When booking your next Virgin Australia domestic or international flight, why settle for earning just one frequent flyer point per dollar spent from your credit card – or even less – when you could be reeling in up to 2.5 Velocity points per dollar spent instead?
Better yet, those credit card points are in addition to the usual Velocity frequent flyer points you’ll earn in the air, being at least five Velocity points per dollar spent on domestic flights or 0.5 Velocity points per mile flown internationally: so you can double-dip to maximise your points haul.
Australian Business Traveller rounds up the best credit cards in Australia to whip out when booking Virgin Australia flights, and because the airline applies the same 1.3% credit card surcharge across all card types – whether that's Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diners Club – you won’t pay a higher fee to earn the most points.
1. American Express Velocity Platinum Card
Collect a solid 2.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on all Virgin Australia flight bookings with the American Express Velocity Platinum Card, with no points capping, two complimentary Virgin Australia lounge visits each year and a $375 annual fee.
Also thrown in: a free domestic return flight with Virgin Australia each year, two yearly visits to the AMEX Lounge at Sydney Airport and a whopping 100,000 bonus Velocity points for eligible new cardholders who apply by July 31 2017 and spend at least $1,500 on purchases within the first three months.
Those purchases don’t have to be Virgin Australia flights: they can simply be your everyday transactions, on which you’ll also earn a generous 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent (including with utilities and insurers), except at government bodies where you can earn 0.5 Velocity points per dollar spent.
2. American Express Velocity Escape Card
Not keen on paying credit card annual fees? Then slip an American Express Velocity Escape Card into your wallet – churning out two Velocity points per dollar spent when booking Virgin Australia flights and with no annual fee to pay.
Understandably absent are perks like free flights, airport lounge access and bonus points for signing-up as you’d get with the Velocity Platinum Card, although Escape cardholders can earn one Velocity point per dollar spent, uncapped, on all other transactions.
The only exception is on government charges such as payments to the Australian Taxation Office, which accrue 0.5 Velocity points per dollar spent instead.
3. American Express Platinum Charge Card
Also delivering the equivalent of two Velocity points per dollar spent on Virgin Australia (and all other) flight bookings, the iconic American Express Platinum Charge Card – but with a reasonably high $1,200 annual fee to pay.
In return, eligible new cardholders can pocket a bonus 80,000 Membership Rewards Ascent Premium points (equal to 80,000 Virgin Australia Velocity points) after spending $1,500 on purchases within the first three months, with a $300 travel credit also included which you can spend on Virgin Australia flights, among other things.
Furthermore, these cardholders also receive unlimited access to Virgin Australia lounges when flying domestically, to the AMEX Lounge in Sydney when jetting abroad and to Delta Sky Club, Plaza Premium and Priority Pass lounges across the globe.
Rounding out the Platinum package, earn the equivalent of three Velocity points per dollar spent at Australian restaurants, two Velocity points per dollar spent on all airline, hotel and overseas charges and one Velocity point per dollar everywhere else (up to 300,000 points per year, after which all transactions accrue one Velocity point per dollar), except for payments to utilities, insurers, telcos and government bodies which always accrue 0.5 points per dollar spent.
4. American Express Explorer Card
With a solid earn rate of two Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent on most charges (equal to 1.5 Velocity points), the American Express Explorer Card’s everyday earning rate is high enough to place it among these ranks, even without specifically offering bonus points on flight bookings.
The card carries an annual fee of $395, but offsets that with a $400 travel credit every year which you can use to book Virgin Australia flights or indeed other airlines or for hotel stays, plus 50,000 bonus Gateway points (worth 37,500 Velocity points) after spending $1,500 in the first three months.
Access to the AMEX Lounge at Sydney Airport is also complimentary twice per year, with no limit to the number of points you can earn at the 1.5/$1 rate – except that government spend always earns the equivalent of 0.375 Velocity points per dollar.
The comparable American Express Qantas Ultimate Card can also deliver 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent on all non-government charges (including Virgin Australia flight bookings), but chances are that if you regularly fly with Virgin Australia, you’ll prefer to earn Velocity points instead.
5. Diners Club personal charge card
Another card with a respectable ‘everyday’ earning rate: the Diners Club personal charge card – again attracting the same Virgin Australia credit card surcharge as Visa, Mastercard or AMEX, but delivering the equivalent of 1.33 Velocity points per dollar spent.
That’s true when you opt for the Diners Club + Mastercard combo, because even if you don’t use the Mastercard, your Diners Club earning rate is higher than when holding only the Diners card: being two Diners Club Rewards points per dollar spent (as of June 15 2017), equal to 1.33 Velocity points.
Hot tip: Apply for this card duo on or after June 15 and the total annual fee will be $299 – apply before then and you’ll pay a higher $389 in the first year instead, and then $299 in subsequent years.
Honourable mention: Westpac Altitude Black American Express
Closely behind Diners Club, the Westpac Altitude Black American Express card delivers the equivalent of 1.25 Velocity points per dollar spent (as of July 1) on all charges – including Virgin Australia flight bookings, but excluding ATO payments – with a $195 annual fee in the first year ($395 thereafter).
Also included is an Altitude Black Mastercard, promising the equivalent of 0.625 Velocity points per dollar spent both at home and abroad (as of July 1), with cardholders first earning points in the Altitude Rewards program and then converting them over to Velocity Frequent Flyer.
New cardholders who apply by June 28 2017 will enjoy that lower fee in year one, and can also earn a bonus 80,000 Altitude points (equal to 40,000 Velocity points) after spending at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval.