Frequent flyer credit cards

Apply for a frequent flyer card to earn points as you spend and redeem them for flights and upgrades with your favourite airline.

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Updated 21st September 2020

Comparing frequent flyer credit cards

Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Credit Card 22 Months Balance Transfer Offer

On Virgin Money's website

Apply by 30 September 2020

Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Credit Card 22 Months Balance Transfer Offer

Rewards program

Velocity Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.66 points

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$64.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. for 22 months on Balance Transfers with 0% balance transfer fee (reverts to Cash Advance rate of 20.99% p.a.).
  • Earn 3 additional Velocity points per $1 spent in the first 3 months (capped at 10,000 points per month).
  • Save with the half annual fee of $64 p.a. on the first year (reverts to $129 p.a. thereafter).
  • Receive $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card

On ANZ's website

ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card

Rewards program

ANZ Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

150,000 points

Annual fee

$375.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 150,000 points when you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months from approval.
  • Free International Travel Insurance.
  • Eligibility criteria, T&Cs, fees and charges apply.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card

On HSBC's website

Apply by 30 September 2020

HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

20,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 20,000 Bonus Qantas Frequent Flyer Points with a minimum spend of $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent, up to $1,000 every month. Every $1 spent thereafter will earn 0.5 Qantas Point. (Capped at 7,500 per statement period)
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

On NAB's website

NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

100,000 points

Annual fee

$295.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn up to 130,000 Qantas Points. Get 100,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days from account approval date and an additional 30,000 points after 12 months.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $5,000 per statement period then 0.05 pts per $1 spent thereafter (capped at $20,000).
  • Complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership fee valued at $99.50.
  • Seven complimentary insurances when you make an eligible purchase.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Credit Card 0% p.a. Purchase Offer

On Virgin Money's website

Apply by 30 September 2020

Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Credit Card 0% p.a. Purchase Offer

Rewards program

Velocity Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.66 points

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$64.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on Purchases for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
  • Transfer your balance at 0% p.a. for 6 months with 0% balance transfer fee (reverts to 20.99% p.a.)
  • Save with the half annual fee of $64 p.a. on the first year (reverts to $129 p.a. thereafter).
  • Receive $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
Bendigo Bank Qantas Platinum Mastercard

On Bendigo Bank's website

Bendigo Bank Qantas Platinum Mastercard

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.6 points

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$149.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 0.6 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • 180 days of comprehensive travel insurance.
  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months. Purchase rate of 19.99% p.a. applies thereafter.
American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1.25 points

Sign up bonus

55,000 points

Annual fee

$450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, get approved and spend $3,000 on your new card within the first 3 months. New Card Members only.
  • Earn 1.25 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on card purchases, except spend at government bodies in Australia where you will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year (conditions apply).
BankSA Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On BankSA's website

Apply by 30 September 2020

BankSA Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Amplify Qantas

Points per $1 spent

0.5 points

Sign up bonus

60,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn up to 60,000 points bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval. Exclusions apply.
  • Earn 0.5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases (uncapped).
  • 0% p.a. for 6 months with 0% fee on balance transfers. Rate reverts to cash advance rate.
American Express Qantas Premium Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express Qantas Premium Credit Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

30,000 points

Annual fee

$249.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 30,000 points when you apply online as a new Card Member, are approved and spend $3,000 in 3 months. New Card Members only.
  • Relax with 2 complimentary Qantas Club invitations every year (conditions apply).
  • Complimentary domestic and international travel insurance.
Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card (Altitude)

On Westpac's website

Apply by 11 November 2020

Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card (Altitude)

Rewards program

Altitude Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.25 points

Sign up bonus

150,000 points

Annual fee

$250.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Receive 150,000 Altitude bonus points when you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval. Exclusions apply. Qantas rewards fee applies.
  • Earn up to 6 Altitude points per $1 spent (terms and conditions apply).
  • Complimentary Insurances: Overseas Travel, Extended Warranty, Purchase Security and Transit Accidents (terms and conditions apply)
Qantas American Express Discovery Credit Card

On American Express' website

Qantas American Express Discovery Credit Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.75 points

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$0.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 0.75 Qantas Point for every $1 spent on Card purchases, except spend at government bodies in Australia where you will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • Earn 1 additional Qantas Point per $1 spent on eligible Qantas products and services.
  • Pay no annual card fee.
St.George Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On St.George's website

Apply by 30 September 2020

St.George Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Amplify Qantas

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

60,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn up to 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval. Exclusions apply.
  • 0% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • Earn 0.5 points per $1 spent (uncapped). Plus, get a complimentary Qantas membership fee. Saving you $99.50!
NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card

On NAB's website

NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.5 points

Sign up bonus

30,000 points

Annual fee

$250.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 30,000 points when you spend $2,500 in 60 days.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $3,000 per statement period then 0.05 pts per $1 spent thereafter (capped at $6,000).
  • Complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership fee valued at $99.50.
  • Seven complimentary insurances including overseas travel insurance.
American Express David Jones Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express David Jones Credit Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards, Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

15,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 15,000 Membership Rewards Points or 7,500 Qantas Points when you are approved and spend $750 at locations excluding David Jones on your new card within the first three months. Available to new David Jones American Express Card Members only.
  • Earn up to 3 Reward Points per $1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations, 2 Reward Points per $1 spent at David Jones, and 1 Reward Point per $1 spent elsewhere.
  • Flexibility to choose Qantas Frequent Flyer or Membership Rewards as your rewards program.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On Bank of Melbourne's website

Apply by 30 September 2020

Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Amplify Qantas

Points per $1 spent

0.5 points

Sign up bonus

60,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days from card approval. Exclusions apply.
  • 0% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers. Reverts to cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • Earn 0.5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases (uncapped).
American Express David Jones Platinum Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express David Jones Platinum Credit Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards, Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

30,000 points

Annual fee

$295.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 30,000 Membership Rewards Points or 15,000 Qantas Points when you are approved and spend $750 at locations excluding David Jones on your new card within the first three months. Available to new American Express David Jones Platinum Credit Card Members only.
  • Earn 4 Reward Points per $1 spent at David Jones, 3 Reward Points per $1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations and 1 Reward Point per $1 spent elsewhere.
  • Flexibility to choose Qantas Frequent Flyer or Membership Rewards as your rewards program.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On Westpac's website

Apply by 11 November 2020

Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Rewards program

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Points per $1 spent

0.5 points

Sign up bonus

60,000 points

Annual fee

$99.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Receive 60,000 Qantas bonus points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval. Terms and conditions apply.
  • Transfer your balance at 0% p.a. for 18 months (1 % balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to purchase rate of 20.49% p.a.
  • $99 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($200 p.a. annual fee thereafter).
American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card

On American Express' website

Apply by 07 October 2020

American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card

Rewards program

Qantas Business Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1.25 points

Sign up bonus

150,000 points

Annual fee

$450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 150,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply by 7 October 2020, are approved and spend $3,000 within 2 months from account approval date. New Card Members only.
  • Earn triple Qantas Points for your business when employees fly on eligible Qantas flights and pay using their American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card.
  • Earn 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services.

Overview

Frequent flyer credit cards earn frequent flyer points for eligible purchases made with a credit card linked to a specific airline’s frequent flyer program. The main frequent flyer programs directly linked to credit cards issued in Australia are Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer, and Emirates Skywards. Jetstar credit cards earn Qantas Points.

Frequent flyer points earned using the cards are credited directly to the cardholder’s frequent flyer points account with the airline. The points can be exchanged for award flights and seat upgrades, or other rewards and merchandise selected from the frequent flyer program’s online catalogue.

Indirect frequent flyer cards

In addition to the direct frequent flyer credit cards already mentioned, there are many indirect frequent flyer cards available in Australia. Every major credit card provider in Australia issues credit cards linked to its own in-house rewards points program, and in many cases the rewards points earned can be converted into various airlines’ frequent flyer points if the holder of the credit card also has a points account with the required frequent flyer program.

The exchange rate between in-house rewards programs and frequent flyer programs is rarely 1:1. Credit card providers will notify their cardholders of the prevailing exchange rate, and of any changes in the exchange rate. Typically, more than one rewards point is required in exchange for one frequent flyer point.

The frequent flyer programs linked to Australian credit cards for the purpose of points conversion include:

  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles
  • Emirates Skywards Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • Asia Miles (several Asian airlines, including Cathay Pacific)
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

However, only American Express Membership Rewards Ascent Premium points can be converted to Qantas Frequent Flyer points, and most cards, with the exception of those with a truly enormous annual fee, only allow conversion to points with a restricted range of airlines – usually either two or three.

Points earning rates

Points earning rates are normally expressed in terms of number of points per dollar spent, e.g. 1.5 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases.

The rate at which points can be earned varies from card to card, and an individual card can have more than one earning rate, for example a higher earning rate on overseas purchases, or a higher earning rate at restaurants. Cards with a higher annual fee tend to have higher points earning rates.

Points caps and thresholds

While black cards are more likely to have no limit on the number of points a cardholder can earn in any month or year, other cards have points caps or thresholds.

A points cap is an absolute limit on the number of points that can be earned in any month or year. Once the cap is reached, the points earning rate for the remainder of the period falls to 0 points per dollar spent.

A points threshold is a limit beyond which the earning rate falls for the remainder of the month or year. For example, a card may have a 1.0 points per dollar rate, up to a threshold of $5,000 of spending per month, beyond which the earning rate drops to 0.5 points per dollar for the remainder of the month.

Sign up bonus points

Many frequent flyer credit cards offer sign up bonus points as an incentive to attract new cardholders. These sign up bonuses are more correctly described as first purchase bonuses, since they almost always have a target spending amount which must be met within a short time frame before the bonus points can be earned. However, most of these targets are not too difficult to reach. A typical offer might involve earning 60,000 bonus Qantas Points for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of holding the card. This is clearly a great way to boost your frequent flyer points account, especially if you are saving points to redeem for a long-haul flight.

Other ways to earn frequent flyer points

Members of airline frequent flyer programs can obviously earn frequent flyer points by making flights with the airline (or its partner airlines) when those flights are paid for with cash or a credit card. (That is, it’s not possible to earn points by taking flights which were themselves purchased by redeeming points.) Credit cards linked to frequent flyer programs often offer a higher points earning rate for purchases of flights and seat upgrades made using the linked credit card.

But there’s also another way to earn frequent flyer points, simply by shopping at the Qantas Online Mall or the Velocity eStore. When you’re ready to purchase Australia’s favourite brands from the nation’s most popular retailers (including eBay), simply access their websites by clicking on the link at one of these airline online shopping program sites first. Your purchases will automatically be tracked and the frequent flyer points earned – up to 10 points or more per $1 spent – will be credited to your frequent flyer points account. If you pay with your frequent flyer points credit card you can earn points twice – once for shopping via the airline’s online mall and once for paying with your frequent flyer points card.

Qantas also offers more ways to earn points, including:

  • Taking Uber rides
  • Dining at selected restaurants
  • Using the Qantas Wellbeing app
  • Buying Qantas Insurance or Qantas Wine
  • Using GoCatch or ingogo apps for taxi rides
  • Booking Airbnb stays via Qantas
  • Catching a movie at HOYTS
  • Ordering a meal via Deliveroo

The Velocity Points program has similar deals. Some of the ways you can earn Velocity Points are:

  • Converting flybuys earned at the Coles group into Velocity points
  • Shopping in-store and online at selected retailers, including Freedom and Snooze
  • Booking a car with Europcar, Hertz or Thrifty
  • Making Flexicar or Ola bookings

And once again, paying for any of this with a frequent flyer credit card lets you effectively double dip.

Points expiry

Most banks’ in-house rewards program points do not expire while the credit card account is current. But frequent flyer points tend to expire if there has been no points earning activity (e.g. from credit cards, or from making flights where the fare was purchased with cash) and no points spending activity (e.g. booking an award flight with points or making other points redemptions) within a given period. At the time of writing, this ‘no activity’ period, triggering expiry of points, was 18 months for Qantas Points and two years for Velocity Points.

However, if you cancel your frequent flyer credit card you won’t lose any frequent flyer points already earned directly from the card, or already converted from in-house rewards program points into frequent flyer points.

Eligible purchases

Most frequent flyer and rewards credit cards stipulate that only eligible purchases will earn points. In practice, this means that cash transactions and cash equivalent transactions do not earn points. In other words, no points will be earned on cash advances, balance transfers, purchases of travellers cheques and foreign currency, card interest charges and fees, and transfers from a credit card account to another bank account.

As well as these types of cash transactions, many cards exclude government transactions (e.g. payments to the ATO, Australia Post, vehicle registration and licences, local government rates, fines, &c) from points earning, or allow them to earn points only at a lower rate. And it’s a good idea to read the small print, because some cards also exclude gambling transactions and BPAY payments from points earning.

Learn about frequent flyer credit cards

Unsure what to choose? Check out our top tips to get you points hacking.

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

  • FAQs

  • Glossary

  • Guides

Additional benefits on top of earning points

Frequent flyer credit cards often come with complimentary benefits aimed at making your travel more enjoyable and less expensive, including travel insurance, airport lounge access, travel agency credit vouchers, concierge service, priority check-in and free or discounted flights.

Cheaper travel

Provided you avoid incurring interest and penalty charges, frequent flyer credit cards are a low-cost method of subsidising both personal and business travel.

Expect annual fees to be higher than average

Frequent flyer credit cards typically have a higher annual fee than cards with no rewards points or complimentary benefits.

Features can mirror your usage

There are frequent flyer credit cards aimed at sole traders, small-to-medium businesses and major corporations, as well as individuals.

If you don't spend enough, the annual fee will negate the card's benefits

It’s not worth paying a high annual fee for a frequent flyer credit card if you won’t use it enough to recoup more than the fee cost by earning points or making purchases which activate complimentary benefits.

Interest rates on unpaid balances are typically higher

Frequent flyer credit cards typically have very high interest rates payable on balances not repaid in full on or before the payment due date.

Not all points redemptions represent good value

If you exchange your frequent flyer points for merchandise, gift cards or movie tickets, you’ll probably get a lower value return than you would by using standard rewards points.

Redeeming award seats can be challenging

It can sometimes be difficult to book award seats because demand exceeds supply on popular routes at peak times.

Tighter eligibility requirements to get a card

Frequent flyer credit cards may have a higher minimum income requirement and so getting account approval is more difficult.

Typical daily spending can earn enough points to justify the annual fee

If you pick a card that’s suitable for your income and expenditure level, you don’t need to change your spending pattern to earn enough points to more than cover the annual fee – just channelling all your everyday expenses through your card should do the trick.

Award flights and seat upgrades are the recommended redemption options

Most frequent flyer points collectors agree that the most cost-effective options for redeeming frequent flyer points are award flights and seat upgrades. This results in lots of choice, since most airlines are affiliated with a global group such as Star Alliance or OneWorld, giving their frequent flyers access to award flights with their airline partners. Long-haul flights and Business or First Class seats usually deliver a higher value per frequent flyer point than short-haul Economy flights.

However, if you do want to redeem your frequent flyer points for other items, it’s possible to do so. Many airlines, including Qantas and Virgin Australia, have an online store where frequent flyer points can be exchanged for merchandise, gift cards, movie tickets, travel and accommodation, and more.

Be prepared to be flexible when booking award flights

Airlines do not typically provide many award flights on the most popular routes at the most popular times, because they know they’ll be able to fill the plane with fee-paying customers rather than points redeemers. At the same time, they recognise that their frequent-flyer program is a profitable business in its own right as well as a standard bearer for the company as a whole. So there will always be some award seats available if you are prepared to fly on less popular routes at off-peak times or seasons, especially if you are willing to use more points to get a Business Class seat.

Also note that Qantas long-haul award flights are released 353 days ahead of departure for Gold and Platinum Frequent Flyers, and 297 days ahead for lower-status Bronze and Silver members. Virgin Velocity releases its international award seats 330 days ahead.

Taking all this into account, your best options are:

  • Make your booking as soon as award seats are released for your status level.
  • Be flexible with dates and times, avoiding school holidays and business travel peak hours.
  • Be flexible with routes. For example, if you live in Sydney or Melbourne, consider flying internationally from Brisbane. If you want to go to Los Angeles, try looking for an award flight to San Francisco, then continue your journey on a US domestic flight.
  • Check seat availability on partner airlines.
  • Check for ‘last-minute’ award seat releases.

Compare all frequent flyer credit card features, not just the points earning rate

To make sure you get the best deal on a frequent flyer credit card, you’ll first need to decide whether you want to collect Qantas or Virgin (or possibly Emirates) Points directly, or go with a bank’s in-house rewards program and convert your points to frequent flyer points for a wider variety of airline points options.

Having established which type of card you want, don’t necessarily go for the card with the highest points earning rate. Although this is certainly an important feature, you’ll also want to compare the annual fees and the value to you of any attached complimentary benefits. Frequent flyer credit cards tend to have lots of free benefits aimed at travellers, such as travel insurance, airport lounge access, travel agency credit vouchers and free flights. But no two cards offer identical benefits, so be sure to compare the details.

Many credit cards have free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership as a complimentary benefit

While Virgin, in common with most other world airlines, have made their Velocity Frequent Flyer program free to join, the Qantas Frequent Flyer program has a joining fee ($99.50 at the time of writing). You need to be a program member in order to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Points with your credit card. However, if you’re not already a member, many credit card providers offer to pay the joining fee on your behalf, or arrange to have it waived, when you successfully apply for a credit card linked to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.

Use your card in a way that will maximise points earning

Some cards offer a higher points earning rate for particular types of spending, such as overseas spending (including online purchases), or spending at restaurants or partner stores. Make sure you’re aware of the details of your card’s points earning tiers, so that you remember to use it on those occasions when you can earn more points than usual.

Is a frequent flyer credit card right for me?

If your lifestyle involves plenty of travel, catching flights and purchasing travel-related products and services such as hotels and rentals, a frequent flyer credit card could be a great choice. These cards work best if you spend often; you get the most out of your membership by making purchases and earning points. Membership also opens doors to other benefits such as concierge services, access to airport lounges, priority airport check-in, complimentary upgrades along with a rolling program of special offers and discounts. Credit cards for frequent flyers usually feature insurance policies including travel insurance and purchase protection.

If you are likely to overspend, don’t always clear the balance in full and have an ongoing debt on your credit card account, the cost of using your credit card outweighs the benefits of the program. And since these cards usually have an annual fee, if you don’t travel often or use your card infrequently, another type of card would be better. Note that cash advances, buying foreign currency, balance transfers, gambling payments and other types of transaction are usually exempt from the rewards scheme and earn no points.

What features should I consider when comparing cards?

You're looking for the best value frequent flyer card that's going to give you the most in return for your loyalty. You should examine all the credit card features, the rates & fees and the details of the frequent flyer program when comparing and selecting a new card.

Program partners: The program should involve airlines, hotels, retailers and other companies that you regularly spend with using your credit card and offer the opportunity to redeem the points for rewards you want to use.

Earn rate (points per dollar spent): The value of the points you earn is very important. You should take the time to see how points are earned and the number of points needed for rewards to judge how much value for money the program really provides. For example, a card may offer 3 points per dollar, but the real value of each point may be lower than a card that offers 1 point per dollar, depending on the amount needed to redeem a ticket, restrictions and blackout dates, and so on.

Introductory offers and sign up bonuses: Banks regularly offer bonus points during an introductory period, which can be a great opportunity to quickly earn rewards, but you should always examine how the program changes once the offer ends. Many cards also often run award sign-up bonuses.

Extra benefits: Frequent flyer points credit cards usually feature other benefits alongside the rewards program, including travel insurance and purchase protection. In terms of travel insurance, the level of cover can be dramatically different from one card to another, with some offering cover you and your family internationally and domestically, while others only offer cover for you while overseas.

Interest rates: As with any credit card, one of the most essential features to look at is the interest on the account, including purchase and cash advance rates. You want to use your credit card for everyday purchases, not just during travel, so it should feature a competitively low interest rate. Assuming you travel regularly, you should also research foreign exchange fees and foreign transaction fees.

Annual fees: Many of these cards feature a significantly higher annual fee than standard credit cards. You should calculate how this balances with the credit card’s other features to make sure that the cost of using your card doesn’t negate the benefits..

What kinds of restrictions do frequent flyer credit cards have?

Each frequent flyer program has its own set of rules and regulations regarding points capping and expiration. Some cards operate with a tiered points system, where you earn more when you spend at places connected to the program. Entry level frequent flyer cards for low spenders tend to place the most restrictive points capping in place - which is okay if you're not intending to spend more than a few $1,000's each month.

Can I get a credit card linked directly with a specific airline?

Yes. You can compare frequent flyer credit cards for the following airlines:

How much does it cost to join a frequent flyer program?

You need to enrol to become a member of a program. Most programs are free, or free with a sign-up, with the exception of Qantas Frequent Flyer, which charges a one-time fee of $89.50 to join, although the fee is occasionally waved during promotions. Depending on the program, you must earn or spend points at least once during a set period to keep your membership current and not lose your points. For Qantas, it's once every 18 months; for Velocity, it's at least once every 36 months, for example.

How easy is it to be approved for a frequent flyer credit card?

The criteria and the process is the same as all other credit cards, but because these cards are premium products the bar is higher. Banks look at your credit rating, verify who you are and verify your income. That being said, not all frequent flyer credit cards require high earnings. Just make sure you have no bad credit history and you should be okay.

How do I earn points?

The way you earn air miles varies between different frequent flyer membership programs, but they generally function in the same way as other types of rewards scheme: you earn points each time you use your card. Typically, there is a flat rate of earning for every dollar spent on your credit card and a bonus rate for purchases with the program’s partners such as affiliated airlines, hotels, retail outlets and other partners. Different credit cards earn points at different rates within the same program – gold and platinum cards often earn more points than standard cards – and you may be able to earn bonus points during introductory offers. It’s common for a bank to issue two cards for your account, an American Express and Visa / MasterCard, with the AmEx having the higher earn rate of the two.

What’s the best way to maximise earning rewards points?

There are many ways to racket up your points total but you shouldn't go out of your way to spend more in order to earn more points. To get the most earning potential out of your card you need to be spending often and earning plenty of points on those purchases. Depending on your circumstances it might be a good idea to see what regular payments you can move to your credit card – things such as weekly groceries, fuel payments and direct debits for bills – so that you can earn points on your normal payments. Also, some of the frequent flyer credit cards will earn up to 5 points for every dollar spent when you spend at a restaurant or store which participates in that rewards program. That's an idea to get you thinking.

Can low spenders make a frequent flyer card work?

Yes. It all comes down to the maths and everyone is equal in that regard. If you spend the money on the right cards, your points will add up and the reward can be redeemed. It might take a little longer if you are a low spender, but it will all still work out. The bonus points that you get at signup or upon first spend will also help get you going. Low spenders should probably aim for a frequent flyer card with the lowest annual fee so that they can faster reach the break even point where the reward benefit equals the cost of holding the card. Again it’ll come down to how and when you redeem your points.

Do balance transfers and cash advances earn frequent flyer points?

No, sadly they do not earn points. You should also be aware that frequent flyer cards have higher interest rates than normal low rate credit cards because it is a premium product.

Is it a good idea to earn points across different frequent flyer programs?

Yes, if you fly frequently enough, spend within your means, repay your monthly credit card in full, and need more flexibility to fly with various airlines, then it is an idea worth considering. Mind you, managing your multiple credit cards and airline program balances could become complex. One way around this would be to apply for a card from American Express that has Membership Rewards. The benefits of earning Membership Rewards points is that your points balance can be transferred to a number of airline frequent flyer programs, so you aren’t tied to one specific airline or alliance.

Do people sign up to get the bonus flyer points then cancel their card?

Yes, people who chase the extra points do this. There’s nothing to stop you from getting a card (subject to approval), pocketing the signup bonus points and then closing the card down later on. Mind you, it would need to make sense financially to do so because almost all frequent flyer rewards cards have annual fees.

How often can I churn frequent flyer credit cards for their signup bonuses?

Credit card churning is the well-known art of applying for credit cards with sign-up bonuses, hitting the minimum spend requirements, and then cancelling the card and repeating every few months. It means you earn as many points as possible in a short amount of time or in reasonably quick succession. How does it work? And can you be penalised?

Firstly, your credit rating will take a small hit if you apply for too many cards. A cautious approach here is better since it gives your credit rating a chance to recover before applying for the next card.

Therefore, before deciding if you want to collect points through churning, take a look at the finer points of this strategy. Make sure you’re checking the fine print on offers and know what you’re signing up for before diving in.

To lessen the impact on your credit rating, only apply when you are confident of success, which means checking your credit score to assess the likelihood of success. Multiple open credit cards will reduce your chance of getting approved for a further line of credit so be sure to close the card accounts once you have hit the minimum spend and are ready to apply for the next signup bonus card.

In theory, you should be able to meet the bonus point spend requirements and have the capacity to repay that spend in full each month. Paying off the balance in full and closing down the card account should help you avoid or limit the interest charges and annual fees.

Will I lose my frequent flyer points if I close down my frequent flyer credit card?

No, that won't be a problem. The points that you earn in a frequent flyer program are separate to your credit card. So if you’re cutting up a card or just switching to another card your points won’t be affected.

How can I spend my points?

Points can be redeemed for flights with affiliated airlines: you can redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points, for example, for flights with Qantas, British Airways and American Airlines, among others. You can also use your points for hotel accommodation, resorts and holiday packages, car rentals, entertainment and leisure services, retail products and many other options. Frequent flyer programs usually allow you to pay partly in points and partly with money. The credit card’s frequent flyer program usually gives you access to an online account where you can check your balance, browse for products and services and learn about special offers.

How much are frequent flyer points worth?

Sadly, 1 frequent flyer point is not worth $1 dollar. That would be amazing. You’ve got to think of the points you earn as a separate currency to the Aussie dollar. What you spend your points on will determine the value you are able to yield from those points. Redeeming your points for a $100 gift card is easy and convenient but will not be the best value. Redeeming your frequent flyer points for a premium economy seat or business class seat on an international flight with most airlines will yield a much higher points-to-dollar value.

Are all frequent flyer points worth the same across different points programs?

The short answer is no. Why? Because there are so many variables at play. Here are some examples.

  • Transferring from one rewards program to another: You may be earning points with a rewards program run by a bank. In this case, you typically have the option to transfer points to a frequent flyer program such as Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer. However, one rewards point does not necessarily equate to one frequent flyer point.
  • Different programs, different value. For example, Program A may require 100,000 points for a flight worth $1,000 if booked with cash, making one point worth 1 cent. Program B may offer flights in the same cabin on the same route and require 125,000 points for a flight worth $1,000, which would value one point worth less than 1 cent. However, Program B may also have flights to a different destination that is still attractive to you but only require 100,000 points for a flight worth $1,500 if booked in cash, valuing each point at 1.5 cents.

Annual fee

The amount charged once every 12 months, on the card anniversary, as an account-keeping fee.

ATO

Australian Taxation Office

Award flight or Award seat

A flight purchased with frequent flyer points, plus cash to cover the taxes and carrier charges component.

Balance transfer

An amount of debt transferred from an existing credit card or store card to another card held by the same cardholder.

BPAY

An electronic bill payment system, allowing payments to be made through a bank or other financial institution's online, mobile or telephone banking system to organisations which are registered BPAY billers.

Cash advance

Withdrawal of cash from a credit card account, either over-the-counter or at an ATM. Buying foreign currency or traveller’s cheques, and in some cases gambling transactions, will be considered a cash advance.

Complimentary benefits

Benefits provided free of charge to credit card account holders. Examples include travel insurance, extended warranty cover, price protection, purchase protection, airport lounge access, free flights and a personal concierge service.

Concierge service

Personal lifestyle assistance, available by phone or online, for travel, dining and entertainment recommendations and bookings, party and gift planning, &c.

Eligible purchases

The type of credit card transaction which qualifies for earning rewards and frequent flyer points. Most cards exclude from points earning all cash and cash equivalent transactions (cash advances, balance transfers, purchases of traveller’s cheques and foreign currency, card interest charges and fees, and transfers from a credit card account to another bank account). Many exclude payments to the government (e.g. payments to the ATO, Australia Post, vehicle registration and licences, local government rates, fines, &c). And quite a few exclude gambling transactions and payments made by BPAY.

First purchase bonus points

A large number of rewards points or frequent flyer points granted as an incentive to a new cardholder in return for meeting a spending target within a specified period (e.g. $5,000 in the first 90 days of holding the card).

Frequent flyer points

Air miles or points earned on credit card purchases if the card is eligible for the airline loyalty program. Points can be exchanged principally for flights and seat upgrades, but also for, for example, merchandise from an online catalogue, gift cards, cashback, travel and accommodation, movie tickets and other entertainment experiences.

Minimum income requirement

The lowest annual income a credit card applicant is allowed to have in order to qualify for a specific credit card.

Minimum payment or Minimum repayment

The lowest amount accepted by the card provider each month as a repayment, usually expressed as a percentage of the balance (e.g. 2%) or a fixed amount (e.g. $5), or both (i.e. whichever is greater).

Payment due date

The date on or before which credit card repayments are required to be made each month, typically around 14 or 25 days after the end of the monthly billing cycle.

Penalty fee

An amount charged by the credit card provider in the case of a missed payment, or a late payment, or a transaction which causes the cardholder to exceed their credit limit.

Points cap

An absolute limit on the number of points that can be earned by a credit card in any month or year. Once the cap is reached, the points earning rate for the remainder of the period falls to 0 points per dollar spent.

Points threshold

A limit beyond which a credit card’s points earning rate falls for the remainder of the month or year. For example, a card may have a 1.0 points per dollar rate, up to a threshold of $5,000 of spending per month, beyond which the earning rate drops to 0.5 points per dollar for the remainder of the month.

Rewards points

Loyalty points earned on credit card purchases if the card is eligible for the rewards program. Points can be exchanged for, for example, merchandise from an online catalogue, gift cards, cashback, frequent flyer points, travel and accommodation, movie tickets and other entertainment experiences. Some rewards points come directly in the form of frequent flyer points.

Seat upgrade

The conversion of an airfare to a higher class of seating (e.g. converting an Economy fare to a Business fare), usually by paying with cash or frequent flyer points or a combination of both (although passengers are occasionally upgraded free of charge).