I often get asked ‘where to start’ with loyalty programs and frequent flyer points.

This guide is a quick reference of all the various programs that are worth signing up for. 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 should I 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, e.g. 30 or 90 days before purchasing points.

Going through and joining these programs will at least let you get your account in place to take advantage of any deals in future.

Which are the top 5 frequent flyer programs to join for travellers in Australia?

To get started, register with the following ‘local’ programs that are the most dominant in this region.

1. Qantas Frequent Flyer

Qantas Frequent Flyer membership has a standard cost of $99.50. However, this is easily circumvented by using a free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership link. More than half the Australian population has signed up already.

Three planes Qantas Planes at tarmac | Point Hacks

You’ll be able to earn and redeem points with airlines like Emirates, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines, as well as many non-airline partners.

  • Join Qantas Frequent Flyer for free here

2. Velocity Frequent Flyer

Virgin Australia’s Velocity program is behind Qantas in pure member numbers but also provides many opportunities to earn points.

Virgin Australia A330 | Point Hacks

Partner airlines include high-quality ones like Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Delta.

3. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer has especially great value uses for redemptions on Singapore Airlines flights. Points can be transferred in from many credit card partners in Australia.

Singapore Airlines A380 at Changi Airport

KrisFlyer and Velocity have a special partnership through which you can transfer points back and forth but they’ll lose some of their value every time you do.

  • Join Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer for free here
  • But check this guide first to see if you can pick up 500-1,000 bonus miles for doing so

4. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program is good for long-haul flight redemptions on Cathay Pacific and its oneworld alliance partners like Qantas.

Again, Asia Miles can be transferred over from many Australian credit card partners. And round-the-world pricing through Asia Miles is cheaper than through Qantas.

  • Join Cathay Pacific Asia Miles for free here

5. Etihad Guest

The Etihad Guest program is useful for their frequent bonus miles promotions if you fly Etihad frequently enough.

Etihad Airways logo

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.

Notable mention: Qantas Business Rewards

If you have an ABN, also consider signing up to the Qantas’ small business program to earn more Qantas Points. Frequently, there are offers which give you bonus points.

Qantas Business Rewards Logo | Point Hacks
  • Join Qantas Business Rewards for free here

Other key frequent flyer programs for travellers in Australia

There are a number of overseas programs that are also worth joining for a variety of reasons.

6. American Airlines AAdvantage

AAdvantage is great for redemptions on oneworld airlines.

American Airlines Boeing 777-200 at Santiago Airport

However, these miles are harder to come by in Australia unless you purchase them during buy miles promotions.

  • Join American Airlines AAdvantage for free here

7. British Airways Executive Club

The main reason to join British Airways program is to use their website to look for frequent flyer seats on a wider range of airlines than Qantas.

British Airways 777 First Class overview | Point Hacks
  • Join British Airways Executive Club for free here

8. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska Airlines is a partner of Qantas, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific, amongst others. They are very useful for buy miles promotions.

Alaska Airlines plane on tarmac at Austin Airport
  • Join Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan for free here

9. Emirates Skywards

Emirates Skywards is most useful for the true Emirates frequent flyer (someone who flies on Emirates a lot). They also partner with a few different Australian banks and credit cards.

Emirates A380 at Melbourne Airport

For most people, though, it’s better to credit your Qantas and Emirates flight to Qantas Frequent Flyer.

  • Join Emirates Skywards for free here

10. United Airlines MileagePlus & Avianca LifeMiles

A United Airlines and/or Avianca membership is most useful for searching for Star Alliance award seats.

United plane on SYD tarmac

Once you feel more knowledgable about the frequent flyer game, you can take advantage of their frequent buy miles offers.

LifeMiles logo | Point Hacks
  • Join United Airlines MileagePlus for free here
  • Join Avianca LifeMiles for free here

Summing up

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.

Which other frequent flyer programs do you recommend travellers in Australia to join? Share in the comments below.

Which frequent flyer programs should you join in Australia? was last modified: September 19th, 2019 by Matt Moffitt