Monteverde is a small, windy town high in the Costa Rican “cloud forest”. It is essentially a tourist town, hub for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and extreme sports. Parts of the town are typically Costa Rican, with makeshift store fronts and dogs roaming the streets. But the centre has developed a decidedly hipster vibe, … Read more Monteverde Costa Rica Blog
Ah San Jose, what can I say about you? You’re not the prettiest capital city I’ve ever seen…. but you just might be the ugliest.In fairness, arriving on New Year’s Day when everything is closed and the clean up from the night before is still to begin, probably won’t make the best first impression for … Read more San Jose Blog
Four hours from the unremarkable capital San Jose you’ll find a beautiful natural paradise in Manuel Antonio National Park. We are staying in Quepos, a small town just 7km from the park entrance and an array of wonderful dark sand beaches. Public buses run every 20 minutes to a public beach outside the park. There’s … Read more Pura Vida in Costa Rica
Voted on by no one in particular and selected by no particular authority other than me. I’ve been to all of these places – but I’ve only proposed at one of them. 10 Hot Air Ballooning over the Serengeti Your special partner will never forget a proposal floating above herds of giraffe or zebra, followed … Read more The 10 Best International Places to Propose
This app rewards you for walking! Synch it to your phone’s health app or step counter, set your daily and weekly targets and start walking. You’ll get points each day and week that you meet your target. The more steps you do the more points you’ll get.
You’ll get 150 points just for downloading and logging into the app. And then for a trial 28 day period you could earn 1500 points for being active. After the trial you’ll still earn points but at a greatly reduced rate.
There are extra points for healthy sleeping habits too.
And you can earn 150 points every time you successfully refer someone to the app – refer your partner and kids for instant points (points for you and points for them). Get onto to your extended family for more points.
Look, this is not going to get you that first class award flight to London but… its FREE POINTS! Here’s an example of what you (and your family) could earn in a year:
Points post trial
3 Family Downloads
If you have a Qantas Health Insurance product you will continue to earn points at the FULL rate after the trial period. (You should do you own research before taking out or switching to Qantas Health Insurance. It offers some very tempting bonus points, but unless it works out to the same price or cheaper, it may not be worth chasing this particular source of points.)
An added benefit of the Wellbeing app is that it effectively protects your frequent Flyer account from ever being wiped out by points Expiry (see Points Magnet Part 6). Points are credited roughly every week, so you only have to hit your step target one day a week and your Frequent Flyer points balance is safe forever!
Have you been on a family holiday? Do the kids have Frequent Flyer Points in their accounts, but otherwise don’t earn regular points?
Beware Points expiry!
Any Frequent Flyer account that doesn’t earn or spend points for 18 months will see all points in the account expire. No mercy, no leniency.
One way around this is to transfer all those smaller balances (ie the kids) into one primary account (ie Mum or Dad). Consolidate into an account that is regularly earning points and you’ll never have to worry about losing them.
Transfers require a minimum of 5000 points. If the kids’ balance is under 5000 points and expiry is imminent, consider transferring points from Dad’s account to the kids, and then transfer the kids points back to Mum.
Another strategy would be to join the whole family up to the Qantas Wellbeing app (if the kids have mobile phones) and safeguard your balances with a weekly flow of new points. More on Wellbeing in the next Points Magnet!
But most importantly, NEVER let points go to waste!
So you’ve started to build up a useable QFF points balance and you’re wondering what to do with them.
With so many ways to use your points in the QFF program, it’s really important to understand what those points are worth before you start spending them. It will also help you to understand the value of a promotion (eg credit card sign on points bonus) or if it is worth paying a credit card surcharge to earn points on a purchase.
I value my points at 0.5 cents at the lower end, and 3.5 cents at the upper end. Let me explain how I arrive at those figures.
Lets start in the Qantas Store. You could buy the proverbial toaster with your hard-earned points. You’ll be down 31,070 points for a toaster that retails at around $149. That’s a miserable redemption value of 0.48 cents. Great value for Qantas, not such a great deal for you.
So let’s say we purchase Woolworths vouchers with our points. Seems like a sensible thing to do. The best value you can get here is a $250 voucher for 47,500 points. That’s a redemption value of 0.52 cents per point.
Points Plus Pay…
So let’s get some serious rewards…
I’ll be flying Sydney to Dallas later in the year. It’s a 17 hour marathon and I’ve booked an economy ticket (ugh). But I’ve also got enough points to REQUEST an upgrade to Business Class. Wish me luck. I’ve had some success in the past but this type of upgrade is never guaranteed. However, the difference between my Economy fare and my desired Business fare is about $3,100 and on this basis I’m calling a valuation of 3.1 cents per point. And that’s more than 6 times better than a toaster.
You could also go after a Classic Award flight. They can be a little tricky to find, and it pays to be a little bit flexible with your dates and routes, and you’ll still have to pay taxes and carrier charges. But here’s one I picked up recently and I’m pretty damn happy about it. Melbourne to Singapore on Emirates, one of the most highly regarded first class services in the air, with a ticket value of $3300 plus taxes. And I got this for 90,000 points. A redemption value of 3.6 cents per point.
So now you have an idea of how to value QFF points. You can use this information to assess the benefit of that 100K-sign-on-bonus-CreditCard with a $450 annual fee: At the lower end of my valuations, those points are worth $500 (specifically, you could cash them in for $500 worth of Woolworths vouchers). Or you could hold out for an upgrade or a Classic Award at the upper end of my valuation to gain a $3,600 benefit.
But the most important thing is…. don’t buy the toaster.
As a fan of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program, it’s no surprise that I’m going to tell you to sign up (if you haven’t already) to Woolworths Rewards.
If you shop at Woolies and AREN’T signed up, then you’re crazy. Like it or not, those loyalty points are factored into the price of everything you buy – so you may as well collect the points! If you don’t, it’s like giving Woolworths a tip, or saying “keep the change” every time you shop.
Great, you’ve got a Woolworths Rewards Card. Set it up to transfer points to your QFF account. Now… get another Woolworths Rewards Card. And keep a regular check on your email account.
Whilst WR is a loyalty rewards program, the irony is that Woolworths is more likely to reward disloyalty. Stop using Card A for a while and watch the special bonus offers start to appear in your inbox (they think you’ve gone to Coles). Activate them. Use them if they make sense to you (but don’t buy stuff you don’t need just to get the points).
While you’re happily collecting bonus points on Card A, pretty soon you’ll be getting similar offers on Card B.
If the bonus offers dry up, consider getting another card.
Make sure everyone in your family is shopping on one of your cards to maximise your points. You can also collect WR points at fuel and bottle shop outlets, and Big W.
Notwithstanding those special offers, you’ll get 1 Woolworths Reward point for every $1 spent. Each WR point converts to 0.43 QFF points (2000 WR points converts to 870 QFF points, transferred to your Qantas account quarterly)
Let’s compare value:
2000 Woolworths points buys a $10 voucher/discount when used at Woolworths. 1 point is worth half a cent!
870 Qantas Frequent Flyer points is worth approximately $26 when used for points upgrades or awards flights at Qantas, based on my 3 cents per point valuation.
The Woolworths award can be used on life’s essentials, and is easily cashed in. The Qantas award is a lifestyle choice and is a little bit more difficult to cash – but so much more fun than buying toilet paper. It’s up to you, be sensible or be self-indulgent, but don’t miss out on the points!
Now, how many QFF points could you collect in a year from grocery shopping? Let’s say you spend $250 a week at Woolworths (not a stretch for family of four). And you activate and exploit all of those bonus offers. And you pay on a points earning credit card like the American Express Ultimate card that I have recommended previously.
Table 1 – $250 Weekly Grocery Bill
WR points: 13,000 converts to 5590 QFFpoints
Bonus Points: 40,000* converts to 17200 QFF points
(*based on 4 x 10,000 bonus offer for 4-weekly shopping targets)
Amex 1.25 points for spend 16,250 QFF points
Congratulations, you’ve just banked 39,040 QFF points towards your next award.
Shopping at Woolworths ONLINE via the Qantas Mall can increase your points yield even further, AND save you time in the supermarket.
It takes some planning and organisation, but I think it’s worth the effort. I use Woolworths online (via Qantas Mall) to buy the things I know I’m going to need for the coming week. It’s also a great way to browse the half-price specials and snap up those things you regularly use at a ‘bargain’ price. It won’t replace that dash to the shops for the bread and milk that you just ran out of, but if you can get into a routine you can easily get most of your groceries this way.
They pick and pack the groceries for you, so you save time in store. I also find that I am less prone to impulse buys (usually chocolate), so it’s arguably good for wallet and waist as well!
But back to the points… every time you shop at Woolworths online via the Qantas Mall, your spend is tracked by Qantas and they will reward you with 2 points (standard, sometimes up to 4 points) for every $1 spent. That’s 4 times the standard earn rate in store!
Table 2 Points Yield on $200 Online Grocery Shop
200 standard Woolworths rewards points (converts to 87 QFF points)
250 QFF points from your points earning credit card
400 QFF points from the Qantas Mall
If you were able to do $200 of your weekly family-of-four grocery shop online instead of instore, you’ll collect at least a further 20,800 QFF in a year.
Add that to the points from Table 1 and you are at around 60,000 QFFpoints – not for buying more stuff, just from buying the same stuff in a different way.
You could look at this as a $360 cash back on your groceries, or up to $1800 to spend at Qantas. (I’ll cover points valuations in more detail in another instalment)
Or you could let Woolworths and Qantas keep the points – it’s up to you!
Key Point Use different Woolworths Rewards cards to attract more bonus offers
Key Point Watch your emails and activate offers, track your shopping to reach your goals, but only buy stuff you need
Key Point Plan your weekly shop and do it online through the Qantas Mall to turbo boost your points yield