We calculated the exact value of one frequent flyer point in both the Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Australia Velocity programs, depending on how the point was spent, around four years ago. This week, we ran exactly the same calculations. You may be surprised by just how much the value of a frequent flyer point has changed in just four years!
How much is a Qantas point worth in 2015 vs 2019?
The dollar value of Qantas points depends on how they’re redeemed. In general, you’ll get more value by redeeming your frequent flyer points for upgrades and reward flights – particularly Business and First Class bookings. Spending your points on the ground for things like gift cards or toasters is not a good use of points for most people.
So, how much exactly is one Qantas point worth? Here’s the value you’ll get for different types of redemptions now, compared to 4 years ago…
For the purposes of this chart, we’ve used the Melbourne-Sydney route as the benchmark for domestic reward flights & upgrades, and the Sydney-Los Angeles route for international flights.
Interestingly, almost all redemptions are now worth less than 4 years ago. The only redemption where you’ll get better value for your Qantas points now is at the Qantas Shopping Rewards Store… which tells you quite a lot about the direction frequent flyer programs are heading, sadly.
The value of a Classic Upgrade Reward is now significantly lower in all cases. This is largely a result of Qantas Frequent Flyer increasing the number of points required for an upgrade twice over the past three years – first in 2017 and then again last month.
Qantas has made positive changes to the program too, for example by reducing the number of points required for international Economy flights and this year reducing carrier charges on some routes. But overall, the trend is clear.
It just goes to show that frequent flyer points only lose value over time. The inflation rate of points is extremely high, and there’s also the risk that points could expire. This is why the experts don’t recommend hoarding your frequent flyer points. Points aren’t worth anything unless you use them!
How much is a Velocity point worth in 2015 vs 2019?
Here is the dollar value of one Virgin Australia Velocity point (in cents per point):
A similar trend applies to the value of one Velocity point. You’ll notice that the value of a reward flight or upgrade is now generally lower; this is for a few reasons. Firstly, Velocity increased the number of points required for reward seats in 2016 while also introducing carrier surcharges to Virgin Australia reward seat bookings this year. (It will further increase carrier charges in January 2020.)
In some cases, however, the relative value of using a Velocity point has dropped because cash fares have decreased. It’s cheaper now just to buy a ticket. For example, you can now regularly find Virgin Australia Business class airfares on the Sydney-Melbourne route for around $500 one-way – which is cheaper than 4 years ago. International airfares have also come down somewhat across the board.
International Business class reward flights and upgrades on Virgin Australia have become more valuable – although the availability of Virgin Australia reward seats to Los Angeles is now much lower than in 2015.
There was no data for Economy X upgrades four years ago because this product was only introduced in 2017.
Are Qantas or Velocity points worth more?
Using this data, we’re also able to directly compare the value of Qantas points and Velocity points for equivalent redemptions in 2019.
With Qantas, a point spent on merchandise at the rewards store is worth around 0.58 cents, while with Velocity the value is closer to 0.505 cents per point. Qantas is clearly the winner here, but for other redemptions it isn’t so clear-cut.
Qantas points appear to be more valuable for domestic award seats and upgrades, but this is mainly due to the fact Qantas flights are more expensive when buying a ticket. Qantas still charges slightly more points and has higher fees & charges overall for domestic reward flights.
On international flights, Velocity points appear to be more valuable. But Virgin Australia serves fewer destinations and has a smaller network of international partner airlines than Qantas – something that this chart doesn’t show.
Are you surprised to find that points are generally worth less now than 4 years ago? And which do you value more – Qantas or Velocity points? Let us know in the comments below!