Enjoying a flight to an exotic destination simply from spending on your credit card certainly sounds too good to be true, but that’s what credit card rewards can deliver.
The reward may be as specific as a card earning points with Thai Airways, or a credit card partnership with one of a multitude of other domestic or international airlines.
So with so many options to choose from, how do you know exactly which reward program will deliver the right experience for you?
It all comes down to knowing what’s available and how it can best work within a spending framework that works within your financial means.
What are credit card rewards?
Credit card rewards are based on a points system that allows the cardholder to receive points corresponding to a dollar amount spent on credit card purchases made on everyday items that are deemed to be ‘eligible purchases’.
The points are issued to the cardholder by a card provider based on the structure of their respective card program and accrue over time until they are redeemed for a reward.
The type of rewards offered by card providers usually come in the following forms:
- Points towards various airlines’ frequent flyer programs
- Merchandise – most popular are the personal, lifestyle or electronic categories
- Shopping vouchers – for everyday items such as groceries and fuel
What are Thai Airlines points?
Thai Airways has a customer loyalty points-based program called Royal Orchid Plus that provides members with a variety of travel benefits which increase in line with the number of points accrued.
The program has four different tiers of membership which are reached according to the miles accrued over either 12 or 24 months.
As members progress up each tier, they have access to an increasing number of benefits:
How do you get Thai Airlines points?
You can accumulate Thai Airlines points in two ways.
- Have access to a credit card with a reward program with any of the airline partner members of the Star Alliance, which includes Thai Airways and Thai Smile. These points can be accumulated and then converted into frequent flyer miles that can be used for travel with Thai Airways.
Star Alliance airline partners include:
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Egypt Air
- Eva Air
- Lot Polish Airlines
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- By being a member of the Thai Airways frequent flyer program, Royal Orchid Plus, and either flying with the airline or acquiring points by purchasing any goods or services through its extensive network of hotel partners, car rental partners, communication partners and lifestyle and promotional partners.
Points through program partners
The program offers the opportunity to accrue more points through some of the world’s most recognised brands offering complementary travel and lifestyle services.
Hotel partners of the program include:
- Accor Hotels – which include the Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, The Sebel, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Mercure, Adagio, ibis, ibis Styles, Thalassa sea & spa properties
- Chatrium Hotels and Residences
- Dusit Hotels & Resorts
- Hilton Honors – which include the Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, HOME2 and Hilton Grand Vacations
- Hyatt - which includes the Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Regency
- Intercontinental Hotel Group – which includes theIntercontinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites
- Langham Hospitality Group – which includes the Langham, Langham Place, Cordis Hotels & Resorts, Eaton Hotels, Chelsea Hotel, Toronto
- Mandarin Oriental Hotels & Resorts
- Millennium Hotels and Resorts
- Minor Hotels Group
- Okura Nikko Hotels
- Shangri-La Group
- Starwood Hotels & Resorts – which includes the Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, W Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Four Points by Sheraton, aloft hotels and element by Westin
- Sukosol Hotels
Points can be gained through bookings made with any of the following car rental groups:
The program also offers travellers the opportunity to receive points through a partnership with a global communications network as well as special offers on dining, health and wellness and food.
What are the benefits of Thai Airlines points?
Depending on the level of your membership, points can be redeemed for awards that include:
- Upgraded travel with both Thai Airways and other Star Alliance partners
- Priority services including priority reservations, check-in, baggage handling, excess baggage allowances, airport lounge access and complimentary upgrades
- Hotel stays with program partners.
The program also offers the ability to pay for some rewards with points plus cash.
How long do Thai Airlines points last?
There are several terms and conditions attached to the accumulation, redemption and transferral of points:
- Points that convert to miles are valid for three years
- If the miles accrued in each quarter of any given year are not redeemed, they expire at the end of the corresponding quarter three years afterwards
- Expiring miles that are not redeemed by the last day in each quarter are void and deleted from accounts
- The points and miles are not able to be transferred from one member to another
Where are some of the places Thai Airlines flies?
Thai Airways flies to many of the world’s most popular cities and travel destinations across the continents of Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa.
What rival airlines have credit card partnerships?
Most of the world’s international airlines have credit card partnerships either directly or by being part of a group alliance such as the Star Alliance.
What should I look at when comparing credit card reward programs?
There are several tips to remember in relation to credit card rewards.
- Is it financially effective for you? Programs can be an effective way of working toward acquiring gifts and experiences you would ordinarily have to pay for. However, this is true only if the cost of making the purchases on your credit card to accumulate the points doesn’t incur any additional costs, such as interest charged if you don’t pay off the card amount in full.
- Do the rewards fit your lifestyle? Credit cards that offer rewards that are not likely to be utilised or don’t fit easily into your lifestyle largely defeats the purpose of having the program attached to the card. These cards often come with higher interest rates and fees, so this needs to be factored into if the reward is actually worth it. Look at all the card’s features, particularly the interest rate and annual fee, beyond any introductory period.
- Compare apples with apples. Many different banks and financial institutions will offer credit card programs that have been designed to appeal to various demographics and card users. Once you determine if a credit card reward program is for you, ensure you compare relevant cards from competing providers to find the most appropriate option for you.