What are your thoughts about playing the points game vs hunting for cheap fares?


I enjoy hunting the webesphere for bargain travel/ accom. Ive been coming to this site for a few weeks to see if the points game is for me. The idea of it is, I love nerding out on stuff like this. To me the disadvantages are locking yourself into one group of airlines and it seems forgoing cheap fares altogether. The only big upside I can see is using points to upgrade to business class international flights, something Ive dreamed of.

If I get a card with 50 - 80k points and spend about $4-5k a month on it(including all my bpay stuff which is majority of that) would I be in a better travel position then hunting super bargains?

In two months I’m going to Japan for under $600 return. Qantas or Jetstar cost double that. Could anyone give me an idea how many points that trip would cost? Could I still hunt the best bargains on affiliated airlines then use points to upgrade? From what I can see it seems cheap fares are excluded from using points on.

Hi Sach,

Just as an example, you need 90k Krisflyer points for SYD-TYO return. On Jetstar, you can do that for 57600 QFF points.

Depending on the points you earn from the credit card sign up, you may already be able to fly return with the sign up points.

Let just assume you don’t get charged a ccard surcharge on your Bpay stuff (rather unlikely), let say you spend $5k on credit card and you get 0.5 points per $ (very low just for argument sake). You will get 2500 points per month and 30k per year for free. After 2 years max you can fly return on Jetstar to Tokyo by just paying taxes. Naturally this is quicker if you use a high earning ccard but these usually cost more.

For common folk, I don’t think your strategy of finding cheap fares and earning points has to be mutually exclusive. That is, you can do both. Just do what you love doing -> travel on cheap fares. Then use your credit card spend to earn points (which is sort of free if you find a no annual fee card on offer and do not pay any surcharge and pay your bills in full on time). Only when you have enough points, try and redeem a free award ticket.

That’s one way of not compromising on your love of cheap flights.

Do take note that the cheapest tickets are usually not available for upgrade to premium class.

Also to add, since you are keen to go on international business class. My personal opinion is: the better option is to book business award seats outright. You get more bang for your points/miles. These usually cost upwards of 3 times as much as economy tickets (if bought outright with cash) but cost maybe 1.5-2 times more in points than economy award tickets. Hence, it is widely known that it is generally more worthwhile to spent your points on premium seats.

Thanks for your replies. I’ll have to do some more research. From what I can see the cards with good sign on bonuses have big annual fees. In fact I am yet to find one points card that does not have a annual fee. So I guess that would make the basic underlying maths whether I am getting more points per year on general spend then the fee I am paying. Then looking at how much the trip I could redeem them for would cost via the bargain tickets and seeing if that annual fee amount was better spent towards a low fare trip.

I have been looking at a small business start up for a few years now. Maybe I should do it just to figure out extra ways to gain points!

Hi Sach,

I can find at least 3 AMEX card without annual fee and 1 St George Amplify Visa card offering $0 annual fee for the 1st year (usually cost $279). All 4 offer points earn.

A start up that involved points? If so, I’m  quite interested with your business plan and what makes it different.