If you travel regularly for business you’re probably a member of at least one frequent flyer program. Frequent flyer points are notorious for taking a long time to accumulate and not adding up to very much when you go to use them. However, being creative in the way you use your credit cards and do your shopping can create opportunities to earn far more points than you ever imagined. Below are the top ways you can earn frequent flyer points on the major Australian airlines as well as Emirates and Singapore Airlines.
1. Choose an airline
It’s best to commit to one frequent flyer program so you accumulate a large amount of points in the one account, rather than have them spread over multiple accounts. Most frequent flyer programs are similar and are free to join, so you can simply pick the airline you use the most or base it on a destination you frequent. Keep an eye out for partnered airlines too – being a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program, for example, can get you frequent flyer benefits with Jetstar. Similarly, being a member of the Emirates Skywards Miles can earn you frequent flyer points on on fourteen partnered airlines including Japan Airlines, Qantas and Virgin America.
2. Use your credit card
There’s no “best” credit card for earning frequent flyer points, so you should base your choice of credit card on the airline you are using, and what type of shopping you spend most of your money on. If you do the shopping for your family, then find a credit card that offers bonus flyer points at supermarkets. For example, if you’re a member of the Woolworths Rewards program, you can choose to have your Woolworths Points converted to Qantas Points automatically. Many credit card providers will also offer bonus frequent flyer points when you sign up so, look out for these types of deals when choosing a credit card.
Tip: pay your bill on time
It’s important to make sure you pay off your credit card balance in full every month. A frequent flyer credit card can charge a high rate of interest on any outstanding balance which can really outweigh the benefit of earning the frequent flyer points.
3. Shop online
Many frequent flyer programs have online shopping spaces where you can earn points through buying online, providing an everyday opportunity to accumulate points – particularly around Christmas time. Both Qantas and Virgin are partnered with Apple and The Iconic through the Qantas Points Online Mall and Velocity eStore respectively. Singapore Airlines also has an online store – KrisFlyer – where you can also shop with Apple and The Iconic, as well as eBay, Menulog and Cotton On. To earn points, you log into your account, follow the link to the online store, then select the retailers you want to shop with.
4. Earn on your accommodation
With business travel, not only do you need to purchase flights, but you need accommodation too. Staying in hotels partnered with your airline is an easy way to earn frequent flyer points during business trips. For international travellers, the frequent flyer program from Singapore Airlines is a good option as you can earn Singapore Air KrisFlyer points on international hotels such as Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental, Marriott International, Hyatt, and AccorHotels, among others. Emirates also has an extensive list of hotel partners including Crown Hotels, Ibis, InterContinental, Marriott, Mercure, Hilton and Hyatt.
The Qantas Frequent Flyer program has over 188,000 accommodation options around the world, from Airbnbs through to five-star hotels, so you are able to earn frequent flyer points on any budget. With so many different deals it’s best to do your research before choosing where to stay to maximise the points you earn.
5. Earn on your rental car
You can also make the most of any car hiring you do while travelling for business through earning points on partnered hire companies. Virgin Australia and Emirates are both partnered with major car rental companies including Hertz and Europcar, among others, while Qantas allows points to be earned on rentals from Avis of Budget, both within Australia and overseas. The amount of points earned can be substantial if you find the right deal – for example, with the Qantas frequent flyer program you can earn 700 points per rental overseas.
6. Use your points on less popular routes
To make the most of your frequent flyer points you should use them on less popular flight routes. Airlines will often discount the most popular routes, so you are already saving money on these flights. You should use your points on flights less likely to go on sale, to make them go further.
7. Mistakes to avoid
Frequent flyer programs are often complex with many terms and conditions placed on earning points. To avoid losing out, make sure you avoid the following mistakes:
Not using your member number on a booking
If you forget to enter the digits of your frequent flyer number when booking your flight, you won’t automatically earn points. Most airlines will allow you to claim the points at a later time, however there are often strict requirements and it can take several weeks for the points to show up in your account.
Shopping online through retailer’s website
You can miss out on so many frequent flyer points if you don’t enter a retailer’s website through your airline's online store. Always make sure you enter your frequent flyer account first and follow the links before buying anything. Unlike on your flight booking, you usually can’t claim these points at a later date if you forget.
Not understanding points caps
Many frequent flyer programs have a limit on the amount of points you’re able to earn per month or year using the credit card. It’s important, therefore, to find a card that matches your average monthly spending. The Emirates Citi World is an example of this, with a cap of $3,000 each month. So if you spend more than this amount on your credit card each month, you should look for a card with a higher points cap.
Not using your points before they expire
You need to be aware of the rules regarding point expiry with your frequent flyer program, otherwise you can lose all your hard earned points. The Qantas frequent Flyer program, for example, resets your points balance if you don’t redeem any points within an 18 month period.
Being a savvy frequent flyer is the key to earning more points. By understanding the rules attached to your frequent flyer program, and making the most of opportunities to earn points such as using a certain credit card, shopping online, and booking hotels partnered with your airline, you can maximise the points you earn and ultimately, save money on your future flights.