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How I got $47k worth of flights for less than the price of economy (including First Class!)


By the time I was 32, I experienced the magic of showering on a plane, drinking $500 bottles of champagne and sleeping flat in my own private pod.


I travelled to the USA, Canada, Asia and Europe, many times over.


No, I’m not mega rich or famous.


I travelled to all these places whilst working mediocre jobs at university, with a mountain of student debt.


So how did I travel the champagne lifestyle, on a beer budget?


You probably guessed it, by being a credit card point wizard!





What are credit card points?


Credit card points are points you get from holding and using certain credit cards.


There are many different ways you can earn points with these cards. One way is by paying for products and services on credit cards.


Typically credit cards will pay you 1 to 5 points, per dollar spent on the card.


A First Class flight from Sydney to Dubai requires 170,800 points.


This means if your card only paid 1 point per $1 spent, you would need to spend $170,800 for a First Class flight. YIKES.


I don’t know about you, but as a student that would have taken me 5 years to earn, let alone spend!


Yet, I managed to get a First Class flight, as a student, and do it in less than 3 months!


So how did I do it?


Sign up bonuses are the answer.





The easy way to a First Class flight


Many credit cards will give you a sign up bonus of 60,000 to 100,000 points when you first sign up for a credit card and spend a certain amount.


For example, currently the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card gives you 60,000 points if you sign up and spend $3,000 within 3 months.


So what I would do is wait until I needed to make a big purchase, for example getting a new laptop or fridge, and sign up for a credit card before buying the item.



Credit cards with the highest signup bonuses


Below are the current list of credit cards on offer within Australia.




Note, you can only receive a sign up bonus, once per bank within a certain time period, usually every 2 years. Which is why I make sure to wait until there’s a decent sign up bonus; around 60,000 to 100,000 is a good amount.


Also some credit cards require an annual fee. I try to avoid an annual fee if possible, but some fees are worth it, considering return First Class and Business Class flights can cost $12,000 to $28,000.


Plus some annual fees include flight credit, for example, the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card costs $450 a year but includes $450 Qantas flight credit. So essentially you are getting a huge signup bonus, for taking a flight!





Don’t spend your points on this!


You don’t have to use credit card points just on First Class and Business Class flights.


Credit card points can also be used on domestic flights, products, cashback and services. But if you want the most bang for your buck, NEVER use your points for these items.


Always leave your points for international flights (preferably Business and First Class flights).


As an example, look at the table below. You can see the dollar value of your points are the highest when using them for International Business and First Class flights.

Reward

Retail Dollar Value

Qantas Points Required

Qantas Points Value

Bottle of Wine (Pepperjack Shiraz 2021)

$23.00

24,000

$0.096 c/pt

​Woolworths Gift Card - $50

$50.00

10,930

$0.457 c/pt

​Apple AirPods

$269.00

49,270

$0.546 c/pt

​Breville Duo-Temp Pro Coffee Machine

$529.00

92,000

$0.575 c/pt

Hilton Surfers Paradise - 1 Night Accommodation

$309.00

37,269

$0.829 c/pt

Sydney to Melbourne - One Way Economy Flight (Domestic)

$149.00

8,000

$1.863 c/pt

​Sydney to Melbourne - One Way Business Flight (Domestic)

$659.00

18,400

$3.582 c/pt

Sydney to Los Angeles - One Way Economy Flight (International)

$1,682.00

41,900

$4.014 c/pt

​Sydney to Los Angeles - One Way Business Flight (International)

$10,622.00

108,400

$9.799 c/pt

​Sydney to Los Angeles - One Way First Class Flight (International)

$17,744.00

162,800

$10.899 c/pt


(Note, sometimes upgrading an existing economy flight that you paid for in full, can give you slightly more value for your points. However, unfortunately upgrades are not guaranteed and depending on your membership tier, may not be allocated to you until 24 hours prior to departure. So personally, I don’t like to leave it to chance.)





Extra ways to earn points


Hooked on points yet?


Here’s a list of other easy ways you can also earn extra points.



1. Refer friends


Some credit cards give you bonus points for referring someone! For example American Express is currently offering 5,000 bonus points for each referral.


A little trick I like to do every time is sign up first, then refer my husband - a guaranteed referral every time. Extra free, easy points!



2. Get the Qantas Points-Prompter


Do you know every online store that offers Qantas Points? The list is huge! Rather than searching online to figure it out every time, add the Qantas Point Prompter to your web browser. It’s a free tool that shows you where you can earn Qantas points, and in one click, makes sure you get them for your next purchase!



3. Shop for Groceries


Get bonus points for doing your grocery shopping! Woolworths offer Qantas points and Coles offer Velocity points. Simply scan your cards in store or link them on your online account.



4. Book a stay with Airbnb


Earn 500 bonus points on your first booking with Airbnb, plus 1 point per $1 spent.



5. Switch your gas and/or electricity plans to Red Energy


Earn up to 15,000 bonus points when you sign up, plus earn 2 points for every A$1 you spend on your energy bills, when you pay on time.



6. Link your Uber and Qantas account


Earn 1 point per $1 spent, plus Qantas is giving first time Uber riders the opportunity to earn 2,000 bonus points on their first Uber ride.



7. Watch your favourite shows on BINGE


Earn 1,000 bonus points when you sign up to BINGE as a new customer. Plus new and returning BINGE customers earn 50 Qantas Points each month you stay subscribed.



8. Subscribe to the Hello Fresh meal kits


New customers can earn up to 20,000 bonus points! To redeem, enter the promo code QANTAS20K at checkout. (Note, members must use the same email address for Hello Fresh as their Qantas Frequent Flyer account to earn Qantas Points.)



9. Download the Qantas Health App


The Qantas Health App gives you points for things just like walking and getting enough sleep! Plus you can invite your friends and compete in step challenges to earn extra points.





What’s the catch?


There is no catch! But the one thing to note is that if you aren’t financially savvy - please make sure you spend responsibility.


Never use the interest on the credit card.


Credit card interest rates are ridiculously high. The average credit card interest rate is 20% per annum. So, if you had just a $2,000 credit card debt, this can quickly add up.


Which is why I only spend what I know I can afford and always pay my card on time. TIP - make sure you turn on your account payment reminders!


If you have trouble being disciplined, then reduce your credit card limit and check your card daily, so you can keep track of spending!




Conclusion


Many people think First Class and Business Class flights are out of reach in their lifetime. But it doesn’t have to be.


Credit cards with signup bonuses, can give you enough points for these luxury flights very quickly.


With a few clicks and a sign up or 2, you could be flying flat or experiencing the magic of showering on planes in months, not years!


Have tips on how to earn more points? Leave a comment below!


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