Blog entries tagged with "points"

Looking into points again

Friday, May 25th, 2018 at 8:47 pm

For a number of months now I have been thinking about travel, probably due to a combination of shortly spending two weeks in Thailand (and Singapore) for the Koh Samui International Podcast Festival 2018, next year I will be heading over to the South Island of New Zealand for LCA2019 and I am considering a weekend up in Sydney for the Australian Skeptics National Convention. Amongst all the planning of where to go, I thought about rewards points and whether I had enough to use for any part of this travel.

My first step was to look up what points I had, which led to some disappointment and learning about expiry policies…

A few years back when I was in Kansas for work I signed up to the Hilton Honors program as it made it easier to access the hotel wifi, but I also earned points. I don’t recall how many, but that is no relevant anymore as they have all expired. I have learned that to keep your account active (and keep any points) you need to stay at a Hilton hotel every twelve months, something that I did not (and am unlikely to) do.

My original musing on the value of points involved Qantas points, so I knew I had some of those as that is what I would originally get when shopping at Woolworths. Note that I just said ‘originally’ as a few years back the Everyday Rewards program that gave Qantas points changed into the Woolworths Rewards program that gives Woolworths points. While I have appreciated the $10 off for every 2000 points, in hindsight I should have opted to keep getting Qantas points instead. Why? Because the 20,000 Qantas points that I did accumulate have expired due to lack of activity.

The final two places that I have points (and know still have them) are flybuys which I mostly get from using my credit card, and Velocity because in recent years my occasional flights have been with Virgin Australia, including the ones to/from Kansas that work paid for…

Over the years I have accumulated a lot of flybuys points, despite redeeming for books of movie tickets a few times there are around 180,000 points which could be redeemed for $900 in “flybuys Dollars” or the same value in gift cards. On the Velocity side I have around 30,000 points, the “cash rate” for these is slightly better: 18,000 points for $100 instead of the 20,000 points for $100 with flybuys.

But what about all that spam I have been getting about linking my flybuys and Velocity account and then transferring points and getting a 20% bonus if done in May? I have looked into that but…

  • login to flybuys and try to link my Velocity account, it errors saying that the Velocity account is already linked to a flybuys household
  • login to Velocity to see what it says on that side, what does it say “Your flybuys and Velocity memberships are linked”
  • try linking from flybuys again, same error
  • track down contact information for flybuys (only phone or mail, no email) and call them, they say I need to call Velocity to get them to unlink from their side
  • locate the support page for Velocity (now just a phone number) and call them, they can’t unlink flybuys from my account and transfer me over to flybuys support, this person can see there is an issue and while they cannot help, they will escalate
  • over a week later no change…

I don’t have high hopes for being able to transfer point, but one question is do I even want to? Transferring 10,000 flybuys points only gives 4,350 Velocity points (I don’t know if that is including the 20% bonus) so that is not good if I was only going to cash them out as gift cards, so I would need to know that I would be using them for flights.

So I started pricing out some flights…

The same Melbourne to Sydney return flights for a weekend in October:

  • $260 booking direct
  • 52,000 flybuys points (cash rate: $260)
  • 23,800 Velocity points (cash rate: $132)
  • 54,000 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $270)

So using the flybuys points is the same as cashing out the points and just buying the tickets, while the Velocity points are better value if you have the points already. Converting from flybuys to Velocity is the worst option of these.

Another aspect to this comparison is opting for business class instead of economy:

  • $998 booking direct
  • 199,600 flybuys points (cash rate: $998)
  • 38,900 Velocity points (cash rate: $216)
  • 89,000 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $445)

Again the flybuys points give the same as cashing out the points, while using Velocity points is again the “best” option. This time converting flybuys points to Velocity points does come out better than gift cards, though I’m not sure if it is worth it for the short Melbourne to Sydney flight.

Looking further ahead to the longer flight from Melbourne to Christchurch:

Economy:

  • $602 booking direct (includes bags and meal, $552 if bags and no meal, $502 if no bags and no meal)
  • 58,600 flybuys points (cash rate: $293) (no included checked bags or meal)
  • 62,000 Velocity points (cash rate: $344) (includes checked bags and meal)
  • 142,500 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $712)

Business:

  • $1292 booking direct
  • 258,600 flybuys points (cash rate: $1293)
  • 98,100 Velocity points (cash rate: $545)
  • 225,500 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $1127)

For these flights there is more variation in the numbers. For economy it first appears best to book through flybuys, but having to buy checked baggage is not good, so using Velocity points is the best if you have them. Topping up Velocity from flybuys might be an ok compromise, but assumes my accounts are ever able to be linked.

For business class it only appears to be worthwhile if you already have the Velocity points, booking through flybuys is the same as just buying the ticket, though topping up some Velocity points from flybuys might be ok. For my current situation, even though I should get some more Velocity points for my Singapore/Thailand trip I will not have enough of both to make business class an option.

An additional complication to the economy numbers is that the direct prices were direct from Virgin Australia. While a search on Google Flights gave me the same $502 no bags/meal option from Virgin Australia, but also $333 with one bag if booking through Expedia.

After all this there is only one thing I am certain of, this is complex and the time spent working out what is the best deal is probably not worth it. I am leaning towards maybe using Velocity points for Sydney, cashing out flybuys points into gift cards, and looking for a deal (such as the Expedia one) for New Zealand…

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The value of rewards points

Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 12:23 pm

A few years ago I tried to work out the value of different rewards schemes in order to do some comparisons, this went into a post that I never completed. There was a segment in last night’s episode of The Checkout so I decided to dust it off, double check the numbers and then post it:

I currently get both Flybuys and Qantas points. As part of two separate discussions I started to wonder how to compare the relative value of the points and whether I should get one instead of the other.

You can redeem both points for a variety of things, from actual flights (that I rarely take) to appliances to gift vouchers. I opted to use vouchers (dollar value and movie tickets) for comparison, you can buy the same movie ticket vouchers in a book of 10 for $125.

Flybuys:

  • $100 gift card for 20,000 points – 200 points per $1
  • 10 adult movie tickets for 22,200 – 2,220 points per ticket, 177 points per $1

Qantas:

  • $100 gift card for 15,100 – 151 points per $1
  • 6 adult movie tickets for 14,500 – 2,416 points per ticket, 193 points per $1

For a gift card Qantas is slightly better and for movie tickets Flybuys is slightly better, but I would say that they are pretty much the same.

What do you need to spend to get something out of the points?

One credit card has an annual fee of $89, at a rate of one Qantas point per $1 you need to put at least $1,100 on the card each month just to cover the fee.

Another credit card has an annual fee of $395, at a rate of 1.5 Qantas points per $1 if you use the American Express card or 0.625 Qantas points if you use the Mastercard. If you somehow managed to put everything through on the American Express card then you can cover the fee by spending almost $5,000 per month. But many places do not take American Express so there is wasted time asking or trying the card and having it fail…

I do have a credit card that gives me points, but it is part of my home loan package so it doesn’t have its own fee. I try to put everything (automatic bill debits are very convenient) through the card which is then automatically paid off from my offset account. This is done to minimize the interest I pay on the home loan, but it is a nice coincidence that the points I get balance out in value to the $10 monthly fee for the home loan.

(To actually get that value from the points you need to redeem them, in my case that is with the movie tickets, which we were already buying in books of 10.)

One of the concluding points in the segment on The Checkout is that you should not change your behaviour just to get extra points. If my home loan package didn’t include the credit card then I would have remained with my previous card that had no points, but also had no fee. I also turned off all the notifications of special offers where you have to activate it and then buy a certain item, they are not worth my time thinking about.

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