It’s been a big year in the frequent flyer world, with heaps of changes and new products coming out.
Whether you are an avid Point Hacks reader or the occasional (or even new!) visitor, reading through these posts will give you a good idea of what’s happened over the past 12 months—and perhaps what is to come in 2019.
Top 10 most-read posts
The creation of the world’s largest hotel chain and the absorption of SPG into its parent company’s loyalty program didn’t come without its critics. The Hotel + Air Package sweet spot has now disappeared and the IT systems still aren’t working properly, but the upside is that high-tier properties are now available for booking at artificially low rates until March 2019.
The Al Maha Desert Resort near Dubai is temporarily available for only 60,000 Marriott Rewards points a night
Compiling the best data we could find across a number of frequent flyer sites, we put together this comprehensive guide so you know when you can jump on those ever-so-hard-to-find premium cabin seats to the US, for example.
This product has the widest bed in the sky and provides access to excellent lounges when departing from Hong Kong. The best part? It’s available from just 26,000 Qantas Points + under $100 in taxes.
Jump on in!
Last month, the bomb dropped that Amex is following its competitors in reducing both earn and transfer rates to its frequent flyer partners in 3½ months’ time (from now). If you are an American Express Card Member, our advice is to still hold off before making a decision on cancelling your card as more information will come to light in the lead-up to the changes.
Both Qantas and its rival Velocity launched a number of bonus points and Status Credits promotions this year. We put together this guide so that you could learn how to effectively ‘buy’ Qantas Gold status for under $2,000.
It goes without saying that the Gulf carrier is ranked as one of the best in the world, especially for its premium cabin products. Did you know you can fly from Sydney to Christchurch in First Class with a hot shower onboard for only 54,000 Qantas Points + ~$140 in taxes?
Amex gets a bad rep for many merchants not allowing payments with their cards, but the list of organisations that do keeps on growing, from Virgin Australia and Airbnb to BP and Kmart.
It seems that this aspirational product is on the minds of a lot of Velocity enthusiasts, available for 95,000 Velocity Points + just $66 in taxes from Sydney to Singapore. You’ll get to enjoy eight hours in a private suite with a separate seat and bed and world-class Singapore Airlines customer service.
Luxury abounds when you’re flying at the pointy end
With Velocity reducing its transfer rate to KrisFlyer and adding a surcharge to many award redemptions from tomorrow, our contributors debated which program they liked better (and you had your say too).
A popular strategy is to save points for Business and First Class travel and use cash for Economy Class tickets. We recommend the best search engines to use and cheapest airports to fly in and out of.
Matt’s personal top picks
I was on the road for the entirety of the year and flew almost 100,000 miles. As such, I got a lot of value from using my points with frequent flyer programs that charge the lowest fees.
I had my favourite hotel stay to date, at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, partly because I got to book it for only 60,000 Marriott Rewards points/night (same hack as I mentioned in the first article above).
Me flying ANA First Class with my friend Yoda—I was on one of their Star Wars-themed planes
From an inspiration point-of-view, I loved reading Evin’s review of Qantas’ new domestic lounge in Brisbane, Greg’s stay at the super-exclusive The St. Regis Maldives and Nelson’s comparison of (almost) every lounge at Melbourne Airport.
The top redemption I’m aiming for next year Qatar Airways’ Qsuite Business Class, bookable with Qantas Points, Asia Miles or AAdvantage miles (amongst other oneworld currencies).
Dan’s personal top picks
These are my personal favourite articles that have helped me to plan my travels in 2018 and maximise the value of my frequent flyer points through earning and burning wisely.
I completed a oneworld Classic Round The World trip this year, covering six countries and a variety of cities, including Hiroshima, Toulouse, Malta, Seattle, Vancouver, New York and Beijing. I’m looking to upgrade some of my international Qantas flights next year and welcomed getting my head around the international upgrade process using this guide.
It’s good to know the likelihood of upgrading into one of these seats
I was happy to confirm that my current choice for purchasing fuel, being Coles Express and selecting the 8 bonus points option, does, in fact, work out to be the most valuable points option.
Also, I had a look at the new ‘sweet spots’ within the Star Alliance network when redeeming through THAI Royal Orchid Plus.
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From the entire Point Hacks team, thank you for your continued support and we look forward to helping you travel more frequently, cheaply and comfortably in 2019!