How should you spend your Qantas Frequent Flyer points? Worst and best ways

This article originally published by Australian Business Traveller

Having earned a stack of Qantas frequent flyer points from flying or using your credit card for your everyday purchases, you'll want to get the best value out of them.

But it might surprise you to learn that this 'points value' can range anywhere from barely half a cent through to a much more impressive six cents, depending on how and where you use those points.

See also: Which frequent flyer scheme should you join?

So if you've got 10,000 Qantas Points on hand, they would be worth as little as $50 or as much as $600 – and naturally you'd be eager to avoid the 'chump change' end of the spectrum.

With that in mind, here are the three worst ways you can possibly use your points. If any of these strategies sound familiar to you, it's time for a re-think.

1. Shopping for goods at the Qantas Store

You can trade Qantas Points for an array of products at the online Qantas Store, but you'll be saddled with a terrible 'exchange rate' in terms of the actual purchasing power of your points.

Take a latte-friendly De'Longhi Nespresso U Milk machine, for example. It can be yours for 42,010 Qantas Points at the Qantas Store, or $299 in real money at retail stores. This translates to each of those points having a real-world 'value' of 0.71c.

Of course, when you're shopping around at brick-and-mortar stores or online you'll find prices well below retail – the same Nespresso machine is sold through several brand-name retailers around the $230 mark – and there's always room to haggle and even price-match.

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Tempted by a new iPhone 6s? That'll be 222,180 Qantas Points (128GB model) at the Qantas Store or $1379 at the Apple Store, delivering an even lower 0.62c of real value for each Qantas Point.

See also: How to earn Qantas frequent-flyer points without flying

2. Book your next hotel stay

Airline frequent flyer points never stretch as far on the ground as they do in the air, and redeeming Qantas Points for hotel bookings is no exception.

Using dates in mid-January, we found a two-night stay at the Sofitel So Singapore selling for $934 via the Qantas Hotels website when paying with real money…

… but switch the payment method to 'points' on the same nights and you'll be asked for 145,493 Qantas Points to cover the same:

That again puts the return from each frequent flyer point at around 0.64c – even less than that Nespresso machine you were eyeing off!

As the number of Qantas Points needed for a free hotel night is also pegged against the actual price of the room, there's also no way of knowing how many points you'll need for a stay until it's time to book, by which time the cash price, and therefore the points cost, may have changed again.

See also: Time to ditch your Qantas frequent flyer points?

3. Book your next flight in economy

Using Qantas Points to book travel in economy has never been a great way to use them as the cash amount you'll also be asked to pay in taxes, fees and airline surcharges can often approach, and sometimes exceed, the price of simply booking your flight during a cut-price sale.

Qantas has improved this somewhat by lowering the number of points needed to fly in economy on many international routes by roughly 10 per cent and the associated carrier charges by 15-40 per cent, with a return trip from Sydney to Singapore now billed at 56,000 Qantas Points and $294.68 in fees.

Compare that to a recent Qantas sale which offered return Sydney-Singapore flights for $599 outright, and each of those 56,000 points kicks in 0.54c of value towards an ultimate cash saving of $304.32.

You'll find a little more value when cash fares are higher yet frequent flyer award seats are still available at the same cost – such as stretching 1.6c per point when booking a trip that otherwise flight that other sells for $1200 – but the real value of points very much remains at the pointy end.

So what are some the best ways to use your Qantas Points?

Upgrades (especially from business class to first class between Sydney/Melbourne and London), a round the world business class ticket and even an indulgent first class flight on an Emirates Airbus A380 from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Auckland will all deliver better value for your points!

This article originally published by Australian Business Traveller

See also: Qantas lowers number of points needed for international flights
See also: How to use your frequent flyer points

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