Travelling Cheap Utilitzing Frequent Flyer Program

Travelling Cheap Utilitzing Frequent Flyer Program

Posted by James Zhang on 5th Oct 2019

As you probably know, I travel a lot. Domestically I often attend trade shows, meeting with distributors, and internationally I frequently trave to Japan (obviously), as well as China and the US. Take Japan for example, I visited 6 times in 2018 and next week will be my fourth trip this year followed by another trip in December. My dad once asked me half-seriously “are you sure you are not spending all your money on travelling?” So today I thought it is worthwhile to share one of my personal favorite way to save on air travelling: the airlines' frequent flyer programs.

What is a frequently fryer program and how to use the miles?

As per Wikipedia “A frequent-flyer program (FFP) is a loyalty program offered by an airline. Many airlines have frequent-flyer programs designed to encourage airline customers enrolled in the program to accumulate points (also called miles, kilometers, or segments) which may then be redeemed for air travel or other rewards.”

The idea is simple: join a FFP that suits you, collect their points / miles where ever you can and redeem a ticket with the FFP miles.

Qantas

One program that I often use (along with a lot of others) is the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme, as their points are quite easy to collect in Australia and have a vast partner network that I can use the Qantas miles to redeem their tickets as well. Qantas partners with Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, American Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Star, just to name a few.

Because of my travelling pattern, and particularly because I can redeem one way tickets where otherwise paying with cash is expensive (Cathay Pacific or Qantas to China, China Eastern with in China and to Japan, Japan airlines within Japan, to and from China / Australia), I find Qantas Frequent Flyer miles incredibly useful.

(Redeeming JAL business class from Sydney to Tokyo is one of my favorite use of Qantas miles).

Here is an example of how many miles are required For example (random date selected),

Sydney to Melbourne on Qantas: 8000 miles for $153 (both removing the tax), equivalent of 1.91cent / mile value.

Shanghai to Fukuoka on China Eastern: 10000 miles excluding tax.

Compared to the cheapest direct flight of AU$519 (price excluding tax), hence I would be able to obtain an equivalent value of over 5 cent per mile.

(Google flights' cash price for the same date)

How to accumulate frequent flyer miles?

With how powerful the points can be, now it is the time to collect them.

1.Spend with credit cards and other loyalty cards.

In Australia, many credit cards can earn you Qantas points, and the accumulation rate ranges from 0.5 points to 1.25 points per dollar spend. By choosing a credit card carefully and make sure you use it with all your daily purchases.

The American Express Qantas Card can get you a lot of Qantas points on daily spending, even just by signing up and make a few thousand dollars spending.

(Sign up using my referral will help me get some more points)

Loyalty cards such as Woolworth rewards for Woolworth supermarkets can be converted into Qantas points as well. FYI: the Flybus from Coles can earn you Virgin Australia’s velocity points, which in term can be used to redeem Delta, Singapore Airlines, Hainan airlines, amongst others.

In the case of daily grocery shopping, you can effective double dip, as long as you remember to use a mileage accumulating credit card to pay of the shopping, and maker sure to scan your supermarket loyalty card.

2.Spend when there are big bonuses

Since daily spending can only collect little points compared to redeeming a somewhat aspirational travel such as long-haul international business class tickets, so more often than not we have to rely on purchases that comes with big bonuses. Normally you speed 1000 dollars and collect about 1000 miles, yet when there are promotional offers, you can get 10 times or even 20 times more miles. This is a more realistic way of collecting meaningful amount of points required for international business class tickets.

Here I really want to share my personal favorite way of collecting bonus miles: buying wine at  Qantas Wine.

Qantas Wine is a subsidiary of Qantas that sells a lot of wines and spirits. Often, they come with extra bonus points to get you hitting the buy button. I consider them to have great offerings, and their price is very reasonable.

Last week I got an offer in the mail from Qantas: $50 off when you spend $150.

(Qantas voucher, you can get them easily from QF news, emails, etc)

Since I was low on supply, so I checked the Qantas wine website and saw the $30 Heirloom Brossa Shiraz 2017 (and a few others) is one sale and has a bonus offer of 15,000 Qantas miles. 

Given it is served in Qantas Business Class, I would say it is a good wine that can hardly go wrong.

A quick Google research suggests at $30 per bottle about right as everyone else, so by applying the $50 off coupon code, I am already on a 15% discount even before the miles. I happily hit the Buy button, scoring myself 16240 Qantas miles (15930 plus another 310 as credit card spend) along the way.

Just 3 days later, I received the wine and my points are posted already.

As you can see, by just buying daily drinkers, I managed to score decent amount of Qantas miles as well. Take the Shanghai to Fukuoka flight for example (10000 QF miles), this was a flight that I took earlier this year, by spending AU$310 drinking some wine, I almost saved myself AU$500 for airfare, and have some spare points as well, can’t complain about that right? There are cases I have redeemed tickets which I got almost 10 cents value per point, if you put that in real money, 15K miles worth AU$1500, it is rare, but does happen. 

(Approaching Fukuoka airport on China Eastern MU531 from Shanghai earlier 2019, redeemed using Qantas miles)

Bottom line

I love travel, and I love to travel “cheap”. By utilizing the airline’s frequently flyer program correctly and effectively can really save me a lot of moneyl. There are many ways to collect these frequent flyer miles and different people may find different ways that really suits him / her. I am sharing one of my favorite ways to collect them, what is your best way? 

PS, I know I have a lot to write about, especially things with knives, yet I haven’t done it. I promise there will be a super cool announcement coming very soon.