It can be quite an annoyance – that Award flight is available, but your points balance falls slightly short of the requirement. In this case, the airlines may be able help out. A feature of both Qantas Frequent Flyer and the Velocity program is the ability to buy points in order to make up the difference. While the offers have been around a while, Velocity have recently increased their limits.
Unlike some overseas programs, neither program does you any particular favours on price. Both airlines use a sliding scale on price, and the more points you buy, the cheaper it becomes per point. It is, ultimately, the case that the cost per point will determine whether buying points is good value.
The Programs Compared
While broadly similar, the two program have some slight differences. The following table compares the major features of the two programs:
|Min Points Purchase||500||1,000|
|Min Points Cost||$18||$54|
|Min Points Cost per point||3.6 cents||5.4 cents|
|Max Points Purchase||250,000||150,000|
|Max Points Cost per point||2.34 cents||2.484 cents|
|Max Percentage Purchase||–||–|
|Frequency||–||4 x per year|
Qantas Frequent Flyer – Top Up Points
Qantas Frequent Flyer offer Top-Up points. Under this feature, members can purchase between 1,000 and 150,000 points to put toward an Award. Points must be purchased in multiples of 1,000 points, and this can be done four times a year.
Velocity – Points Booster
The Velocity equivalent goes under the name of Points Booster. Velocity allow you to purchase between 500 and 250,000 points to put toward an Award. There are set increments you can purchase, and you can do this multiple times a year.
Is it good value?
On the surface, it may seem that buying more points offers better value. However, given the price that the two airlines sell the points for, it is probably better to buy as few points as possible.
Consider the case for Qantas. When the new Melbourne-Tokyo flights were announced there was good availability of business award seats. These were priced at 120,000 points, but if you had, say, 115,000 points in your account, they would remain tantalizingly out of reach.
Under the Qantas top up points option, you could have purchased those 5,000 points for $201.00. Given the cash price of the fare, this could well be worthwhile doing.
When the points deficit becomes greater, then there are greater numbers of points that need to be bought. Working through the numbers, though, you may find that as the deficit increases, it may push you towards paying a cash fare is a better option.
Ultimately, the ability to but points should be viewed as another option toward gaining an award. You do need to consider other options though, to determine whether or not buying points makes sense.