Ethiopian Airlines and Air India. Both of which have few sensible route options from Australia. On the other hand both Qantas and Velocity frequent flyer programs partner with Middle Eastern airlines which offer an extensive route network into Africa (to multiple cities in Kenya) and are also well connected to Australia, with flights from all the major Australian cities and opening up many opportunities for reward flights.
If you want to take flights to Europe, while cities like London and Paris are very well connected with most carriers from Australia, some secondary airports like Vienna, Budapest and Madrid are not as well served by the Asian carriers. This makes it much more lucrative to target a program that has access to airlines like the Middle Eastern or European carriers that have much more extensive European networks than Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific do.
How easy is it to collect the points?
It’s all well and good choosing a cool program like KLM’s Flying Blue to put all your efforts into until you realise how difficult it is to collect points in Australia. The major programs in Australia are Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Krisflyer, and Asia Miles, with others growing in popularity, like Qatar’s Privilege Club and Emirates Skywards. These programs have at least some major banks partnering with them to transfer points to their programs and have frequent bonus point offers to help you get there. While the other programs have the potential to earn points through partners like Citi and Commonwealth Bank, who have a multitude of obscure airline partners, it simply isn’t worth it. This is for a couple of reasons:
- The limited partner network outside of flying limits how many points you can earn using this avenue. This is compared to the big programs in Australia, which frequently offer bonuses of up to 150,000 points for simply signing up for a credit card or switching a mortgage over to them. They also have no local retail partners, providing another lucrative avenue to earn points you would miss out on.
- Flights out of Australia are limited through many of these other airlines. While some will provide one or two routes out of Australia, they don’t have the same hub-spoke network connecting to Australia as the Middle Eastern or Asian carriers do, and they don’t have the domestic network of Virgin or Qantas. Even if you get most of your points through flying, you’re better off picking a local program and one with the right partners to help you collect points on these other carriers.
The sole reason to collect points is to redeem them. There’s no point hoarding them or keeping them for your children. You need to earn them as quickly as possible (within reason) and use them on the flights you want as soon as possible. This is much more achievable with local programs with extensive retail, bank and other partners rather than airlines which barely have an Australian presence.