The Points Collector’s Guide to Qantas Airlines

This Australia-based airline is a transfer partner of several credit card rewards programs.

Amanda JohnsonMay 10, 2021
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Though it may not be very well known among U.S. travelers, Qantas is Australia's largest airline for both domestic and international travel. It was founded over a century ago, with an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.

We’ll cover what you need to know in our guide to Qantas, from how to earn and redeem Qantas points for max value to finding the best routes.

About Qantas Airlines

Qantas partners with the low-fare Jetstar, which is also owned by the Qantas Group. Qantas is also part of the Oneworld alliance, which includes the U.S.-based American Airlines and Alaska Airlines to sweeten those Qantas U.S. route options.

Here are a few main features you’ll want to know about Qantas.

Fare types

For flights from the U.S. to Australia, there are four main fare types:

  • Economy.

  • Premium economy.

  • Business.

  • First class.

Each of these has three fare values:

  • Sale.

  • Saver.

  • Flex.

The primary differences among these three fares are higher fees for flight changes and cancellation on sale and saver fares. Flex fares have no change or cancellation fees. At the economy level, sale fares will also have a seat selection fee.

Main U.S. routes

Currently, Qantas has paused most international travel due to COVID-19 restrictions in Australia. However, before the pandemic, there were a few main U.S.-Australia routes operated by Qantas, though code-share flights were available for other U.S. destinations. The main Qantas U.S. routes from Australia are between Honolulu, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago and New York to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Points currency and loyalty program 

Join the Qantas rewards program, Frequent Flyer, to earn points for your loyalty. The program allows you to earn Qantas points, as well as status credits, which count toward your elite status. If you earn 150,000 Qantas points, you can join the Qantas Points Club. More on this to come.

How to earn Qantas points

Earn by flying

The primary way to earn Qantas points is by flying on Qantas Airlines or any of its partners. After joining the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, you simply need to book flights. Points earnings are based on a combination of distance, class of travel, fare type and loyalty status.

Qantas has published various charts to make it easy to figure out how many Qantas points you can expect to earn on your trip. For instance, you can earn 11,250 Qantas points on a premium economy flight between Los Angeles and Sydney each way.

Qantas also provides a calculator to help you determine how many Qantas points and status credits you’ll earn on a flight.

Earn by spending on credit cards

Credit cards are a significant way to earn Qantas points quickly; however, Americans will be disappointed to find that there are no co-branded Qantas credit cards currently available for spend in the U.S.

That doesn’t necessarily preclude you from using credit cards to earn Qantas points, as there are multiple transfer options.

Earn by transferring

While there may not be co-branded cards to help you earn Qantas points, you can earn on other cards and transfer them to the Qantas program. Three main programs for transferring points to Qantas are Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Transfer your Citi ThankYou Rewards to Qantas at a 1:1 ratio. The Citi Premier® Card offers a sizable welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. With an annual fee of only $95, this is a mid-level card that can help you quickly earn rewards that can be added to your Qantas points bank.

Capital One Rewards

Transfer Capital One miles to Qantas points at a 2:1.5 ratio. If you’re new to Capital One Rewards, then consider the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The welcome bonus is also enticing: Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. The card earns unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, and costs a reasonable annual fee of $95. It’s easy to quickly start accumulating miles to transfer to Qantas.

American Express Membership Rewards

Transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Qantas at a 1:1 ratio, starting with a minimum of 500 points. To earn AmEx Membership Rewards quickly, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. While it charges a hefty $550 annual fee, you can quickly earn the welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

In addition to a number of other benefits and points earning opportunities, you’ll receive a statement credit every four years of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, which will be a huge benefit for any trips to Australia or other countries. Terms apply.

Other ways to earn

  • Earn Qantas points with stays at Airbnb and partner hotels. Properties are plentiful and range from Hyatt Regency and Four Seasons to Sofitel.

  • The airline partners with Avis and Budget so you can earn points with car rentals.

  • Book tours and activities through Viator to earn 1 Qantas point per Australian dollar (around 75 cents).

  • Use the Qantas shopping portal to earn bonus Qantas points on your purchases.

How to redeem Qantas points for maximum value

Award flights

Classic flight rewards — which include Qantas and American Airlines flights, among others — are broken into 10 zones based on distance flown. Zone one is for flights between 0-600 miles, while zone 10 includes flights from 9,601 to 15,000 miles. Flight redemptions vary, with one-way economy flights in zone one costing only 8,000 Qantas points, whereas one-way economy flights in zone 10 are a heftier 55,200 Qantas points.

Note that there are three other award charts at play depending on which airline operates the flights you would like to redeem: Jetstar Classic Flight Reward table, Partner Classic Flight Reward table and the Oneworld Classic Flight Reward table. Paying attention to the distance, as well as the airline, is one secret to maximizing the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.

Nerdy tip: Qantas' distance-based reward flight algorithm and partnership with American Airlines makes it possible to find some great value in shorter flights. Hop around the U.S. at distances of under 600 miles for only 16,000 Qantas points round trip. Or, look at shorter flights from the East Coast to Europe. In economy, you can make it from New York to London for only 40,600 Qantas points if you choose flights operated by American Airlines. These short flights are key if you’re looking to redeem Qantas points for max value.

Premium class

Where value really shines is in the premium class products to Australia on Qantas. On such a long flight, you’ll want to stretch out and relax, and premium economy — at the minimum — helps ensure a more comfortable flying experience. Award availability is given to members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program first, making this a big reason to book those flights with Qantas points. Classic flight rewards open up 353 days prior to departure, unlike partner airline American Airlines, which provides availability only 331 days prior to departure.

Qantas’s elite status program

Qantas has four status levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One. To move into an elite status tier, you need to earn status credits, not just Qantas points. Status credits are based on the flight, airline and fare. Flexible fares earn more than saver fares, and more premium cabin flights earn more status credits than economy flights.

While you can earn status credits on partner flights, you’ll need to take four flights in a year with Qantas, QantasLink or Jetstar to reach Silver, Gold or Platinum membership.

It takes a certain amount of status credits to reach different tiers, then a slightly lower amount of status credits to maintain status each year. Here's how that shakes out:

Silver

Gold

Platinum

Platinum One

300 status credits

700 status credits

1,400 status credits

3,600 status credits (2,700 of which must be earned on Qantas flights)

7,000 status credits to earn lifetime status

14,000 status credits to earn lifetime status

75,000 status credits to earn lifetime status

N/A

250 status credits to maintain status

600 status credits to maintain status

1,200 status credits to maintain status

3,600 status credits to maintain status (2,700 of which must be earned on Qantas flights)

Equivalent to Oneworld Ruby status

Equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire status

Equivalent to Oneworld Emerald status

Equivalent to Oneworld Emerald status

As you acquire status, you’ll earn bonuses on your Qantas points. You’ll also earn access to lounges, free luggage, priority check-in and more.

Some of the most useful benefits are outlined below:

Travel benefits

At the airport

Lounge access

Silver

Preferred and complimentary seating, with preferential access to Qantas classic flight reward seats, 50% bonus on status points with Qantas, Jetstar and American Airlines.

Priority check-in, priority standby.

One free lounge invitation to Qantas Club lounges.

Gold

All Silver benefits, plus a 75% bonus on status points with Qantas, Jetstar and American Airlines.

Silver benefits, plus priority boarding, priority checked bags and access to premium security lanes domestically.

Access to Qantas Club, Qantas International Business and many Oneworld member airline lounges.

Platinum

All Silver and Gold benefits, plus priority economy seat purchase, confirmed international upgrades two days before departure and 100% bonus on status points with Qantas, Jetstar and American Airlines.

Gold benefits, plus access to premium security lanes internationally when available.

All Gold lounge access, plus Qantas Domestic Business lounges and Qantas First and Emirates First lounges.

Platinum One

All Platinum benefits, plus confirmed international upgrades seven days prior to departure, upgrade priority, complimentary Platinum membership for another individual, and 100% bonus on status points with Qantas, Jetstar and American Airlines.

Platinum benefits plus fare difference waivers when changing domestic flexible fares.

All Platinum lounge access, including the Qantas MCA Lounge, plus two free lounge invitations for friends or family.

Other benefits include a choice of Loyalty Bonus reward at 500 status credits for all levels, plus invitations to special events and experiences at the Platinum One level.

Other Qantas perks

Qantas Explorer

This multi-city booking option helps create savings for those looking to hop around the continent of Australia on their visit instead of booking separate and potentially more expensive itineraries once in the Land Down Under.

Round-the-world bookings

Qantas’ rules on booking with stopovers makes it an easy option for booking around-the-world trips with points. There are only a few conditions when booking multi-stop trips, the key ones being:

  • They must be under 35,000 miles total.

  • You can have up to five free stopovers, but only one per city per itinerary.

  • You can transfer in the same city only twice (in other words, you can have a layover in the same city only twice).

  • Each segment on Qantas, Jetstar or using the Classic Flight Reward table must be no longer than 15,000 miles.

The bottom line

Qantas is largely a program and airline that benefits Australian residents. However, with some savvy transferring, non-Aussies can find ample value in the airline itself, the loyalty program and utilization of Qantas’ Oneworld partnerships.


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