In recent weeks, Virgin Australia expanded its frequent flyer program partnership with BP. Virgin Velocity points can now be redeemed for petrol at any BP service station in Australia. This complements the existing ability to earn Velocity points on all BP purchases.
Our members generally welcome new ways to earn and redeem frequent flyer points. However, the majority of our members do not see the value in redeeming Velocity points for petrol.
For every $10 saved on BP petrol, Velocity members will need to spend 1,667 points. That gives each point spent on fuel a notional value of 0.6 cents. This is slightly better value than redeeming points for merchandise from the Velocity Rewards store. It’s also marginally better value than redeeming points for gift vouchers – including, ironically, BP vouchers. However, redeeming points for products or gift vouchers is often regarded as very poor value.
You’ll almost certainly get better value for your points by redeeming them for a reward flight or upgrade. For example, a reward flight from Sydney to Melbourne costs 7,800 Velocity points (plus around $21 in taxes). A typical flight on this route costs $155. However, 7,800 points would be worth less than $47 of BP petrol. $47 of fuel is unlikely to even be enough to drive from Sydney to Melbourne!
Nonetheless, our members believe that this could be a worthwhile option for those with large amounts of points or infrequent flyers.
I don’t think “we” will be the suckers, but I suspect there are a large amount of people who have points, but no hope of achieving high enough status to redeem for international upgrades, or know to book far enough in advance for reward seats. What about the people who got a FF card from BP solely to collect points? Their dreams of international jet setting should be dashed enough by now to think this is a marvellous idea
If you’ve set up your Velocity account with a PIN, you’ll probably be asked if you would like to redeem your points when you next fill up at BP. But if you prefer not to use your points for fuel, it is possible to disable this function…
Log in to the Velocity website, select ‘Pay with Points In-Store’, then click the little text link at the bottom to turn it off. Then you won’t need to say “no” every time you swipe your Velocity card.
If one member’s experience is anything to go by, the initial uptake has been low. Time will tell if this becomes a popular new way to redeem points, or if Virgin may need to decrease the number of points required in order to make it more attractive.
When I fueled up last week it was the first time since the pay with points deal came in. I was at pains to make sure I didn’t pay with points but I disappointed the lady serving me as she wanted to see what would happen and every single person that day had refused to pay with points.
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