Qantas Frequent Flyer vs Virgin Velocity

Confused about the benefits and costs of joining an Airline frequent flyer program?

If you are, you’ve come to the right place. You’re certainly not alone.

Frequent Flyer programs can be very confusing. We’ll remove that confusion for you by comparing “apples with apples” – the two leading airline passenger loyalty programs in Australia:

Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Velocity.

Both airlines bombard you with information about their loyalty programs on their websites. To potentially confuse things even further, they each have multiple levels of membership. We’ll break all the information down for you and compare the two frequent flyer programs in everyday terms, minus Qantas and Virgin’s marketing “spin”. We’ll also let you know about any important “fine print” contained in their terms and conditions, so you can avoid any misunderstandings and surprises. We’ve put both the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program and Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer Program through our “key questions” test, and the results are summarised in the Tables below.

Table 1: The Basics of each Frequent Flyer Program

Key Questions Qantas Frequent Flyer

qantas LOGO

Virgin Velocity

velocity_frequent

 

Can I apply online to become a member?

Yes, and you can earn points for flights you’ve taken up to 30 days before the date you join

Yes

Is if free to join?

No, unless you are already a Qantas Club member If you are, joining is free*. It is also free if you have a Woolworths Everyday Rewards card.** Qantas is waiving the joining fee until 31st December 2015 as a special promotion

Yes

Is there an annual fee?

No, Only Qantas Club Memberships

No

Are there different membership levels?

Yes, 5 different levels:

·       Platinum One

·       Platinum

·       Gold

·       Silver

·       Bronze

Yes, 4 different levels:

·       Platinum

·       Gold

·       Silver

·       Red

What is the difference between the various membership levels?

Higher levels provide members with progressive additional privileges, such as:

·       more opportunities to earn additional points      (see ‘Can I earn bonus points’ section of Table 2)

·       priority check-in, boarding, seating and upgrades

·       extra baggage allowances and priority handling

·       Qantas Club lounge access (Silver members and above) 

Higher levels provide members with progressive additional privileges, such as:

·       more opportunities to earn additional points (see ‘Can I earn bonus points’ section of Table 2)

·       priority check-in, boarding, seating and upgrades

·       extra baggage allowances and priority handling

·       global lounge access (Gold and Platinum members)

·       complimentary membership to Virgin Australia’s hotel and car hire partner programs.

Does the program partner with other airlines?

Yes, with more than 50 (including Jetstar) ****

Yes, with the following:

·       all Virgin Airlines worldwide, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand,

Etihad Airways, Delta Airlines, Silk Air,

Hawaiian Airlines, Air Berlin, South

African Airways.

Can I have a secure online account to manage my points?

Yes, you are provided with a password protected account which you can log into to update your profile, view your points balance and activity statements, manage your bookings, claim missing points, and change your PIN. Yes, you are provided with a password protected account which you can log into to update your profile, view your points balance and activity statements, manage your bookings, claim missing points, and change your PIN.

Source: Qantas and Virgin Australia websites (accessed October, 2015). All information accurate as at October 2015.

*  The Qantas Frequent Flyer program joining fee is $89.50 if you aren’t already a Qantas Club member. Annual Qantas Club individual membership prices range between $438 and $510, depending on how many years you sign up for, and there is an initial Qantas Club membership joining fee of $385.

** The Woolworths Everyday Rewards Card and Qantas Frequent Flyer programs are currently changing their relationship. Optimise Travel will update our information when more is released.

***  Qantas has more than 50 partner/affiliate airlines, covering a combined 1200 global destinations.

Table 2: Earning Points in each Frequent Flyer Program

Key Questions Qantas Frequent Flyer

qantas LOGO

Virgin Velocity

velocity_frequent

How do I earn my points?

For flights:

·       via purchasing tickets on services with a Qantas flight number****. Points are based on the number of kilometres travelled, and the cost and type of fare purchased.

For other spending:

·       there are also options to earn points via non-flight, everyday shopping purchases and transactions (see other rows in this Table for specifics) 

For flights:

·       via purchasing tickets on services with a Virgin flight number******. Points are based on the number of kilometres travelled, and the cost and type of fare purchased.

For other spending:

·       there are also options to earn points via non-flight, everyday shopping purchases and transactions (see other rows in this Table for specifics)

Can I earn points for everyday credit or debit card purchases of “non-flight” products?

 

Yes, as follows:

Credit cards

·       for any purchases made with various co-branded credit cards offered by all of the major banks.

Debit cards

·       for any purchases made with your Qantas card (if you look at the back, you will notice it has a MasterCard logo and it functions as a debit card accordingly).

 

Yes, as follows:

Credit cards

·       for any purchases made with Virgin Money or Virgin co-branded American Express and NAB cards.

·       points earned from other credit cards can be transferred to your Velocity account.

Visa Prepaid

(known as the Virgin Global Wallet)

·       you can use your Velocity membership card as a prepaid travel card by loading and storing your money in multiple currencies to spend wherever you are, on whatever you need.

Can I earn points for my shopping?

Yes, at the following selected retailers:

·       Woolworths Supermarkets

·       Big W

·       BWS – Beer, Wine, Spirits

·       Cellarmasters

·       Caltex Woolworths

·       iSUBSCRiBE (magazine subscriptions)

·       Frequent Flowers

·       In Sky Shopping (in-flight duty free shopping)

·       Fresh Fragrances and Cosmetics

·       Vendome (jewellery, watches and luggage).

 

And via purchases at the Qantas Online Mall, which includes products from:

·       David Jones

·       eBay

·       Net-A-Porter (fashion)

·       The Iconic (fashion, footwear and sports).

 

And via the purchase of the following retail digital gift cards:

·       Myer

·       David Jones

·       JB Hi-Fi

·       Priceline

·       iTunes.

 

Yes, via online shopping at the Velocity eStore, which links you to over 200 local and international selected retailers, including:

·       The Apple Store

·       iTunes

·       eBay

·       Nike

·       Reebok

·       Microsoft

·       Xbox

·       Sony

·       Samsung

·       Hewlett Packard

·       Kogan.com

·       Norton

·       Oxfam

·       Michael Hill

·       RedBalloon

·       Oakley

·       The Book Depository

·       Booktopia

·       BCF

·       Quiksilver

·       City Beach

·       Roxy

·       Just Jeans

·       Lorna Jane

 

Can I earn points on my mobile phone plan?

 Yes. Qantas offers the ability to link your mobile plan payments to your account and earn points by Contacting Qantas after becoming a member

Yes, but only if it is a Virgin Mobile plan.

Can I earn points on my everyday banking transactions?

Yes, but only if you have your account/s with Bankwest or Qantas Credit Union. 

No

Can I earn points by buying petrol?

Yes, but only if you buy your petrol at a Caltex Woolworths co-branded fuel outlet.

Yes, but only if you buy your petrol at a BP fuel outlet.

Can I earn points on my home, car or personal loan?

Yes, but only if your home and/or car loan is with either Macquarie Bank or Qantas Credit Union.

Yes, but only if the loan is taken out through Aussie Mortgage Brokers (for home loans) or Aussie Personal Loans (for car or personal loans).

Can I earn points with buying, selling and managing property/real estate?

Yes, as follows:

Buying a property

·       if you buy through LK Property Group.

 

Selling a property

·       if you sell through LJ Hooker.

Property management

·       if you lease your property and appoint LJ Hooker as your exclusive property manager.

No

Can I earn points on my insurance? 

Yes, but only if your insurance is with ANZ or OnePath.

Yes, but only if your insurance is through Virgin Money.

Can I earn points through booking holidays, travel insurance and activities?

 

 

Yes, but only if you book through the following:

 

Holidays

·       Qantas Holiday

·       Qantas Cruises

·       Cruise Co.

 

Activities

·       Qantas Activities

·       Mr Aristotle

·       Ski Packages.

 

Travel insurance

QBE Insurance.

 

Yes for holidays and activities, but only if you book through Virgin Australia Holidays, Cruisepilot or Experience OZ & NZ.

No for travel insurance.

Can I earn points by booking accommodation?

 Yes, Qantas partners with more than 70,000 accommodation providers around the world, with options ranging from budget hotels through to five-star luxury resorts. 

Yes, Virgin partners with more than 75,000 accommodation providers around the world with whom you can book directly.

Or if you want to stay with an accommodation provider who doesn’t currently partner with Virgin, you can still earn points if you book the accommodation via Agoda (online travel agency).

Can I earn points by booking a hire car?

 Yes, both domestically and overseas, but only if you book through Avis or Budget.

Yes, both domestically and overseas, but only if you book through Hertz, Thrifty or Europcar. 

Can I earn points for airport parking?

Yes, if you use the Qantas valet service.

Yes, if you use the airport parking valet service. 

Can I earn points through my electricity, gas and health insurance needs? 

Yes, if you choose your service provider and subsequently purchase through iSelect.

Yes for electricity and gas, but only if you choose Lumo Energy.

No for health insurance.

Can I earn points buying a car or getting my car serviced?

Yes, but only if you purchase an eligible vehicle from Trivett, or have your vehicle serviced there.

 No for buying a car.

Yes for car servicing, provided you use Midas.

Can I earn points for my monthly parking fees?

Yes, but only if you park at a Secure Parking location

No

Can I earn points for my gym membership fees?

Yes, but only if you are a Snap Fitness member.

Yes, but only if you are a Jetts Fitness member.

Can I earn points by playing golf?

Yes, at selected golf courses across Australia that partner with Qantas.

Yes, at selected golf courses across Australia that partner with Virgin.

Can I earn points going to the movies?

Yes, but only if you purchase movie vouchers via Qantas. 

No

Can I earn points by eating at restaurants?

Yes, at over 2,000 restaurants across Australia that partner with Qantas.

Yes, at over 550 restaurants across Australia that partner with Qantas.

Can I earn points by purchasing wine?

Yes, on selected flight wines from Qantas’ premium cellar.

Yes, but only if you order Virgin Wine

Can I earn points by booking a taxi or limousine service?

 

Yes, but only if you book and pay for a taxi with the goCatch app or are a Qantas Valet customer utilising the service to and from the airport.

No for taxi services

Yes for limousine services, but only if you use Brunel Limousines.

Can I earn points for foreign currency exchange transactions?

Yes, but only if you do so via Travelex. 

Yes, via the “Global Wallet” (see Row 2 of this Table).

Can I earn points via online share trading?

Yes, but only if you do it via e-trade Australia.

No

How do I maximise my points?

For flight purchases:

·       by choosing the most flexible and/or expensive fare options (e.g. a flexible fare earns you more points than a cheaper,

fixed, non-refundable fare option, and a

Premium Economy fare earns you more

points than an Economy fare).

For non-flight purchases:

·       by spending with Qantas partner retailers and paying for the services of Qantas partner organisations (see other rows in this Table for specifics) 

For flight purchases:

·       by choosing the most flexible and/or expensive fare options (e.g. a flexible fare earns you more points than a cheaper,

fixed, non-refundable fare option, and a

Business fare earns you more

points than a Saver fare).

For non-flight purchases:

·       by spending with Virgin partner retailers and paying for the services of Virgin partner organisations (see other rows in this Table for specifics)

Are bonus points awarded?

 

Yes, for flight purchases.

Members at higher tier levels receive bonus points for the same value flight purchases, as follows:

·       Platinum 1 (100%)

·       Platinum (100%)

·       Gold (75%)

·       Silver (50%)

Yes, for flight purchases.

Members at higher tier levels receive bonus points for the same value flight purchases, as follows:

·       Platinum (100%)

·       Gold (75%)

·       Silver (50%)

Are loyalty points awarded?

Yes, bonus points are awarded based on status credits earned*****. 

No

Can I pool my family’s points into one account? 

No, but you can transfer points among the individual accounts of family members, subject to annual limits.

Yes

Source: Qantas and Virgin Australia websites (accessed October, 2015). All information accurate as at October 2015.

                  

****    When flying on a Qantas partner/affiliate airline, frequent flyer points and status credits can be earned and claimed by using the equivalent Qantas “codeshare” flight number for the partner airline service.

*****    Maximum annual limits apply to the number of loyalty points that will be awarded.

******   When flying on a Virgin partner/affiliate airline, frequent flyer points and status credits can be earned and claimed by using the equivalent Virgin “codeshare” flight number for the partner airline service.

 Table 3: Using Points in each Frequent Flyer Program

 

Key Questions

Qantas Frequent Flyer

qantas Frequent Flyer Program

Virgin Velocity

velocity Frequent Flyer Program

How do I use my points?

For flights:

Fully or partly pay for a flight and/or an upgrade (e.g. from Economy to Business Class).

For other products:

Fully or partly pay for hotels (via Qantas booking), car hire, or over 3,000 products from the Qantas online store.

For flights:

Fully or partly pay for a flight and/or an upgrade (e.g. from Saver to Business Class).

For other products:

Fully or partly pay for products via the Velocity Rewards store.

How do I know how many points I have and what I can buy with them?

The Qantas website provides information on purchase options and their points cost.

Their online calculators help you to determine what you can afford and how this will affect your points balance.

Their site also offers a facility that suggests flight purchase options based on your current points balance.

The Virgin website provides information on purchase options and their points cost.

Their online calculators help you to determine what you can afford and how this will affect your points balance.

Their site also offers a facility that suggests flight purchase options based on your current points balance.

Can I transfer my points to someone else?

Yes, you can transfer a portion of your points to a family member if they are also in the program. You can do this up to 4 times within any 12 month period. 

Yes, up to 4 times a year, with a maximum transfer limit of 100,000 points.

Do my points expire?

No, provided you remain an active Program member. To be “active”, you must not go more than 18 consecutive months without earning points and/or status credits, or redeeming points.

No, provided you remain an active Program member. To be “active”, you must not go more than 3 years without earning points and/or status credits, or redeeming points.

 

Source: Qantas and Virgin Australia websites (accessed October, 2015). All information accurate as at October 2015.

Table 4: Status Credits in each Frequent Flyer Program

Key Questions Qantas Frequent Flyer

qantas Frequent Flyer Program

Virgin Velocity

velocity Frequent Flyer Program

What are status credits?

Status credits help you move through the Frequent Flyer membership levels (i.e. Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One).

To progress, you need to achieve the required number of annual status credits for each level, and to have taken at least 4 Qantas, QantasLink or Jetstar flights in a Frequent Flyer membership year.

Status credits help you move through the Velocity membership levels (i.e. Red, Silver, Gold and Platinum).

To progress, you need to achieve the required number of annual status credits for each level.

How do I earn status credits?

Via purchasing tickets on services with a Qantas flight number****.

Via purchasing tickets on services with a Virgin flight number******.

Can I pool my family’s status credits into one account?

No

Yes

How do I maximise my status credits?

Via the same methods as you maximise your Frequent Flyer points (i.e. the more flexible and/or expensive fare options you choose, the more status credits you earn). Via the same methods as you maximise your Velocity points (i.e. the more flexible and/or expensive fare options you choose, the more status credits you earn).

How do I use my status credits?

You will automatically progress to the next Frequent Flyer membership level once you have reached the required number of annual status credits.

You will automatically progress to the next Velocity membership level once you have reached the required number of annual status credits.

Do my status credits expire?

Yes, 12 months after you earn them

Yes, 12 months after you earn them.

Source: Qantas and Virgin Australia websites (accessed October, 2015). All information accurate as at October 2015. 

****      When flying on a Qantas partner/affiliate airline, frequent flyer points and status credits can be earned and claimed by using the equivalent Qantas “codeshare” flight number for the partner airline service.

******   When flying on a Virgin partner/affiliate airline, frequent flyer points and status credits can be earned and claimed by using the equivalent Virgin “codeshare” flight number for the partner airline service.

Table 5: Program Communication 

Key Questions Qantas Frequent Flyer

qantas Frequent Flyer Program

Virgin Velocity

velocity Frequent Flyer Program

How do I keep informed about program specials, updates and other information?

Via the Qantas website or one of the standard social media platforms:

·       Facebook

·       LinkedIn

·       Twitter

·       Instagram

·       Google+

·       YouTube

You can also download an app for your smart phone, or subscribe to receive email notifications.

Rather than being bombarded with information, we suggest you stay informed via one of these methods. 

Via the Virgin website and Facebook.

You can also download an app for your smart phone, or subscribe to receive email notifications.

Source: Qantas and Virgin Australia websites (accessed October, 2015). All information accurate as at October 2015.

So are the programs worth it?

Loyalty programs like Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Velocity were originally offered by airlines like Qantas and Virgin to reward passengers who travelled regularly with them. The more kilometres you travelled, the more points you would accumulate, eventually qualifying for a free flight. Over time, these schemes have evolved to where they are today. The airline business is highly competitive and loyalty programs like Frequent Flyer and Velocity are marketing attempts by Qantas and Virgin to retain their existing customers. The more you spend and engage with one airline and its affiliated partners, the more you are rewarded with points that you can use for the purchase of flights, gifts, vouchers and other special offers from time to time.

Loyalty programs in general have come in for criticism that a member has to spend a large amount of money in a limited time period in order to obtain a product of relatively little value. However, the bottom line with any loyalty program like Qantas Frequent Flyer or Virgin Velocity is that you shouldn’t spend more than you can afford or need to, just to chase a future discount, privilege, or product offer. While that is great from the airlines’ perspective, that sort of spending just defeats the purpose of a person becoming a member. But if you can get future discounts and offers via spending what you are happy and can afford to do anyway, then loyalty programs like Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Velocity can potentially save you money and be valuable in the long run. The smartest loyalty program members make the program work for them, not the other way around.

In terms of which Frequent Flyer Program is better, that really depends on your lifestyle. The answer won’t be the same for everyone. Scan the Tables provided in this article to see what sort of benefits most appeal to you, and make your own decision. We hope this article helps you to navigate what really is a simple concept, but one that has become increasingly difficult to fully understand due to all the enhancements that are regularly made to each program.

Please Share your Frequent Flyer Program tips, tricks and stories in the comments section so that others can benefit on their travels!

*We aim to provide up to date content and information but care should always be taken when purchasing products from retailers. If any information provided is no longer correct then please email us at optimisetravelaustralia@gmail.com or post in the comments section

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2 thoughts on “Qantas Frequent Flyer vs Virgin Velocity

  1. First time I have ever seen Australia’s highest profile loyalty programs go head to head in such a user friendly format. Great to see someone lay it all out in terms the average punter can understand.

    Having previously been a member of both programs, Gold with Velocity & Silver with Qantas, I personally feel that Virgin rewards the frequent traveller faster while providing more modern lounges around Australia.

    1. Thank you Dan,

      Great to get your feedback on both programs and we appreciate your point on the airport lounges. That is an aspect we overlooked but will try to add in the near future as it is something travellers consider when flying.

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