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With thousands of Australians losing their jobs due to the catastrophic COVID-19 outbreak, you may be worrying about how you’ll be able to meet your credit card repayments.
There are a lot of credit cards connected to rewards programs, like Airpoints from Air New Zealand.
There’s a vast range of rewards customers can benefit from. So, what are they exactly?
Rewards are a point-system whereby you can earn points simply by using your credit card. The points accrued can be converted into goods or services and discounts.
Rewards programmes are designed to give you fringe benefits for your loyalty. By using your credit card as your preferred payment method, you are rewarded via the point-system.
However not all credit cards offer rewards, and different credit card providers offer different types of rewards.
Some of the most popular credit card rewards programmes are for flights and travel. You might be familiar with frequent flyer points associated with Flybuys, Qantas or Virgin’s Velocity program.
A growing number of credit card providers are offering customers points that can be earned and redeemed with major airlines.
Airlines are also establishing membership programs that reward members for loyalty to the brand. One such reward scheme is Air New Zealand’s ‘Airpoints’.
What is Airpoints?
Airpoints is Air New Zealand’s answer to frequent flyer points, which earns its loyal members Airpoints Dollars that can be spent on air travel, car hire and accommodation.
In addition to earning Airpoints Dollars, the Airpoints programme lets you accrue membership status points. The more status points you earn, the more likely your membership will be upgraded.
Through status points, you could elevate your membership to silver, gold or elite, which gives you access to a greater range of benefits to spend your Airpoints Dollars on.
You might be happy to know that you don’t need to be a frequent flyer (not all of us are) to grow your Airpoints or spend your Airpoints Dollars.
What are the benefits of Airpoints?
You already know that being a frequent flyer is not a pre-requisite for Airpoints membership. That said, most of the member rewards are travel-related.
One of the main benefits of an Airpoints membership is the ability to earn Airpoints Dollars that can be redeemed as flights and upgrades, car hire, travel insurance or a Koru membership.
There are literally thousands of flights you can purchase using your Airpoints Dollars with Air New Zealand, one of its partner airlines or on selected star alliance flights.
Participating Airpoints partner airlines include:
- Virgin Australia
- Cathay Pacific
- Jet Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
Star alliance has more than 18,500 daily flights to nearly 1,500 destinations in 192 countries that you can spend Airpoints Dollars on.
As an Airpoints member, you also have the option to use your Airpoints Dollars on hire cars from Avis or Budget and choose from a range of travel insurance policies for your next holiday.
How can I earn Airpoints Dollars?
You can start earning Airpoints Dollars by simply joining the free Airpoints programme. Either jump on Air New Zealand’s website and register, or click here to find out more about Airpoints membership.
As an Airpoints member, you can earn Airpoints Dollars on Air New Zealand flights as well as many partner airline and Star Alliance flights.
Airpoints Dollars can also be earned through Avis and Budget car rentals, Expedia accommodation bookings and via selected credit card partners.
Airpoints has partnered with more than 10,000 hotel properties around the world. You can earn Airpoints Dollars by booking your accommodation directly with one of them.
Air New Zealand has also partnered with a number of leading financial services organisations, each of which offers an associated credit card product.
Reward points earned through these partner credit cards can be converted into Airpoints Dollars. However, you don’t have to have a credit card to earn Airpoints Dollars.
There’s the option to earn Airpoints Dollars by making purchases with participating retailers.
How can I spend Airpoints Dollars?
Airpoints Dollars are not convertible into cash; however, you can use them to redeem rewards. The list of rewards available is regularly updated; you can check out the current list here.
As an Australian member, any Airpoints Dollars you earn will be converted into Australian dollars where applicable.
And just for the record, you can’t transfer your Airpoints Dollars or Status Points to another airline’s frequent flyer programme (in case you were wondering).
Do Airpoints Dollars expire?
The good news is that your Airpoints Dollars are valid for four years from the date of accrual (or the date of purchase). After that, they will expire and be removed from your account.
Is the Airpoints reward program for me?
If you’re not much of a traveller, you might want to consider a different rewards program. As an Airpoints member, you can earn Airpoints Dollars easily enough, but if you don’t plan on traveling… there’s not much opportunity to redeem those dollars (or points) earned.
If you’re a Kiwi or someone who often travels across the ditch, the Airpoints reward program might be advantageous, particularly within New Zealand.
How do I decide which is the best^ Airpoints reward credit card?
Each Airpoints credit card partner offers a unique credit card product that carries with it an Airpoints Dollars conversion rate.
Which credit card appeals to you will depend on what you want out of your credit card – aside from the Airpoints membership benefits.
When making your decision it’s worth comparing features such as fees and charges, the list of participating reward partners, and of course how the points can be used outside of Airpoints.
Air New Zealand offers Airpoints members a range of selected credit card products. Each credit card gives you the ability to earn Airpoints Dollars while delivering the regular features of a credit card.
What other airlines have reward programs?
Other major airlines offering well-established reward programs are Qantas and Virgin Australia. Qantas Frequent Flyers earn Qantas points, while Virgin has the Velocity Frequent Flyer program.
Like Air New Zealand’s Airpoints program, Qantas and Virgin Australia give members a range of credit card options to choose from.
Many banks in Australia offer credit cards that allow you to earn Qantas Points, which are automatically credited to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account.
Of course, you must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program to earn and redeem Qantas Points.
Qantas goes on step further than the competition by offering Qantas Points on select transaction and savings accounts, home and car loans, insurance products and online trading accounts.
Virgin Australia gives you two options to turn your credit or charge card spend into Velocity Points. One way is by using a Velocity co-brand credit card; these are tailored to the Velocity program.
Or you can use a participating partner credit card which allows you to transfer your existing reward points to your Velocity account.
Velocity Points can be transferred from participating hotel, credit card, charge card and shopping rewards partners. And redeemed for flights, upgrades, car hire, fuel, merchandise or hotels.
^The best credit card for you may not be the best choice for somebody else with different financial circumstances, and vice versa. Before selecting any credit card, it’s important to compare the available options, consider your personal financial goals, and calculate which card will likely offer you value. If you’re not sure which option is the best credit card for you, consider asking a qualified financial adviser for assistance.
A property and personal finance writer, Nick Bendel covers property, loans, credit cards, superannuation, and other bank products. Nick has previously written for The Adviser, Mortgage Business, Lifehacker, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and InvestorDaily, and loves getting elbow-deep in the latest ABS, APRA and RBA data.
There is no one-size-fits-all best rewards credit card. It's best you research what type of rewards program you'd like, as well as the fees, interest rate and conditions associated with those types of cards before making a choice.
Rewards credit cards can also come with high annual fees that may end up nullifying the rewards, so think how often you use the card to decide whether the benefits outweigh the extra cost for you. A card with a lower annual fee might require a lot of spending to get any useful rewards, while another card with a higher annual fee might need fewer purchases to get a reward.