Frequent Flyer Credit Cards

Fly often? Fly even more with a frequent flyer credit card. Compare credit cards with great frequent flyer programs
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, updated on September 13th, 2023       

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Travel more with frequent flyer credit cards

If you need to fly often for business or to visit family, a frequent flyer credit card can be a perfect travel companion. As you spend on your credit card, you accumulate frequent flyer points. Usually you earn one point for each dollar spent, although some cards will entitle you to more! Once you gain enough points, you can spend them on booking flights, flight upgrades and even hotel stays at your destination. By switching or transferring a balance to a new frequent flyer card, you can also earn bonus points as a complimentary “starting” total. With more frequent flyer points, you can reach higher membership tiers sooner, giving you access to better services and airport lounges. You can compare some of Australia’s best frequent flyer cards here.

Frequent flyer cards mean more than flights

Many frequent flyer programs offer more than just cheaper or free flights. Most programs will give you options to spend frequent flyer points on rewards such as insurance, online shopping and other complimentary extras such as concierge services. The latter are taken to the extreme with platinum frequent flyer cards, which give you prestige concierge services not only in Australia but around the world. Many frequent flyer programs give you complimentary travel and hire car insurance. Some rewards cards allow you to earn frequent flyer points indirectly through rewards points (learn more about that in our FAQ and helpful guides.)

Is a frequent flyer credit card for me?

If you enjoy the idea of converting your dollars into flights, a frequent flyer credit card is definitely worth considering. If you fly often for work or for family, a frequent flyer credit card will propel you towards higher membership tiers of your frequent flyer program, which means you can save on flights, gain access to flight upgrades or premium airport lounges, complimentary travel insurance, and savings on hotel stays or hotel room upgrades. However, this all comes at a cost of higher annual fees and higher comparative interest rates. Those who maintain a strict budget may not get much use out of Frequent Flyer credit cards, especially if their points expire before they can make good use out of them.

Do you have frequent flyer credit card questions?

Can I earn points with every airline or just one?
Usually your credit card will entitle you to earn points with one frequent flyer program at a time. Some cards do earn points for different programs, though are less common.
What is an earn rate?
An earn rate is the ratio of dollars spent for points earned. The usual earn rate is $1 = 1 frequent flyer point.
What are “everyday spend” frequent flyer points?
These types of points are more akin to traditional rewards card points, which you can redeem for goods and services.
How many points does it take to fly from A to B?
This number depends on your airline, and how they structure their program. Most frequent flyer programs give you a calculator on their website to find out more.
How do I earn more points more quickly?
The answer isn’t necessarily spending more! Some providers give you bonus points for shopping at their nominated retailers, sharing an account with a partner or upgrading to higher tier cards such as gold or platinum cards.
What are “eligible purchases?”
Eligible purchases are purchases on goods or services. Ineligible purchases include but are not limited to; gambling/wagering, cash advances, balance transfers, and certain BPAY transactions. These do not earn points.
Can I transfer frequent flyer points from A to B?
In some cases, new frequent flyer programs will honour points gained at competitor programs as a way to entice you to join their program. The ratio of old points to new varies.
I forgot to claim points! Can I claim points after the fact?
Yes – some airlines will honour frequent flyer points claimed after your booking if you forgot to enter your membership number at the time of purchase.

Helpful guides to making the most of your frequent flyer credit cards

Can frequent flyer credit cards earn more points?

Did you know that some frequent flyer credit cards may earn points across multiple rewards programs? Some credit card providers team up with more than one frequent flyer program, which means you earn points with multiple airlines. This can also give you additional benefits such as complimentary travel insurance, airline lounge access and more. You should look at how much points you earn with each carrier when you spend before you make a decision. Sometimes these cards can carry hefty annual fees or interest rates to make up for the fact you’re earning more points per dollar spent!

Indirect vs. direct earn cards

Not all frequent flyer cards earn points in the same way. There are two major variations – indirect earning and direct earning. Indirect earning is similar to a rewards card in many ways. You earn “generic” rewards points, which you then transfer to a frequent flyer program of your choice. This is useful if you want to use your points for other items. Direct earn cards turn purchases into frequent flyer points, deposited directly into your frequent flyer account. Direct earn will get you more points more quickly, but does not offer as much flexibility as indirect earning style systems.

Beware of expiring points!

If you sign up to a frequent flyer program with heaps of bonus points and spend up big to rack up even MORE points, you might be in for a nasty surprise when you come to claim them! Many frequent flyer program points expire if you don’t use them within in a certain period. This could be a year, two years; even longer in some cases. The fact of the matter is that you need to be aware that some credit cards will not pay out the rewards once they are expired. Though you may have purchased a lot of goods and services, they are not redeemable for anything beyond that if you don’t use points sooner rather than later.

The airline alliances explained

If you sign up for a frequent flyer program, you also gain the added advantage of using that carrier’s “alliance partners” – these may give you access to their overseas airport lounges, hotel deals and more. There are three major alliances: The Star Alliance – Includes Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, SWISS, THAI and United. OneWorld Alliance – Includes Qantas, British Airways, American Airlines, AirBerlin and Cathay Pacific. Virgin Network – Virgin Airlines is not part of any alliance, but does share reciprocal benefits with Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and code-shared Virgin America flights.