What frequent flyer program should I focus on if moving to Saudi Arabia?

Just about to hit gold on my Qantas FF, anniversary is in October.

I am moving overseas to dammam, KSA and wondering what frequent Flyer program I should use. Unfortunately Qantas won’t allow me to book flights departing from dammam.

Is there any FF program that will transfer status? And, which FF program would you suggest?

Hi @akbermo

Interesting question! My first thought is that both Qatar and Emirates fly one-stop from Australia to Dammam via their hubs in Doha and Dubai. Both of those airlines will recognise your Qantas FF Gold status and give you the associated perks such as lounge access. If you book with them and enter your Qantas FF number, both airlines will also potentially give you Qantas status credits and enable you to retain your Qantas FF Gold status as they are both Qantas partners.

If your move to Dammam will be relatively short-term, I’d probably recommend that you do just that, and use your Qantas FF status. Unfortunately it’s extremely unlikely that either of the above airlines will offer a status match as such.

The wheretocredit.com website will enable you to find out which airline will get you more Qantas points and/or status credits, depending on your fare class.

If you’re moving to Dammam for the long term, you might want to think about going for status in another FF programme such as Emirates Skywards, Qatar Privilege Club, Turkish Miles & Smiles, or one of the Saudi airlines. It really all depends on what your travel habits are going to be.


Thanks for your reply, since I’ve already hit gold would you suggest booking all my travel for the rest of membership year with whoever I intend on using long term? I like emirates but they’re basically 50% more expensive on most flights from dammam. Turkish airlines is good but no direct flights to Brisbane for any star alliance members.

Looks like I gotta go emirates skywards

Well, now that you’re Gold you can use the lounges before Emirates and Qatar flights within the ME and to/from Australia, so it makes sense to fly with them. But really there’s no right/wrong answer to those questions – it depends on what your preferences are and what your travel habits will be. Will you be flying a lot within the ME? Will you be returning to Australia a lot?

As for Turkish Airlines, they’re a great airline with an excellent Frequent Flyer programme. No, they don’t fly to Brisbane, but Singapore Airlines flies daily out of Istanbul and into Brisbane via Singapore, and you can credit Singapore Airlines flights to Turkish Miles & Smiles (or you could likewise credit Turkish flights to Singapore’s KrisFlyer). So if you weren’t doing a lot of short-haul flying within the ME, that might make sense as well.

But yes, for one-stop options into Brisbane using your Qantas status you’re limited to Emirates and Qatar. If you don’t mind flying via Sydney or Melbourne you can also add Sri Lankan, which flies from Dammam to those cities via Columbo.

Thank you for your help I was hoping that there would be an obvious correct answer, but there understandably isn’t. In kingdom I just drive everywhere, most flying is to Australia (twice a year with family) and holidays around Europe, that’s where Turkish would work really help. Didn’t realise they were partnered, I’ll look into flying with Singapore the travel the rest of membership year.

This has been a very interesting thread. Thank you.
My situation is very similar, so if I might, I wanted to run off the back of this discussion…

I recently took up a touring role in the Kingdom, which has me in and out of country on 6 week rotations. Whilst I’m not moving there (from Australia) I will basically be spending more time away from home, if I can call Australia home. I will also eventually hold residency in Saudi, but that is probably not all that relevant, so I’ll get to the point.
I - like “akbermo” - am a Qantas FF member. I am also an Emirates FF member, as it made sense to sign up and collect, considering my employer books me in and out of Australia on Emirates. At least for the moment…
My question extends to credit cards. Would there be a recommended card I should consider signing up to that would maximise my rewards points?
At this early stage in my research (I’m signed up to the 3 week email course) I figure an “Altitude” Rewards credit card sounds appealing, as it gives you flexibility across a number of rewards programs (Airlines)
Or do I need to consider multiple Rewards cards??
Am I on the right page?
I am more than interested to hear people’s thoughts

Hello @ng_tindall

I’m glad you’re finding this thread interesting! I’m also glad you’re doing the email course and you’re discovering the benefits of flexible rewards programmes.

You might be interested in this article and table which tells you which credit card reward programmes transfer to which frequent flyer programmes. If I were you, as my first port-of-call I’d be looking at a programme which transfers into both Qantas FF and Emirates Skywards. As you can see, there’s only one rewards programme which fits that bill: American Express Membership Rewards Ascent Premium (only a couple of high-end AmEx cards earn Ascent Premium points).

Another option would be to use one Qantas-points-earning card, and another card for earning Emirates points. A third option would be to focus on just one of Qantas FF or Emirates Skywards rather than both. (I assume you’re aware that you can earn Emirates Skywards points on Qantas flights and Qantas points on Emirates flights).

In any case, you’re on the right track now: continue with the email course and examine the Points Transfer Matrix – and of course come back here if you have any more questions!

One thing to consider when selecting a card is that almost all of our rewards cards in Australia will charge you a foreign transaction fee (~3%) which might negate most of those rewards you will be earning while you are in the kingdom. So I would prioritise something that doesn’t have this fee and then consider rewards second. Also, not being an expert of the Saudi market, I’m not sure if there are reward credit cards options over there that are available to you as well…

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Thanks so much for the feedback.
As much as I like the idea of utilising an Amex 'flexible rewards card", the kicker is going to be risk v reward.
As you rightly point out, the 3% transaction fee on purchases may well negate the benefit of the points accrued in the process.
I use an ING debit card - until such time as I sign up with a Saudi bank - which has zero fees incurred, other than the foreign currency rate commission, which is minimal.
Maybe once I am entitled to sign up with a local bank (I need to be accepted as a worker/resident first) then I may be able to link an Amex Rewards card to that account.
I’m in no rush, as I need to get all my ducks in a line before pulling the trigger.
In the meantime, I am signed up to both Skywards and Qantas FF programs, so at least I’m earning on air miles while I figure out which card or cards to go with.
Thanks again for your feedback!