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BEST FREQUENT FLYER CREDIT CARDS

Sean Callery Editor Money.com.au

Written By Sean Callery

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Reviewed by Shaun McGowan

Compare the best frequent flyer credit cards for earning points, with up to 150,000 bonus frequent flyer points available.

BEST FREQUENT FLYER CREDIT CARDS

Sean Callery Editor Money.com.au

Written By Sean Callery

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Reviewed by Shaun McGowan

Compare the best frequent flyer credit cards for earning points, with up to 150,000 bonus frequent flyer points available.

Featured frequent flyer offers

Sponsored

American Express Qantas Ultimate Card

Earn up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points

With the American Express Qantas Ultimate Card. That's 70,000 points when you apply online by 3 Sept 2024, are approved, and spend $3k on eligible purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, an extra 20,000 points in your 2nd year upon annual fee renewal ($450). T&Cs apply, new members only.

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The American Express Velocity Platinum Card

American Express Velocity Platinum Card

Get 60,000 bonus Velocity Points when you apply online by 26 June 2024, are approved, and spend $3k on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Amex Card Members only.

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American Express Qantas Discovery Card

$0 annual fee with Qantas points

Enjoy a $0 annual card fee and earn Qantas Points with no limit on the number of points you can earn with the Qantas American Express® Discovery Card.

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Rates updated 18 June 2024

How do frequent flyer credit cards work?

A frequent flyer credit card is a type of credit card that allows the cardholder to earn points on eligible purchases and redeem them with the airline frequent flyer program linked to the card.

They’re essentially a rewards credit card but with perks tailored to cardholders who travel frequently.

Cardholders need to be a member of an airline’s reward program, and points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards. Not just travel-related ones.

How to boost your frequent flyer points:
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Consider frequent flyer cards with bonus sign up points

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Look for cards with high point earn rates

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Match your card to your travel & spending habits

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Avoid costly interest charges and fees

What can I redeem frequent flyer credit card points for?

Most airline frequent flyer programs partner with other product and service providers, meaning you can redeem your frequent flyer points for more or less anything.

That said, it’s often the case that frequent flyer points go further when used on flights or upgrades.

Here are some of the more common perks you can use your frequent flyer points on:

  • Flight bookings and upgrades
  • Hotels and other accommodation
  • Car rental
  • Shopping and gift cards
  • Restaurants, food and wine
  • Insurance premiums
  • Fuel and other car expenses

Other benefits of frequent flyer credit cards

As with many other credit cards, frequent flyer cards and other credit cards for travellers will often include a number of other perks which may directly benefit frequent travellers, including:

  • Airport lounge access (e.g. two passes per year)
  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • Car rental insurance
  • Flight inconvenience insurance
  • Travel vouchers
  • Discounts with partner travel providers (e.g. hotels and car hire companies) Discounted international transaction fees

The features and perks will vary between card issuers, so check to see which perks are included when comparing frequent flyer credit cards.

Frequent flyer programs in Australia: Qantas vs Velocity

Cost to join

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  • The standard joining fee is $99.50 AUD, buy there are a number of ways you can become a member without paying a separate joining fee (e.g. though eligible frequent flyer credit cards)

Ways to earn points

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  • Eligible purchase on a Qantas frequent flyer credit card
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  • Booking flights with Qantas, Jetstar or another partner airline
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  • Booking accommodation or car rental with a partner providers
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  • Taking out insurance through Qantas or a banking product (e.g. Qantas home loan)
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  • Shopping with a partner retailer

Notable partner brands

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  • Adairs, Apple, BP Rewards, Country Road, David Jones, Microsoft, Myer, Optus, Red Energy, The Iconic, Woolworths (everyday rewards).

Ways to redeem points

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  • Flights, accommodation, gift cards, shopping (more or less anything that earns you points can also be a way to redeem them)

Partner airlines include

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  • Air France, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Bangkok Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Finnair, IndiGo, Japan Airlines, Jetstar , KLM, SriLankan Airlines, WestJet

Do points expire?

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  • Yes, 18-months after your last eligible activity.

Can I transfer points?

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  • Yes, a minimum of 5,000 and a max of 600,000 points in a 12-month period to an eligible family member who is also a Qantas Frequent Flyer member.

Cost to join

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  • It’s free

Ways to earn points

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  • Eligible purchase on a Velocity frequent flyer credit card
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  • Booking flights with Virgin or another partner airline
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  • Booking accommodation or car rental with a partner providers
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  • Taking out a banking or insurance product through a partner provider (e.g. Medibank)
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  • Shopping with a partner retailer

Notable partner brands

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  • 7-Eleven, Apple, Chemist Warehouse, CommBank, Country Road, David Jones, Ebay, Flybuys, Myer, The Good Guys, The Iconic.

Ways to redeem points

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  • Flights, accommodation, gift cards, shopping (more or less anything that earns you points can also be a way to redeem them)

Partner airlines include

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  • Virgin Australia, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Hong Kong Airlines, Air Canada, Qatar Airways, Hainan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, FlyPelican, South African Airways, Tianjin Airlines, Capital Airlines, Link Airways

Do points expire?

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  • Yes, after 24 months of account inactivity.

Can I transfer points?

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  • Yes, you can transfer between 5,000 and 125,00 points to an eligible family member (who is also a Velocity frequent flyer member) up to four times each year.

Expert frequent flyer credit card tip

Brad Kelly, Payment Services

Brad Kelly, Money's credit card expert

For a frequent flyer card to be worth your while, you really need to watch the fees. Westpac recently increased theirs and Commbank has changed to a monthly fee model. Commbank also reduced the number of cards it offers – now just six options – and the fees on these can be high unless you spend enough to qualify to have the fee waived. In better news for Commbank frequent flyers, the international FX fee on purchases is waived on some cards (usually 3%).

Brad Kelly, Money's credit card expert

How to choose the best frequent flyer credit card

There’s more to comparing frequent flyer credit cards than there is when shopping for low rate credit cards or among credit cards with no annual fee. Below are some of the other main factors you may want to take into account. Note the main factors vary slightly if you're shopping for a business credit card.

1. Interest rate and fees

This is a very good place to start. There’s not much point having a frequent flyer credit card packed with perks and features if they’re going to be cancelled out by high high interest rates (purchase rate and cash advance rate), and fees.

As a reference point, the latest credit card data shows the average interest rate is 17.92% p.a. and the average annual fee is $135.

If you manage to find an interest-free credit card offering rewards or you’re confident you have the discipline to pay off the entire balance within the card’s interest-free days, the fees will likely be your main cost.

I’ve explained these in more detail later on. Spoiler alert, fees on some frequent flyer card fees can be very high and are only really worth it if you're raking in points and using all of the other benefits (like lounge passes).

2. Your income and spending habits

Some frequent flyer credit cards have a minimum annual income built into the eligibility criteria. Others will only be worth the high annual card fee if you are spending a lot.

If that’s the case, it’s important to factor in whether your income and other financial commitments mean you can comfortably support that level of spending.

If you think you'll need to spend more than you usually would to get the most from the credit card, seriously consider whether it's right for you.

3. How often you travel

This will come as no surprise, but frequent flyer credit cards generally offer more benefits and overall value to people who travel a lot.

Think credit cards with travel insurance, lounge passes, travel vouchers, hotel discounts.

If you’re not going to make the most of these perks, a different type of card may be a better fit.

4. Points, points, points

It’s tempting to just look at the amount of bonus points you get when you sign up and how many points you earn per dollar spent using the card.

These are certainly well worth considering, but you should also consider the fine print on your frequent flyer points:

  • Is there a cap on how many points you can earn per year?
  • Which purchases are eligible to earn points?
  • What kind of spending won't earn you any points? (e.g. paying certain bills, gambling)
  • Do the points expire?
  • Where and how can you use them? Or can they be converted to cashback?

10 ways to get the most from your frequent flyer credit card points

1

Take advantage of frequent flyer credit cards with bonus sign up offers (assuming the credit card is good value and a suitable match for you overall).

2

Look for cards with the highest point earn rates.

3

Understand which purchases will earn you the most points and which ones aren’t eligible.

4

Match the card to your spending habits. If you only travel occasionally, a general rewards card may be more suitable.

5

Use your card for everyday purchases to earn more points, but only if you can afford to repay the card balance in full every month.

6

Some frequent flyer programs allow you to earn bonus points by hitting non-financial targets, like walking a certain number of steps per day.

7

Pool points with family as both Qantas and Velocity allow point transfers between eligible family members.

8

Redeem your points wisely and look for the rewards perks that will get you most bang for your points (but above all else, make sure you actually use them).

9

Share the card with your partner. Most credit cards allow additional cardholders. If two people are using the card, you'll likely earn more frequent flyer points (again watch for overspending).

10

Offer to pay for split expenses and have your friends, family or roommates etc. send you the money.

Frequent flyer credit card fees

The fees on your frequent flyer credit card will play a major part in dictating whether the card will cost you or save you money overall. Here are the main fees to consider:

  • Annual fee (can range from $0 to $700 depending on the card)
  • Foreign currency conversion fee, usually up to 3% but there are credit cards with no international fees
  • Over limit fee, charged if your balance exceeds its limit
  • Late payment fee
  • Cash advance fee, charged when making a cash withdrawal or buying foreign currency
  • Replacement/additional card fee
  • Balance transfer fee if you move the balance of an existing credit card to your frequent flyer card

Frequent Flyer cards tend to charge more in interest, so carrying a balance can become costly. Always clear your balance each month to avoid compounding interest.

Who can qualify for a frequent flyer credit card?

Who can qualify for a frequent flyer credit card? To qualify for a frequent flyer credit card you must meet the following qualifying criteria:

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Minimum income (varies between lenders and cards)
  • A member of a relevant frequent flyer program e.g Qantas Frequent Flyer or Virgin Velocity Flyer.

Qualifying criteria will vary between lenders and cards. Make sure you’re eligible for the frequent flyer credit card you have your eye on before applying. A declined application could damage your credit score.

How to apply for a frequent flyer credit card

You can apply for a frequent flyer credit card online, over the phone, or at your bank.

When applying for a credit card, you will need to provide the card issuer with supporting documentation so they can assess your application and ability to meet repayments. This will likely include:

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Valid ID

Such as a driver licence or passport

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Employment details

Including your employment status, salary information, and payslips to verify your income

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Details of your current expenses

Plus any other loans you may have

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Details of your assets

Such as your home and motor vehicle

If you are self-employed, you will need to provide previous tax assessments instead of payslips. You may also for financial information provided by your accountant.

Is getting a frequent flyer credit card worth it?

Frequent flyer credit cards can be beneficial for the right person. But for you to get good value, you’ll need to make sure you find the best frequent flyer credit card for YOUR situation. You’ll also need to make the most of the perks being offered.

If you just need a credit card as a backup or for emergencies, a frequent flyer card will be an expensive way of going about it.

But if you are the type of person who travels a lot, likes to track points and work towards an indulgent treat every so often (while also having the discipline to pay off the balance of your credit card in full every month) a frequent flyer credit card could be worth considering.

One simple way to determine whether a frequent flyer credit card may be suitable for you is to:

  • Calculate how much you spend each year
  • Calculate how many points that will earn you
  • Calculate the associated value of these points
  • Compare the value of your points with the fees included with the card
Sean Callery Editor Money.com.au

Written by

Sean Callery

Sean Callery is the Editor of Money.com.au. He has over 15 years of international experience. He is qualified with a Certificate IV in Finance and Mortgage Broking (FNS40821) and is compliant to provide general advice in Tier 1 General Insurance (RG 146) products.

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Reviewed by

Shaun McGowan

Shaun McGowan is the founder of Money.com.au. He's determined to help people and businesses pay as little as possible for financial products, through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

Frequent flyer credit card FAQ

Frequent flyer credit cards generally have a minimum credit limit of $500, and a maximum credit limit of $100,000. The amount of credit that you can access from a lender is determined by your:

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  • Income
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  • Credit score
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  • Overall financial health

The minimum and maximum limits for a frequent flyer card will vary between card issuers and cards. For example, a premium credit card may have a minimum limit of $15,000, while a basic frequent flyer credit card may have a limit of $3,000.

There are two main frequent flyer programs you can join in Australia (Qantas and Velocity), plus a host of international ones.

The most important factor when choosing an airline is to understand their partner airlines, and how you can use your points. For example, both Qantas and Virgin partner with a range of different airlines globally. Look at the airlines and consider which ones you're most likely to use.

If you would like flexibility, American Express credit card points can be transferred to multiple different airlines.

You’ll usually receive an updated points balance from your purchase once a month. Most credit card partners transfer points on a regular day, so you should receive you updated balance at the same time every month.

Some purchases may be ineligible for earning points. The criteria for earning points on your frequent flyer card will be listed in the terms and conditions when applying. If you are unsure of whether your purchase will qualify, you can contact your card issuer.

You can redeem any points you’ve earned through the airline you are registered with. You can book flights through an airline’s online booking system, or make purchases from the airline’s merchandise and gift shop online.

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