Australians spent an estimated $30 billion on credit cards in December, but missed out on earning up to 22.5 billion frequent flyer points on all that Christmas shopping: enough for 80,000 round-the-world trips in business class!
Only one third of all Aussie credit card spend attracts Qantas Points, according to Qantas, and we’d expect a further 15-20% would earn points across other airline programs such as Virgin Australia Velocity and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer – leaving around half of all credit card purchases, representing some $15 billion in December alone, going unrewarded.
With some top cards providing 1.5 frequent flyer points per $1 spent, that’s up to 22.5 billion frequent flyer points that shoppers could have earned, but didn't: so if you missed out last month, here’s your chance to hop on board and start earning points for free flights year-round!
The best credit cards for earning Qantas Points
If you happen to shop where American Express is accepted, the Qantas AMEX Ultimate Card can’t be beat: there's a solid earning rate of 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on most purchases, while an annual $450 Qantas flight voucher offsets the sting of the card’s $450 annual fee (making it ‘free’ once you take that flight). The card is also currently offering 55,000 bonus Qantas Points to eligible new customers.
For those who jet about less often, the more affordable Qantas AMEX Premium Card clocks in at $249/year with a respectable earn rate of 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent, airport lounge access and 30,000 bonus Qantas Points, among other benefits.
If you’d prefer a different type of card which is accepted more universally, the Qantas Premier Platinum Mastercard offers one Qantas Point per $1 spent in Australia up to $10,000 per month on most purchases (halved thereafter), bonus points on Qantas spend and international transactions, Qantas flight discounts, and 75,000 bonus points.
The best credit cards for earning Virgin Australia Velocity points
Should your loyalty lie with Virgin Australia, it should come as no surprise that the comparable AMEX Velocity Platinum Card tops the charts by offering 1.5 Velocity points per $1 spent on most charges – and ditto the AMEX Explorer card, from which points can be converted to Velocity to reach the same result.
The Velocity-branded AMEX includes a free return flight every year, airport lounge access and more to negate the $375 annual fee, while the AMEX Explorer card throws in a yearly $400 travel voucher in return for a $395 annual fee, once more offsetting the cost.
But again, if you don’t tend to shop where AMEX is accepted, Virgin Money’s Velocity High Flyer Visa churns out one Velocity point per $1 spent up to $8,000 per month (halved thereafter) and offers a yearly $129 travel voucher, but with a $289 annual fee.
Or, look to the ANZ Rewards Black Visa to earn the equivalent of one Velocity point per $1 spent up to $5,000 per month via the ANZ Rewards program (0.5/$1 on any further spend) and 37,500 bonus Velocity points (converted from 75,000 ANZ reward points), with no annual fee in the first year.
The best credit card for earning other airline points
Looking to earn frequent flyer points further afield? We’d peg the AMEX Explorer card as the best all-rounder for earning flexible points, such as with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, and of course, Virgin Australia Velocity.
You’ll take home the equivalent of 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent on most purchases via the Membership Rewards Gateway program, plus the equivalent of 37,500 bonus frequent flyer points for new cardholders – among other perks like airport lounge access and smartphone screen insurance.