Why do we bother with frequent flyer programmes?

I just booked two adult return airfares from Sydney to the Gold Coast for next month on Virgin using Velocity points.

The minimum number of points I was allowed to use for this booking was 28,000 and the fees and taxes I would have to pay (I used the points + pay option) was $177.80

When I adjusted the number of points to 38,000, the fees and taxes came down to $118.35.

I accumulate points via the ANZ Visa Platinum credit card which gives 1 point for every dollar spent but it takes 2 x Visa Reward points to produce 1 x Velocity point.

If I just had paid for the tickets it would have cost $482 so I “saved” $363.65 using my 38,000 points or $304.20 if I had used 28,000 points.

If we convert the savings into points we get:

28,000 1.08 cents per point (need to spend $56,000 on the card to accumulate this)
38,000 0.95 cents per point (need to spend $76,000 on the card to accumulate this)

Two things I conclude about this:

  1. It seems you get better value per point by using the minimum number of points when you book.

  2. With so many purchases incurring credit card surcharges of 0.7% or often higher and the large amounts of money you have tp spend to accumulate points, why do we bother with this points rubbish at all and just pay for the airfares? The value is so marginal and takes a long time to accrue.

Interested in people’s feedback on this. Am I missing something or getting things wrong in my calculations?


Your calculations are correct however I am not quite prepared to cancel my credit card and start paying for everything with cash. Since I have a credit card and will pay those surcharges anyway I might as well earn points which can be converted to a flight one day.

Hi @barry,
To get the full value out of points hacking I think it’s fair to say the greatest value for money/points is when you redeem flights in a premium cabin for international long haul travel. I don’t think there is anything wrong with your calculations, however I’m not sure you have the best card for earning points. The secret to accruing large amounts of points quickly is by churning credit cards to get the large chunks of bonus reward points on offer. Many people will keep one card as the fall back between churning cards, so that you can always keep earning points whilst in the bonus points blackout periods that each financial institution applies after you cancel a card. From my perspective, it’s definitely worth it.

Yep - I get the idea of churning cards as the large points bonuses are the key way to accrue points. Unless of course you run business revenue through them which I think is the jackpot when it comes getting all the stuff that gets talked about on Point Hacks e.g. round the world in Emirates first class suites…a fantasy for most people who don’t have the business points accrual angle.

For sure, if you have a business that you can funnel your business expenses through, you have a huge advantage in the points accrual game. However you still have the same seat availability constraints when trying to redeem flights as everyone else.

I can assure you that 1st & Business class long haul travel is within reach of the average avid points hacker. I don’t own a business - I work as a full time employee. Churning cards, and all the other bonus points deals that pop up (Mortgage/Mobile Phones/Petrol/etc…) make up my sole source of points, plus our regular household spending throughout the year. We don’t manufacturer spending to earn points. Twice I’ve purchases Qantas Top Up points when they had the 50% bonus offer, as I needed it to get the premium seats for a booking I was investigating.

Both before COVID and after, this has allowed my family and I to fly 1st & Business class between the USA, UK, Dubai, Maldives, HK and Oz… on Qatar (1st & QSuites), Emirates (1st & Business), Cathay Pacific (Business), Malaysian (Business) and even a couple of Qantas flights (Business from SYD/BNE → LAX).

I guess it all depends on your tolerance level for the effort that’s required to make the system work for your needs and requirements.

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