The Chilean city of Santiago serves as a gateway to the wonders of South America. But it’s a beautiful city in its own right, perfectly blending food, arts, culture and history. Better yet, you can fly here directly from Australia – and book your amazing adventure using frequent flyer points.

In this guide, we take a closer look at how to use your hard-earned points to get here, with options via Qantas Points, Velocity Points and KrisFlyer miles. We also explain your lounge options at Santiago Airport, with hints for maximising your points or savings on hotel stays too.

Flying to Santiago on points

Travelling to Santiago is easiest when you have Qantas Points to spend. That’s because these can be used on direct flights with both Qantas and LATAM Airlines, as well as connections between Qantas and American Airlines. But if you only have Velocity Points or KrisFlyer miles to spend, you’re not without options.

Here are some of the easiest ways to fly to Santiago using frequent flyer points. We’ve included only direct and one-stop journeys from Australia, to keep things (and your journey) straightforward.

Flying Qantas

Qantas offers direct flights between Sydney and Santiago using its Boeing 787 jets. This provides the option of Business, Premium Economy and Economy when spending Qantas Points.

Here’s how many points you’d part with for a non-stop flight, as well as if you’re connecting from other major Australian cities.

Qantas  (one-way)
using Qantas Airways Logo Qantas Points
EconomyPremium Economy*Business
Sydney to Santiago41,90081,300108,400
Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart to Santiago (via Sydney)41,90081,300108,400
Darwin, Perth to Santiago (via Sydney)51,20094,900126,500
Qantas Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.
*Premium Economy not available on domestic connections, where travel is in Economy.

Ways to earn Qantas Points

Earning Qantas Points is super easy in Australia. One of the most popular ways is via credit cards that earn Qantas Points.

Not only do eligible cards offer Qantas Points per dollar spent, many also come with a generous sign-up offer. That’s usually unlocked when you apply, are approved and spend a minimum amount – usually, within the first few months. Check out some of the current deals, such as with the Qantas Premier Platinum Mastercard, the Amex Qantas Business Rewards Card and the Qantas Amex Ultimate Card.

All set for credit cards? Another way to earn a stash of bonus points is through Qantas Wine. Offers change regularly, but bonus deals of 10,000 Qantas Points per case are common – if not more. And if you’re a Qantas Points Club member, you’ll earn even more points. Despite the name, the store also sells beer, cider and other drinks, too.

Add even more points to your account by making online purchases via Qantas Shopping, or spending at Qantas Marketplace. Qantas Shopping is a simple click-through portal that delivers points on your spend at no extra cost when buying from participating brands. Qantas Marketplace is the airline’s own store, which sells a wide variety of products beyond those simply in the travel sphere.

Don’t forget about Everyday Rewards, too. It’s an easy way to grab Qantas Points from your regular shops at Woolworths, Big W and many other participating retailers. Just link your Qantas and Everyday Rewards accounts, and opt-in to earn Qantas Points in lieu of shopping vouchers. To maximise your points, use the Everyday Rewards mobile app to ‘boost’ relevant offers before you shop.

There are plenty of other ways to earn Qantas Points. Discover how you could get even closer to Santiago by reading our complete guide.

Flying LATAM Airlines

Another option to fly to Santiago using Qantas Points is with LATAM Airlines. Even though LATAM no longer belongs to the oneworld Alliance, it remains a partner of Qantas. This makes it possible to earn and burn Qantas Points with LATAM.

Unlike Qantas though, LATAM’s Sydney-Santiago flights currently make a stop in Auckland. It’s an opportunity to stretch your legs, make a pit stop at the lounge – if eligible – and continue on your way. You don’t need to clear immigration or collect any baggage in Auckland if you’re flying through to Santiago.

Jetstar logo - Point Hacks (one-way)
using Qantas Airways Logo Qantas Points
EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
Sydney to Santiago (via Auckland on a single flight number)
Melbourne to Santiago (from 1 September 2023, non-stop)
Auckland to Santiago45,00081,800104,500
Qantas Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.
San Cristobal Hill, Santiago
Travel to Santiago and gaze at the orange-kissed San Cristobal Hill at sunset.

Flying Qantas and American Airlines

Can’t find any reward seats directly between Australia and Chile – or even via Auckland? Here’s an interesting alternative for your Santiago adventure, when you have Qantas Points to spend. Qantas flies directly from Sydney and Melbourne to Dallas/Fort Worth in the United States. From there, its partner American Airlines has direct onward connections to Santiago.

Because both Qantas and American Airlines are part of the same Qantas Frequent Flyer reward table, the asking price in points is only marginally higher than flying direct with LATAM. It’s still pricier than if you were to get a direct flight on Qantas, but it’s an option to keep up your sleeve all the same.

Qantas    American Airlines (one-way)
using Qantas Airways Logo Qantas Points
EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
Sydney, Melbourne to Dallas/Fort Worth (Qantas)
+ onwards to Santiago (American Airlines)
Qantas Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.

Flying United Airlines

Here’s an option for those in the Velocity camp. Virgin Australia’s partner United Airlines is bringing back direct flights between Sydney and Houston from 28 October 2023. This will again make it possible to fly one-stop to Santiago with United.

United Airlines (one-way)
using Virgin Australia Logo Velocity Points
Sydney to Santiago (via Houston)59,800127,500
Velocity Points required are per person, one way. Taxes, fees and charges are also payable and vary by route.

Ways to earn Velocity Points

If you’re planning a trip to Santiago, collecting Qantas Points will be your best bet. But if Velocity is a better fit for your overall travel plans, it’s simple to stock up on Velocity Points too.

You could start by slipping a high-earning credit card into your wallet. For instance, the Amex Velocity Platinum Card delivers 1.25 Velocity Points per $1 spent on most everyday purchases. You could even pocket a princely package of Velocity Points as an eligible new cardholder. Just apply, be approved and meet the minimum spend.

Shopping online? Velocity has the e-Store – a click-through portal to earn points when you spend. It’s similar to Qantas Shopping, but awards Velocity Points rather than Qantas Points.

Your other everyday purchases can also profit your Velocity account. Buying groceries at Coles, homewares at Kmart and Bunnings, or even business supplies at Officeworks? These can all earn Flybuys points, which are transferable into Velocity Points at a 2:1 rate.

Whether it’s a quiet night in or your next big gathering, topping up your tipple at Virgin Wines and the Velocity Wine Store can deliver healthy helpings of Velocity Points. As with any purchase, use a rewarding credit card to double-dip on points: once from the store itself, and again via that fantastic plastic.

Find even more ways to earn Velocity Points by reading our complete guide.

Booking United Airlines using KrisFlyer miles

United Airlines belongs to Star Alliance, a global collective of airlines working in partnership. Singapore Airlines is one of those many partners, which means KrisFlyer miles can also be used to book travel with United – including to Santiago.

The redemption rates are quite high, compared to the other programs. But if you have only KrisFlyer miles to burn and can find flights on dates that suit your schedule, it’s another option to be aware of.

Need to fly before United’s Sydney-Houston route comes back online? It’s also possible to book two-stop itineraries to Houston with United via Los Angeles or San Francisco. Then in Houston, you can take that connecting flight.

From Sydney and Brisbane, Air Canada is another two-stop option using both KrisFlyer miles and Velocity Points. These journeys would route via both Vancouver and Toronto, before continuing to Santiago. We’ve not included these more convoluted routings to keep things to simple one-stop journeys, though.

United Airlines (one-way)
using  KrisFlyer miles
Sydney to Santiago (via Houston)74,500138,000
KrisFlyer miles required are per person, one way. Taxes and fees are also payable and vary by route.

Ways to earn KrisFlyer miles

KrisFlyer is one of the biggest overseas-based loyalty programs for Australian travellers. And as it happens, many Australian credit card points can be converted into KrisFlyer miles – and used to book flights with United, among a host of other carriers.

Check out some of the best credit cards for KrisFlyer miles. Many earn points not only on everyday purchases but also a generous chunk at sign-up, so keep your eyes peeled.

Another option is the new HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card. This makes it possible to earn rewards from everyday purchases that can be converted into KrisFlyer miles – another way to keep the rewards flowing in.

Failing that, Velocity Points can be converted to KrisFlyer miles at a 1.55:1 rate. It’s a handy move to remember if you mainly have KrisFlyer miles and are just a small amount short of a redemption. But given these United flights require fewer Velocity Points to book versus KrisFlyer miles, aim to use Velocity Points if you can.

Just be aware, KrisFlyer miles expire irrespective of how regularly you earn and spend miles in the program. If you have miles soon to disappear, it’s always better to use them for something than nothing at all.

Exploring Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport

Santiago’s main international gateway is the city’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL). If an international airline flies to Santiago, this is where they’ll arrive and depart.

Transport from Santiago Airport

From a practical standpoint, the best way to downtown Santiago is by taxi. Depending on traffic, the journey can take 20-45 minutes. If your Spanish skills are strong and you’re comfortable, the standard black and yellow taxis run by the meter. But it’s not unheard of for drivers to take long routes or detours when they know they have a tourist in the back.

You can avoid this by taking a blue taxi instead, and pre-paying the fare at the airport counter. You’ll receive a voucher to present to the driver, with nothing extra to pay. This is usually in the range of 15,000-20,000 Chilean pesos (CLP), or about AU$28-38. Avoid the taxi touts in the arrivals hall – and if they approach you, don’t engage or ask them any questions.

Uber is also available, which can be easier – particularly for a first-time visitor. UberX fares are usually around CLP 8,000-16,500 (AU$15-33) to downtown. Personally, this is the option I’d take, as you know which driver you’re matched with, and the fare is paid electronically with a digital receipt and journey record.

Alternatively, regular bus services are available to downtown. Operated by TurBus, you can get into the city for as little as AU$3.25 each way when buying a return ticket. But this doesn’t drop you at your hotel – you’d have to make your own way from one of the key metro station stops.

Lounges at Santiago Airport

Santiago Airport is home to a number of lounges. Rather than list them all, here’s a recap of those most commonly used by passengers travelling to Australia.

LATAM Signature Lounge

LATAM’s best lounge is reserved for the most premium flyers passing through Santiago. Think those flying up front, or with top-level status on LATAM or its closest partner, Delta.

Access when flying LATAM or Qantas:

  • Business Class passengers.
  • LATAM Pass Black and Black Signature cardholders.
  • Delta Platinum, Diamond and 360° members (before LATAM flights only).

LATAM Premium Lounge

Unfortunately, Qantas status doesn’t cut the mustard for access to LATAM’s very best lounge. But if you have a tier or membership that’d normally get you into a lounge, chances are, it’ll be the LATAM Premium Lounge. Don’t fret though. It’s still an inviting space, and the cocktail bar is well worth visiting before you jet away.

Access when flying LATAM or Qantas:

  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members.
  • Other oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members (before Qantas flights only).
  • Qantas Club members (before Qantas flights only).
  • LATAM Pass Platinum cardholders.
  • Delta Gold members (before LATAM flights only).
LATAM Premium Lounge in Santiago
A shiny Qantas card unlocks the LATAM Premium Lounge in Santiago when flying LATAM or Qantas on a LA or QF flight number.

Salones VIP Pacific Club

Remember, LATAM is no longer in the oneworld Alliance. If you’re travelling with American Airlines, you won’t be able to visit a LATAM lounge. Instead, the Salones VIP Pacific Club awaits in Santiago. It’s also a Priority Pass lounge – handy when travelling on United, as United doesn’t have a lounge here, and doesn’t have a partner lounge either.

Access when flying American Airlines:

  • Passengers in AA’s most premium cabin (Business Class or First Class, as applicable).
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members.
  • American Airlines Platinum, Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey cardholders.
  • Other oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members.
  • Admirals Club members (but not Qantas Club members).

SkyTeam Lounge

Last but not least, there’s Santiago’s SkyTeam Lounge. This isn’t a lounge you’ll be directed to by Qantas, LATAM, American Airlines or United. But you can stop by when flying on any airline – including these carriers – by presenting a Priority Pass card.

Some Australian credit cards and charge cards include a complimentary Priority Pass membership. On the American Express Platinum Card, for instance, unlimited entry into Priority Pass lounges comes as part of the parcel. Just remember to pack the physical Priority Pass card for entry, or present the digital QR code via the Priority Pass app.

Earning and using points on hotels in Santiago

There’s no shortage of hotels in Santiago – particularly given it’s the largest city in Chile. From budget hotels to lavish five-star retreats, you’re bound to find something to suit you. And when you do, be sure to maximise your points along the way. Here’s how.

Book directly with the hotel

If you travel regularly, earning status with your preferred hotel chain can be a great path to benefits like room upgrades, free breakfast and more. Programs such as Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy have multiple hotels to choose from in Chile. You can also earn points to redeem on future stays, wherever in the world they may be.

Book through a third-party provider

Those who fly less frequently may prefer to skip hotel points altogether. Instead, earning airline points or miles on accommodation can help bring you closer to your next amazing adventure.

If you want to earn Qantas Points

It’s easy to earn Qantas Points on accommodation via Qantas Hotels. Earn at least three Qantas Points per AU$1 spent on hotels. Or even more, if you’re a Qantas Points Club member or book during a promotional window. If you click through the Qantas website before booking an Airbnb stay, you could earn one Qantas Point per AU$1 spent – plus 500 Qantas Points on your first Airbnb booking.

Just be aware that pricing via Qantas Hotels can sometimes be higher than rates available elsewhere. On the flip side, you may be able to use Qantas Points to book your hotel stay if hoping to save cash for another part of your journey.

If you want to earn Velocity Points

Prefer to earn Velocity Points instead? Book your Santiago stay via Rocket Travel to scoop up three Velocity Points per AU$1 spent.

If you want to earn KrisFlyer miles

For KrisFlyer, Rocketmiles is a great go-to. It’s unrelated to Rocket Travel, and has its own loyalty program. The points earned can be converted into KrisFlyer miles, among other partner programs.

If you want a discount on your booking

When cash speaks more to you than points,’s Genius loyalty program can provide at least 10% off the sticker price at participating hotels.

Alternatively, don’t forget about American Express Travel. Through this portal, you’re able to redeem annual travel credits provided via cards such as the American Express Platinum Edge and American Express Explorer. These credits generally help to offset the card’s annual fee – and of course, bookings made via Amex Travel don’t attract any surcharges for using your American Express card.

Point Hacks’ tips and tricks

Ready to plan your Santiago holiday? Here are our final tips and tricks.

  • The Qantas website loves to show ‘Points Plus Pay’ as the default option. This is where you essentially use points to offset a cash fare. But for the best-value redemptions, be sure you’re looking at Classic Flight Rewards. These are the flights bookable at the rates outlined in our story. Learn more about reward seats and how they work.
  • If you’re flying with LATAM and have Qantas Platinum status, ensure this is linked with your booking. When flying Economy, you’ll be able to select LATAM+ seats at no extra charge. This is LATAM’s equivalent of Virgin Australia Economy X – the extra legroom rows within the standard Economy cabin. Who doesn’t love a little extra room to stretch out?
  • Australian passport holders currently need a visa to enter Chile, although you can apply online. Australia’s Smartraveller website has more information to help you travel smoothly.
  • Most credit cards charge a 3% international transaction fee on overseas purchases. The more you typically spend abroad, the better it becomes to consider a credit card with no overseas transaction fees. Otherwise, for every AU$1,000 you spend overseas, you’ll be paying AU$30 in bank fees. I’d rather spend those dollars on cocktails!

You’ve now got the basics down pat to take your own wonderful adventure to Santiago using points. Safe travels out there!

All photography by Michael Siwes.

How to hack your way to Santiago with points was last modified: August 3rd, 2023 by Chris Chamberlin