It should be no secret to avid Point Hacks readers that we think flexible rewards programs can provide great value for cardholders. Some examples of these programs include:

These programs offer a number of transfer partners, providing you with many options with where to redeem your points.

Due to changes made by Qantas back in 2009 that introduced the concept of Qantas ‘direct earn’ cards, the ability to manually transfer your Qantas points to Qantas Frequent Flyer was effectively removed from most credit cards.

The inability to manually transfer card rewards points to Qantas was a major objection from those who prefer to fly our national airline – but there are ways to use these points for Qantas flights.

Qantas ‘direct-earn’ cards

Back in 2009, Qantas made a commercial decision to stop flexible rewards programs transferring points to Qantas Frequent Flyer (with a couple of notable exceptions of very high-end cards such as the American Express Platinum Charge and the Westpac Altitude Business.

This means that you either need to sign up for a card that directly earns Qantas points (where the points sweep to Qantas Frequent Flyer on a monthly basis with no choice to you), or a flexible program that excludes Qantas.

For many big bank-issued cards, they offer a choice of Qantas or flexible cards that are roughly equivalent, but this isn’t always the case for other card issuers.

Even though you can’t transfer these points to Qantas Points, you can still redeem them for Qantas flights, and often at a better value than using Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Redeeming for Qantas flights without Qantas Points

Qantas is a member of the oneworld alliance, meaning that (amongst other things) seats on Qantas flights can be redeemed by their alliance partners. Of most interest to Australian points collectors is Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, that is a transfer partner to many flexible rewards programs, including American Express Membership Rewards, ANZ Rewards, NAB Rewards and Westpac Altitude Rewards. Offering less value but still handy to have, Australians can use Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles to redeem for Qantas flights, a transfer partner of American Express and Westpac only.

By signing up to a card that earns points into one of these bank rewards programs and converting your bonus points into Asia Miles or Enrich miles, you can then use those points to book a seat on your preferred Qantas flight.

Asia Miles and Enrich miles, like Qantas, both have distance-based award charts (meaning that the cost of a flight is based on which band of miles the redemption falls in. The bands of miles for Asia Miles and Enrich are roughly similar, but the cutoffs vary slightly so if your redemption is near a cutoff make sure you check the relevant award chart to see where your redemption falls:

Asia Miles award chart or their calculator

Enrich award chart

Some Examples

To show how this works in practice, we have provided some examples below:

To travel cross-country from Perth to the east coast and back on Qantas’ A330 business suites would cost 60,000 Asia Miles (or 120,000 Membership Rewards points at a 2:1 transfer rate), rather than 72,000 Qantas Points (83,000 Qantas Points from 18 September 2019) earned on a Qantas direct earn card.

A weekend trip in Economy from the east coast to New Zealand would cost 30,000 Asia Miles (60,000 Amex MR points) rather than 36,000 Qantas Points.

To travel return Business from Sydney to Los Angeles on Qantas would cost 150,000 Asia Miles (or 300,000 MR Points) rather than using Qantas Points at 192,000 Points (216,800 Qantas Points from 18 September 2019).

And finally, on Qantas’ flagship Kangaroo Route from Sydney to London and back in First would cost you 270,000 Asia Miles (540,000 MR Points), rather than 384,000 Qantas Points (433,800 Qantas points from 18 September 2019) from another card.

Transferring points and booking with Partner Airlines

To transfer your points to Enrich or Asia Miles:

  1. You’ll need to be a member of their programs, so make sure you’ve signed up.
  2. Once you have your membership number, you can transfer your points to Asia Miles or Enrich through the points area of Membership Rewards or your bank’s rewards program.
  3. When the miles are in your account, it’s time to book!

Asia Miles: you can book Qantas flights online through the Asia Miles web site.

Enrich: you will need to call the Enrich call centre to make partner airline bookings (13 26 27 in Australia). Factor the inconvenience of having to book over the phone rather than online in when deciding which airline to transfer to (although you can always search for availability through the Qantas or Asia Miles website to find the flights you want before you call).

Taxes and charges will be payable in the currency of the home country of the partner airline you’re booking through (Hong Kong or Malaysia).

Things to be aware before transferring your reward points

So far the commentary has dealt with direct one-way or return flights using Qantas both ways. The oneworld alliance lets you put together more complex itineraries using multiple carriers. If you go down this path, note that the above examples will not be applicable.

For example, when you use Asia Miles to book exclusively with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon, the Asia Miles award chart applies, however, if you are looking to do an itinerary that consists of two or more oneworld airlines, then you will need to use the oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart.

In addition, note that both Asia Miles and Enrich miles have an expiry date (as opposed to Qantas Points that don’t expire as long as there is activity on the account in the past 18 months). Given these expiration policies, it is recommended not to transfer reward points into these programs if you do not have a specific redemption in mind.

Enrich have seen a number of devaluations in recent years and are no longer a good option for redeeming Qantas flights. It would only make sense to convert to Enrich if you already have an existing balance that you want to top up. Also, Enrich is particularly bad when it comes to cancellations – you won’t get a refund of your miles.

Another option for Domestic and Trans-Tasman flights

An alternative option exists when using American Express Membership Rewards points for domestic and Trans-Tasman Business Class flights that can be good value. This option is more complicated than the above due to the multiple steps required in order to transfer your rewards points to Qantas.

Avios are the points currency of British Airways, and their award chart for short flights suit many domestic Australian flights (especially up and down the east coast) – with one-way business class flights less than 650 miles costing 12,500 Avios and 651-1151 miles costing 16,500.

American Airlines AAdvantage has a fixed cost of 20,000 miles for a one-way domestic business class redemption or 25,000 for Trans-Tasman. Being a fixed price, this is expensive for short hops but can be a great option for longer jaunts.

Neither of these programs is a transfer partner of the Membership Rewards program in Australia, which is why it is not a one-step transfer.

You will need to move your Membership Rewards points to the Marriott Bonvoy program, and from there, transfer your points to Avios or AAdvantage.

The calculation gets a bit complex, given that it is not a simple 1:1 transfer from Membership Rewards points to Avios or AAdvantage miles. The process is as follows:

  1. You convert your Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at a ratio of 3:2
  2. You then transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to either Avios or AAdvantage at a ratio of 3:1. Note that you get a bonus of 15,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for every 60,000 Bonvoy points you transfer, which equates to 5,000 Avios or AAdvantage miles for every 20,000 equivalent miles you transfer.

As an example, if you transfer 90,000 Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy, you will get 60,000 Bonvoy points. When transferred to Avios or AAdvantage, you will get 25,000 Avios or AAdvantage miles. Clearly, this is not the greatest value redemption but may come in handy if you do not earn Qantas points and are flying to a destination exclusively served by Qantas.

For comparison purposes, here are some example routes and the cost (in Membership Rewards points), using the different programs:

Example Routes
(One-way)
Qantas points
Required
Asia MilesEnrichAvios (Marriott Bonvoy points needed)AAdvantage (Marriott Bonvoy points needed) *
Sydney - Melbourne
(438 Miles)
18,40020,00037,00012,500 (38,000)20,000 (60,000)
Melbourne - Adelaide
(399 miles)
18,40020,00037,00012,500 (38,000)20,000 (60,000)
Adelaide - Sydney
(724 miles)
27,60020,00055,00016,500 (50,000)20,000 (60,000)
Brisbane - Melbourne
(858 miles)
27,60030,00055,00016,500 (50,000)20,000 (60,000)
Sydney - Townsville
(1051 miles)
27,60030,00055,00016,500 (50,000)20,000 (60,000)
Melbourne - Cairns
(1438 miles)
41,50030,00055,00022,000 (60,000)20,000 (60,000)
Melbourne - Perth
(1680 miles)
41,50030,00055,00022,000 (60,000)20,000 (60,000)
Sydney - Auckland
(1343 miles)
41,50030,00055,00022,000 (60,000)20,000 (60,000)
Melbourne - Auckland
(1640 miles)
41,50030,00055,00022,000 (60,000)20,000 (60,000)
Brisbane - Perth
(2244 miles)
41,50030,00082,00038,750 (102,000)20,000 (60,000)
Perth - Auckland
(3319 miles)
57,00050,00082,00062,000 (156,000)25,000 (60,000)

* Note that everything in the AAdvantage column in this table is 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. This is because domestic Australia requires 20,000 AA miles and Trans-Tasman requires 25,000 – transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points gives you an extra 5000 miles for a total of 25,000 – so for a domestic Australian redemption you will have 5000 left over.

Summing up

There are several options you can use to redeem for Qantas flights when you do not hold a Qantas direct-earn credit card. Asia Miles is the best value option for medium and long-haul redemptions, however, using Enrich miles can be a useful back-up if you already hold Enrich miles.

Avios and AAdvantage is also a great option for short-haul premium seat redemptions on Qantas.

If Qantas flights are your target, and you are unable to get a relevant Qantas earning credit card, then all is not lost.

How to use points from non-Qantas credit cards for Qantas flights was last modified: July 23rd, 2019 by Daniel Sciberras