I often get asked ‘where to start’ with loyalty programs and frequent flyer points, and over the coming weeks I’ll be running a series of posts which aim to cover off some absolute basics.
This one is a quick reference of all the various programs that are worth signing up for – the quick answer to ‘which programs should I sign up for’ is ‘as many as you can be bothered to’. All are free to join.
For the more expert of you that know this already – good for you! Everyone has to start somewhere, so when you get asked the inevitable questions, point them this way.
Why register for all these programs?
Simple – if you don’t register, you can’t earn points if an offer comes up.
Also by registering you will start to opt into emails (if you want to) which will guide you toward some of the promotions on offer.
Finally, many of the promotions where you can buy points or miles at a discount will require you to have an account set up for a minimum amount of time.
Going through and joining these programs will at least let you get your account in place to take advantage of any deals in future.
The top five frequent flyer programs to join for Australian travellers
To get started, register with the following ‘local’ programs that are the most dominant in this region:
Qantas Frequent Flyer membership has a standard cost of $99.50—but this is easily circumvented by using one of the free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership links listed here.
More than half the Australian population has signed up already.
Virgin Australia’s Velocity program is behind Qantas in pure member numbers but has just as many opportunities to earn points. You need to have an Australian residential address to join.
KrisFlyer has great value uses for Krisflyer miles on Singapore Airlines flights. Points can be transferred in from many credit card partners.
Cathay Pacific’s [Asia Miles] program is good for long-haul flight redemptions on Cathay Pacific and its oneworld airline partners.
Again, Asia Miles can be transferred over from many Australian credit card partners.
5. Etihad Guest
Etihad’s ‘Etihad Guest’ program is useful for their frequent bonus miles promotions if you fly Etihad frequently enough to warrant crediting your points from Etihad flights to your Etihad Guest account.
Otherwise, the best reason to hold an Etihad Guest account is in case of credit card transfer bonus offers from the likes of American Express Membership Rewards.
A final notable mention – Qantas Aquire – join here
If you have an ABN, also consider signing up to the Qantas Aquire program to earn more Qantas points. Occasionally there are offers on which will discount membership or give you bonus points – more here.
Secondary International Frequent Flyer Programs
There are a number of overseas programs that are also worth joining for a variety of reasons.
6. American Airlines AAdvantage – join here
AAdvantage is great for redemptions on oneworld airlines, and offer regular bonus mile promotions – but AAdvantage miles are harder to come by in bulk for Australians unless you purchase them outright.
7. British Airways Executive Club – join here
The main reason to join British Airways program is to use their website to look for frequent flyer points seats on a wider range of airlines than Qantas.com.
8. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan – join here
Alaska Airlines is a partner with Qantas, American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and many more. They are useful for Alaska Airlines Mileage plan miles purchase promotions.
9. Emirates Skywards – join here
Emirates Skywards is most useful for the true Emirates frequent flyer – those who fly on Emirates a lot. Skywards also partner with a few different Australian banks and credit cards.
But it doesn’t hurt to get your membership set up in case an offer that makes sense to take advantage of comes through.
10. United Airlines Mileage Plus – join here
United Airlines membership is most useful for either searching Star Alliance airline award seats, or for taking advantage of their infrequent miles purchase offers.
11. Virgin America Elevate – join here
Virgin America’s Elevate program run promotions to purchase Elevate miles which can be redeemed into cheap Virgin Australia Business Class flights.
Not commonly used – but Iberia and British Airways are owned by the same company, and use the same loyalty program currency – Avios, which are great value for short-haul domestic flights on Qantas in Australia.
Iberia occasionally run decent Avios purchase promotions (as do British Airways). Signing up for both Iberia Plus and Avios.com will let you combine your Avios to/from BA and Iberia accounts. Feel free to skip if that sounds unlikely.
If you don’t join some of these programs, you are locked out of ‘playing the game’ and joining in any great promotions that might crop up in future.
Spending a few minutes to join each frequent flyer program now is worth the effort. You’ll also start to understand the ins and outs of the various frequent flyer programs and airlines as you go.