CommBank Awards, with the linked Standard, Gold, Platinum and Diamond accounts, is one of Australia’s most popular rewards programs when it comes to sheer bulk of members, but it is not the most appealing out there—with limited value to the avid frequent flyer point collector due to its poor earn rates.

Rather than giving you points for a particular airline, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has its own points scheme, Award Points, which you can then use in a number of different ways.

If airline points are what you are after, you can exchange your Award points for frequent flyer points but you can also use Awards Points to go shopping, buy gift cards or even pay your CBA bank fees.

Transferring to frequent flyer programs

You can exchange your Awards points for Qantas Points by opting into ‘Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct’, which will cost you $30 per year. Unfortunately, this is an ‘all or nothing’ deal, meaning that all of your Awards points will automatically be converted into Qantas Points each month, i.e. you won’t be able to use any of your Awards points on anything else.

If you opt in to Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct, there is also a maximum number of points that you are allowed to earn each year. Check out the maximum for each card later on in this guide.

Emirates Business Class

Whilst you will be locked in if you transfer your points to Qantas, they can be used for travel in Emirates Business Class

Unlike Qantas Points, you don’t have to exchange all of your Awards points for Velocity or any other program’s points, and there is no annual fee associated with making any of these exchanges.

The exchange rates are different for each partner:

Transfer partnerTransfer rate
Qantas Frequent Flyer2.5:1 (2.5 CommBank Awards points = 1 Qantas Point)
Velocity Frequent Flyer2:1 (Diamond & Platinum cards)
2.5:1 (Gold & Awards cards)
AirAsia BIG2.5:1
Air France-KLM Flying Blue3:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles3:1
China Eastern Eastern Miles3:1
Etihad Guest3.5:1
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands3:1
IHG Rewards Club2.5:1
JAL Mileage Bank4:1
Lufthansa Miles & More4:1
Malaysia Airlines Enrich3.5:1
Qatar Airways Privilege Club3.5:1
United MileagePlus4:1

You will need a minimum of 3,600 Awards points to make your first exchange to Velocity points, and every subsequent exchange needs to be of a minimum of 1,000 Awards points. For all other programs, you’ll need to exchange at least 2,500 Awards points.

Compared to other banks’ programs, these transfer rates are quite poor. However, if you do have a chunk of CommBank Awards points, the most appealing would be:

Korean Air First Class

Korean Air generally has excellent award availability—and even sliding doors in its Boeing 747-8i First Class!

Gift cards

You can also exchange your award points for gift cards. Let’s be honest—gift cards are the next best thing to cold hard cash, and if you’re not an airline points person, then chances are this is the best way to spend your Awards points.

Gift cards range from $25-$500 and, surprisingly, you don’t need to get the largest gift card to get the best exchange rate for your points. Note that cards from different retailers may have different price points, so the figures below are just an example.

Gift CardAward Points NeededRate (points per dollar)
$255,400Each $1 costs you 216 points
$5010,700Each $1 costs you 214 points
$10020,000Each $1 costs you 200 points
$25050,000Each $1 costs you 200 points
$500100,000Each $1 costs you 200 points

Although all the gift cards cost the same regardless of which retailer they are for, each retailer only offers certain values. There are currently 21 different retailers and their offerings can be seen in the table below:

Value of gift cards available

Retailer$25$50$100$250$500
Myer
Coles
Target
Kmart
BP
Caltex
Adairs
Red Balloon
Crown Hotels
Rebel Sport
Prouds the Jewellers
Sunglass Hut
Flight Centre
Napoleon Perdis
Bob Jane T-Mart
Dymocks
iTunes✓ ($20)
Getaway Golf
OPSM
Athlete's Foot

Purchasing with points: Awards Store

Awards points can also be used directly for shopping. The Awards store has a whole range of items you can buy including clothing, electronics, beauty products, homewares, movie tickets and wine.

Some items also offer you the ‘Points Plus Pay’ option, which means you can choose to pay using a combination of Award points and cash. This works on a sliding scale, so you can tailor it to fit the number of points you have at any one time.

Pay with points at Myer and Flight Centre

An interesting facility that CBA offers is the ability to pay using your Awards points. At the moment, it’s only for Myer and Flight Centre, but if it gains traction we can probably expect to see this option rolled out to more retailers.

The way it works is by presenting your credit card in-store and telling them that you’d like to use your points rather than your actual money. You can also use your points online and over the phone with Flight Centre.

The Awards exchange rate at both Myer and Flight Centre is $200 points per $1 (the same as for gift cards above $100, see Gift Cards). At Myer, you need to be spending at least 200 points ($1) to use this function, but at Flight Centre, the minimum is 2,500 points.

One thing to note: if you are a Myer One member you will be able to claim credits on your Myer One card on purchases you make using Awards points but you can’t use Awards points to pay off any money you owe in a Myer credit account or on layby.

Paying off banking fees

Finally, you can also use your Awards points to pay off certain CBA banking fees, such as your credit card’s annual fee or repayments under an insurance policy you hold with CBA.

For all of these CBA fees, you will get the same rate of 200 points per $1. This means that it is not the most effective use of Awards points but it does give you the option of offsetting some of the costs of holding the card.

Card TypeAnnual FeePoints needed to pay off annual fee
Award$5911,800 points
Platinum Award$24949,800 points
Diamond Award$34969,800 points

Earning points

There are four cards options offered under the CommBank Awards program. This table shows you an overview of points earning on each card, under each card type. More details of each card type can be found below.

 Mastercard
Diamond Awards1.25 points
Platinum Awards1 point
Awards1 point
* Earn rates on overseas transactions, at supermarkets, department stores, and petrol stations across Australia

Awards Card (Basic)

Basic Awards Card

This is the most basic option, offering the lowest Awards points earn rate, but also having the lowest annual fee.

Card Details

CardAwards Card
Points Earn Rate1 point per $
Points cap50,000 Awards points per year
Minimum credit limit$500
ExtrasNo additional insurances included
Overseas transaction fee3%
Annual fee$59 (you can choose to pay this off with 11,800 points)

Platinum Awards Card

Platinum Awards Card

This premium card offers a higher Awards points rate.

Card Details

CardPlatinum Awards Card
Points Earn Rate1 point per $
Points cap200,000 points per year
Minimum credit limit$6,000
ExtrasTravel Insurance - for you and your partner + children (PDS)
Purchase Security Insurance - for up to 90 days
Extended Warranty Insurance - for up to 1 year
Concierge - a 24/7 service to help with your requests (fees apply)
Overseas transaction fee3%
Annual fee$249 (you can choose to pay this off with 49,800 points)

Diamond Awards Card

Diamond Awards Card

This premier card offers the highest Awards points rate and maximum points cap, but at the cost of a higher annual fee.

Card Details

CardDiamond Awards Card
Points Earn Rate1.25 point per $
Points Cap1,000,000 points per year
Minimum credit limit$15,000
ExtrasTravel Insurance - for you and your partner + children (PDS)
Purchase Security Insurance - for up to 90 days
Extended Warranty Insurance - for up to 1 year
Overseas transaction fee3% on the Mastercard
Annual Fee$349 (you can choose to pay this off with 69,800 points)

Summing up

There are a number of ways to use CommBank Awards points if you have a stash in your Awards points account.

One of the more commons ways we hear of CBA cardholders using the Diamond card is through discounted annual fee offers as a result of a home loan package. If this is on offer to you, then the Diamond card could be worth considering.

Their partnership with both Qantas and Velocity—as well as other frequent flyer programs—makes those programs an attractive option but their Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct requirements are restrictive and stop you from making use of any of their other redemption options.

Relative to the competition though, points earn and redemption rates on Commonwealth Bank Awards-linked credit cards are poor, with greater value to be had by looking elsewhere.

A guide to the CommBank Awards program was last modified: August 19th, 2019 by Keith