Most travel rewards credit cards allow you to earn points in two different ways. You can either link your card directly with an airline’s frequent traveller program, such as Qantas Frequent Flyer, or accumulate points onto the card’s own scheme. While both options provide a range of travel rewards, it’s important to watch how your points are being accumulated and converted.
Take the Commonwealth Awards card with the Qantas Frequent Flyer option, for example. You earn 1.5 Commonwealth Awards points for every $1 spent using the Amex option. This is automatically converted and transferred each month into the QFF program, but the fine print reveals the points only convert at half the rate. In other words, you’re only earning 0.75 QFF points for every dollar spent, which means you have to spend more to earn that reward.
CHOICE believes it’s both confusing and misleading to make the consumer think they’re earning more points than they really are. Whether your chosen card earns 1 or 1000 points per dollar, the points are only as valuable as the rewards you can redeem. So take note of the points cost of a reward and any reductions when converting points to another program.
How we analyse
We look at the number of points needed for a sample reward and the dollar value of that reward. We then divide the points required by the dollar value, which gives the points value for $1 spent towards a reward. We use that number to compare the return on three monthly spending levels, $1000, $2500 and $5000, then deduct the compulsory annual fees and factor in any points capping or spend hurdles.
- Travel voucher: $500 voucher for a range of travel providers, including Flight Centre, WebJet, Harvey World Travel, Qantas Holidays and BlueHolidays.
- Flights: To determine the value of a rewards flight, we look at standard fare economy return flights (including baggage) to four destinations, over four different periods in the year for both the Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity partners (32 flights in total; prices taken from each airline and airline partner’s website both including and excluding taxes). Flights used were Sydney-Brisbane, Melbourne-Auckland, Sydney-Bangkok and Sydney-London.