Sunday, May 01, 2016

Travelling the world for free - update

Remember my cunning plan to score myself a couple of free return flights to Europe or somewhere else far, far away? It's going very nicely, thank you.

My April Qantas points tally:

Don't forget, I only had 8,800-odd points in April 2015, so in one year I've added over 190,000 points, with only 1,600 of those coming from flights.

Just to prove how valuable having the right credit card is, here's a breakdown of how I've earned my points:

Flights 1,600
Hotels 868
Credit card purchases 37,266
Credit card sign-on bonuses 132,500
Shopping via Qantas online mall 3,054
Wine purchases 17,507
Surveys 1,600
Miscellaneous 100
Total 194,495

You can see that almost 170,000 of my points came from using credit cards just to buy stuff we normally buy anyway. Groceries, petrol, gifts, household goods, travel costs, parking. If I can pay by card instead of cash or debit card, I do, putting the money aside in an interest-earning account until the credit card payment is due.

The American Express card I signed up for in February was a sweet deal. I earned 82,500 bonus points, plus I receive two complimentary Qantas lounge passes each year. The card earns me two points for every dollar I spend at supermarkets and petrol stations (which is where most of our spend goes anyway) and one point for everything else. There is an annual fee on this one, but the lounge passes alone are worth a bit and it's the only card I have that attracts a fee, so I can live with that. The offer I took advantage of has expired, unfortunately, but keep an eye out because similar deals tend to pop up fairly regularly.

The wine purchases are a total win too. I joined Qantas' Epiqure wine club when they had a promotion waiving the joining fee. Being a "premium member" means I earn 3 points for every dollar I spend AND there are regular bonus points plus free, fast delivery to my door. For those 17,507 points, I spent around $500, buying four or five cases of wine and a bottle of gin. The prices aren't usually super-cheap, but if they're about on par with the local bottle shop's regular price and the points deal is good, I'll take it.

So where am I going? Nowhere just yet. Europe or the UK is definitely on the cards, but I can't pin down dates yet because work commitments are a bit unknown at this point. I think I'll just keep chasing points for the rest of this year and watch them add up. I reckon by early next year, I can accrue enough points to get us business class tickets to anywhere we want to go.

It's not all work and no play though. We're off to Phuket for a short break at the end of this week - but there'll be no airline points because we grabbed a super-cheap Air Asia deal for this trip. And I have a short visit to New Zealand booked in July (double Qantas points deal, hurrah!). I'm going to go hang out with Sara and hopefully do a little sightseeing around the beautiful South Island too.

I'll be right here next Friday. Which cannot come soon enough.

If you're interested in maximising airline miles yourself and you haven't done it already, go sign up for the Point Hacks email course and get all the hot tips. There's even a dedicated site for Kiwis, so if you live across the ditch, you're still covered.