Frequent Flyer & Airline Rewards Credit Cards
Listed below is a comparison of the most competitive Frequent Flyer credit cards on offer to Australians for online application.
Credit cards with Frequent Flyer point reward programs can be rewarding and of great value. They do tend to have fairly high annual fees, however. This means you will need to spend a large amount per year to outweigh your annual fee with the value of your redeemed rewards. Many Frequent Flyer Membership Reward cards are Gold and Platinum, which means a minimum annual earnings is necessary ($40,000+ per annum), as well as an above average credit rating. The Qantas Frequent Flyer rewards program is one of the most generous on the market, and is not limited to flights only. The Velocity Rewards program is also becoming increasingly popular.
Frequent Flyer Credit Card
The American Express Velocity Escape Credit Card allows you to earn Velocity Points with a $0 Annual Fee. Earn up to 2 Velocity Points for every $1 spent on purchases. Take advantage of the introductory offer of 7,500 Bonus Velocity Points.
- $0 p.a. annual fee
- Introductory offer of 7,500 Velocity Points
- Earn 2 Velocity Points for every $1 spent with Virgin Australia
- Earn 1 Velocity Points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
Compare Frequent Flyer Credit Card Offers
To find out more about the benefits and disadvantages of reward credit cards, browse our reward program guide.
Frequent Flyer Credit Card Comparisons
- Direct Earn Frequent Flyer Credit Cards
- Frequent Flyer Credit Cards with Travel Insurance
- Uncapped Frequent Flyer Credit Cards - No Points Expiry, No Points Capping
- Travel Credit Cards - Overseas Spending
- Frequent Flyer Credit Cards with Free Flights
Frequent Flyer Rewards Programs:
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Credit Cards
- Velocity Frequent Flyer Credit Cards
- Emirates Skywards Miles Credit Cards
Table of Contents: Guide to Frequent Flyer Credit Cards
- Compare frequent flyer credit cards
- How do frequent flyer credit cards work?
- How to compare frequent flyer credit cards
- How to use a frequent flyer credit card
What are 'Frequent Flyer' Points?
Qantas Frequent Flyer points were one of the first, and still most popular reward programs available to Australians. You gain access to redeem your reward points for discounted Qantas flights, both domestic and international as well as a range of retail goods, electronics and vouchers.
Most cards, particularly Gold and Platinum cards have a wide range of additional travel luxuries, such as medical insurance, flight cancellation refunds and extended personal possession warranties.
Take note that reward programs which let you transfer your reward points over to Qantas Frequent Flyer points will no longer be functioning as of April 1st 2009.
Read more about it here.
How Do Air Miles Credit Cards Work?
For many years, the most popular type of rewards credit card has been the air miles credit card. This is also know as the frequent flyer credit card, and certain credit card providers may have their own pet names for their scheme. Although cashback credit cards have become a popular alternative recently, the idea of building up air miles for your spending remains a very attractive proposition for many people.
Air miles then and now:
Air miles started off as loyalty programs run by the airlines, enabling frequent flyers to accumulate credits based on the number of miles flown. These then counted towards future flights, or could completely pay for them. Credit card providers soon realised that this would be a great hook to lure people into making an application for their cards, and so began the air miles credit card. Nowadays, you don't have to be a frequent flyer to own a frequent flyer credit card, and air miles cover more than just flights; they may also count towards brochure holidays, hotel accommodation, car hire, ocean cruises, airport parking, and days out.
Examples of air miles credit cards include:
- Jetstar Platinum MasterCard
- Jetstar MasterCard
- American Express Qantas Discovery Card
- American Express Qantas Premium
- NAB Qantas Rewards Premium
- NAB Qantas Gold
- ANZ Frequent Flyer
- ANZ Platinum Frequent Flyer
- Velocity NAB
- Westpac Earth
- Westpac Earth Platinum
- Westpac Earth Platinum Plus
- St.George Amplify - St.George and Qantas recently announced their new partnership and the launch of the St.George Amplify rewards credit card
Earning air miles:
You earn points on an air miles credit card in the same way as you would accumulate points on a rewards credit card - by spending money on it. You don't have to be making flights to earn air miles; anything will count, even your weekly groceries or fuel payments. So long as the points are racking up, so are the air miles. Neither do you need to be a member of any frequent flyer club to take such a card. The credit card itself will become your membership, although some of the more dedicated programs will charge an annual fee.
Points earned per dollar will vary according to the provider and the prestige of the credit card. One point per dollar spent would be pretty average, but you should check the details of the card you are interested in, and verify how your points are then turned back into rewards. Different frequent flyer credit cards will assign different values to their frequent flyer points. You should also look out for introductory offers on air miles credit cards, where more points per dollar are awarded for perhaps the first three months. Some may be so generous that they enable a reward to be claimed almost immediately. Similar offers and discounts may also appear at regular intervals as you go along.
Flying with the affiliated airlines, and spending with partners
Naturally, your frequent flyer credit card will earn points if you use it to pay for flights with the affiliated airline or airlines. Flying with these partners may also earn you bonus points. Equally, there may be affiliated travel services, such as car rental companies or hotel chains, or other card partners that will create bonus points for you. These are issues you will need to research so that you can take full advantage of your air miles credit card.
Be aware that points will not be awarded for any cash transactions made on the card, nor any balance transfers made to it. They are only gained when you spend on purchases or services.
Spending air miles:
Air miles can obviously be redeemed for flights, but you can also spend them on hotels, holiday packages, on other travel services, and sometimes on non-travel-related products. Your credit card provider should have an online facility where you can log in and view how many miles you have, any current offers, and exchange your points. You may also be able to redeem your air miles over the phone.
You do not have to save for an entire flight with an air miles credit card. Most programs will allow you to pay for part of the flight with cash, and the rest with your points.
How To Compare Air Miles Credit Cards
If you have decided to compare air miles credit cards, then you already suspect that the benefits of owning one of these cards will suit you and your lifestyle. Here, then, is some information to help you better understand what to look for when you are deciding which card to choose.
Most suitable for:
Regular flyers and holidaymakers
An air miles credit card is ideal for people who love hopping onto a plane as often as possible, or business travelers who must pay their own way. You may already be a member of an airline frequent flyer program, so adding points from an affiliated credit card is only going to help your cause. You should also find that some credit cards have several partner airlines so you have some flexibility.
Credit card users
If you use a credit card for your spending, then you are halfway there already. You may as well take advantage of that spending with an air miles credit card. The rewards are tangible and worthwhile, and so much better than saving for a spare toaster, in case the first three blow up.
Anyone prone to overspending
If you need little excuse to spend on your credit card, you may not want to add another. With such an attractive offer at the end of it all, you could be spending just to accumulate points. Having said that, if you really can't stop yourself, you may as well get something back for your debt.
Poor credit risks
A good credit rating is required to apply for an air miles credit card. Making an application that will fail due to a poor rating will only further drop your credit score.
What are the benefits?
This is a key question to ask when you compare frequent flyer credit cards. You need to know what you can expect back from your spending. Flights will not be the only thing on offer.
We'll start with the blindingly obvious first. An air miles credit card is mainly designed with the avid air traveler in mind. These may not be with one airline; there may be several in the program. You may well earn extra points when you pay for your affiliated airline flights with your credit card, or spend time at a partner hotel chain.
Bonus air miles
These may be added in the "honeymoon" period of card ownership, when you may be able to earn a reward almost straight away with very little effort. Many air miles credit cards offer bonus points as a joining incentive when you open the account or when you first spend on the card. Make sure you know what this offer period is, and don't let it pass by unused.
Frequent flyer membership
Air miles credit cards usually offer an automatic membership of the airlines' flyer programs. For some, though, there may be an extra charge, so be careful if you are not a high spender, or you may end up paying more on the fee than you get back in rewards. Benefits may include priority check-ins, access to VIP airport lounges, special offers and discounts, and free upgrades. The more miles you earn, the higher level of membership you achieve, and the better offers and discounts.
Companion tickets and upgrade offers
Your air miles credit card may have discounts when two people travel instead of one. You may also be able to upgrade yourself through that mysterious curtain into a better seat alongside the big cheeses.
You want to know:
The airlines involved
Starting with the obvious again, the first thing when you compare air miles credit cards is to know which airlines are partnered with the program. Air Uzbekistan and Cameroon Air Service may have very shiny Douglas DC9s, but they may not be the right carriers for you. Make sure you will use the airline and that it services the routes you want to fly on.
How many points per dollar?
This is very important and you will normally find an ongoing exchange of one to one. However, you must look further than this and find out the value of your points when it comes to redemption. Different programs work in different ways, and assign different values to their points. You need to be able to fly with your points, not just buy a coffee in airport departures. Check out the fine print - and you will need to do this. These are the details that can make or break a deal, so check before you make that application.
It is a mean provider that will not tempt you in with some special offer for the first month or few. These will often allow you to earn extra points per dollar for a limited time. You may even be able to earn enough for an immediate reward.
This may include free travel insurance. You may have to pay a fee for an air miles program that offers this, or it may well come standard with gold or platinum cards.
The usual stuff
Don't forget when you compare air miles credit cards to check out the annual APR, the annual credit card fee, the amount of interest-free days, and any charges that could be applied if you break the rules. It is still a credit card you are dealing with, and these issues are very important.
Be aware of:
Annual fees for rewards schemes in general are not unusual, and they can make the difference between a program earning you or costing you. If your air miles program involves an annual fee, you must do some calculations to make sure this will not outweigh any benefits derived from it. The benefits of some of the more prestigious air miles credit cards can only be enjoyed by paying a fee, but the perks, such as free insurance and medical expenses, will often be such that you more than cover that cost.
Don't get carried away (except by the airline). If you spend so much on your card that you are unable to pay off your balance every month, then you will attract interest charges. Depending on how much you are spending and how many points you are therefore accumulating, that interest may well negate the value of the points you earn.
Air miles are only awarded on purchases and services; they are not awarded for cash transactions such as ATM withdrawals or buying foreign currency or traveler's cheques.
You cannot properly compare air miles credit cards if you do not read the Terms & Conditions. This must be done before signing on the dotted line. Know what you are getting into, and what you will get out of it.
How To Use Air Miles Rewards Cards
Air miles credit cards are of no use to you sitting in your purse or wallet. To earn points, you need to spend. That does not mean with reckless abandon simply to accumulate points. That will end up costing you dear. But you must certainly look to shift some of your regular spending to your air miles credit card to take full advantage of it.
Spend and earn with your air miles credit cards:
The more you spend on your frequent flyer credit card, the more points you will accumulate. Making purchases and paying for services will all count. That means it is possible to shift all your regular spending - even utility bills - onto your card to add hundreds or even thousands of dollars spending to it each month. However, if you are going to load your card with every bill that comes your way, you need to know that you will still be able to pay off your balance in full every month. Shifting bills to a credit card obviously means cash and bank accounts are not reduced. You have to be disciplined and realise that this is not then a surplus amount you can spend elsewhere. It must be saved to pay off your credit card bill in full. If not, you will be charged interest, and that will far outweigh any benefits derived from your air miles.
Provided it fully suits you, whenever you fly make sure you fly on your affiliated airline to earn extra points. Also make certain you know what other program partners there are, such as hotel chains, travel operators, and car rental companies, so you can switch your allegiance to them - again, provided it suits your purpose.
Make use of any introductory offers on your air miles credit card before they expire, which may be in one to three months. These may enable you to build up a mass of bonus points very quickly, and even earn a reward straight away. Your qualifying purchase may cost you buttons, but could earn you a real treat.
Think of getting an additional card for someone you trust, so that their spending will also count towards your points.
Offer to be the one who pays for family or group holidays with your frequent flyer credit card, so that you earn all those lovely points for yourself, then everyone else can pay you back in cash and think you're a jolly helpful soul.
Careful now ...
Pay off your credit card bill in full every month. We can all get unavoidable expenses that blow our monthly budget, but spending on unnecessary things, especially if it's with an eye to building up your points, is foolhardy in the extreme. The interest charges you incur when a balance is not paid in full can wipe out the value of any points earned. It will also void your interest-free days for the following month, and that could impact any large and necessary purchase you may have to make in that month. Paying for a family holiday at the start of a month in which you have no interest-free facility would be a great shame. If your frequent flyer credit card is to give you truly free rewards, then you must maintain a clear balance on your account each month.
Your only alternative if you have lost your interest-free days is to try and pay off your debt as early as possible in the month via online banking, so your per-day interest charges are kept to a minimum.
Avoid cash transactions and balance transfers on your air miles credit card. They will not earn you any points and could cost you some serious money. Cash withdrawals are charged at a higher rate than your purchases, and are not subject to your interest-free days, and will attract a cash-handling fee. As for balance transfers, if you have made one because your provider has made you a 0% or low rate offer, this then will be the debt that is paid off first. All your other debts at a higher rate of interest will remain untouched by your repayments until the transferred amount is paid off in full. Its called the "adverse order of payments" rule, and it makes your provider quite a lot of money.
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