Types of Qantas Frequent Flyer redemptions
There are two broad ways to redeem Qantas points - in the air, and on the ground. In general, using your points for non-flight redemptions such as hotel bookings, gift cards and purchases from the Qantas Shopping Rewards Store is poor value. We'll explain why in just a moment.
There are four main ways to redeem Qantas points on flights:
- Points Plus Pay flights
- Classic Flight Rewards (awards)
- Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards (Qantas Oneworld Award)
- Classic Upgrade Rewards (Qantas points upgrades)
And these are some of the ways to redeem Qantas points on the ground:
- Qantas Shopping Rewards Store purchases
- Qantas Hotels bookings
- Car hire bookings
- Qantas Wine purchases
- Qantas Insurance policies
- Woolworths gift cards
There is a full list of the different ways to spend points on the Qantas website.
What are the best value uses of Qantas points?
Not all Qantas points are created equal! This chart shows the value of one Qantas Frequent Flyer point depending on how it is spent:
As you can see, you can get much more value from your Qantas points by redeeming for things like Classic Flight Rewards - especially in premium cabins - and upgrades. This is because the equivalent dollar value of these rewards is much higher. But these redemptions are subject to capacity controls.
In general, the more difficult it is to convert a reward into cash, the more valuable it is.
Why redeeming Qantas points on the ground is poor value
It's no surprise that Qantas makes it easy to redeem points on the ground, as this is much more profitable for the airline. But it's a terrible deal for you! You'll get just half a cent per point worth of value when redeeming your points for things like electrical appliances and luggage at the Qantas Store. The value is a little better for hotel and car hire bookings - but not by much.
This toaster on the Qantas Shopping Rewards Store costs just over 32,000 Qantas points. It retails for $169, so you're getting around 0.53 cents per point in value.
By comparison, it costs 32,000 Qantas points + $71.66 for a return Classic Flight Reward booking from Melbourne to Sydney in Business class. Those flights would normally cost $1,806 return if you were to buy a regular ticket, meaning you get 5.42 cents per point in value for this redemption.
When you redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points for non-flight rewards, Qantas is essentially taking the retail price and converting it to points at a rate that favours the airline. Sometimes Qantas will try to tempt you to redeem points at the Qantas store with deals like "15% off toasters". Don't be fooled - it's still a bad deal.
You should never redeem your Qantas points on the ground unless you never plan to fly anywhere! Instead of wasting your points for products you can easily buy with cash, it's best to save them for rewards of much higher value.
Qantas Points Plus Pay Flights
You can redeem your points to book Qantas flights using Points Plus Pay, but this works in the same way as most non-flight redemptions. Qantas simply takes the cash fare price of any flight and converts it to points at an unfavourable rate of 0.67 cents per point.
There are some advantages to using Qantas Points Plus Pay:
- All Qantas flights are available - award availability is not limited
- You only need a minimum of 5,000 Qantas points
- Points Plus Pay tickets earn Qantas points and status credits (Classic Flight Reward tickets do not earn anything)
However, it rarely ever makes sense to book flights using Points Plus Pay. On the rare occasion that this happens to represent good value, it's because the regular airfare is cheap to start with. Once again, you're better off saving up your points and using them for a higher value reward.
Here's an example of why booking a Classic Flight Reward is better value than Points Plus Pay. An Economy seat from Brisbane to Canberra costs 36,500 Qantas points using Points + Pay:
Yet, it costs just 8,000 Qantas points and $58 in fees to book this flight as a Classic Reward. That's less than a quarter of the number of points required! In Business class, the difference is even more extreme.
Qantas Classic Flight Rewards
Qantas Classic Flight Rewards are one of the best uses of Qantas points, however they are subject to award seat availability. Reward seats are limited, especially on popular long-haul routes and in premium cabins like Premium Economy, Business and First Class. Finding award availability can be difficult - especially if you wish to travel in peak periods like school holidays - but you will get a lot more value out of your frequent flyer points!
The number of Qantas points required for a Classic Flight Reward is published in the award charts on the Qantas website. The cost depends on the distance travelled and airline/s used.
There are three different Qantas Frequent Flyer award charts:
- The first Qantas award chart is for flights on one or more of the following airlines: Qantas, Jetstar, American Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Airnorth and/or Air Vanuatu
- The second chart covers itineraries exclusively on Jetstar, which are priced around 20% lower
- A third award chart covers all other partner airlines
Note that Qantas Classic Flight Reward prices for flights in premium cabins will change on 18 September 2019.
Qantas points can also be redeemed for flights on other partner airlines:
- Air France (coming soon)
- Air New Zealand (New Zealand domestic flights only)
- Air Niugini
- Air Vanuatu
- Alaska Airlines
- Bangkok Airways (coming soon)
- China Airlines (Australia to Taipei only)
- China Eastern
- El Al
- Fiji Airways
- KLM (coming soon)
Stopovers of more than 24 hours are not permitted on Qantas award bookings; in this case, the ticket would be priced as two separate awards. You can travel up to 15,000 miles on a one-way award ticket.
Why Classic Flight Rewards are good value
Classic Flight Rewards can be lucrative because the number of points required does not necessarily reflect the cost of an equivalent airfare.
In general, you'll get the best value for your points by using them to fly in Premium Economy, Business or First class. These redemptions are fantastic value because you'll only need around double the points required for an Economy seat (and the fees and taxes are rarely much higher, if at all). Yet, the commercial airfare can be 5 or even 10 times the price!
Economy reward flights can be good value if the equivalent airfare is high. Domestic flights can be expensive, so using points for shorter flights within Australia is often fair value. One extreme example is Lord Howe Island: a return Economy fare costs well over $1,000, but you can fly there on a Classic Flight Reward for 16,000 Qantas points and around $170 in taxes. Unfortunately, award availability on routes like Sydney-Lord Howe Island is restricted.
One little-known advantage of booking a Classic Flight Reward is that award flights can be changed or cancelled relatively easily. For international bookings, there is a change fee of only 5,000 Qantas points and a cancellation fee of 6,000 Qantas points. The penalty is even lower for domestic bookings. By comparison, regular tickets (including Points Plus Pay bookings) are less flexible.
Taxes and carrier charges
Unfortunately, award flights are not entirely free. In addition to the points, taxes and charges are payable on all award bookings. These are made up of genuine government taxes and airport fees, but some airlines also impose their own carrier charges on top of this. Qantas is a serial offender in this regard.
Qantas carrier charges can add as much as $1,080 to the cost of a return Classic Flight Reward booking. For redemptions where the equivalent cash fare is not that high (such as international Economy flights), this can make using points uneconomical.
There are some ways to avoid or minimise carrier charges. One strategy is to redeem Qantas points to fly on partner airlines that don't have them, such as Fiji Airways or LATAM Airlines. Another method is to book award travel out of countries that ban airline-imposed charges, such as the Philippines.
If you're travelling to Europe, the UK charges a hefty Air Passenger Duty that you can avoid by returning home from continental Europe.
Oneworld Classic Flight Reward
The Oneworld Classic Flight Reward (also known as the Qantas Oneworld Award) is a special type of multi-city award ticket offered by Qantas Frequent Flyer. It can be used to travel around the world, although this is not a requirement. Just about any routing is permitted, as long as you stick to the following rules:
- Up to 5 stopovers
- Up to 35,000 total miles travelled
- Up to 16 flight sectors
- Travel may only be on Oneworld airlines and you must use at least two Oneworld airlines other than Qantas
The Oneworld Award costs a fixed number of points and is an exceptional deal! Prices are currently as follows:
- Economy: 132,400 Qantas points + taxes
- Premium Economy: 210,000 Qantas points + taxes
- Business: 280,000 Qantas points + taxes
- First: 420,000 Qantas points + taxes
Note that these prices will change on 18 September 2019.
The Oneworld Award is arguably one of the best uses of Qantas points - especially in Business class. You'll pay around the same number of points for a Oneworld Award as you would for a simple round-trip booking from Sydney to London or New York.
Qantas Classic Upgrade Rewards
Qantas points upgrades can also be great value. You can use Qantas points to upgrade any Qantas flight, provided you've purchased a ticket in an eligible booking class. The number of Qantas points required for an upgrade depends on your ticket type and the distance of the flight, as published in the tables on the Qantas website.
For Qantas domestic flights, your upgrade request will be confirmed immediately if there is a Classic Reward seat in Business available on your flight.
However, upgrading on Qantas international flights is like entering a lottery. Upgrades are never confirmed until a few days before the flight, and priority is given to frequent flyers with the highest Qantas status.
Note that international sale fares cannot be upgraded using frequent flyer points. Neither can flights operated by Qantas partner airlines, except for a couple of specific codeshare flights operated by LATAM Airlines and Aircalin. When using points to upgrade, you'll only receive points and status credits for the class of travel that you originally booked.
If possible, it's better to redeem points for a seat in the cabin you wish to travel in outright. This removes the "lottery" aspect of upgrades. It also typically works out better overall value. But if you have bought an Economy ticket and don't mind taking the risk, upgrading can still be a worthwhile use of Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
Want to learn more about redeeming Qantas points? There is plenty of discussion in our dedicated Qantas forum on Australian Frequent Flyer: Qantas Frequent Flyer
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