Should I start with a direct airline program or flexible credit card point program?

Hi everyone

I am brand new to points hacking and I’d love some inputs please on what kind of FF program & hence credit card I should get given my circumstances… There seem to be so many options / permutations that I’m getting a bit confused!

I think my main question is - should I accumulate Qantas or Velocity points, or accumulate Amex points which are more flexible… but I gather that when I transfer these there is an ‘exchange rate’ which means they are less effective than accumulating points directly with an airline?

Anyway - here are my circumstances…

  • My goal - return business flights to Europe or US for a family of 4, every 2 years, as close to free as possible
  • My work sends me interstate / overseas on Qantas occasionally (1-2 a year), if I travel overseas it is business class
  • My wife loves Singapore airlines (I do too!) and I read recently that it is easier / cheaper to redeem seats with them (?)
  • My average monthly credit spend - ~$8000/month. My card is bundled with my home loan, and I believe I have the option of earning Qantas points with them (capped at 4000 points / month)
  • I have close to 0 points on Qantas / Velocity as I recently redeemed them for something else
  • We love travelling to Asia (at least once a year) and travelling business class would be great for that too, however I feel it makes better sense to save my points for the Europe / US trips. Happy to be challenged on that

Would love to hear your comments and suggestions.


Hi doublea,

Welcome to the world of points hacking!

You seem to have compelling reasons to accumulate both Qantas and Velocity points. In practice you’ll be accumulating points with both, because there are a huge number of situations where you can only accumulate points in one or the other. When I exercise, for example, I can only turn that into Qantas points: there’s no Velocity equivalent of the Qantas Wellbeing app. On the other hand when I purchase from Etsy, Velocity is the only points-earning option. There are countless other examples.

However, which FF programme should you focus on? My advice to you is that you shouldn’t shirk away from a flexible points programme such as AmEx Rewards. This Point Hacks article explains why. And it’s definitely not the case that flexible programmes will always give you fewer FF points. The huge advantage of a flexible system is that you don’t need to decide now where to transfer your points. You can do so when you’re ready to fly in the future, on the basis of which airlines have flights available.

We can’t give financial advice here regarding which credit card you should get. However what I will say is that the American Express Platinum Charge card has a great earning rate and its points can be transferred into Qantas, Velocity, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and a whole lot of other programmes. It’s definitely not a card for everybody though, due to its very high annual fee and also because it’s a charge card rather than a credit card. So it might not be the card for you. Do your own due diligence, look at the cards and offers available, and come to your own decision based on your particular financial circumstances.

Based on what you’ve written, your goal is well-and-truly do-able. All the best as you embark on your point hacking journey!

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Thanks for your insights @sixtyeight! I had a follow up question please:

The Amex platinum charge card’s annual fee feels too high for my appetite… My work trips & home loan bundled credit card situation dictates that I will continue to collect Qantas FF points. But if I don’t want to pay that much for an Amex card, which I understand means I can only transfer to non-Qantas programs, do you think it’s worth applying for another Visa / MC card that earns Velocity / Krisflyer points for when Amex is not accepted, so that I concentrate my earnings in one program and reach my business-class travel goals, instead of ‘diluting’ it? What would you do if you were in my situation and didn’t want to pay the high annual fee for the Amex platinum charge?

Thanks in advance!

Hi again,

What you say makes a lot of sense. There’s no harm in focusing on Qantas points. I thought of the AmEx because it’s one of the very few cards (in fact I can’t think of another, off the top of my head) whose points can be transferred into Qantas and other programmes such as KrisFlyer and Velocity.

However, I do think you should consider this: on a monthly spend of $8000, you should be aiming to earn at least 8000 FF points. From what you write, you’re earning 0.5 points per dollar, and really you should be doing better. In order to achieve your aims, you should really have a three-pronged strategy:

  1. Grab a card or two (or three, or four, over a period of time) with large sign-up bonuses.

  2. Put your spending on cards which earn, as a minimum, one FF point per $.

  3. Be looking at earning points from other means, such as Woolworths Rewards, Flybuys, Qantas shopping, Velocity e-store, petrol purchases, etc etc.

With credit cards, my personal strategy is to use AmEx as much as I can (I have two AmEx cards which are best for different situations), and then to churn through various Visa/MC cards which I get and cancel reasonably regularly for the sign-up bonuses. But I’m not as concerned with Qantas points; I focus more on Velocity and other overseas programmes such as KrisFlyer and Asia Miles. Possibly the same strategy would work for you, even if you focus on an AmEx and Visa/MC cards that earn Qantas points. They most definitely exist and many are very good value. Go back to the Point Hacks credit card page and see what you find!

I hope this makes sense. The main piece of advice I’d give you is to make sure that your $8000 monthly spend is earning you at least 8000 points!

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My 2c worth is that I wouldn’t focus on anything Qantas at the moment because of their very poor redemption opportunities (unless you only intend to travel to Asia) and their very steep fees. Velocity is so much the better program (not to mention much better customer service on board). I switched about 18 months ago and am not looking back :slight_smile: