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Smart Money

Travel restrictions no deterrent to point collectors

Last updated

Pauline Hatch      

Nicole Madigan

Journalist

A business, finance, and property journalist and editor of more than 15 years, Nicole has written for Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, The CEO Magazine, The CFO Magazine, Domain, Queensland Business News, The Australian, Australian Property Investor, news.com.au, Sunday Life, Women’s Agenda, REIQ Journal, and The Age, among others. She has a Bachelor of Business Communications, and a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration. She was previously an on-air reporter with Channel Nine, and is the author of two children’s books. She is passionate about the importance of financial literacy, starting from childhood.

COVID-19 travel restrictions have left thousands of Australians unable to redeem their frequent flyer points, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth collecting them though.

For years, Public Servant, Leighton Russell, actively collected and saved travel points via his Woolworths Qantas Visa card. 

It was part of an ongoing strategy to help fund the cost of a major international holiday for his family.  

“I used the Woolworths Qantas Visa card for everything to get points, and try to pay it back monthly,” he says. 

“The card was linked to my Woolworths everyday rewards card, and I would use it for shopping, fuel, bills, insurance, and even the odd wine offer.”

Enter, COVID-19, which put any major travel plans on hold. 

While that hasn’t put Mr Russell off collecting travel points, he has been become a little less strict when it comes to saving them.

“I’ve used the points to buy an Apple watch, home entertainment products, ear buds – I even upgraded a domestic flight to business class,” he says. 

He’s also ditched the credit card in favour of Woolworths Rewards and BP Rewards, in order to collect points. 

“I’m not deterred with the travel restrictions because we’ll get there one day.”

But many credit card users remain undeterred when it comes to travel points, with Qantas reporting record redemption levels, and a surge in spending on linked credit cards. 

Due to the nature of the pandemic, while international travel is off the agenda for now, domestic travel restrictions come and go. 

So, while opportunities to redeem points in the air have been limited over the past 12 months, Qantas has reported strong demand when borders did open. 

In fact, between January and lockdowns in June, redemption levels on domestic flights were 30% above pre-COVID levels. 

Qantas reports highly engaged members, earning and redeeming large volumes of points on the ground, with spending on credit cards linked to Qantas returning to pre-COVID levels in the fourth quarter. 

More than 500,000 members have now earned points through the partnership between Qantas and BP Australia, while record levels of points were redeemed via Qantas Wine and the Qantas Store.

In a year with minimal air travel, the total number of Frequent Flyer members grew by almost 200,000 to reach 13.6 million. 

For Retail Support Officer, Tracey Gordon-Smith, travel restrictions haven’t put the slightest dent in her enthusiasm for collecting travel points through credit card spending. 

“Any big purchases are put on the card, and then I transfer the cash to it,” she says. 

A frequent traveller pre-COVID, Ms Gordon-Smith often used her credit card to pay for flights, collecting additional points in the process. 

These days, she saves her points for domestic travel, when the window does open. 

“It took a while, but I was able to use points for my flight to Broome this year,” she says.  

“I’ve also used points to pay for a flight from Uluru to Brisbane next year.”

While Ms Gordon-Smith has had one trip cancelled due to COVID-19, she’s not deterred. 

“When I had to cancel my flight, I received the points back fairly quickly, so it wasn’t a problem.”

Despite not being able to travel at will, she says using her credit card to watch the points pile up gives her something to look forward to. 

“It’s hope that things will get better, and the world will open up – having points will make it easier to fly further. 

“Why not use the card that gives you points for when the world does open up?”

Right now, there are some great credit card deals available, offering you a bunch of bonus frequent flyer points. Get them while you can. 

  • NAB Qantas Rewards Signature. Collect up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points and save with a discounted annual fee of $295 for the first year, reverting to $395 p.a. thereafter.
  • Qantas Premier Platinum. Get 80,000 bonus Qantas Points, a long-term 0% balance transfer offer, lounge passes and complimentary insurance covers.
  • American Express Velocity Platinum. Earn 100,000 bonus Velocity Points and 100 Status Credits when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.

 

Pauline

Pauline Hatch

Pauline is a personal finance expert at CreditCard.com.au, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger.

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