At a glance: How to earn frequent flyer points
- Sign up for relevant frequent flyer programs
- Choose a travel-friendly credit card
- Use airline partners for car hire and hotels
1. Sign up to frequent flyer programs and focus on one
It’s well and good earning points for all of the programs, but loyalty is the name of the game when it comes to earning for big purchases like flights. oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam are the main frequent flyer alliance programs you should be aware of.
If you’re living in New Zealand, chances are you’ll want to earn points with Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar, or Virgin Australia, so it’s worth bearing in mind Star Alliance is partnered with Air New Zealand, and Qantas is a member of OneWorld.
Most airlines also offer their own individual frequent flyer program. Air New Zealand has their own program, ‘Airpoints’, which you can use on flights with Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. Once you know which program or airline you’d like to earn points with, you can start using the tips and tricks for maximising your points.
Virgin Australia has the Velocity program that codeshares with Singapore Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and more. Qantas has its a standalone frequent flyer program as well.
2. Use a credit card that’s partnered with your airline
You’ve probably heard of credit card advertisements that prompt frequent flyers to sign up for a specific credit card to receive 20,000 points. What does this mean? In order to get you to sign up, many credit cards entice frequent flyers over to their specific program by offering travel rewards just for opening an account. This often works out well for travellers who can use those points on flights they would have purchased anyways. There isn’t any obligation to use that credit card, but some offer competitive points systems for every dollar you do spend on it.
What to look for when choosing a travel credit cards for travellers in New Zealand
Cost of sign-up and yearly fees: Some credit cards command yearly fees and an initial sign-up cost. Say it costs $200 to sign up for the credit card. With your planned spending, you are likely to receive the equivalent in $150 worth of airfare. At the end of the year, the card sets you back $50.
Airline alliance: You should choose a credit card that aligns with the airline or airlines you’re most likely to fly with the most. Some airlines, like Air New Zealand, have multiple partnerships–allowing you to show around for the best credit card deal.
No currency conversion fees: Some credit cards cater to travellers specifically by offering no currency conversion fees. This means you won’t be penalised whenever you purchase an item or take money out abroad.
Included travel insurance: If you purchase a flight using your travel-friendly credit card, travel insurance may be included. This can save you hundreds of dollars throughout the year as you won’t need to purchase an excess travel insurance plan. Double check that your upcoming destinations and activities are included in the fine print.
3. Purchase with hotel partners
If you’re staying in hotels within New Zealand (or abroad), you can earn points when you book. Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt, and Hilton Honors all have loyalty programs with Qantas wherein you can turn your loyalty points into Frequent Flyer Points. You’ll earn three points per $1 spent with these programs.
When earning points with Air New Zealand Airpoints, stay at InterContinental Hotel Group, Marriot Bonvoy, Accor Hotels, and other partners to earn frequent flyer points on each night or set amount spent.
4. Purchase for points
Occasionally you’ll see offers such as ‘receive 5 air miles for every dollar spent’ in store – the key is choosing the offers that apply to your program. With the Velocity program, you can earn points when you shop for things ranging from everyday essentials to specialty items through their affiliated partners.
5. Do maths with your points
When purchasing with points, you have the option of buying with your points or upgrading with your points. Depending on the cost of the flight, it might make more financial sense to upgrade with points, rather than to buy it out right.
For example, a business class seat might cost 15,000 points – but only cost 5,000 to upgrade if you buy the economy seat. If the economy seat (in addition to the cost of the upgrade in points), costs less than the price of the business class seat in points, it makes more sense to purchase the seat in cash, then upgrade. Check out these tips for getting upgraded for free.
6. Go on a road trip
If you hire a car with Avis or Budget in New Zealand or overseas, you’ll be able to claim back points with Airpoints. Other frequent flyer programs like Velocity and Qantas also have alliances with rental companies, so check with them as well before you commit to a car.
7. Lastly, choose wisely.
Thanks to alliances, you are able to swap points between frequent flyer programs. Sometimes, these points transfer seamlessly while other times, you might lose points in the conversion. When you find a frequent flyer program that works for you, commit to putting most of your points in one basket. A few points across a multitude of frequent flyer programs is often worth less than a single program with many points.
Please consider the terms and conditions of each specific program. While this article was accurate at the time of publishing, frequent flyer programs may have changed since then.