The Pain of Earning Frequent Flyer Points

I cringe in agony every single time when I read an article (maybe sponsored) on how a particular frequent flyer programme is better in value when compared to another. Yet, I beg to differ. It is not always true because there are many factors that contribute to how your points are earned and calculated. Granted and with all due respect, many contributors highlight the amount of points needed for redemption, yet not many explain the science of earning those points.

Those authors are not only blatantly biased but those comments can very easily mislead the average reader out there. I am no angel and I do have my bias but I am firm believer in that there is no one correct way to compare two programmes because there are just too many variables!

I have recently read that it would cost 120,000 Qantas points to fly return from Melbourne to London but only 128,000 Virgin points or 81,000 Singapore points. Many would jump at that and say “I gonna start collecting Singapore points!!”. Well, just hang on a minute – we are not comparing apples to apples here! 

First, the obvious, the amount of cash you need to fork out for taxes is very different. For one person, it may not be such a big deal but such taxes and fees do add up for a family travelling together!

Secondly, how long would it take for you to accumulate the amount points, and perhaps how much you would spending to accumulate them is probably most important of all! 

You can earn Qantas points when you buy your groceries at Woolies, pump petrol at Caltex, and call your partner on Vodafone. It’s a little more complicated for Virgin because to earn points whilst you buy your groceries at Coles and fill up your car, those points are to be earned via Flybuys. You cannot earn any Singapore Krisflyer points at the supermarkets but you can convert them from Velocity. 

There are credit cards that will give you Qantas, Virgin and Singapore points. Whilst there are cards offering a 1 to 1 conversion rate for Qantas and Virgin, there is none for Singapore so there is no hope for that “50,000 bonus point upon card approval” type of bonus! Most banks will convert to Singapore at 3 to 1 – which is not cheap!

In a nutshell, if you never flew but only shopped for groceries, you would need to spend $120,000 on your credit card to earn that free ticket to London! And yes, the Singapore mileage requirement of 81,000 points may sound really good but if you were to rely solely on your credit card, you might just need to spend a little bit more – hmmm, say $240,000!!!

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Andrew is a self-confessed guru when it comes to frequent flyer programmes. He claims that he is more familiar of the terms & conditions than the one who came up with the terms & conditions. His dream is to be able to feast on cookies day and night without getting fat.