There are many easy ways to earn frequent flyer points – but buying them online from unofficial sources isn’t the way to go. Yes, some websites claim to sell points at a very attractive price – and sure, many of those suppliers will still credit points to your account: illegitimately. But ‘points brokers’ are best avoided.
Why, you might ask? Well, by buying frequent flyer points from unofficial sources, you could be violating the Terms and Conditions of your frequent flyer membership. And as it turns out, the consequences just aren’t worth it.
Not only could you lose the points you ‘bought’, but you could also lose your entire balance of other hard-earned (and legitimately earned) rewards. Not to mention, any flights you’d already booked with points are also at risk: as is your entire frequent flyer account. And yes, that includes your status.
Why it’s bad to buy from points brokers
Many frequent flyer programs are happy to sell points above board. These transactions drive fresh revenue for the program, and can often allow travellers to get great value on flights when buying points strategically.
But when you buy points from other sources like points brokers, you’re side-stepping this official process – and the official price. The airlines don’t like this, because it’s not the way the system is designed to work.
For one, the usual caps on how many points a member can buy may be circumvented. Not to mention, the way that those points can end up in your account may be more than a little shady. And while discounted flights or upgrades can be nice, it’s really not worth the risk.
What happens when you use a points broker
Don’t just take our word for it – here’s what the airlines have to say when it comes to points brokers and the like.
7.1 Members must not … abuse or misuse Qantas Frequent Flyer, any Rewards, Benefits, facilities, services or arrangements accorded to the Member as a result of Membership including by:
Selling, assigning, transferring or acquiring, or offering to sell, assign, transfer or acquire any Reward, Benefit or Qantas Points other than in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.
8.1 If a Member has committed a material breach of any of the Terms and Conditions … then Qantas Loyalty may do any one or more of the following:
(a) suspend or terminate the Member’s Membership and/or the right of the Member to use the Card;– Qantas Frequent Flyer Terms and Conditions
(b) reverse or cancel the Member’s Qantas Points or any part thereof; or
(c) cancel or refuse to honour any Rewards (including ticketed Reward Flights), Benefits or both, that have been redeemed by or provided to the Member.
Qantas isn’t the only airline with this policy. Virgin Australia similarly follows suit:
2.2 Our promises to each other
You’ll need to comply with these Terms and not breach any of your obligations under them.
3.2 You can only buy Points with Velocity Points Booster– Velocity Frequent Flyer Terms and Conditions
How about overseas? Singapore Airlines, like many other carriers, adopts the same policy:
P4. The sale or barter of KrisFlyer miles, Elite miles, PPS Value, rewards, award tickets or other benefits is prohibited and will result in cancellation of these KrisFlyer miles, Elite miles, PPS Value, rewards, award tickets and/or other benefits. Members who breach this rule may also be liable for damages, litigation and transaction costs.– Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Terms and Conditions
How about using a points broker to book a flight?
You might have seen the ads online for ‘discounted’ Business Class or First Class flights. These journeys can appear unexplainably cheap, compared to what a flight would usually cost.
At the end of the day, it’s because the points broker isn’t really ‘buying’ you a ticket. They’re just using points or miles in the background to secure the same – often in violation of the relevant frequent flyer Terms and Conditions.
Yes, they’re putting their own account at risk, but they’re also putting your journey on the line. There are plenty of ways to legitimately buy points and save on travel – without the stress, and without the gamble.
Much like ‘buying points’ on the black market, here’s what Qantas has to say about reward flights purchased in the same way:
13.1.3 Reward Flights must not be bought, sold, assigned, transferred or acquired other than in accordance with these Terms and Conditions and the applicable Fare Conditions. Qantas or Qantas Loyalty may cancel, confiscate or refuse to honour any Reward Flight dealt with contrary to these Terms and Conditions or the Fare Conditions and, if travel has commenced, any continued travel will be at the passenger’s expense.– Qantas Frequent Flyer Terms and Conditions
Other airlines have similar policies. And again, if you’ve been reading Point Hacks for a while, there’s a good chance you’ll have amassed quite the quantity of frequent flyer points – legitimately. Why put all of those at risk?
Frequent flyer points brokers are simply not worth it. Yes, you might get away with it the first time… but then you’ll just be tempted to use them again, and again… and again. That’s when there’s a significant risk of getting caught. From our point of view, it’s just not worth the roll of the dice.
Of course, there are many legitimate companies that help travellers spend their (legitimately earned) points. These don’t typically violate those frequent flyer program T&Cs – essentially just working as a travel agent, but where flights are booked with the client’s points, rather than dollars.
One of those above-board companies is Frequent Flyer Solutions: part of Australian Frequent Flyer (which is now owned by Point Hacks). Other companies like Steve Hui’s iFlyFlat are also fine to deal with.
You typically just pay a fee to cover the business’ time in researching and booking your dream flight. But you’re spending your own points: not those you grabbed on the black market!
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