Cash vs Points
It all depends on what route you want to fly and how much the cash ticket costs compared to the amount of points you have to pay.
If fares are cheap, consider how much each point would be worth if you redeemed them instead of paying cash.
For example, a ticket costing $800 with cash and 60,000 points plus a $50 surcharge:
- Take away the $50 you pay in cash for the taxes, and you get $750
- You are effectively paying $750 with 60,000 points
*$750/60000 = 1.25 cents per point
In that instance, 1.25 cents per point is how much you value your Qantas points. I aim to get at least 2 cents per point of value in my Qantas points but everyone’s valuation of Qantas points is different.
Upgrades vs Outright
The benefit of outright redeeming for a business or first class ticket is that you are guaranteed that seat on the plane. With upgrades, its highly dependent on how popular the route is, your status with the airline and other factors. Thus, you must be willing to slum it in your economy seat if your business class upgrade doesn’t come through. Keep in mind too that there are restrictions on the type of fares you can upgrade using points.
TLDR: Redeem outright if you want the seat, if you could live without it, buying a ticket then upgrading is a lower points cost option.