Air New Zealand have introduced Airpoints Flexipay, a new flight payment feature that lets you use a mixture of Airpoints Dollars and cash to complete a booking.
This article goes over the when, why and how of using Airpoints Flexipay, and why it’s cheaper to top-up with your Kiwibank-issued Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard if you have one.
What flights can I book using Flexipay?
Payment using Airpoints Flexipay is available on:
- Air New Zealand marketed and operated flights
- Air New Zealand codeshare Virgin Australia operated trans-Tasman and Australian domestic services
- NZ codeshare United Airlines operated flights between Auckland and San Francisco (return)
- NZ codeshare Cathay Pacific operated flights between Auckland and Hong Kong (return)
Note that there is a minimum of 20% and maximum of 90% applicable to the proportion of a Flexipay payment that can be paid for using Airpoints Dollars – you won’t see Flexipay as an option if you don’t have at least 20% of the cost of the flight in your Airpoints account.
You can book flights for yourself, or even for friends and family if they’ve been added to your Gifting Register.
Status Points and Airpoints Dollars Accrual
Earning Status Points with Air New Zealand could get you closer to complimentary access to the LAX Star Alliance Lounge
One of the benefits of using Airpoints Flexipay is the ability to earn Status Points and Airpoints Dollars on your bookings.
The accrual will be at 20% of the rates that apply to Air New Zealand and Partner airline flights (these can be calculated here).
This is contrast to using an Air New Zealand Mastercard to top-up an Airpoints account, which would see you miss out on any accrual.
You should note however that the cost to use Airpoints Flexipay will typically cancel out any Airpoints Dollars accrual from the flight itself (as you’ll read more about below).
Cost to use Airpoints Flexipay
There is a cost to use Flexipay, in addition to the airfare, payable in Airpoints Dollars. This amount is based on the route flown, and according to Air New Zealand, is subject to change at any time.
The cost isn’t transparent or listed anywhere, and only reveals itself when you get to the ‘Review and pay’ page for your flight booking.
I have searched numerous routes, and from what I can tell, the cost is currently set at 10% of the Airpoints Dollars that you intend to redeem.
Refunds / Flight Changes
Changes to Flexipay bookings and cancellations are only permitted via the Air New Zealand contact centre and cannot be made online – which means you’ll incur a Service Centre fee of $30 for New Zealand domestic flights, $35 for international short haul, and $60 for international long haul.
A ticket paid for using Flexipay is defined as an Airpoints redemption ticket. If the ticket is eligible for a refund, the refund of the fare will be made to the original form of payment and Airpoints Dollars will be applied first, and then the Flexipay cost.
Any Airpoints Dollars and Status Points earned would also be reversed.
The Flexipay cost is only refundable if the whole ticket is fully refundable. No partial or refunds of the Flexipay cost will be made once travel has commenced.
Top-Up via an Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard vs Airpoints Flexipay
For some time, an Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard has let you purchase as many Airpoints Dollars as you like for a low $5 fee. These top-ups are done online outside of the flight booking process, and help to bridge the gap between your Airpoints Dollars balance and the cost of the flight.
Airpoints Flexipay will instead let you ‘top-up’ your Airpoints account at the time of booking.
Let’s look at which of these top-up methods is best value, using an example return Economy class flight between Auckland and Singapore.
The price of the example trip is $1,189.
At the time of writing this post, I had 513 Airpoints Dollars. This left me 572 Airpoints Dollars short for the redemption (you cannot use Airpoints Dollars towards taxes and charges, which are helpfully listed below the total booking amount).
Knowing the difference between the flight cost and my Airpoints balance, I would usually use my Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard to purchase the extra Airpoints Dollars, for a total of $577 ($5 fee, plus $572 for the Airpoints Dollars).
Including taxes of $104.33, my total out-of-pocket costs for the booking would be $681.33.
However, if I were to use Airpoints Flexipay, I would have needed to pay a 51.3 Airpoints Dollars fee at the time of booking (10% of the Airpoints Dollars redemption amount), and then pay the balance of the flight costs. Including taxes, the cost of the booking goes up to $727.30.
Yes, I would earn back 12 Airpoints Dollars from the flight, and if I had paid for the booking using a high-earning Airpoints Dollar credit card, like the American Express Airpoints Platinum, I would have earned a further 12 Airpoints Dollars ($59 = 1 Airpoints Dollar). This would reduce the difference to $22.
The credit card payment fee for the above flight scenario would usually be $35. You won’t have to pay this fee when using Airpoints Flexipay, however you also won’t have to pay it when topping up Airpoints Dollars with the Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard, so I cannot factor this into the cost difference.
To summarise the best-case cost and accrual differences for the above scenario:
|Normal flight purchase (no Airpoints usage)||Airpoints Flexipay||Top-Up via Air New Zealand Airpoints Credit Card|
|Flight cost (excl. taxes and fees)||$1084.67||$622.97||N/A|
|Taxes and fees||$104.33||$104.33||$104.33|
|Credit card fee||$35||N/A||N/A|
|Number of existing Airpoints Dollars used|
|N/A||513 APD (inc. 51.30 APD Flexipay fee)||513 APD|
|Cost to top-up Airpoints Dollars||N/A||N/A||$572|
|Star Points |
|60 APD||12 APD||N/A|
(American Express Airpoints Platinum)
(American Express Airpoints Platinum)
|20.7 APD||12.3 APD||N/A|
|Total Out-of-Pocket Costs||$1224||$727.30||$681.33|
|Total Status Points earned||94||20||N/A|
|Total Airpoints Dollars earned||80.7 APD||24.3 APD||N/A|
If you don’t have an Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard, using Airpoints Flexipay might work out alright for cheaper flights, taking into account the savings from not paying credit card fees, and the ability to earn Airpoints Dollars and Status Points from your credit card spend and the flight.
However using an Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard for top-ups will still work out to be the cheaper flight redemption option, especially as the cost of the flight goes up.
E.g. with a Flexipay redemption of 2,000 Airpoints Dollars towards a $2,500 flight (not including taxes and fees), your Flexipay fees would go up to 200 Airpoints Dollars – and you’ll end up paying $700 with Flexipay vs $505 with the Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard.
If you’re just short of requalifying for your Status Tier, or looking to move up to the next Tier level, Flexipay may be worth it for you – however for now, I’ll be sticking with top-ups via my Air New Zealand Airpoints Mastercard.