How can you compare the value of Flybuys and Velocity or Qantas frequent flyer points? We were planning an overseas trip in 2017. So I looked up the number of frequent flyer points needed for a reward return flight to the USA and saw an advertisement that said we need around 90,000 Velocity point. So I began transferring all my Velocity points to my wife under the theory she might have enough points to pay her return airfare. That seemed within easy reach as a credit card company were offering a credit card with a bonus of 50,000 Velocity points. So I got the credit card, the bonus points and looked forward to the two of us travelling at half price.
The First Problem
The problem was that the 90,000 points for a return flight to the USA is only available when the fares are at their minimum and only for the whole return flight. You could choose a one way fare and pay for the return leg but you will pay more than half the number of points for the way over and more money for a single flight to return. However, if you want to fly when few others do, and you book early enough, you could fly for 90,000 points return. But if you want to fly at any other time, the number of points required rises. I guess you can expect that change because they have different dollar values for the flights at busier times of the year. And to get a reward flight, you have to get in early. I looked for reward flights in late December for almost a whole year in advance. There were never any reward seats offered around the dates we want to fly. The few reward flights on offer, seem to stop in early December, and didn’t return till late January.
But all is not lost. Their website says you can use points and pay – you pay for the flight using your points and cash. Using a slider you can choose to use all points or all cash or anything in-between. Unfortunately, the cost of buying a ticket this way increases dramatically. So a Christmas period economy flight to the USA currently costs around 270,000 points each way. I had seen it earlier for around 180,000 points each way (360,000 return) – which is 4 times the advertised reward seat price!
How Much Are Points Worth?
Conveniently the Australian supermarkets have a scale for transferring points to Virgin or Qantas that give us a clue to the value. Both Coles and Woolworth will transfer $10 worth of their reward points – 2000 Flybuys points or Woolworths points, to Virgin for Coles and Qantas for Woolworth for 870 respective points. Sometimes Virgin offer a 15% bonus on the offer. That makes 1 Velocity point equal to two flybuys points including the bonus. So using the $10 = 870 points guide, I looked at the airfare value in points. Virgin (pre Covid) were selling a one way trip to the USA in December for $3103 worth of points or $2700 with the 15% bonus. The comparative fare on their own website for cash was $1700. I think there is a problem with that!
Using the Flybuys travel website, the costs of the fare in Flybuys points seems to reflect the costs of booking the same flights on the Virgin or Qantas website using the 2000 points = $10 rule. So Flybuys travel wins here.
Internal Flights on Partner Airlines.
You can use your Velocity points and Qantas reward points to book internal flights in the USA as well. Using the Velocity website to check on available flight and comparing it with Kayak or Skyscanner the points value seems to reflect the actual dollar value of those internal flights – so this seems to be a better use of the points. But expect to be flexible if you want to use them this way. Rewards flights seats are not always available on the day you want to fly and they don’t always take the shortest route.
Several frequent flyer discussion sites suggested it is better to buy an upgrade to Business class or even First class than pay for an Economy fare using points and pay. However, they only offer upgrades on long haul international flights to Gold and Platinum members and you must buy a Freedom economy fare (the one you can change booking details) and that costs more in the first place. So I couldn’t test this scenario. Someone from Virgin told me once that reward upgrades are usually released only three months out when the figures on bookings are available to Virgin.
Both Qantas and Virgin offer to allow you to use the points to pay for hotels. So how does that compare? Using the points and pay slide on either Velocity or Qantas, and dividing the total points by 870, the costs are around double the cash price. It is difficult to compare all the websites but if you choose the same hotel and same room on Booking.com, Velocity, and Qantas Frequent flyer websites, the results are not favourable – they are around twice as expensive using the 870 points = $10 rule. So if you want to use your points for hotels, slide the lever toward the cash side and you can decide on how much you will lose. Flybuys travel on the other hand comes out at about the same price as Booking.com using the 2000 flybuys points = $10 rule. So Flybuys travel wins here too.
Maybe its me, but the Velocity website tells me I could get a $100 gift card for Myer for 18770 points. Using the 15% bonus guide that means for $187 worth of points, I can get a $100 gift card! Though there used to be occasional specials on Myer cards where you may get an additional $10 card as well. So, you get $110 for spending $180 worth of points. I guess it beats the odds on a poker machine but it isn’t in my favour! I haven’t looked at all the goods because there are thousands of things you can buy but I also doubt any toaster, no matter how good it is, is worth $400 worth of points either!
The Qantas site says I can buy an Apple Watch SE for $857 worth of points. That sure beats spending $429 at the Apple Store NOT!
Using your Flybuys points to buy goods looks like a much better proposition. For example you can buy a 12 inch iPad Pro for $2420 an Apple Home Pod for $482 worth of points and for both that’s worth only $20 more than buying directly from the Apple store. At least its not double the price!
It seems from my research, using Flybuys points gives better value for money than either Qantas or Velocity points. If you can, maybe get a reward flight that seems to also be reasonable value. At least using Flybuys points for hotels or flights is the same as the dollar value on the Flybuys travel website. Just be careful using the Flybuys website as the website gives a total points cost (in my case a flight for 2 people) rather than the cost per person using Velocity or Qantas websites. Finally, using your frequent flyer points to fly internally in your destination country also seems to be a reasonable use of your points.
However, I suggest you don’t take my word for it as I may have chosen random products that do not show the real value. But do some research yourself before you buy.