Australians have been lavishly spending millions of frequent flyer points despite heavy restrictions on our options for travelling, new data from Qantas reveals.
With the past year having been marked by a dramatic ban on overseas holidays – which is traditionally the smartest way to spend points, according to the experts – Australians have found a new purpose for their stockpiled Qantas points: Upgrading stays at top-tier luxury hotels.
Qantas said its data showed luxury bookings were on the rise as state border restrictions eased, with millions of points being splashed out on high-end resorts such as Qualia on Hamilton Island, The Park Hyatt at Sydney Harbour and the Sheraton Grand Mirage on the Gold Coast.
Bookings for high-end domestic resorts have actually increased five-fold in the past 12 months compared to the 12 months prior, Qantas said – likely a result of the freeze on international travel.
In one case, a Qantas frequent flyer splashed two million points on a single stay at the Emirates One and Only resort in the Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
In another case, a frequent flyer spent close to 1.3 million Qantas points to stay at the luxurious Orpheus Island at the Great Barrier Reef.
“With international borders closed, we’re seeing more and more Frequent Flyers investing in their domestic travel experiences and booking high-end getaways to treat themselves to a little luxury,” Qantas Loyalty chief executive officer Olivia Wirth said in a statement.
“Australians see the value in being a Qantas Frequent Flyer and are continuing to chase Qantas points to help bring them closer to their next dream holiday.”
Despite the international travel ban and waves of domestic border restrictions, Australians have continued to earn points during the pandemic, the company said.
The most popular way has been through credit card spending, followed by spending with Qantas reward partners Woolworths, Red Energy and BP.
More than 170 million points have been given away to users of the Qantas Wellbeing App.
Qantas said it has also seen customers boost their accounts with points transfers from other credit card rewards programs, with one customer having transferred a whopping nine million points into the program.
About 80 per cent of Qantas Frequent Flyers intended to spend their points exclusively on travel, research by the company found.
Finder.com.au editor-in-chief and points guru Angus Kidman previously explained international flights were the best value way to spend frequent flyer points, and it could pay to be patient until overseas travel resumed.
Qantas has reopened international flight bookings from July, although there is no word yet on when the Federal Government will re-open the nation’s borders.
“Your Qantas Points won’t expire as long as you’re still earning points,” Mr Kidman said.
“You can easily do that by using a credit card that earns points to cover your everyday expenses, and there are plenty of good options to choose from. That way, you can keep earning points and hold off on spending them until international travel is once again an option.”
But with the return date for international travel still uncertain, customers who can’t wait that long could take advantage of “sweet spots” in Qantas domestic flights.
“Flights to regional centres usually cost far more than those between capital cities, so they offer a good return on your points,” Mr Kidman said.
This could include intrastate flights from Sydney to Coffs Harbour, Ballina, Tamworth and Dubbo in NSW, flights to Cairns, Townsville or Mackay in Queensland, Broome in Western Australia and Mildura in Victoria.
Whatever you do, don’t spend your hard-earned frequent flyer points from any rewards program on appliances.
“Coffee machines and sandwich makers only offer a fraction of the value you’ll get from even a simple domestic flight,” Mr Kidman said.