This isn’t a how-to based on waiting on flight deals or special promotions. This isn’t relying on luck or other external websites to source you the best deal. This does however require some preparation in advance and sensible use of credit cards.
To state this upfront, I personally use credit cards and spend them as if I’m spending a debit card – i.e. I would only spend money that I already have. I understand that credit card debt is something many people bare and keeping finances under control whilst holding credit cards can definitely be difficult for some! I would only recommend going through with this method if you can use credit cards in a financially sensible manner.
Moving beyond the above… I love credit cards. More specifically, I love the credit card promotions that various banks or credit providers offer. Frequent flyer points, membership points, cash backs, gift cards. There’s so much free value to be extracted by churning credit cards. Over 3 years of dedicated yet careful credit card churning, I’ve accumulated over 720,000 points and a $500 gift card and have maintained and have even grown my credit score to > 800. I’ll soon be making a post on this, but that’s not the point of this post.
Let’s focus on how to save massive amounts of money from international flight bookings with a real example.
The parameters I’m working with:
- I live in Sydney, Australia and have always wanted to go to Canada!
- I’m open to planning my flights far in advance (this is usually required), so I’ll be looking at leaving on the 8 November 2022 and returning on 29 November 2022
- I’m open and able to apply for credit cards
- I have a Qantas Frequent Flyer membership (this is required – you can generally find free promotions on Google through searching)
- Accumulate Qantas Frequent Flyer points through signing up for credit card promotions and hitting the minimum spend
- Book the desired flights using these Qantas Frequent Flyer points
That’s as simple as it gets. But what’s the actual value of this?
The only way to see this is to work through an example and compare obtaining the points to booking the same flights directly with Qantas.
Booking Flights With Cash
Direct through Qantas
Looking up these flights on the Qantas website, I see the following as the best options – best being lowest flight duration and lowest cost.
This comes to a total amount of $2,082 with a 40 hour 48 minute flight time.
Using a flight comparison website
Because I’m bargain savvy, I’m going to use my favourite flight comparison website, Google Flights, to look for the cheapest flights from Sydney to Canada.
Looks like there’s a bargain flight for $1,316 return! This is a steal. Clicking through on the flight to see what the return flight is as well:
The price seemed to go up very slightly to $1,141 which is still much cheaper, however the total flight time is 63 hours 30 minutes. That 18 hour 40 minute layover in Manila, Philippines is killer here. I’m not sure if this layover time can be made the most out of, but if I wanted to fly direct to Canada as comfortably as possible, this flight is looking much less appealing.
Booking Flights with Qantas Frequent Flyer points
Earning the Qantas Frequent Flyer points
What makes these points so valuable is that you can book Qantas Classic Flight Rewards using these points. You can read up on the Qantas website what they are, but they are essentially cheap flights.
To earn these Qantas Frequent Flyer (QFF) points, you sign up to credit cards that give large sign on bonuses of Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
Two credit card deals currently available:
|Minimum Spend Required
|NAB Qantas Rewards Signature
|$195 (first year)
|Spend $3,000 in the first 60 days
|ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
|$0 (first year)
|Spend $2,500 in the first 3 months
By signing up for these two credit cards, you can earn a total of 170,000 QFF points for a cost of $195. Personally I would cancel the credit cards immediately after I get these points to avoid accidentally holding onto these cards and accidentally paying annual fees going forward.
These minimum spends may seem quite large, however there are ways to more quickly hit your spend such as paying all your bills, paying for months of private health insurance upfront, topping up public transport cards, buying supermarket e-gift cards (and actually save more this way), and many other ways.
Great! Now you’ve got 170,000 QFF points.
Booking the Qantas Classic Flight Rewards
On the same page as before when I was looking up the flights from Sydney to Canada, there’s a nifty filter at the top to filter the flights only to Rewards only which are the Classic Flight Rewards we’re after.
After applying this filter, the best flights I’ve spotted are:
This comes to a total amount of 107,100 QFF points and $413 in taxes.
Factoring in the credit card annual fee I’d need to pay, this would come to 107,100 QFF points and $608 in fees + taxes with a total flight time of 41 hours and 28 minutes.
Because the QFF points were free, I’d really only be out of pocket the $608 in cash!
This is more than 70% saving off the amount if I were simply paying cash with Qantas to book my flight with a similar flight time as well. This is also about a 50% saving off the cheapest flight found on a flight aggregator.
It is much much much cheaper to book flights using Qantas Frequent Flyer points, and possibly whatever frequent flyer points you have access to. Above I’ve shown that you can pay 70% less on an international return trip with a similar flight time, and even 50% less than the best deal found on a flight comparison website with a much lower flight time!
Churning credit card promotions are the best way to rack up hundreds of thousands of points over time so that you have them banked up and ready for when you want to take your next round the world trip.