With Velocity redemptions “paused” until further notice, all Australian banks have suspended the ability to transfer credit card reward points to Velocity Frequent Flyer.
But what does the current situation mean for those with co-branded credit cards that earn Velocity points directly? And what will happen to the free flights and Virgin Australia lounge passes that come with some Australian credit cards?
Here’s a summary of what you need to know…
Credit card transfers to Velocity Frequent Flyer suspended
Although Virgin Australia is currently in voluntary administration, the airline is quick to point out that its Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty program is a separate entity and is not in administration. It says that Velocity points are safe. In spite of this, Velocity redemptions have been paused for an initial period of four weeks starting from 21 April 2020. This period will almost certainly be extended.
It is still possible to earn Velocity points at the moment. But given the current uncertainty with Virgin Australia, all Australian bank-operated loyalty programs have temporarily blocked point transfers to Velocity Frequent Flyer.
Flybuys also now appears to be blocking point transfers to Velocity Frequent Flyer. A notice on the Flybuys website states “you can still transfer your flybuys points but will not be able to redeem any of those points with Velocity at this point in time”. But if you actually try to log in and redeem your points, the page doesn’t load.
Velocity Frequent Flyer normally runs a month-long promotion every May and November, offering bonus points on transfers from bank, supermarket and hotel loyalty programs. (The last of these promos was in November 2019.) These promotions normally provide significant cash injections to the Velocity Frequent Flyer program. But Velocity is not running a promotion during May 2020 for the first time in years.
Co-branded credit cards closed to new applications
American Express and Virgin Money both offer co-branded Velocity Frequent Flyer credit cards that earn Velocity points directly. All of these cards are currently unavailable to new applicants.
The ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures credit card normally comes with a complimentary return Virgin Australia domestic flight each year and two Virgin Australia lounge passes. This card has too has been temporarily withdrawn for new applications.
Meanwhile, Westpac customers can no longer opt-in to Altitude Velocity Rewards which comes with Virgin lounge passes, Economy X benefits and direct earning of Velocity points.
Although Virgin Australia Lounge memberships are being extended by six months, note that the validity of existing single-use lounge passes is not being extended.
What about existing Velocity credit cards?
If you have a credit card that normally earns Velocity points directly, you will continue to earn Velocity points for any credit card spend. But you may have options to switch to a different credit card, if you wish to do so. Here is some information about specific credit cards…
Amex Velocity credit cards
If you have an Amex Velocity Escape or Amex Velocity Platinum credit card, you can choose to switch to a different Amex product.
Amex Velocity Platinum cardholders may switch to the Amex Qantas Discovery, Amex Qantas Premium, Amex Essential or Amex Platinum Edge cards without requiring a new application or credit check. If you’d like to switch, you’ll need to contact American Express.
The complimentary Virgin Australia flight that comes with the Amex Velocity Platinum card is still available and can be redeemed online. The Amex Help Centre has some more information about Velocity cards.
There have also been reports of Amex refunding or delaying charging annual fees on Amex Velocity credit cards, in light of the current circumstances.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Virgin Australia enter Voluntary Administration – Impact on Amex cards?
Virgin Money Velocity credit cards
You can still earn points with the Virgin Money Velocity Flyer and Velocity High Flyer credit cards. Note that Virgin Money is owned by Bank of Queensland and is not in administration.
It is not clear what will happen to the $129 Virgin Australia flight credits that come with these cards. The Virgin Money website states:
We are working very closely with Virgin Australia and Velocity. As they provide updates to us on any impacts, changes or next steps for Velocity Frequent Flyer members or regarding Virgin Money credit cards, it will be our priority to make this information available to you.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures credit card
The ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card normally comes with a complimentary return Virgin Australia domestic flight each year. You can still redeem your complimentary flight, for travel 2-11 months in advance. If your complimentary flight benefit was due to expire in March, April, May or June 2020, the validity has been extended until 31 July 2020.
If you’ve already redeemed your free flight this year but the flight is cancelled, you may be eligible for a travel bank credit at no charge. If you choose not to travel, you’ll probably have to pay a change or cancellation fee to rebook or request a travel bank credit.
Regarding unused lounge passes, ANZ says it is “working with Virgin Australia to try to ensure that you’re still able to use your complimentary lounge passes when they reopen”, even if the pass has expired in the meantime.
ANZ is giving cardholders the option to change to a more suitable ANZ credit card if the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card no longer meets your needs. See the ANZ website for more information.
There is some discussion about this card on our ANZ Bank forum.
Westpac Altitude Velocity Rewards
If you’ve set up Velocity auto-redemption or have opted in to Altitude Velocity Rewards, you will continue to automatically earn Velocity points on your credit card spend. However, you can opt-out of Velocity auto-redemption or change the rewards program linked to your credit card by calling Altitude Rewards on 1300 887 820 from 8am-11pm (AEST). See the Westpac website for more details.