The American Express Membership Rewards and Flybuys programs have reinstated the ability to transfer points to Velocity Frequent Flyer. It comes after all Australian bank & supermarket loyalty programs temporarily suspended point transfers to Velocity due to the loyalty program of Virgin Australia pausing all redemptions on 21 April 2020.
Most Australian banks are still blocking the transfer of reward points to Velocity. But American Express decided to re-open Velocity transfers after the announcement that Velocity points could now be redeemed again for travel after 1 September 2020 on a limited selection of domestic Virgin Australia flights.
The American Express website currently contains this notice:
Flybuys never officially paused transfers to Velocity, but in practice the website simply didn’t work for a while. If you tried to access the Velocity redemption page while signed in, the page would not load. But this has now been fixed, and Flybuys transfers to Velocity are back online.
This is what the Flybuys website currently says:
Other Australian credit card reward programs have maintained temporary pauses on Velocity Frequent Flyer transfers. These include ANZ Rewards, NAB Rewards, Westpac Altitude Rewards, Amplify Rewards, CommBank Awards, Diners Club Rewards, Citi Rewards and HSBC Rewards Plus. But credit cards that normally earn Velocity points automatically continue to do so.
For example, ANZ Rewards currently has this notice on its website:
Velocity redemption opportunities remain extremely limited
Velocity Frequent Flyer’s marketing department has been spruiking how it’s “great news” that redemptions are available again, as well as boasting about its recent win at the Freddie Awards. In reality, Velocity redemptions are currently extremely limited.
Even if you can transfer your points to Velocity now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Velocity redemptions are currently only available on limited domestic routes – you can’t even redeem points to fly to Hobart or Darwin, let alone overseas – and you can only redeem points for flights beyond September. There’s no guarantee all of the flights currently scheduled beyond September will actually operate. Meanwhile, Velocity has used this small change as an excuse to reinstate the normal expiry of Velocity points (which had been paused while all redemptions were paused).
There is virtually no benefit in transferring points to Velocity now. Even if you plan to fly with Virgin Australia in September, you would be better off waiting a few more months and booking your reward flights once the situation with both Virgin Australia and the current border closures is less uncertain.
Then there’s the risk that your Velocity points could be somehow devalued in the meantime. Keep in mind that credit card point transfers can’t be reversed later. So, for now, you’re better off keeping your credit card reward points right where they are. With most banks, credit card points don’t expire.
No refunds for existing Velocity reward seat bookings
Velocity says that it will refund your points & taxes, for reward bookings made between 15 May & 31 August 2020, if either you or Virgin Australia cancels the flight.
But it’s difficult to trust Velocity at the moment when they keep changing rules on the fly. Until recently, Velocity was also saying it would fully refund the points & taxes paid for existing reward seat bookings, for travel until 30 September 2020. Velocity has since retrospectively changed this policy, and is now saying it won’t issue any refunds for reward tickets issued before 15 May 2020.
Velocity Frequent Flyer is quick to remind its members that it is a separate business to Virgin Australia and is not in voluntary administration. But, by making retrospective changes to policies that detriment members – without informing them – Velocity sure seems to be acting like it’s in administration! Perhaps that’s part of the reason most Australian banks have decided to continue blocking point transfers to Velocity for the time being.
Australian Frequent Flyer approached Velocity Frequent Flyer for comment on its new refund policy for reward bookings made before 15 May 2020. Velocity told us that their team is doing their best to work with the administrators of Virgin Australia on what they’re able to offer members with impacted bookings. They said they are currently working through what Virgin Australia’s new refund policy will mean for Velocity Reward Seat bookings made prior to 15 May, and hope to update members with more information soon.
Join the discussion on our Virgin Australia forum.