United Airlines is one of 10 new CommBank Awards transfer partners
United Airlines is one of 10 new CommBank Awards transfer partners

Commonwealth Bank has increased its CommBank Awards airline and hotel transfer partners overnight from 2 to 12! In addition to Qantas and Virgin Australia, CommBank Awards points can now be transferred to airlines including United, Japan Airlines and Air France.

On 5 November 2018, CommBank awards also added Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program to its list of transfer partners.

This creates some interesting new possibilities as several new partners are unique to Commonwealth Bank.

Here’s the new list of CommBank Awards airline transfer partners:

  • Virgin Australia Velocity: 2 or 2.5 Awards points = 1 point
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer: 2.5 Awards points = 1 point
  • Air Asia Big Loyalty: 2.5 Awards points = 1 point
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 3 Awards points = 1 mile
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 3 Awards points = 1 mile
  • China Eastern Miles: 3 Awards points = 1 mile
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands: 3 Awards points = 1 mile
  • Etihad Guest: 3.5 Awards points = 1 mile
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich: 3.5 Awards points = 1 mile
  • Japan Airlines Mileage Bank: 4 Awards points = 1 mile
  • Lufthansa Miles&More: 4 Awards points = 1 mile
  • United Mileage Plus: 4 Awards points = 1 mile

CommBank Awards points can also now be transferred to the IHG Rewards Club hotel loyalty program. You’ll receive 1 IHG Rewards point for every 2.5 CommBank Awards point transferred.

Note that to earn Qantas points, you’ll need to opt-in to Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct for an extra $30 per year. This results in a direct sweep of all your CommBank Awards points to Qantas.

The new transfer partners are part of CommBank Awards’ new “Global Frequent Traveller Program”, which is powered by Kaligo Systems. The minimum transfer amount to any of the new airline or hotel programs is 2,500 Awards points. Redemptions greater than this amount would need to be in increments of 1,000 points. The transfer could take between 3 and 15 days.

A couple of the new transfer partners are complete duds, such as Air Asia Big Loyalty. But there are some surprising gems in this list. For example, United Mileage Plus is a superb Star Alliance program. Flying Blue is also a welcome addition as a SkyTeam program. As Australian Frequent Flyer recently demonstrated, there is tons of SkyTeam award availability in and out of Australia. So the ability to transfer points from an Australian credit card rewards program to a SkyTeam airline is great news.

No other Australian credit card offers the ability to transfer points directly to China Eastern, Japan Airlines, United Airlines, Lufthansa or Air Asia.

While these changes are positive, CommBank Awards is unfortunately still a relatively uncompetitive credit card rewards program. The earn rates on CommBank Awards credit cards are quite low, and the cost of redemptions is high. Even the bank’s highest-earning card, the Diamond Awards credit card with a $349 annual fee, earns only 1.25 Awards points per dollar. That’s the equivalent of 0.5 Qantas points, 0.42 Flying Blue miles or just 0.31 United miles per dollar. All of the bank’s other Awards credit cards earn points at even lower rates. By comparison, most American Express cards earn an equivalent of 1 frequent flyer point per dollar spent.

Commonwealth Bank is also axing its American Express credit cards in the coming months. CommBank Amex cards will no longer be offered from September, and existing cards will stop working in November.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: CBA adds JAL, United and other airline transfer partners

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]