There's no such thing as having too many frequent flyer points. So why not make the most of every opportunity to pick up more points and keep your Qantas or Virgin Australia balance looking healthy?
Here are five simple but little-used strategies to build up your points.
Use your frequent flyer credit cards for every purchase, every day
This may seem like an obvious one, but don’t just settle for using credit most of the time. Instead, swipe that card every time you make a purchase.
Whether you’re grabbing a drink from a vending machine or buying an Express Post envelope at Australia Post, these small amounts all add up over time.
Sure, it’s a minor hassle to hunt down smaller retailers with no EFTPOS minimums (and American Express merchants), but you’ll find many businesses are just happy to take your money, regardless of how you pay.
Things get even easier when a merchant uses a 'tap and go' terminal for card payments.
In fairness, you may encounter the odd credit card surcharge, so you’ll need to decide if the extra fee is worth the points.
And of course, you’ll also need to stay on top of your payments.
This is the cardinal rule of using a credit card to maximise your points: any interest fees and charges will negate your frequent flyer bounty.
Avoid using BPAY
Most banks don’t pay any points on BPAY transactions, including those funded by frequent flyer credit cards, so pay each bill with your credit card – whether that’s over the phone or through the biller’s website.
Your payment will then be treated as a ‘regular’ transaction, and you’ll find the points hitting your account in no time.
If you’re a little time-poor, set up direct debit for your regular payments, but use your credit card as the finance source – things like gym memberships, telephone accounts and health insurance lend themselves well to this.
Pay the tax man with plastic
If you lodge your income tax return and wind up with a tax debt, do the smart thing and pay the ATO by credit card.
This isn’t limited to personal tax – credit cards can also be used to pay off HECS debts and to cover business tax obligations:
Capped at $50,000 per transaction, larger debts can be broken down into a number of smaller payments – although you’ll want to use your business or corporate card for this, or risk having your personal card cancelled for inappropriate use.
(You may even be able to claim the ATO’s credit card surcharge as a tax deduction, but we’ll leave this one for your accountant.)
Even if making a personal tax payment, be sure to check that your particular card pays enough points on tax transactions, as some cards don’t earn points at the usual rate.
Set your Opal, Myki or Go Card to auto top-up
For convenience and points, set your public transport card to automatic top-up, again with your credit card as the source.
Not only can you ‘set and forget’, you’ll never need to scrounge for change for the bus or train again!
Of course, if you want to squeeze every possible point from your public transport fares, you won’t find American Express or Diners Club card accepted through these online interfaces… don’t fret, there’s a workaround:
Head to a participating 7-Eleven with your AMEX or Diners card and top-up your Opal, Myki or Go Card manually. Simple!
Use American Express through PayPal where AMEX isn’t otherwise accepted
Let’s face it – while American Express is generally accepted by most large companies, you’ll still encounter many retailers that haven’t signed up to the idea, particularly online.
Fortunately for us, many of these businesses accept PayPal in addition to Visa and MasterCard.
But because PayPal accepts AMEX, you can set up your AMEX card to fund your PayPal account.
So, next time you’re shopping online and can’t spot the AMEX logo, look for a PayPal icon instead!
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