While COVID-19 has decimated travel, there are still plenty of ways to earn frequent flyer points on the ground. From credit cards, to online shopping, insurance, buying petrol and even buying wine, our appetite for collecting Qantas points shows no signs of waning.
But if you’re worried about how to actually use those points, you’re not alone.
With current restrictions on air travel, it can be difficult to find high-value redemptions unless you know where to look.
The fact is, there are many ways to use Qantas points close to home.
From luxury rail journeys to regional flights, accommodation and even goods – here are four ways to extract value from Qantas points right now.
Experience a luxury train journey across Australia
In the midst of a pandemic, you’d be forgiven for thinking that aspirational opportunities to redeem points are few and far between. But with newly launched Qantas Classic Rail Rewards, there’s an exciting new way to burn frequent flyer points on the ground.
Qantas and Journey Beyond have partnered to offer Qantas Frequent Flyer members the chance to swap out business and first-class flights for all-inclusive Gold Service train journeys around Australia.
There are nine different routing and accommodation combinations available across three rail journeys. Redemptions start from just 100,000 Qantas points, with no additional taxes or fees payable.
Depending on the route and the time of the year, it’s possible to extract up to 1.5 cents value per Qantas point (or more) with this redemption. That’s around three times the value you’d get by spending your points on gift cards at the Qantas Rewards Store.
How does it stack up against flights up the pointy end?
Recently, I took a 54 hour journey on The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin using my Qantas points. It was an incredible journey, and it’s fair to say that I found it a more than fitting replacement for the international air travel I’ve been missing.
RELATED: Hamish and Zoe on why Aussie cities are the world’s best
RELATED: Vaccine rollout sparks call to open border
My experience included three days and two nights of accommodation in a Gold Service sleeper cabin, complete with excellent meals, a range of Australian wines and three off-train excursions.
Qantas Classic Rail redemptions are fast growing in popularity as a unique way to
experience travel across Australia.
Book in a domestic business class Classic Flight Reward or upgrade
While international first and business class flights remain off-limits to most of us, there are still opportunities to redeem for premium air travel at home with Qantas domestic business class.
Qantas business class Classic Flight Rewards and points-based upgrades have long been considered to offer solid value. This is still the case, even in the current restricted travel
Most domestic routes are flown by Qantas’ fleet of 737 aircraft that feature a standard recline seat. However, selected trans-Tasman journeys between Eastern seaboard cities
and Perth are still serviced by the superior Qantas A330. And if you have a hankering to re-live the days of long haul business class flying, these are the journeys to snap up with
Onboard the A330, passengers are treated to a true international-grade business class product, complete with spacious lie-flat seats, privacy and multi-course dining.
Depending on the route chosen, it can be possible to extract upwards of 5 cents value per Qantas Point with business Classic Flight Rewards and upgrades.
Take a Classic Reward flight to Lord Howe Island
When it comes to domestic flight redemptions, it doesn’t get much better than Lord Howe Island, located 600 kilometres northeast of Sydney.
While reward bookings on this route have historically been hard to find, Qantas is currently offering Classic Flight Reward seats for dates across 2021.
A one-way direct journey from Sydney to Lord Howe Island will set you back just 8000 Qantas Points (plus $86 in taxes/fees). Flights on this route typically cost around $480, so that represents almost 5 cents value per point.
The catch? With only 400 visitors are allowed on the Island at any one time, accommodation is priced at a premium and can be in short supply.
RELATED: Aussie islands that feel like you’re overseas
RELATED: Stunning coastal spot we are all missing
That aside, this is quite possibly the best value domestic flight redemption available, given international premium award seats and upgrades aren’t accessible right now.
Of course, redeeming points on other regional Qantas routes can offer solid value, too.
Popular destinations serviced by Qantas include Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Kangaroo Island.
And the best bit? Right now, Qantas Classic Flight Reward bookings are fully refundable if your plans change, with the usual cancellation fee of 6000 points per person currently waived.
Lock in a stay with Qantas Hotels
When it comes to redeeming frequent flyer points, I’ve long been an advocate for choosing nights over flights.
Until March 7, 2021, Qantas Hotels is offering a 20 per cent reduction in the number of points required for “Points Plus Pay” bookings.
With access to over 200,000 hotels and accommodation providers, Qantas Hotels offers plenty of options – whether you’re playing it safe with a staycation, or looking for accommodation further afield.
Crunching the numbers, at current redemption rates, it’s possible to extract over 0.75 cent value per Qantas point.
In the current travel climate, that’s likely a redemption value that many frequent flyers will feel comfortable exchanging points for.
The value proposition is higher still when you consider that many high end properties are offering bargain rates as a result of COVID. Plus, booking in a Qantas Hotel package can offer additional perks such as room credit, breakfast and complimentary parking.
And the sweetener? When using the Points Plus Pay option at Qantas Hotels, you’ll also earn Qantas Points back to your account for making the booking.
Redeeming for goods at the Qantas Rewards Store
Seasoned frequent flyers see Qantas Rewards Store redemptions as a poor use of points. However, there are a few ways to extract more value.
Firstly, it pays to wait for the right time to make your purchase. The Qantas Rewards Store regularly runs sales on coveted brands including Apple, Bose and Dyson.
The second way to increase the redemption value of goods at the Qantas Store is via Qantas Points Club. Points Club Plus members receive an additional 10 per cent off the redemption cost at the Qantas Rewards Store. Often, this can be stacked with other promotions (including sales).
Personally speaking, by combining a Qantas Rewards Store sale with Points Club Plus status, I was recently able to burn my points for an iPhone 12 pro at just under 0.8 cents value per Qantas point.
Latest model iPhones are almost never on sale through retailers, so these items can offer value when redeemed with points.
While international travel is likely off the cards for some time, there’s still value to be had in redeeming Qantas points closer to home.
Of course, if you’d rather save your points stash for when international borders re-open, that’s an option, too. Qantas points don’t expire so long as you earn or use at least one point every 18 months – so it couldn’t be easier to keep your Qantas Frequent Flyer account active.
Adele Eliseo is a professional travel blogger and avid Qantas points collector. Adele shares her frequent flyer wisdom on her website The Champagne Mile.