What are Airpoints credit cards?
If you’re a frequent Air New Zealand or Star Alliance flyer, an Airpoints credit card can make your trip even more rewarding by giving you extra Airpoints Dollars when you pay for your Air New Zealand flight with your card. Plus you'll also earn Airpoints on all your other credit card purchases, bringing the next flight so much nearer. In fact, anyone can benefit from an Airpoints credit card, because you're not confined to redeeming Airpoints Dollars for flights – there are plenty of other redemption options.
How to earn Airpoints Dollars with a credit card
Once you have an Airpoints credit card, all your card spending earns Airpoints dollars, at varying rates depending on which card you have. You'll usually earn more Airpoints Dollars for purchasing flights, upgrades and merchandise from Air New Zealand than you will for your purchases from other merchants.
Airpoints Dollar earning rates typically range from $50 spending = 1 Airpoints Dollar to $160 spending = 1 Airpoints dollar, and cards with a higher earning rate also tend to have a higher annual fee. However, these more expensive cards also come with additional free benefits like domestic and international travel insurance cover, and more.
Airpoints Dollars earned with your credit card are identical to Airpoints Dollars earned by flying, and will be pooled with them in your regular Airpoints account.
As well as earning Airpoints Dollars, spending with many Airpoints credit cards also earns Air New Zealand Status Points, ranging from $200 spending = 1 Status Point to $250 spending = 1 Status Point. Status points allow you to access the benefits of Silver, Gold and Elite frequent flyer tiers, such as priority service, lounge access, seat upgrades and extra baggage allowance.
What are Airpoints Dollars worth?
When redeeming Airpoints Dollars for Air New Zealand and some partner airlines' flights, an Airpoints Dollar is worth exactly one normal dollar. This means that you can pay for any Air New Zealand flight with Airpoints Dollars, rather than having to wait for a limited number of seats to be be made available for redemption with frequent flyer points (which is what happens with Australian airline Qantas, for example). If you don't have enough Airpoints Dollars to pay the full fare, you can pay with a mixture of Airpoints Dollars and cash (or top up your Airpoints balance if you have an Air New Zealand Airpoints credit card issued by Kiwibank).
The same 1 Airpoints Dollar = $1 applies when using Airpoints Dollars to pay for Avis or Budget car rental, flight upgrades and Koro Programme membership. You'll also get the same or similar value when shopping at the Airpoints online store, where a $100 restaurant gift voucher, for example, costs exactly 100 Airpoints Dollars.
What to compare for Airpoints credit cards
Depending on which Airpoints credit card you have, as well giving you Airpoints Dollars on your spending your card may have other complimentary benefits attached, including:
- Earning Air New Zealand Status Points. Higher status comes with a range of benefits in and of itself.
- Airport lounge access. Typically either single-entry passes or full membership of a program such as Priority Pass.
- Koru membership discount and/or joining fee waiver. Membership level varies, but can be a substantial saving.
- Bonus Airpoints Dollars. Typically bonused for meeting a spending target within a certain period of time.
- Airpoints Dollars Top-up. The ability to use your card to buy points. Useful if you are short a few points of what you need.
- Domestic return flight. A benefit generally reserved for higher level credit cards, e.g. a black credit card.
- Airpoints Dollars Advance. Marketed like an overdraft, some Airpoints credit cards make it possible to access additional Airpoints in advance. An alternative to buying Airpoints.
- Concierge service. Available 24/7 and useful for small tasks like bookings, reservations, appointment setting, and price comparison.
Pros and cons
- Earn Airpoints Dollars on everyday spending. Spending with a credit card is one of the best and easiest ways to earn Airpoints Dollars without flying with Air New Zealand.
- Boost your Airpoints Dollars account. Apart from what you earn per dollar, you can get a significant boost from a credit card with a sign up bonus offer.
- Valuable additional benefits. Airpoints-earning cards are higher-end and often come with additional perks such as complimentary travel insurance or access to airport lounges.
- Use Airpoints Dollars to fly with Star Alliance partners. Book award flights with other Star Alliance airlines.
- Higher annual fees. A credit card that earns Airpoints Dollars is typically higher end and generally have higher annual fees. Although the fee may be waived for a year, you'll need to work out whether the combined benefits justify its cost.
- Caps and limits. High-spenders might experience diminishing returns if they spend a lot.
- Airpoints Dollars expire. But for some cards, they don't expire for as long as the card is active, giving you more flexibility.
Alternatives to Airpoints credit cards
Airpoints credit cards are not the only way to earn credit card rewards points. Other types of rewards credit card are available, including:
- American Express credit cards. Membership Rewards Points can be exchanged for several other airlines' frequent flyer points, including Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Virgin Australia, depending on which card you have.
- Westpac hotpoints credit cards. Earn points that can be redeemed for a range of popular products.
- BNZ Flybuys. Earn points that can be redeemed for a range of products and travel bookings.
- Cashback credit cards. If collecting and redeeming points isn't your thing, you could get a credit card which gives you a percentage rebate for meeting a specified spending target.
How to apply for an Airpoints credit card
- Compare available offers. Start by comparing the points earning rates and other benefits of each card, as well as the annual fee cost, to decide which one will best suit your lifestyle and spending pattern.
- Gather your ID documents. For example, your passport or driver's licence, proof of residence (mail addressed to you), proof of income (payslips, bank statements) and employment details.
- Submit your application online. Click through from Finty, fill out the application, and look out for correspondence from the bank (they may need more details).
Note: You must be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card.
About the Airpoints program
Airpoints is a loyalty program operated by Air New Zealand. Program members earn Airpoints Dollars for flying with Air New Zealand and its partner airlines, including airlines in the Star Alliance network. Airpoints Dollars can be redeemed for Air New Zealand and some partner airline flights, seat upgrades and car rental, plus a range of retail gift cards, experience vouchers and merchandise from the Airpoints online store.
Other ways to earn Airpoints Dollars
In addition to earning Airpoints Dollars with a credit card, the best way to acquire Airpoints Dollars is to fly with Air New Zealand, some Star Alliance airlines, or other partner airlines. But for points hunters who are more avid shoppers than they are fliers, there are over 130 retailers at Air New Zealand's Airpoints Mall to choose from. Simply access your chosen retailer's website by clicking through from the Airpoints Mall, and any purchases you make will be tracked, and will typically earn between 1.0 and 3.0 Airpoints Dollars per $100 of spending.
Redeeming Airpoints Dollars
The many ways you can redeem Airpoints Dollars include:
- Flights and seat upgrades with Air New Zealand
- Flights with some Star Alliance and other Air New Zealand partner airlines
- Making purchases at the Airpoints online store – gift cards, experience vouchers and merchandise
- Sending a family member or friend a ticket through the gifting register
- Purchasing onboard food and drink
- Enrolling in the Air New Zealand Koru programme (lounge access, priority check-in and boarding, baggage privileges)
- Buying extra baggage allowance
- Booking car rental
- Purchasing travel insurance
- Donating to Airpoints for Schools
Airpoints Dollars expiry dates
Airpoints Dollars have a long expiry date – four years from when they were earned – so that gives you plenty of time to save them up for a high-value redemption if you wish. But there are ways to prevent your Airpoints Dollars from expiring, If you can achieve and maintain Elite or Gold Airpoints membership status, your Airpoints Dollars won't expire.
Even better, earning Airpoints Dollars with some premium credit cards will mean that they never expire. Read the small print carefully to see which cards this applies to.