In September 2001 I lost over 100,000 frequent flyer points when Ansett Australia collapsed. I had been accumulating reward points with the intent of funding an overseas flight. To that end I’d even paid for a domestic flight rather than use some of my points.
What a waste!
Back then it was a common complaint that reward seats were scarce and never when most people wanted to fly. Ten years on reward flights are easier to come by and you can even use points to partially fund a flight.
And there has been one other excellent development.
You can now cash in your frequent flyer points!
The Qantas Frequent Flyer Store currently includes 214 gift vouchers. The vouchers that excite me the most are the ones for everyday essentials like groceries, fuel and clothes.
The best value gift voucher I have found is just 13,500 points for a $100 voucher. This rate applies for many of the retail stores, such as Big W, Myer and Adairs, and also for car hire, hotels and Qantas Holidays.
Most other gift vouchers for Woolworths Group stores cost 14,500 points for a $100 voucher. That means your points are worth about 0.69 cents each. (Yes, less than one cent per point.)
Flights or gift cards?
Yes, redeeming your points for a flight award may offer slightly better value depending on when you fly. However if you usually fly only on cheap fares and specials then you’ll probably find, as I have, that the savings are about the same.
By redeeming your points for vouchers you can reduce the impact of rising costs. And, if you’re on the ball, you should therefore be able to boost your cash savings.
Even better, if you direct those savings into additional mortgage repayments you will be able to own your home sooner. Awesome!
When weighing up whether to accrue your points for flights or redeem them for cash keep this in mind – you don’t earn interest on your frequent flyer points.
In fact it seems that even though flight prices haven’t increased much the amount of points required has increased. So the value of your award points is actually decreasing.
Getting started is easy
With just 3,750 points you can redeem a $25 gift card. So log on right now and start redeeming.
Qantas Frequent Flyer has recently introduced Auto Rewards. You can elect to automatically redeem your points for a Woolworths gift card every three months.
The current maximum amount is a $20 gift card costing 3,000 points. (That’s a value of 0.66 cents per point.)
Worried about security?
Yes gift cards are cash-like so you are right to give some thought to security.
At the very least you should have a decent padlock on your mail box to help protect yourself from identity theft. That will also help against theft of your gift cards.
Alternatively use a post office box – either your own or where you work.
Take the pressure down this Christmas
There are gift vouchers that will cover most items that will hit your budget this Christmas, including gifts. From general retail stores to travel, auto, hardware, electronics, food and liquor.
You may even decide to just give the voucher to someone as a gift. Hmm, that gives me an idea. I might redeem some points for a Bunnings voucher for my father-in-law.