Is it better to have many points in one or two frequent flyer programs, or many small balances of points spread across many international programs?

Would love some advice regarding the membership of ff programmes. Currently belong to QF (but never seem to be able to redeem points for flights, even with the wonderful Award Assist people), Velocity, Etihad, and Aeroplan and Krisflyer. Is it better to only have a couple of memberships and try for more points in each?

The answer is… it depends. If your main goal is to earn status, it’s generally best to stick with one or two airlines. This way, you can more easily climb the status ladder and enjoy the many perks that come with top-tier airline status. But if your main goal is to earn and burn points for flights, this changes the equation.

As a general rule, our members suggest joining as many frequent flyer programs as possible. This allows you to take advantage of the various promotions that come along from time to time, such as bonuses on buying miles. These promotions are often available only to members that joined before the promo was announced.

First of all join as many as you can. Krisflyer is the only one that seems to offer occasional points bonuses for new members. Some schemes require the account to be open for a period of time before being allowed to do things such as buy miles

The real question is which programs should you credit your flights to.

Joining a frequent flyer program does not necessarily mean that you need to actively earn and burn points through it. Instead, our members suggest that it’s generally best to focus on earning points with around 2-3 programs.

Using multiple programs allows you to take advantage of more point-earning opportunities, including the ability to earn points for flights on airlines that may not partner with your main program. Accumulating points across multiple programs also gives you greater choice when redeeming the points for reward flights.

But sticking with one program can also have its advantages. Focusing on one program may allow you to earn more points which can be put towards a more expensive, higher-value reward. This can also be advantageous if you’re working towards lifetime status.

Because of blissful and total FF ignorance – I’ve managed to accumulate lifetime status with Qantas. This has only occurred due to faithfully flying within the one FF scheme.

Our member RooFlyer proposes a smart strategy to focus on Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer and the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program. But they also advise joining other programs in order to exploit any opportunities that may arise.

I think it is best to restrict your ‘earn’ to a few programs – Qantas and Virgin Velociy are obvious for Australians, and maybe one Star Alliance airline as well – probably SQ Krisflyer, due to its relationship to Virgin and velocity.

But there are good reasons for joining other programs. For instance, you can buy miles on many US FF programs (AAdvantage, United, Alaskan etc). There are not good value unless combined with one of their regular (very regular!) bonus schemes – sometimes they offer 50+% bonus miles if you buy a certain amount. It was better when the A$ was nearer parity with US$, but there is still a place for buying these miles – the cost to buy and redeem is usually cheaper than, say buying the fare on American.

What’s your point-earning strategy? Join the discussion HERE.

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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]