Most Aussies Aren’t Using The “Best” Frequent Flyer Program – Here Are One’s Worth Joining

WORDS: Ocean Road Magazine Editorial Staff PHOTOGRAPHY

Almost every airline will offer some form of frequent flyer scheme, but which one is the best for Australian travellers?

Nowadays, most airlines offer some sort of frequent flyer program to persuade passengers to stay loyal. These rewards programs allow members to earn points or miles that can be redeemed for free flights, upgrades, hotel stays, shopping, and more.

You can accelerate your points earnings on everyday spending and reach those travel goals even faster by having the right credit card in your wallet. But that’s easier said than done. Comparison sites like Credit Card Compare take the complexity out of choosing a credit card that earns rewards points and can connect you with huge sign-up bonuses.

But before you even get to choosing a credit card, you first need to decide the type of points you want to earn since that will dictate where you can redeem them.

Should I join a frequent flyer program?

If you’re going to get on a plane at some point, you might as well join a frequent flyer program. Even if you don’t plan to travel enough to enjoy benefits like priority boarding, airport lounge access, and free upgrades, you’ll at least begin to build a points balance. After all, it doesn’t cost anything to add your loyalty number to a booking.

Hans Mast, travel agent at Golden Rule Travel, recommends joining frequent flyer programs:

“Signing up is free, and you start earning points from your first flight. By consistently flying with the same airline or alliance, you’ll accumulate points to redeem for discounted flights, upgrades, and other perks. The more you fly, the faster you unlock valuable privileges like priority boarding and lounge access.”

“Even occasional travellers benefit from having points for unexpected trips or leisure getaways. Many airlines offer credit cards that let you earn points on everyday purchases, accelerating your rewards”, Mast explains.

Once you’ve racked up enough points or miles, you can trade them for discounted flights, upgrades, hotel stays, and more.

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Qantas operates Australia’s largest airline and its largest loyalty scheme. Membership normally attracts a $99.50 joining fee, although there are many ways to join for free.

Qantas Frequent Flyer makes it easy to earn points on your everyday spending and fly with the Red Roo and its airline partners. Members are also in for an impressive array of perks as they ascend through the elite status tiers of Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One. You’ll also have the chance to unlock even more benefits with Qantas’ unique Points Club and Green Tier initiatives.

Why join Qantas Frequent Flyer?

Qantas will likely have a domestic or international route to get you wherever you need to be. The airline also operates Australia’s largest lounge network, so you’ll likely find somewhere to relax before boarding. Plus, as part of the OneWorld airline alliance, Qantas members can earn and redeem points and use their loyalty benefits with a myriad of global airlines.

Qantas Points are perhaps the easiest airline loyalty points to earn in Australia, with a huge number of banking partners, as well as Woolworths, BP and other large businesses.

What’s not so good about Qantas Frequent Flyer?

Booking flights with your Qantas Points is becoming increasingly harder. The challenge is amplified on popular routes or during peak travel times when it’s nearly impossible to use your hard-earned points. As well as booking difficulties, Qantas is known to press high fuel and carrier surcharges on redemptions, especially for travel with airline partners.

Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer

Virgin Australia wants to be Australia’s most loved airline, and they are well on their way with one of the best frequent flyer programs available today. The familiar status tiers of Silver, Gold and Platinum exist with Velocity, who add some useful perks like free wi-fi and the ability to move to an earlier flight for free with elite status.

Why join Velocity Frequent Flyer?

Velocity has an excellent family pooling feature that allows members to earn points and/or status credits in a single account with family members living at the same address. This makes it easier to reach rewards faster and unlock the benefits of elite status.

It is relatively easy to earn Velocity points on the ground, with Flybuys points easily transferred, as well as partnerships with 7/11 and other outlets. Reward seats are also typically easier to find than other programs.

What’s not so good about Velocity Frequent Flyer?

Virgin Australia isn’t part of a major airline alliance, meaning elite perks like lounge access will differ between airline partners.

Regional Express Rex Flyer

Regional Express has just launched its own frequent flyer program, Rex Flyer. While the scheme isn’t fully operational for now, it’s still a contender worthy of your loyalty. For frequent regional travellers, Rex Flyer is the ideal choice with a number of flights to and from Australia’s most remote towns.

Why join Rex Flyer?

Rex Flyer offers those with status complimentary upgrades to business class, as well as extra legroom seating when travelling in economy. For last-minute redemptions, Rex is best, with nearly every seat on the flight available for booking with points, between 24 and 48 hours before take-off.

What’s not so good about Rex Flyer?

Rex Flyer is not fully set up yet and lacks any way to earn points apart from taking Rex flights. They also operate on a very limited major city schedule, with zero international flights. Their lounge network is also in desperate need of repair.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines operates a significant worldwide network, connecting Australia to Asia and beyond. The airline is synonymous with excellent service, even in economy class.

Why join Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer?

KrisFlyer is one of the easier overseas programs for earning in Australia. As well as a host of credit card transfer options, you can earn KrisFlyer miles for shopping online, on Virgin Australia flights as well as with other partners. They’re also a part of the Star Alliance network, giving even further access to perks, earning and redemption across some of the best global carriers.

What’s not so good about KrisFlyer?

Remember to keep an eye on your KrisFlyer balance, as miles expire three years after they’re earned, rather than a rolling expiry period like other airlines adopt.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Explore the world via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, which offers some of the best long-haul seating worldwide. The carrier operates in several Australian cities, with an enormous worldwide reach from a single connection.

Why join Cathay Pacific Asia Miles?

Asia Miles offers some of the best redemption rates in the industry, including for round-the-world bookings using points. Members can also readily earn miles in Australia, with several banking and hotel partners, as well as onboard Qantas Flights.

Cathay Pacific is also a OneWorld alliance member, opening up redemption opportunities across the globe. Elite status members can also benefit from priority perks when travelling with OneWorld airlines.

What’s not so good about Asia Miles?

If you want to unlock elite perks through Cathay Pacific, you will need to link up a separate Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club account, to earn both miles and status on each flight. This is unnecessarily complex for the everyday traveller.