Converting credit card points to FF points to upgrade to business class on Qantas (or Singapore/CP)

By Paul Baulch | Dec 14, 2018, 10:27 PM
Hi All,


I realise this may be covered elsewhere, but it is a daunting prospect for a newbie to find the best and current information.


I find myself in a position where I will be travelling to HK and China frequently for a small business I set up as a side gig. Happy to fly to Beijing/Shanghai with majors or to Chengdu/Xian etc.


I have hundreds of thousands of points with both Comm Bank and Westpac Altitude which I believe I can convert to FF points with Qantas/Singapore/CP, or else I can swap them for a new toaster and kettle (or several).


I am hoping to buy economy seats and then upgrade them to business using points - is this a good strategy?


If so, is it easier to get points upgrades with Qantas/Singapore/CP. Which airline is the best for upgrade availability?


Thanks in advance


Paul

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By ChrisCh | Dec 15, 2018, 12:46 PM
Hi Paul, you can't convert CBA Awards points or Altitude Rewards points to Qantas Frequent Flyer (the only exception for Altitude is if you have a business card, but it's not an option for personal cardholders). To earn Qantas Points on these cards, you need to opt-in for Qantas direct-earning before you earn the points, and both banks charge an extra fee for this. (So, for the points you've already earned, it's too late to make them Qantas Points, unfortunately.)

For CBA, the conversion rates for most partners are very poor (essentially, they're useful if you want to top-up an existing points balance if you're very close to having enough for a flight, but perhaps not good for converting in bulk): the most generous rate is to convert to Velocity if you have a CBA Platinum or Diamond card, given its 2:1 conversion rate, although the opportunity to upgrade using Velocity points on international flights is limited (often, available only to Gold and Platinum Velocity members on flights like Hong Kong and LAX), and you can't use Velocity points to upgrade on partner airlines.

With Westpac, Velocity again has the best-value conversions if you opt in to auto-redemption rather than manual transfer, but otherwise, yes, you can convert to KrisFlyer or Asia Miles for upgrades. KrisFlyer is poor value for this, as the number of points needed to upgrade is almost the same as booking the flight outright (so you end up spending close to the same number of points but buying an expensive, upgradeable airfare, versus just booking with points outright and paying very little in co-payments). Cathay Pacific is better for this, but you have to check you're booking an upgradeable fare, and the rates are a little better (they were changed this year: requesting a return upgrade is no longer as lucrative as it was, but of the options here, it's probably the best bet).
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By djtech | Dec 15, 2018, 08:24 PM
Although it is bad value to transfer to Asia miles (only way to upgrade on QF flights as there is no QFF transfer option), I'll give you my advice anyway.

You can transfer your points from both credit cards to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles which would allow you to upgrade on Qantas flights to China and Hong Kong. However, you will have to pay the upgrade lottery as upgrades are not instantly confirmed unless there is also award availability. Also, the success of such a lottery would highly depend on your OneWorld status preferably with CP. You can find the award chart on the Asia Miles website, and keep in mind the one class upgrade restriction. You can only upgrade from economy to premium economy (if flying a plane that has premium economy), or economy to business (if there is no premium economy), or premium economy to business. Keep in mind the fare class restrictions in upgrading as cheaper sale fares are often not eligible for upgrade.

What is slightly better value for Westpac altitude especially is the transfer to Velocity FF.

If you are a Velocity Gold or Higher member, you can upgrade on certain fare classes. It is usually at the rate of an economy award and you upgrade straight to business, though the same upgrade lottery applies.

In conclusion, the best way to use your points is to redeem for business awards outright, except in extreme cases such as London to Sydney, etc where there are very high taxes.

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By ChrisCh | Dec 17, 2018, 10:28 AM
On upgrades using Asia Miles, that's incorrect - Asia Miles can't be used for upgrades on Qantas flights: for that, you'll need Qantas Points.

Asia Miles can only be used to book Qantas flights (but not to upgrade).
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