How to get the best value from Qantas Points during coronavirus

Right now, Virgin Australia customers can’t redeem Velocity Points. Qantas customers can still redeem Qantas Points, but is that a wise move?

As part of Virgin Australia’s voluntary administration, redemptions on all Velocity Points have been suspended until at least May 19.

You can still earn points, but you can’t use the points for flights or anything else.

Virgin has flagged the possibility of extending the suspension, and any final decision will depend on who ultimately acquires Virgin.

In contrast, rival Qantas still lets you redeem your Qantas Points for flights, as well as for hotel rooms, gift cards and shopping items.

This is how you should be spending those Qantas points. Picture: Darren England/AAPSource:AAP

However, international flights from Qantas are completely suspended until at least July 2020.

On top of that, it seems all but certain that overseas travel will be barred for months after that – New Zealand “bubble” aside.

Given all that, it might seem tempting to use your Qantas Points for something other than flights.

I’ve been asked a lot recently if it would make more sense to use up Qantas Points now.

My advice when I’m asked that? Resist temptation.

Despite the very different times we currently live in, the basic rules of frequent flyer points remain the same: you get more value from flights and flight upgrades than from anything else.

Finder analysis shows that flights are worth as much as 10 times the Qantas Points value of other reward products, gift cards or car rentals.

To put that into perspective: even if Qantas decided to double the number of points you need for flight redemptions and kept everything else the same, you’d still be getting five times the value redeeming your points for a first-class flight than you would using them to buy a sandwich maker.

QANTAS plane departing from Brisbane Airport. Picture: David Clark PhotographySource:News Corp Australia

So if you already have points, it makes sense to hold onto them for now.

Just make sure you’re keeping them active, either by earning through a credit card or converting Woolworths Rewards into Qantas Points.

That way, you’ll avoid your points expiring after 18 months through lack of activity.

The other question I’m being asked a lot recently is: is it risky to start booking Qantas reward flights for 2021?

For domestic flights, that should be fine, since travel in Australia will certainly resume ahead of overseas trips.

For international flights, there is definitely a higher degree of risk.

It’s unclear when flights will resume, it’s possible that not all destinations will open up simultaneously, and some locations will require you to self-isolate on arrival.

Resist on spending your Qantas points on anything other than flights if you want to get the best value. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAPSource:AAP

If you’re booking business or first-class flights, also bear in mind that you might not get the same range of meal or lounge options that were offered in the past.

With all that said, the fee for cancelling a reward flight is just 6000 Qantas Points.

If you string together an around-the-world business class trip for 318,000 Qantas Points, you might be willing to take the risk that you’ll lose 6000 points if it doesn’t come off.

Just make sure your hotel bookings are flexible so you can change those without losing any money.

Angus Kidman is the editor-in-chief and travel guru for Finder.

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