Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not just change, but transformation!

Just a quick note with regards to the changes in the earning of points - not all changes are bad!!  CBA has introduced some changes - they now have a diamond credit card - an even higher points limit than their platinum card!!

Also Qantas are introducing enhancements to the program - it does pay to skim through the monthly emails that they send to see if there is anything that will assist you in climbing the FF ladder!!  Jetstar are introducing new fares so you can pay a small amount and earn FF points.  They also have a change to the loyalty bonus!

Remember, whether you are using your points for small trips, or saving for the bigger trip - the further in advance you can plan, the more likely you are to get the seat.  Flexibility is also important - having a couple of choices for dates of travel will give you a greater chance of getting the trip you want.

Bon Voyage - safe and happy travels!!! :-)

PS:  a bit about beating jet-lag coming soon to my other blog - http://www.vickis-tips.blogspot.com/.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Change is a way of life!!

There are so many ways to earn FF points and we always need to be aware that the different companies that partner Qantas do change things from time to time!  So if you have a credit card and earn lots of points from that - be aware - they can change the amount of points you earn whenever they like!!  Take CBA for instance!!  It used to be 1 for 1, but now in order to earn 1 ff point - you need to spend $2!!!  So they're not my favourite earning card anymore!!!

When choosing where you are going to stay, or who you are going to rent a car from always check and see if you can earn ff points with your chosen company - its an added bonus if you can get points for paying on a card, and points for booking with that supplier!!

I did promise some travel tips, but have decided to have another blog for this, that way they can be a bit more general, and not just focussing on Qantas Frequent Flyer earnings!!
 http://www.vickis-tips.blogspot.com/ - new blog!!

So not only do Qantas change the rules, all of the other players can and do!!  Biggest learning from this - be aware before you make that big purchase!!  Also ALWAYS plan as much as you can in advance to get maximum benefits - READ those emails from Qantas - they have specials on how many point you need for trips every now and then - I just saved over $500 and 7,000 points by booking a flight at the right time!!

As always have fun travelling - work towards the level you want to attain, and enjoy the benefits of frequent flying!!  :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To buy, or to fly??

So you've got a few points, and can't find the flight you want, and you've seen all these other wonderful things you can buy with your points? Do you wait until you can get the flight, or do you just buy the other things?

It all depends on what you think your points are worth!  In my experience you get a better conversion going for flights, especially if you use for business class or above on longer trips.  If you do want to buy that Qantas club membership, Myer voucher, iPhone, coffee-maker or one of the other great things they always advertise - my biggest suggestion would be - check out the retail price of the item, so you know what you are converting your points at!!  If you travel alot, then more often than not you will get a better conversion of your points using them for travel!  Of course that is why they offer so many things for you to buy!! 

Example - $100 Myer voucher costs 13,500 points, but for 16,000 points you can get a return trip Hobart- Melbourne, which could range from $266 - $600 depending on when you travel.  So much better to use for travel in this case!!

So choose your rewards carefully!!  Of course, the footnote to this is once again, these points are something for nothing, so with whatever you choose you will be in front!!


PS:  next time - travel tips, for sure!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

December travel - the silly season!!

Apart from keeping my fingers crossed that this slight challenge with the A380's will be fixed within the next three weeks, what else is new?  Qantas are making some changes to their frequent flyer rewards and benefits, some good and some not so good!!  It is always timely to remember that frequent flyer points (or any loyality programs for that matter!) are an added bonus! (There may be some people that would say we are do pay for it - however indirectly!!!)

Now that we are approaching that particular time of the year when in the frequent flyer world - all bets are off!! Yes, its always a challenge getting free seats in December - unless of course you book a fair way in advance, and lets face it, we are talking peak travel time, not just domestically, but internationally also!!  Best time to travel - Christmas Day - because by then most people have travelled to where they want to be!!!  If you are planning to travel in December and wanting to use your points - I suggest you book now and keep your fingers crossed!! 

Whilst it may be hard to plan travel and/or holidays very far into the new year - there are some great deals with all airlines at the moment - yes, even Qantas have some cheap fares - so if you know of trips you have coming up, start booking!! Very timely if you need additional status credits to either maintain or attain certain levels of FF status - if you can get a Qantas ticket at a cheap price, its much better value for the credits than saving $20 and travelling Virgin or Jetstar.  (I'm not even going to mention Tiger, as I have absolutely no experience travelling with them, and am not planning on it) - I'm one of those people who enjoy getting to the airport at the last minute, and is very grateful that that is still very possible in downtown Tassie!!

Next time - some tips for making travel a bit more fun and a bit less stressful!!

PS:  have just experienced the first panic of hitting the wrong button and thinking the whole post had disappeared - no, it is saved somewhere!! :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Credit cards - not all credit is bad!!

So here's the good news - credit cards are still the easiest way to earn frequent flyer points.  The bad news - how do you know which one to use?!  One important point that needs to be made up front is that frequent flyer points are usually only earned on PERSONAL credit cards, not business cards.  This means that you have the credit card in your name and you make personal purchases on it!  Of course the definition of personal purchases here is a wee bit grey, and will depend on your own circumstances!  You can read whatever you like between the lines here!!

So how do you decide which credit card to get (or maybe which ones to get rid of?!)  In my own experience I think that American Express offer the most points for your dollars spent, and here I'm talking about cards directly with Amex, not those offered through the major banks.  I believe that now all credit cards offered by the major banks have some sort of limitation on the amount of points you can earn, be it monthly or annually.  Most convert the points earned at less than one point per dollar, but some do offer bonus points.  Of course they like to muddy the water by offering all sorts of other things that you can buy with these points - and here it will all depend on your personal circumstances, but I find the best value is converting the points directly to frequent flyer points and using for free flights.  Some banks now even offer Qantas joint branded credit cards that have the facility to transfer the points directly to your frequent flyer account each month - if this is your goal, then these will work best for you.  (feel free to add your comments on which Bank/credit card you find works best for earning FF points!!

I strongly suggest that you check out all of the four major banks and compare the amount of points per dollar spent, and also the annual limit that you can earn - which I must add is usually enough for the average personal spend.  The only downside I've encountered with American Express is that some merchants charge an extra fee to take this - mainly of course because they are charged the extra fees by Amex.  These days some hotel chains even charge you a fee to use Visa and Mastercard!  When you weigh up the fees charged though, and the benefits you can get from the use of the credit card (basic travel insurance coverage, purchase protection etc) and what the points will get you (best case scenario - international first class travel!!) do the math and decide for yourself!!

One final word on the use of credit cards - the most cost effective way to use them is to pay them off at the end of the month, and thus incur no interest or transaction fees.  If you don't - be prepared (in most cases!) for very nasty interest charges!!!

coming up...........when is the best time to look for ff seats??

Friday, August 13, 2010

Earning more status credits

So how do I earn more credits, I hear you ask?  Well, quite easy really - spent more money with Qantas!!! Its not just about where you are going, but how you're going to get there - and yes, this can be said about a few things in our lives today.

So how does this apply to earing status credits?  Once you've decided where you want to travel to, then next bit is to arrange your trip to earn maximum status credits.  Remember - a theme of this blog - you have to pay for the trips to earn the credits!  Now that we've got over this hurdle, of course it is a good idea to pay as little for the trip as possible, but still making sure you are earning maximum credits.  For example travelling anything less than a fully flexible Jetstar fare will not earn you any points, nor status credits!  Travelling star class on Jetstar will earn you the equivalent of business class points and credits at a fraction of the cost (but as always, you get what you pay for!).  Another tip - if you are travelling a long distance, is look at the route you are choosing - it may be that for some extra time in the air, you can get heaps more credits, and the fare may actually be less! 

Very important at this stage of the discussion - make sure you have a fabulous travel agent!!  I wouldn't  have discovered this tip if my travel agent hadn't recommended it - it not only saved me dollars, but I also earned way more points than if I had just travelled directly - this was a trip from Australia to USA and we went over via Hong Kong on Cathay, which is also part of the Oneworld Alliance which means earning points and credits. My travel agent books all of my paying overseas trips, and I still use the net to book any domestic trips (as in those I have to pay for, not FF tickets!). (http://www.sporttours.com.au/ - it would be very rude of me not to share my agents details!! - John, Ryan and the team at Premium Sports Tours organise fabulous sporting trips too!!)

If, for example you were travelling to the east coast of the US, then you may have the time to do a trip via London - yes I know a bit more time, but think of the extra credits and points!!!  The first time I paid for a first class ticket, it cost the equivalent of a business class ticket and I got the extra credits/points all because I was prepared to spend an extra 6 hours of flying time! 

A word of warning here - just because you are travelling on a Qantas plane, it doesn't mean you are on a Qantas/Oneworld ticket!  You can't earn points/credits unless you are - and yes, I did find this one out the hard way!!  That little error meant I had to pay for another trip to get the level I was aiming for!!  With the advent of codeshare these days, you have to ensure that the fare you are buying entitles you to the credits/points, if your outcome is to earn such! 

Next time - some of the published and not so published benefits of Platinum Frequent Flyers!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A bit of history!

Whilst Qantas was the first frequent flyer program that I joined, it wasn't the one that I first started realising the benefits from.  When I did my first big trip overseas back in 1993 (NZ is only classed as a short O/S trip for me!) we went to the UK for the "working holiday" trip on a one way ticket, and stopped off to say hi to family in NZ.  We were travelling with Air NZ (who would still be my 2nd favourite airline after Qantas) so went to the UK via LA and stopped over for 24 hours there!  It was a few years later travelling on this route that I discovered the benefit and drawbacks of using points to upgrade flights.

We were in LA for the flight back to Auckland and had requested an upgrade, but unfortunately when we were at the gate, all excited for the upgrade to travel home in Business class, we discovered that there were no seats available!  And I do mean no seats!  You know when a NZ multi gold medal Olympian (Mark Todd) is standing at the counter requesting (rather loudly!) his upgrade and is being told there are no seats, then there is no hope for us mere mortals!!  The 15 hour trip home in economy wasn't that memorable, but what I did learn was that I didn't enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing whether or not I had received an upgrade!

So the moral of this story is that now I always use my points to get the class of travel that I want to travel in, not waiting until the day before travel to know what class of travel I'm flying in!  (side note here - some airlines do confirm upgrades on booking - Cathay for one, but Qantas don't anymore!).  This however is not for everyone, and I have lots of friends who want to confirm that they can get on the plane first and foremost, and then the upgrade is the added bonus!!

Getting upgrades and where you are sitting on the plane all depend on your current frequent flyer status.  This in turn is decided by your status credits, which unlike your FF points, can only be earned on paying flights.  One of the most important things to know is when the anniversary of your joining the program is, as that is the date to which your status credits are linked!  You need to get a certain amount to achieve the higher levels of silver, gold and platinum, and once you get to that date if you haven't achieved your status goal, then its tough luck and back to zero to start again!!  Of course if you have maintained a certain status for a number of years, then Qantas may decide to award you the higher status even if you have not quite reached your target (very nice of them to do this I reckon!!)

So I strongly suggest that if you are in a position to plan your annual travel, then you can work out which trips you need to pay for, and which ones you can do using points.  The chances of you getting your ff ticket or even your upgrade and where you sit on the plane is all to do with your status level, which of course is a clever way of Qantas ensuring your loyalty.  So its not just about having lots of ff points earned on big spends on credit cards, if you have the status level, then you are more likely to be able to spend the points in the way you want to.  I'm also not a fan of using points to purchase goods and/or services - I find the best way of spending them is on long distance high value tickets!

That's all for now!  Time to leave the comfort of the Qantas Business lounge (another perk!) and get on with the day!!  Next time, a couple of tips to stretch your dollars for maximum credits (and comfort of course!!)