Using credit cards to boost your points balance is the no-brainer part of the equation. I’d actually argue that this is the only way you’re going to get to redeem anything of real value, unless you’re Don Draper and being flown around the country in Business Class by your workplace.
Many of the bonus offers alone can get you a long way, with some banks previously offering 75,000 points or more as a signup bonus. That could get you a fair way in Economy. Work at it for a while, or even sign up to more than one card and you’re well on your way to getting somewhere at the pointy end of the plane.
Which credit card?
You can choose between ‘direct earn’ cards, that will earn points directly for one particular airline, or you can join a bank’s rewards program, and then decide later where to send the points.
Generally speaking, American Express’ reward program is the only non direct-earn scheme that can transfer points to Qantas, so Qantas point collectors may be better served with a direct earn card. The exception is if you are willing to consider the $1200 annual fee American Express Platinum Charge card, which comes with a vast array of benefits including points transfer to Qantas among many others, but a very hefty annual fee.
So, take note of the point earn on any card you’re thinking about. Some may offer half a point per dollar spent while others may offer two or more. More often than not, any additional annual fees are going to be higher the more points are on offer, so do your due diligence.
Point Hacks covers all the major cards on offer in Australia showing the best deals and bonus offers for both direct earn and bank rewards cards. Have a read through the various credit card guides to get an idea of the different products available.
This strategy certainly isn’t for everyone, as these cards can attract massive interest rates. If you’re not prepared to commit to paying off your balance every month, then skip this section and look at your debit card options below.
Note that the following in no way constitutes anything even close to financial advice- it’s simply a commentary on how I run our household finances. Take from it what you like.
In an average month, there are thousands of points coming in the door, just by running everything through our points earning cards. And by everything, I mean everything. If I’m buying a bottle of water from the corner store, it goes on my Amex.
How involved you get in the mechanics of this is up to you, with many cards offering differing points earns for different items. Things like restaurants, fuel or supermarkets can all earn different points rates, depending on which card you use.
Personally, I’m a sucker for simplicity and not a huge fan of annual fees. Even though I could theoretically earn a few more points with a more specialised card collection, I have two that I use for my points earn.
- A bank-branded American Express card that pays out 1.5 Qantas points for every dollar I spend on it.
- A bank-branded Mastercard that pays out one point per dollar spent. I use this when Amex is either not accepted, or comes with a transaction fee.
Direct Debiting my bills through my Amex is one example of a pretty nice win. For every dollar I’ve been billed for my mobile, gas, electricity and water, I get 1.5 Qantas points. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate paying bills, but at least now they have an upside.
There’s also a lot to be said for cards which earn points into ‘flexible points programs’ instead of a direct earn airline branded credit card. These are still very accessible to beginners to the points game, but will take a little reading to understand why they are so beneficial – thankfully there’s a full guide to flexible points programs here.
None of these are personal recommendations about any particular product. You’ll need to do your own research to assess whether they’re suitable for you.
Earning Points: First Principles
- Getting Started with Frequent Flyer programs
- Earning by Flying
- Buying points and miles
- Earning from Credit Cards
- Earning from Offers & Partners
- Ask Questions & Keep in the Loop
- Earning and Using Points – First Principles
Using Points: First Principles
- Who, What, When, Where and How?
- Flexible Points Programs
- Maximising Points value
- Qantas and Virgin Australia Key Partners
- Searching for points seats