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Easy ways to earn frequent flyer points

Frequent flyer points are about more than getting a free trip these days, with bonuses including hotel discounts, access to online shopping malls and gift vouchers, first-class upgrades and access to airport lounges. But making the most of your loyalty program can be a minefield. Skyscanner Australia share some tips including which airlines have the best frequent flyer program, ways to earn frequent flyer points, finding the best credit card and shopping offers to collect points quickly and many more.

The front end of an aeroplane viewed from the terminal waiting area

1. Find the best credit card for frequent flyer points

One of the easiest ways of collecting frequent travel points is via a credit card. Look for an offer that includes a points bonus for joining. For example, one of the best credit cards for frequent flyer points is Citibank, whereby users receive 70,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer Points upon their first spend, and a free night in a hotel every year. Skyscanner Australia spoke with one frequent flyer junkie who has 17 credit cards he had applied for simply for the joining bonus points. Outside the joining bonus you can also collect points for every dollar you spend on credit. However do the research before you join as higher annual fees and interest rates could nullify the rewards. RateCity is a great comparison site that does the hard work for you. And check out Point Hacks for the latest joining bonus point deals and special frequent flyer offers.

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2. Choosing the right frequent flyer program

When choosing the frequent flyer program you want to use make sure you look into its partners where you will also be able to collect points. If you join a program that is part of one of the biggest two groups – Star Alliance and OneWorld – you will increase your chances of accruing points while flying with other airlines. You also don’t need to fly to gain points. Most frequent flyer programs will allow you to buy points from partner airlines and transfer them to your home program. Compare the offers across the frequent flyer programs available. One of the cheapest ways to buy a first class flight is via the frequent flyer program of Columbian airline Avianca, called Lifemiles, which often has specials where you get 125% of the miles you purchase. You don’t need to fly with Avianca but because it is part of the Star Alliance, its points can be redeemed with well-known airlines such as Lufthansa and Thai Airways.

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The entrance to an airline's member-only lounge

3. Shopping offers to collect frequent flyer points

Members can also rack up bonus points by shopping at retail partners. Qantas has associations with David Jones, The Iconic, Apple and Kathmandu to name a few, while Virgin has similar arrangements with more than 200 retailers globally including Clinique, Apple and Interflora. To be eligible the shopping may have to go through the program website. Read the fine print. Programs also have arrangements with rental car companies, hotels and other tour operators so you can increase your points easily by checking who your program is connected with before booking.

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4. Pool family frequent travel points

Virgin Australia, British Airways and Japan Airlines are among those that allow other family members’ points to go into one account so you can increase your total faster. Qantas allows four transfers of points between family members within a 12-month period to a maximum 100,000 points each time.

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5. What can you use your points for?

While there are obvious benefits in terms of free flights, lounge access and seat upgrades, most programs also now allow you to purchase items such as electronics, beauty products and even kitchenware. Check out the program’s online shop and place your order. Be aware these items will often cost more than they would at a regular retailer. One way of beating this and to get more bang per point is to purchase a voucher for a department store, hotel or shop and use the voucher at sales time.

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6. Be aware of point expiration dates

Some frequent flyer program points expire within a certain time frame, particularly if you are not active. For example Singapore Airlines Krisflyer points expire 36 months after accrual. However for those committed to the frequent flyer world this should not be a problem. The real key to getting that first-class seat or business upgrade is to travel solo, be spontaneous and flexible. Unused first class seats are often released in the weeks before the flight, so the key is to not book too far out, be able to travel when the openings arrive and be prepared to travel to your destination via less popular routes.

Read more: 8 ways to score a flight upgrade

Ultimately those who win in the frequent flyer world have done the research. Sites such as Point Hacks and Lifehacker are good starting points for understanding how to make the most of the system.

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Now if you haven’t joined a frequent flyer program yet, we’ve created a comprehensive guide of all the airlines that fly out of Australia and highlighted the benefits of each. All you’ve got to do now is decide which is the best frequent flyer program for you, apply our tips and tricks and watch those frequent flyer points soar!

Frequent flyer program guide

Skyscanner Australia is a free and unbiased travel search engine helping you find and compare thousands of deals on flights, hotels and car hire. Available online or apps for Android and iOS.

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