Qantas is taking its frequent flyer card to the next level with "Qantas Cash", allowing the plastic to be used as a prepaid multi-currency travel money card which can also earn points when used for purchases in Australia, overseas and online.
Available from the third quarter of 2013, it rolls a prepaid MasterCard travel money card into the smartchip-enabled Qantas Frequent Flyer card to create what Qantas CEO Alan Joyce considers "the Swiss Army Knife of cards".
The new cards will be sent to all Qantas Frequent Flyer members, including travellers with Bronze status – marking the first time they'll be able to enjoy the Qantas' streamlined next-generation check-in — now named Faster Smarter Check-in — at Australian airports. (The smartchipped Qantas cards were previously available only to Silver, Gold and Platinum members.)
Cards for everyone, but opt-in for the cash
"Existing Qantas cards will continue to function until members receive their new cards" says Lesley Grant, CEO of Qantas Loyalty, although members will need to opt in to activate the cash functionality on their card.
"We have over 9 million members in Qantas Frequent Flyer and our research says that over over 70% of members carry their Qantas card wherever they go" Grant says.
The Qantas Cash card will also permit cash withdrawals from ATMs internationally and within Australia.
Each card can store up to nine currencies in separate 'virtual wallets' – these will include the usual suspects such as US dollars, UK pounds and Euros, plus we'd tip NZ, SIngapore and Hong Kong dollars – with a new Qantas cash website and smartphone app making it easy to load currencies before each trip and manage the card.
Waiting for the fine print...
So just how many frequent flyer points will you earn per dollar spent on the card – and what about those assorted fees for loading the card and pulling cash from an overseas ATM?
That's yet to be revealed, with Grant saying that the earn rate plus details on fees would come closer to the Qantas Cash card's launch in the third quarter of the year.
However, Grant confirmed that using the card to make payments with Qantas Frequent Flyer partners such as Woolworths and Optus would allow double dipping on points.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.