Navigate your way through the programs and you won’t pay a cent.
Are you looking to up your Frequent Flyer game this year? Airline programs are big business in Australia, and our appetite for collecting points is bigger than ever.
However, if you’re travelling as a family, playing the points game can present a challenge – particularly if your goal is to redeem reward seats for four. Think it’s unachievable? Well, think again.
Here are a few hacks to help you gather points at a fast rate and redeem them to holiday with the family for less.
Consider a rewarding credit card
Right now, Australian credit card providers are pumping out offers of up to 120,000 bonus frequent flyer points – enough to boost your points balance significantly.
Provided you pay it off in full each month, a frequent flyer credit card could absolutely make sense. Above and beyond the sign on bonus, there’s potential to unlock ongoing travel and lounge perks for you and your family, plus the opportunity to earn and redeem frequent flyer points for aspirational airline jaunts, hotel stays and more.
Take advantage of every opportunity to earn points with your everyday activities and expenses. For example, you can earn Qantas Points on your Woolworths shop, booking Airbnb’s and even whilst sleeping, via the Qantas Wellbeing app. Qantas is also set to launch a new partnership with BP, which could see you earn points each time you fill up at the bowser.
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Take advantage of frequent flyer programs and everyone wins. Image: iStock
Sign up the family
Enlisting family members in your quest to earn points can help you to boost your rewards balance faster. Some credit card providers allow you to arrange supplementary rewards credit cards for a family member at no extra fee. And, both Virgin Australia and Qantas allow you to easily pool frequent flyer points with your family members.
Whilst you won’t gain extra points or miles by doing this, clever travellers know that pooling points can help you to reach that flight redemption goal sooner.
When booking seems impossible …
So you’ve gathered piles points and you want to use them. But it seems when you want to use them to treat the family to a well-deserved holiday, you can’t. There’s never an award seat available during the school holidays, and getting a free night’s accommodation for a family room is nigh on impossible.
The fact is, it is possible to use your points and work your loyalty rewards to holiday with your family for less. Here are a few things to consider:
Airlines only reserve a limited number of seats for rewards – but if you know you want to go away, be prepared to look online as soon as the seats are released – often up to 11 months in advance.
Be flexible with your holiday destination
If you’ve got your heart set on flying to Greece in July first class then you’ll struggle to use your points. Airlines won’t give away seats for free on a flight they know they can sell out, which is often the case during peak summer season in Europe, Japan in cherry blossom season, or New York at Christmas.
Why not take the family somewhere different this year and then show off to your friends that you were first to discover a spot? Lonely Planet named a number of spots as ‘best value for 2020 including Budapest, Serbia and Zanzibar.
Choose an ‘outside the box’ location for your holiday and take the kids on an adventure – you’ll likely also save money by visiting an emerging destination that hasn’t been damaged by over tourism yet.
Family holidays on the cheap are the best. Image: iStock
This mum managed to travel overseas using just points. Or if you’re looking for a trick to sneak into first class, try this $20 tip.
Opt for the route less travelled
As you’d expect, there’s significant competition to snap up award space on Qantas via Singapore to London, so it pays to be more creative. If you spend time researching a partner airline with a more creative itinerary, you’ll have a better chance of redeeming that seat.
For example, construct an itinerary through Finnair to Helsinki via Singapore or through Japan Airlines via Tokyo to Paris. Both airlines are part of the oneworld alliance and readily redeemable online using Qantas Points.
Alternatively, add an extra stop to your trip – going to both Singapore and Dubai on your way to Europe could open up more reward seats. Plus, you get to enjoy a different destination, and the extra stops can alleviate the jet lag – which is never a lot of fun with a young family! It may take some research, but think of it as an investment that will pay dividends in fun, relaxation and broadening the mind.
Think beyond the obvious frequent flyer programs
Qantas is the most popular in Australia for a reason. However, global loyalty programs such as Cathay Pacific ‘Asia Miles’ and Singapore Airlines ‘KrisFlyer’ are accessible to local travellers. These programs typically offer cheaper award redemptions.
It’s no secret that airlines would not be in business if they gave away too many freebies, so don’t expect a first class flight across the world merely in return for buying a few groceries. But if you’re willing to be flexible, open-minded and adventurous, and put the time in to research, you could be planning your family’s next well-deserved trip for significantly less cost outlay than you’d originally factored in.
Adele Eliseo is the founder of travel blog, The Champagne Mile and has a passion for travel, scouting tricks and hacks to earn frequent flyer points.
If you have any travel hacks and tips you’d like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.