Even if you don't fly with Etihad Airways, its Etihad Guest frequent flyer scheme is great for booking Virgin Australia reward flights, as the number of Etihad Guest miles needed for a journey is often lower than the number of Velocity points required to book the same route.
What's more, there are many ways you can earn Etihad miles from your credit card spend, so by using one of the cards below to pay for your everyday purchases, you could be flying in no time.
For example, Etihad Guest members could book a one-way Virgin Australia business class flight from Melbourne to Brisbane for just 13,800 Etihad Guest miles – yet when booking through Velocity, that same flight would set you back 23,500 Velocity points.
There are similar savings to be had on Melbourne-Perth business class flights, for which Etihad charges 21,800 Velocity points compared to 35,500 Velocity points to book the same seat, with the numbers in Etihad's favour across many other routes as well: so don't delay, start collecting Etihad Guest miles today!
1. American Express Explorer, Business Explorer cards
Get your hands on the personal American Express Explorer credit card – or the Business Explorer credit card for business expenditure – to pocket two Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent on everyday charges, equal to 1.5 Etihad Guest miles, except on government payments where you'll earn the equivalent of 0.375 Etihad miles per dollar spent.
You can also earn 50,000 bonus Gateway points (equal to 37,500 Etihad Guest miles) by applying for the personal card and spending at least $1,500 within the first three months – or 100,000 bonus Gateway points when applying for the business card by November 30 2017 and charging at least $3,000 within the first three months.
Both cards attract a $395 annual fee, but that's offset by a yearly $400 travel credit for personal cardholders – usable towards flights and hotel stays – or a yearly Business Loyalty Bonus equal to 37,500 Etihad Guest miles for eligible business spenders.
2. American Express Business Accelerator Card
Have an ABN and run your own small business? You could also consider the American Express Business Accelerator Card, offering two Membership Rewards Ascent points per dollar spent – equal to two Etihad Guest miles – with an affordable annual fee of $160, which may be tax deductible if the card is used solely for business purchases (speak to your accountant).
After earning 100,000 Ascent points (100,000 Etihad Guest miles) in a calendar year, the earning rate decreases to one Etihad Guest mile per dollar spent on all further transactions, except on insurance, utility and government payments which always attract 0.5 Ascent points (0.5 Etihad Guest miles) per dollar spent.
3. American Express Platinum, Business Platinum and Platinum Edge cards
The personal American Express Platinum Card, the American Express Business Platinum Card and the American Express Platinum Edge Card deliver the equivalent of 1 Etihad Guest mile per dollar spent on most everyday charges, but provide double and even triple points with certain businesses.
Earn 3 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent at Australian restaurants and 2 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent with airlines, hotels and when overseas via the personal AMEX Platinum Card, or 3 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent at major supermarkets and 2 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent at major petrol stations through the AMEX Platinum Edge Card.
Business owners can instead earn 2 Etihad Guest miles per dollar on restaurant, airline, hotel, advertising, courier and computer equipment purchases made using the Business Platinum Card, while all three cards provide 0.5 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent on government, utility and insurance payments, with the Platinum Card attracting a $1,200 annual fee, the Business Platinum Card a $1,500 annual fee and the Platinum Edge Card a $195 annual fee.
American Express is also offering the equivalent of 120,000 bonus Etihad Guest miles to eligible new Business Platinum cardholders and the equivalent of 80,000 bonus Etihad Guest miles for eligible new personal Platinum Card customers who apply and meet AMEX's spend criteria.
4. Diners Club personal charge card with World Mastercard
Diners Club isn’t as accepted as American Express, but if you do shop where Diners is welcome, you can score two Diners Club Rewards points per dollar spent using the Diners Club personal charge card with an attached World Mastercard – equal to 1 Etihad Guest mile per dollar spent following Diners' 2:1 conversion.
Although you can get a standalone Diners Club card sans the World Mastercard, having the Mastercard attached to the account oddly gets you more points when using the actual Diners Club card, with a single $299 annual fee covering both cards. If you do use the companion Mastercard, you'll earn the equivalent of 0.375 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent, although no points are earned on government charges on either card.
5. David Jones American Express Platinum Card
If you're a frequent spender at David Jones, using the David Jones American Express Platinum Card to pay for those purchases can earn you four 'David Jones Membership Rewards' (DJMR) points per dollar spent, equal to two Etihad Guest miles.
Charges at major supermarkets and petrol stations also attract three DJMR points per dollar spent (1.5 Etihad Guest miles), although everywhere else, you'll earn the equivalent of just 0.5 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent, with the card having a $295 annual fee.
Similar earning rates are also available via the non-Platinum American Express David Jones Card at a lower $99 annual fee, although David Jones spend fetches a reduced 1.5 Etihad Guest miles per dollar, as opposed to two Etihad Guest miles as with the Platinum variant.
Honourable mention: Coles Rewards Mastercard
American Express and Diners Club cards are the fastest ways to earn Etihad Guest miles on your purchases, but sometimes, Visa or Mastercard can be more welcome – and that's where the Coles Rewards Mastercard is its most useful.
Every dollar spent unlocks two Flybuys points, and with cardholders able to exchange blocks of 10,000 Flybuys points for 4,000 Etihad Guest miles, you'll be earning the equivalent of 0.8 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent.
There's no limit to the number of Flybuys points you earn or convert across to Etihad (provided you do so in blocks of 10,000), with the card carrying a $99 annual fee.