Point Hacks NZPoint Hacks NZ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz The best frequent flyer deals & offers for New Zealand. Wed, 17 Jul 2019 19:30:32 +0000 en-NZ hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Earn 4,000 bonus miles with Alaska Mileage Plan on your first Rocketmiles booking https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earn-points-with-rocketmiles-hotels/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earn-points-with-rocketmiles-hotels/#respond Wed, 17 Jul 2019 19:30:32 +0000 Wed, 17 Jul 2019 19:30:32 +0000 Rocketmiles is a hotel aggregator service that offers kickbacks for hotel bookings in the form of frequent flyer miles.

There are a few good bonus point offers available at the moment, primarily for those making their first booking.

Current Rocketmiles Offers

Promo LinkOffer detailsEnds
Alaska Mileage Plan4,000 bonus miles on your first booking23 July 2019
Emirates Skywards5,000 bonus miles on your first booking15 September 2019
United MileagePlus Miles3,000 bonus miles on your first booking30 September 2019

Last updated: 17 July 2019

We’ve written about Kaligo, one of Rocketmiles competitors. Most of the commentary in that piece applies to Rocketmiles as well.

For these bonuses you need to:

  • Compare the market to ensure you are not overpaying for your hotel night and earning points at an unreasonable rate
  • Take advantage of the new customer bonuses as much as possible – use different sites and book using different people in the party as much as possible to maximise the new customer bonuses
  • Be aware that you will be forgoing any status benefits when booking a stay with any chain hotels, including Hilton, Marriott, IHG etc.

Summing up

These bonus points offers can be a decent deal if the price and hotels on offer work for you.

You may also like to check out other hotel aggregators like Kaligo, Agoda PointsMAX and PointsHound.

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Which fare classes to book with Qantas & Virgin Australia to upgrade using points https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/qantas-virgin-upgrade-fare-classes/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/qantas-virgin-upgrade-fare-classes/#respond Wed, 17 Jul 2019 02:30:32 +0000 Wed, 17 Jul 2019 02:30:32 +0000 Using your points for a flight upgrade is one of the best ways to maximise their value.

The downside? Not every ticket can be upgraded. Even if you have the points you won’t be able to upgrade unless you’ve also purchased the right fare class, and there’s upgrade availability on your chosen flight.

You need to be particularly aware of this if you book your base flight through a travel agent since they can often place you in a discount class of fare that is not upgradeable.

In this guide we explain which fare classes you can and cannot upgrade for Qantas and Virgin Australia. This is one guide to reference if you’re making a booking which you’re planning to try and upgrade using your points.

Using Qantas points to upgrade

You can use Qantas points to book award tickets with a number of different partner airlines, including Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Emirates – but upgrades are only possible on Qantas-operated and marketed flights.

You will need to have booked and paid for a ticket on a Qantas plane, with a QF flight number on your ticket, to be able to upgrade.

Qantas has two upgrade schemes, Classic Upgrade Rewards and Bid Now Upgrades.

Bid Now Upgrades are, in my opinion, not fantastic. No-one is eligible for a Bid Now upgrade until they have been invited to make an offer, and Qantas will invite people “in its sole discretion”.

So there is no guide as to which fare classes will or won’t get invited. But if you are eligible you will be told, and you should never bank on getting an invitation.

Qantas Bud Now Upgrade | Point Hacks

To be eligible for a Bid Now Upgrade you need to be invited.

As for Classic Upgrade Rewards, well they are much more available, but still not guaranteed. If you plan on upgrading, check out our article on how Classic Upgrades get given out.

Qantas Australian Domestic Upgrades

Qantas in recent years changed their policy to allow passengers to upgrade from Reward flights (flights that you booked with points).

This change means that all Qantas domestic flights are now eligible for an upgrade to business class as long as they have a QF flight number.

The full list of fare classes can be found here.

Qantas will clearly show whether you can request a points upgrade at time of booking.

Qantas Domestic Upgrade Example

A green tick will tell you whether the fare can be upgraded.

Even though all fares are upgradeable, it will cost you more points to upgrade from a discount fare as opposed to a flexible one. You can see how many points you need to upgrade here.

If your booking has both domestic and international flights on it, even if your international leg is not upgradeable, your domestic leg will be.

International Upgrades

Not all international fare classes can be upgraded.

Fares in the E, N, O, Q class cannot be upgraded using points. These are discount economy fares.

All international fare types can be found here.

As with domestic, if booking through the Qantas website, the green ticks will clearly show whether a fare is upgradeable or not.

Qantas International Flight Upgrade Example

The difference in price between the sale and saver fares shown here is only $35, so if you are keen to upgrade, pay a little extra

If you are booking through a travel agent and you want to be able to upgrade, you must double check your fare class since you are likely to be placed in one of these ineligible fare classes.

If you are in an eligible fare class, you can request the following upgrades.

Upgrade fromEligible upgrade classesUpgrade to
Classic Reward
Economy Saver
Economy Flex
X, G, K, L, M, S, V, B, H, YPremium Economy
Business
Classic Reward Premium Economy
Premium Economy Sale
Premium Economy Saver
Premium Economy Flex
Z, T, R, WBusiness
Business Sale
Business Saver
Business Flex
I, D, C, JFirst

You can see how many points you will need to upgrade to/from each class using the calculator here.

From time to time Qantas may allow upgrades from ineligible fare classes, but it’s up to them.

Using points to upgrade with Virgin Australia

If you’re thinking of using your Velocity points for an upgrade, be sure to check out our guide for Virgin Australia upgrades.

Virgin has three upgrade schemes, Upgrade Me Points, Upgrade Me Bid and Upgrade Me Pay Now.

You can check your eligibility for the latter two here.

For points upgrades, in addition to making sure your ticket is in the right fare class, your flight also needs to be operated by Virgin with a VA flight number to be upgradeable.

You will also need to make sure you have put your Velocity Frequent Flyer number on the booking to be able to request any upgrades.

Virgin Australia Business Class | Point Hacks

Fare Structure

Virgin changed their fare structure at the start of September 2016. The ‘fare brands’ are Getaway, Elevate, Freedom, Premium Saver, Premium, Business Saver, and Business.

The ‘fare brands’ are easy to understand and do not require any fuss over specific fare classes (indicated by letters).

We’ve simplified your search for points tables in the categories below.

Domestic Flights

All domestic flights are upgradeable. See what it will cost you here.

Trans Tasman and International Short Haul Flights

All Trans-Tasman and short haul flights are upgradeable. Short haul flights are international flights departing to or arriving from countries within South East Asia and the Pacific.

From New Zealand, short haul includes flights to Nuku’alofa and Rarotonga.

See what it will cost you here.

International Long Haul Flights

Virgin long haul international flights have the biggest restriction on upgrading with points. Unless you are a Gold or Platinum Velocity member, you will not be able to upgrade any flights with points.

Fare BrandUpgradeable?
GetawayNo
ElevateNo
FreedomGold and Platinum members only
Premium Economy

Summing Up

Using points to upgrade is a great way to make use of points, but if that is your plan you need to make sure your base ticket is in the right fare class.

Although most fares are upgradeable, many discount fares are not. If you book through a travel agent, it is likely that you might get placed in one of these fares unless you ask not to be.

Qantas and Virgin Australia are both generous with all domestic flights being upgradeable.

Virgin are also generous having made all international short haul and Trans-Tasman bookings eligible to be upgraded with points.

Virgin long haul flights have the most restrictive upgrade policy, only allowing Gold and Platinum members to upgrade some limited fares.

Have you scored yourself a points upgrade with Qantas or Virgin Australia? Let us know in the comments below.

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4x Airpoints Dollars or Fly Buys on fuel purchases – today only https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-points-z-fuel/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-points-z-fuel/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2019 18:30:58 +0000 Tue, 16 Jul 2019 18:30:58 +0000

Z Fuel are running a bonus Airpoints Dollars and Fly Buys offer when you fuel up with petrol or diesel for one day only.

Scan your Airpoints card at Z from 6am on Wednesday 17 July, to 6am Thursday 18 July, and you’ll earn either 4x Airpoints Dollars or Fly Buys points.

This offer is automatically stacked with the ongoing “Pumped” discount that you get by scanning your Airpoints or Fly Buys card at the pump.

If you swipe your Airpoints card for this offer, you’ll receive the equivalent discount of 10 cents per litre.

With Fly Buys, it’s a slightly lesser 9.2 cents per litre equivalent discount.

Read on to see how we’ve worked these figures out.


Guide to earning points at Z for fuel and in-store purchases

You have the choice of earning either Fly Buys points or Airpoints Dollars when purchasing fuel at Z. You can also earn points on some in-store purchases.

Fly Buys

Is earning Fly Buys your thing?

You’ll earn 1 point every time you purchase 20 litres of fuel and swipe your membership card. A record is kept of your fuel tally, so you won’t miss out on points if you’re filling up less than 20 litres at a time.

You need 6 Fly Buys points to redeem for $1 on flights via Helloworld. Therefore at the standard earn rate, you’re effectively receiving 0.8 cents back for each litre you fuel up.

You’ll also get an instant 6 cents off per litre each time you fuel up, thanks to the ongoing ‘Pumped’ benefit. This then works out to be an effective 6.8 cents back for each litre of fuel.

You can also earn Fly Buys points for the following in-store purchases:

Fly-Buys-Z-in-store

Airpoints Dollars

Do you prefer to earn Airpoints Dollars?

You can earn 1 APD (or part thereof) for every 100 litres of fuel purchased at Z, and 1 APD (or part thereof) for every $50 you spend on the following:

Airpoints-Z-in-store

Based on Airpoints Dollars being pegged to the New Zealand Dollar, the standard earn rate effectively works out to be a 1 cent per litre discount, and a 2% rebate on qualifying purchases.

You’ll also get an instant 6 cents off per litre each time you fuel up, thanks to the ongoing ‘Pumped’ benefit. This then works out to be an effective 7 cents back for each litre of fuel.

This effective ‘discount per litre’ is slightly superior to Fly Buys in terms of value.

Fuelup Vouchers and other promotions

Got a Fuelup voucher from supermarket spend? Or is Z running one of their frequent 10c off per litre discounts? While you can still earn Fly Buys or Airpoints under these offers, they cannot be stacked with the standard Pumped discount.

Though don’t despair— you will always be entitled to the greatest per litre discount offer available.

Key points of the partnership that you should know

  • To earn points, customers will need to present their Fly Buys or Airpoints membership card at the cash register, or scan their card directly at the pump.
  • There is no need to split your transactions to maximise earn – with Fly Buys, a tally is kept of how much fuel you purchase to ensure you don’t miss out on points. With Airpoints, you’ll earn APD ‘part thereof’ according to your fill and/or spend.
  • Providing you are using your points for flights, opting to earn Airpoints Dollars at the pump offers slightly better than Fly Buys.

Paying for fuel by credit card

Remember that Fly Buys and Airpoints members can ‘double dip’ on their points earn by using a rewards credit card.

The highest earning Fly Buys card is the BNZ Advantage Visa Platinum, where you’ll earn 1 Fly Buys point for every $15 spent.

The highest earning Airpoints card that you can use at Z is the American Express Airpoints Platinum, where you’ll earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59 spent.

You can also collect points when you use a Z Gift Card to pay for qualifying items.

If you buy your Z Gift Card with an American Express Platinum Edge from any participating supermarket, you’ll earn 3 Membership Reward Points per $1. These points can be transferred to numerous different frequent flyer programmes, including Airpoints.

Earning points with the Z Card

You can earn points through your business too.

If you have your Fly Buys number loaded on your Z Card account, Z Fuel will add up your total fuel spend at the end of the month. You’ll get 1 Fly Buys point for every complete $50 (incl. GST) you spend on fuel.

If you have your Airpoints number loaded on your Z Card account, they’ll add up your total fuel spend at the end of the month and you’ll earn Airpoints Dollars at the rate of 1 for every $200 (incl. GST) spent. You could also use your Airpoints for Business number if you prefer.

The plus of using a Z card is that there is no need for you to also present your Fly Buys or Airpoints card – your points will be collected automatically.

You cannot use Fuelup vouchers when using the Z Card.

Summing up

Z Fuel are probably the single most engaging business in New Zealand when it comes to frequent discount and bonus point promotions.

For a slightly greater discount at the pump, be sure to use your Airpoints card.

Also remember to pay with a points-earning credit card, so you’re maximising your earn rate every time you fill up the car.

Images courtesy of Z Fuel

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Great news: you can now earn Velocity Points on Ola rideshares https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-points-new-zealand-taxis-guide/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-points-new-zealand-taxis-guide/#respond Tue, 16 Jul 2019 02:30:11 +0000 Tue, 16 Jul 2019 02:30:11 +0000 The Indian rideshare app Ola is an alternative to Uber and has been aggressively marketing to the New Zealand public. Now, it’s teamed up with Velocity Frequent Flyer.

New Ola-Velocity partnership

Earn rates

Under this new partnership, you can earn the following:

  • 2 Velocity Points per $ spent on eligible rides to and from selected airports (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, and Canberra)
  • 1 point per $ spent on all other Ola rides
  • 1,000 bonus points on your first ride if you’re new to Ola and ride before 30 August 2019
  • 50% off your rides (maximum $10 savings per ride) in the first two weeks from when you sign up
  • Flat $25 fee for rides 20km or under to/from the airport using promo codes OLADROP on the way to the airport and OLAPICK on the way home

Points are credited within 14 days of making payment for your ride.

Image of Ola Vehicle

How to link your Ola and Velocity accounts

  1. Download the Ola app
  2. Go to top left-hand corner
  3. Click on your name
  4. Enter your Velocity Frequent Flyer membership number

Is this a good deal?

I’ve found that Ola tend to offer lower rates than Uber. You can also pick up generous discount codes every now or then by keeping your ears out on social media and blogs like this one.

The fact that you can earn Velocity Points on all Ola rides in New Zealand (and double points to/from the airport) is fantastic, especially compared to the Uber offering where you can only earn Qantas Points on airport transfers in Australia.


In this guide

There are a variety of ways that you can earn points/miles on airport shuttles, taxi rides, and luxury car services in New Zealand – and how much you’re willing to spend, the purpose of your trip, and what type of points you like to earn will typically determine which services are best for you.

This guide explores the different options known to us, specifically here at home.

First, the numbers

You can see here that it is hard to compare simple earn rates when there are different frequent flyer programmes and currencies at play. And that’s not to mention that the services provided by each business varies.

Text in bold indicates that there is a current promotion.

Car serviceFrequent flyer programmeEarn ratePoints/miles on $25 NZD ride
Air New Zealand TaxisAirpoints1 point per 50 NZD, with a minimum of 1 APD earned for trips below this price1
BlacklaneArrture150 points per booking150
BlacklaneAsia Miles2 miles per USD36
BlacklaneEnrich2 miles per USD36
BlacklaneKrisFlyer2 miles per USD36
BlacklaneMiles & More2 miles per USD36
BlacklaneQatar Privilege Club1 mile per USD18
BlacklaneShangri-La Golden Circle1 point per 2 USD8
BlacklaneThai Royal Orchid Plus2 miles per USD36
ConxxeAsia Miles2 miles per USD36
ConxxeEnrich3 miles per USD54
ConxxeEtihad Guest1 mile per USD18
ConxxeKrisflyer1.5 miles per USD27
GroundLinkAmerican Airlines200 miles per booking200
GroundLinkUnited MileagePlus200 miles per booking200
OlaVirgin Velocity1 point per AUD spent on all rides except to/from airport
2 points per AUD spent on airport rides
23-47
RidewaysEtihad Guest1 mile per USD18
ViatorKrisflyer1.5 miles per USD27
ViatorQantas Frequent Flyer1 point per AUD23

We’ll now look at the different services and what they offer.

Services provided

Ola

See above for details of partnership with Virgin Velocity.

Air New Zealand Taxis

Air New Zealand Taxis

New Zealand based Airpoints members earn Airpoints Dollars when booking taxis and shuttles with Air New Zealand Taxis – or even a helicopter ride between Auckland International Airport and Auckland City, Waiheke Island, Coromandel and more (for those who have no time and lots of money).

Unfortunately for 65% of the population, point-to-point taxi rides can only be booked in Auckland and Palmerston North.

You’ll earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $50 spent, which is calculated on the total booking amount. For a booking under $50, you will still earn a minimum of 1 Airpoints Dollar.

Quote your Airpoints Membership number when making a prepaid taxi or transfer booking on their dedicated website.

Blacklane

Blacklane is a luxury airport transfer and hourly (think weddings or parties) car service. They are available in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington.

They have four categories:

  • Business Class: equivalent to UberBLACK
  • Green Class: clean and green with Tesla (Auckland, Queenstown only)
  • Business Van/SUV: equivalent to UberSUV
  • First Class: equivalent to UberLUXE (Auckland, Queenstown only)

All the ‘equivalent’ Uber options listed above are not available in New Zealand, so Blacklane could be an option if you’re looking for something a bit fancier, plus with the ability to earn miles.

You can earn points/miles with:

Asia Miles and KrisFlyer are both useful programmes for travellers in New Zealand, and we’d recommend that you choose to credit to either of these.

More information: our guide to getting the most out of your Asia Miles

Conxxe

Conxxe provide private sedan and minivan transfers from airports and cruise terminals across New Zealand.

You can earn miles with:

Asia Miles and KrisFlyer are both useful programmes for travellers in New Zealand, and we’d recommend that you choose to credit to either of these. Etihad Guest is a good program for Virgin Australia redemptions, so they could be an option too. Redemptions with Enrich are not good value.

Rideways

Rideways provide private sedan and minivan transfers from airports across New Zealand, including point-to-point in some locations.

Their downtown rates are reasonably competitive, and thanks to their partnership with Etihad, you could use them to boost your Etihad Guest Miles balance for cheap Virgin Australia Business Class redemptions.

More information: our guide to buying miles with Etihad

Groundlink

GroundLink offer airport transfers in New Zealand. They offer standard and premium vehicle types.

There are two earn options that may be of interest here at home:

If you use promo code ‘SaveGL’ you’ll receive 10% off the cost of your ride.

AAdvantage and MileagePlus are useful programmes for travellers in New Zealand who tend to purchase points to redeem on Business Class travel, particularly to Asia.

More information: our guide to buying miles with AAdvantage, as well as our guide to buying miles with United MileagePlus

Viator

Viator is a company that lets you purchase tickets for over 10,000 hand picked activities and tours in 800 destinations around the world.

It wouldn’t be the first website you’d think of for transfers and ground transport, but they do sell tickets for airport shuttles all over the world, including in Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua, Queenstown, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Viator have two earn options that may be of interest to New Zealanders:

Summing up

I didn’t even realise just how many shuttle, point-to-point and airport transfer services there were in New Zealand until I started writing this article – and the fact that so many of them are partnered with frequent flyer programmes is great news.

Velocity offer the easiest-to-understand partnership with Ola. You’ll enjoy a solid earn rate of 1 Velocity Points per dollar spent, with double points on airport rides.

For premium services, and general airport transfers, you have the pick of the bunch between Air New Zealand Taxis, Blacklane and more.

With any option, you’ll be earning points with a service you were going to use anyway, so you can count that as a win.

How do you maximise your points earn on rideshare services in New Zealand (and overseas)?

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New Dining Privilege at IHG hotels in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and India https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/intercontinental-ambassador-guide/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/intercontinental-ambassador-guide/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2019 22:30:06 +0000 Mon, 15 Jul 2019 22:30:06 +0000 IHG are now offering a dining discount at participating hotels in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, India and Africa. IHG Ambassador members are eligible for this new benefit, which we detail below.

The new benefit

Until the end of 2019, Intercontinental Ambassador members will receive the following:

  • 15% discount at restaurants and bars in Asia Pacific
  • 30% discount at restaurants and bars in the Middle East, India and Africa

The discount is on food, beverages and dining, and you do not need to be staying at the hotel to take advantage of the benefit.

The discount is applicable for a maximum of 8 people, including the member.

You must remember to confirm your membership with presentation of a valid Rewards Club membership app, card or virtual card, at time of settling the bill. You can obviously choose to defer your charges to your room if you are staying at the property, but you will still need to make sure the discount is calculated at time of signing your dining receipt, rather than at check-out.

For details of the participating hotels where this discount is available, see the list here.

For the most part, the properties are Intercontinental. However in Greater China—which includes Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan—there is a separate list which also includes other IHG brands, including Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.

You will not receive a discount on any of the following:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Meals included within a room rate
  • Seasonal menus
  • In-room dining
  • Banquets
  • Groups, events bookings and private dining rooms
  • In-room minibar

InterContinental Sydney

InterContinental Sydney


A guide to the InterContinental Ambassador membership programme

The InterContinental Ambassador programme is a $200 USD paid membership with a number of benefits specific to InterContinental Hotels globally, and which requires nothing more than cash to procure, making it ideal if you have an upcoming InterContinental stay.

Here we dig into the benefits of the Ambassador programme and cover some ways to maximise value from it.

The basics of the InterContinental Ambassador programme

IHG’s Ambassador programme is a paid membership that offers the following benefits at most InterContinental properties (the terms and conditions show that there are some variances in benefits at certain properties):

  • Complimentary weekend night certificate, valid on the second night of a paid weekend stay on the Ambassador Weekend Rate.
  • Enjoy a guaranteed upgrade to a superior room at check in, each time you stay. Note that while you may receive an upgrade to a Club InterContinental room, you will not receive any club benefits if you haven’t already booked one. Speciality Suite exceptions can be reviewed here
  • Guaranteed 4 pm late check out
  • USD20 restaurants & bars credit ($25 in AU/NZ, 120RMB in China but only for Spire Elite)
  • Fresh mineral water, replenished daily
  • Welcome fruit platters for stays in Greater China
  • One complimentary breakfast every night you stay in Mainland China
  • Complimentary premium Internet access
  • Single room rate for double occupancy
  • Guaranteed room availability with 72 hour advance reservation
  • 15% discount at restaurants and bars at participating properties in Asia Pacific

You’ll also receive Platinum Elite status with IHG Rewards, which will give you recognition at all other IHG properties, like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.

All of these benefits are available as part of the Ambassador programme for $200 USD – this also being the renewal cost annually thereafter.

How best to use InterContinental Ambassador

The benefit that stands out to me is the annual complimentary second weekend night stay. If you are planning a weekend at any of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts properties, this benefit can offset the majority of the annual fee.

Ambassador free weekend night certificate

There are some restrictions on the use of the free weekend night certificate, the biggest being that they can only be used when the paid night is on the Ambassador Weekend Rate (IHG-speak for flexible rate), which is usually dearer than more “restrictive” rates.

IC Ambassador Welcome Pack

However for two-night weekend stays, this will usually still be cheaper than booking at a restrictive rate, and my take is that the Ambassador membership is worthwhile even if it’s only put to use for that one weekend each year.

‘Weekend’ is defined to include Friday, Saturday and Sunday, except in the Middle East where hotels may define the weekend as Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The certificate is loaded to your IHG account. Those joining before 1 March 2019 however would have received a paper certificate that can be handed over to the hotel upon checking in.

The complimentary weekend night credit can be redeemed here.

InterContinental Wellington

Spend the weekend at the InterContinental Wellington

Ambassador room upgrades

Room upgrades are valid on any paid rate, and you’ll get bumped up to the next category room from the rate you paid on.

The best way to use the room upgrade benefit is to carefully research the room types at the InterContinental you are looking to stay at – target the specific room category you want to stay in, and then email the hotel before booking to ensure you book the right room type to ensure you get upgraded into the room you want.

We’ve collated some of the room upgrade policies for Ambassador members in Asia Pacific here →

Once booked, you can then revalidate with the hotel (again by email) that they will be upgrading you into the room type you desire.

Some InterContinental Hotels will upgrade your reservation category for you in advance so you can see it on your booking. This is not an official benefit however so don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t occur!

Note that on New Year’s Eve, the room upgrade will be subject to availability, rather than being an as-of-right benefit.

Are the room upgrade and late checkout really ‘guaranteed’?

The ‘guaranteed’ room upgrade and 4pm late check-out can be ‘bought out’ by the hotel for 10,000 IHG points, or a USD$50 restaurant & bar or spa credit.

IHG have confirmed for me that the offering is at the discretion of the hotel. For example, there are reports that the Intercontinental Bali will only offer points.

The Intercontinental Wellington however gave me the option when I stayed with them in June this year—I had booked a club twin room, and no higher category rooms offered two beds—and I naturally opted for the $70 NZD credit that was on offer. Together with the $25 NZD Ambassador credit, and two free drink vouchers, this made for a good hour or two at the bar!

How the IC Ambassador programme works alongside IHG Rewards

We’ve previously looked at several hotel loyalty programmes, including IHG Rewards from the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) which consists of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza, Indigo, Hualuxe, Staybridge and Candlewood Suites hotel chains.

IHG Rewards Club loyalty programme tiers start at the base Club tier, and you work your way up to Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Spire Elite after meeting their respective prerequisites.

Ambassador is independent of IHG Rewards, with the exception that one of the benefits of paying for Ambassador is IHG Rewards Platinum status.

Your Ambassador benefits on rewards night stays

Booked your stay using points? You will receive this reduced range of Ambassador benefits on your stay:

  • USD20 restaurants & bars credit ($25 in AU/NZ)
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check out
  • Complimentary premium internet access
  • Complimentary mineral water daily

Summing up

For an initial and ongoing USD 200 fee, you get a complimentary weekend night stay and a host of other benefits at any InterContinental Hotels and Resorts property around the world, the most valuable being the guaranteed room upgrade, and 4.00pm late check-out.

On top of that, you also get upgraded to Platinum Elite status on the IHG Rewards Club programme, which is recognised at over 4,900 IHG hotels in nearly 100 countries. If you have a weekend trip where there is an InterContinental hotel, the Ambassador membership may be right for you.

Have you had a great value Ambassador stay? Let us know in the comments below.

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China Airlines A350 & 777-300ER Business Class overview https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/china-airlines-business-class-overview/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/china-airlines-business-class-overview/#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 07:32:04 +0000 Mon, 15 Jul 2019 07:32:04 +0000 First of all, China Airlines is not Air China nor is it from the mainland—it’s one of the two big Taiwanese airlines, along with EVA Air (part of Star Alliance).

New Zealand-based travellers are most likely to fly them when using Qantas Points for travel between Australia and Taipei—unfortunately the link across the Tasman from Auckland is not permitted for redemptions (though thankfully is a cheap flight, even in Business Class).

Given China Airlines is a SkyTeam alliance member, there are no easy point redemption avenues for New Zealand-based travellers travelling on other routes. This means that you are most likely to fly this product long-haul when you find a good-value cash fare to North America or Europe.

I booked my one-way flight from Taipei to Sapporo using 30,000 Delta SkyMiles + US$16 taxes.

Fleet & routes

China Airlines uses a combination of Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for its longest flights, with the former on offer from Auckland.

China Airlines airplane on tarmac

The seat and service are essentially the same on both aircraft. However, on the A350:

  • you’ll feel more refreshed as the cabin has more oxygen flowing through
  • there are only eight rows of Business Class, all in one cabin

whilst on the 777-300ER (which I took):

  • the cabin is split, meaning you can be in the main cabin of six rows, or the mini cabin of four rows (more intimate but more baby bassinets are located here)

China Airlines check-in counter

The cabin & Seats

The cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, providing direct aisle access to all passengers. Here is the seat map for the A350 (one cabin):

China Airlines A350 Business Class seat map

and the 777 (split into two cabins):

China Airlines 777 Business Class seat map

For the rest of the overview, I’ll treat both products as the same. Here is the gorgeous cabin:

China Airlines Business Class cabin

China Airlines Business Class cabin

China Airlines Business Class cabin

If you’ve flown Virgin Australia A330 or 777 Business Class, you’ll be familiar with this reverse herringbone seat. I found the China Airlines version to be less cramped and more comfortable.

China Airlines Business Class cabin

China Airlines Business Class cabin

As you can see, the seat is plush, and the carpeting throughout the cabin provides the same feeling of warmth.

China Airlines Business Class seat

Style is upped with an individual table lamp at each seat:

China Airlines Business Class seat

and beautiful wood pannelling throughout the cabin.

China Airlines Business Class seat

The footwell is large and long:

China Airlines Business Class footwell

and you’ll be provided with a plush and comfy pillow and blanket for when you want to take a nap in lie-flat mode.

China Airlines Business Class seat pillow

Note that the cabin is kept quite warm and there are no individual air vents, so make sure to dress lightly.

The seat controls are easy-to-use:

China Airlines Business Class seat control

and there is quite a lot of storage space, including deep compartments.

China Airlines Business Class seat storage area

There is a space at the rear of the cabin (or between the two cabins on the 777) for self-service snacks and drinks.

Seat choice

Just the normal advice here: avoid the first and last rows to reduce noise. Solo travellers will want a window seat in A or K, and those travelling with someone else probably the two centre seats of D and G.

Food & drink

I was really impressed with the dining on this flight, from the attractive menus:

China Airlines Business Class menu

to the combination of Taiwanese, Japanese and fusion cuisine.

China Airlines Business Class food

China Airlines Business Class food

China Airlines Business Class food

Meal service was prompt on my flight.

You can pre-order your meal between 21 days and 24 hours before departure in Manage My Booking. China Airlines has a notoriously clunky website and mobile app, so it may be difficult to do so.

Here is the full food and drinks menu from my flight:

Customer service

This was mixed but overall very good.

Check-in was friendly and quick, as was getting into the lounge.

Upon boarding, there was trash from a previous passenger one of my seat compartments and the bathroom cupboard was left open with supplies spilling out.

China Airlines Business Class

During the actual flight, I found the cabin crew to be warm and professional. Something I really enjoyed was that they passed through the cabin on a frequent basis to clear away plates and top up drinks.

I received no personalised farewell from the purser, which would’ve been a nice way to finish.

Inflight entertainment

The touchscreen is easy-to-reach but has two negatives—it doesn’t tilt down for when you’re sleeping, and it is frustrating that the most used buttons (home, go back and settings) are small and placed in the corner of the screen, making navigation difficult.

China Airlines Business Class inflight entertainment screen

There is an excellent range of English-language movies but TV shows are lacking.

China Airlines Business Class inflight entertainment screen

Amenities

There are three lavatories for Business Class passengers, which is not enough for a full cabin, in my opinion. They’re of average size.

China Airlines toilet

However, the window in each lavatory helps to expand the feeling of space.

The slippers you are given are very comfortable.

China Airlines Business Class slippers

You’ll receive an amenity kit on longer flights but no pyjamas. I didn’t get a kit on my three-hour flight but here is one from Evin’s flight in Premium Economy for informational purposes:

China Airlines Business Class amenity kit

The noise-cancelling headphones sit loose on your head but are effective.

China Airlines Business Class headphones

On long-haul flights between Taipei and Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe, Business Class passengers can get a complimentary 24-hour Wi-Fi pass (with seemingly no data limit) but you have to register here first. Note you can only log in to one device at a time, so you’d have to switch the connection between your phone and laptop or tablet if using multiple devices.

On shorter flights, Wi-Fi is available from US$11.95/hour. Free Wi-Fi used to be available on Trans-Tasman flights to Brisbane, but no longer.

China Airlines WIFI

How to redeem points for this flight

Between Australia and Taipei

Other routes, e.g. to Europe and North America

As previously mentioned, China Airlines is not a mainstream airline to redeem points on for a New Zealand-based traveller. The easiest method is most likely to be through Delta SkyMiles, which you can earn on Virgin Australia and SkyTeam partner flights.

Rather, cash is probably the way to go. There are often great sale fares for travel on China Airlines. You can fly Trans-Tasman between Auckland and Brisbane for less than $1,000 during a sale. I consider anything under $4,000 to Europe or North America return to be a good deal for this product.

When crediting your flights, I recommend:

  • Delta SkyMiles: easy online interface, redemptions on Virgin Australia
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue: also easy online interface, sometimes superior redemption rates to Delta
  • Korean Air SKYPASS: good-value travel on Korean Air (must be roundtrip for partners)

Lounge access

In Auckland, you’ll get access to the relatively good Strata Lounge.

And in Brisbane, the beautiful but often busy Plaza Premium Lounge is what you’ll have access to.

In Taipei, there are four China Airlines lounges. There are two in Terminal 2, which you are most likely to fly in and out of. Try to avoid the one near Gate D4—it is a bunker with no natural light. At least the food is good.

China Airlines lounge Taipei

China Airlines lounge Taipei

China Airlines lounge Taipei

The one that is closer to security and located on Level 4 is probably a better shot, even though I didn’t have time to backtrack to visit.

Terminal 1 is used for flights to Europe and the best lounge there is the one closer to the A gates (not the B ones).

In overseas ports, a combination of partner lounges are used, the best of which are the SkyTeam Lounge in Vancouver and the No1 Lounge at London Gatwick.

Other reviews






Summing up: why choose this flight?

If you can find a cash fare to Europe or North America for under $4,000, then I would not hesitate to recommend this product. If you’re heading just to Taiwan, then this is a fantastic use of Qantas Points (once you get yourself to Brisbane first!)

Whilst the lounges aren’t the best, you’ll have a very comfortable journey onboard a plush seat in a beautiful cabin with great customer service.

Just note that some flights between New Zealand and North America/Europe have long layovers when travelling through Taipei, so make sure to factor that into your plans. Luckily, Taipei’s main airport is well-connected to the city by public transport if you want to visit. My two top tips are to see the giant Taipei 101 building and to ride the Maokong Gondola for a view of the sprawling metropolis.

For comparison purposes, China Airlines’ rival EVA Air generally has a better reputation for its Business Class product. It’s regularly ranked as one of the best in the world by travel bloggers and is easily accessible to us in New Zealand as it’s part of Star Alliance, opening up the opportunity to use Airpoints Dollars and KrisFlyer miles for redemptions.

What is great

  • Very comfortable seat
  • Friendly service
  • Delicious food
  • Beautiful cabin
  • Unique touch of individual table lamp
  • Wide movie selection
  • Wi-Fi

What is not great

  • Substandard lounge offerings
  • Warm cabin
  • Difficult touchscreen navigation
  • No pyjamas

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How to earn up to 7 Qantas or Velocity points per $1 spent with Hertz and AccorHotels https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/guide-le-club-accorhotels-point-earn-frequent-flyer-partners-transfers/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/guide-le-club-accorhotels-point-earn-frequent-flyer-partners-transfers/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2019 00:30:49 +0000 Mon, 15 Jul 2019 00:30:49 +0000 Hertz and AccorHotels have announced a new promotion through which Le Club members can earn 12 Le Club points per Euro spent on car hire.

This equates to around 7 Le Club points per NZD.

You can join the programme for free and then transfer these points to Qantas or Velocity at a 1:1 ratio, with a full explanation of the transfer process later in this guide.

Current offer

Accor Offer

The offer is as follows:

  • Up to 20% off car rental
  • Quadruple Le Club AccorHotels Rewards points (12 Rewards points per Euro spent)
  • A complementary free additional driver
  • 30% off Hertz Connect (travel Wi-Fi)

Key terms are:

  • You must book before 31 July and rent by 31 August 2019
  • Be sure to quote CDP code: 840267 and PC Code: 203530 on your booking form, together with your Le Club AccorHotels loyalty programme number
  • Maximum 28 day rental
  • Offer not valid in the United States, Pakistan or Taiwan

Why this offer is valuable

Spending $285 with Hertz under this offer would see you earn just over 2,000 Rewards points.

Once you earn 2,000 Rewards points, these are equal to 40 euros (~67 NZD) when redeemed towards stays at AccorHotels properties. This is an effective ~23.5% return on the cost of your car hire, which is incredible value.

However, these points can also be redeemed at a 1:1 ratio with Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Velocity, or a 2:1 ratio with most other programmes, including Asia Miles and KrisFlyer.

To transfer to Qantas, you will need a minimum of 2,000 points, or 4,000 points with Velocity and most other programmes.

However if you set up your Le Club account to do an automatic points transfer to the programme of your choice, you can avoid this minimum, and all points you earn through this promotion will sweep straight over to your frequent flyer account.

Our take

This could be quite an easy offer to take advantage of if you have domestic (or even international) travel planned over the next few months.

You can either use these points for a discount on future stays, or sweep them over to one of their many frequent flyer partners (recommended option if you don’t stay with the brand often).


A guide to Le Club AccorHotels

Le Club AccorHotels Rewards points are a useful major points currency to consider if you have an affinity for staying in hotels that are a part of the ever-expanding AccorHotels group.

This guide gets into the guts of the programme, including hotel locations, how to get free status, stay benefits, and key redemption opportunities.

Locations & key hotels

Accor have a large presence in the New Zealand and Australian market, and have over 4,200 hotels in 95 countries worldwide, providing accommodation in some of the most popular business destinations across the globe.

The group includes a range of brands such as Raffles, Fairmont, Swissotel, Banyan Tree, Angsana, Cassia, Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Grand Mercure, The Sebel, Ibis, MGallery, Adagio and Pullman. The Mantra, Art Series, Peppers and BreakFree brands are also being folded into the group.

There are 36 properties in New Zealand. Current locations include:

  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin
  • Hamilton
  • Invercargill
  • Nelson
  • New Plymouth
  • Queenstown
  • Rotorua
  • Wellington

Below are a few AccorHotels properties that we have stayed at and reviewed:

Sofitel Auckland

Sofitel Viaduct Harbour Auckland

MGallery Auckland

Hotel Grand Windsor Auckland – MGallery by Sofitel

Novotel Auckland

Novotel Auckland Airport

Status

AccorHotels offer four status tiers in the following order (from lowest to highest): Classic, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

You can find more information about the status tiers and benefits on the AccorHotels website.

Changes are slated to the programme in late 2019, which will include the introduction of a new Diamond status tier, an ‘invite only’ tier, and confirmed suite upgrades for Platinum members. We’ll review the changes in more detail closer to when they will be introduced, but you can read more here in the interim.

Here is an overview of the benefits for each status level.

Classic

Requirement: just enrolment in the programme

  • Complimentary Internet
  • Priority check-in at Fairmont properties
  • Express check-out
  • Complimentary newspaper and local calls at Fairmont and Swissotel properties
  • Access to Private Sales, 48 hours before non-members
  • Up to 10% discount off room rates at participating hotels

Silver

Requirement: 10 nights or 2,000 Status Points

In addition to Classic benefits:

  • Priority check-in at all properties
  • Priority waitlist status at Swissotel properties
  • Complimentary welcome drink for you and registered guests staying in your room (different rules apply in France)
  • Late check-out on request, and subject to availability. At MyResort properties, you’ll be able to enjoy resort amenities beyond normal times
  • Daily turndown service at MGallery, Sofitel Legend, SO Sofitel and Sofitel properties
  • Complimentary fitness gear, access to BMW bicycles, and use of golf clubs at Fairmont properties
  • 10% discount on treatments and products at Fairmont spas, and at the on-property Fairmont Store

You’ll receive complimentary Silver status if you become an Accor Plus member.

Gold

Requirement: 30 nights or 7,000 Status Points

In addition to Classic and Silver benefits:

  • Early check-in on request, and subject to availability, or late check-out
  • Guaranteed room availability up to 3 days before arrival
  • In-room welcome amenity
  • Complimentary upgrade to the next room category, if available at the time of check-in, excluding villas, one of a kind suites, specialty suites and presidential suites. If not available, upgrade to best available room in current category
  • Host benefits at MyResorts properties
  • 20% discount at Swissotel spa and sport facilities

You’ll receive complimentary Gold status if you become an ibis Business Card member.

Platinum

Requirement: 60 nights or 14,000 Status Points

In addition to Classic, Silver, and Gold benefits:

  • Early check-in on request, and subject to availability, and late check-out
  • Access to Executive Lounges in these locations
  • Guaranteed room availability up to 2 days before arrival
  • Complimentary breakfast at these Asia-Pacific properties
  • Premium Wi-Fi where available
  • 10% discount on treatments at Thalassa Sea & Spa Institutes, Raffles spa treatments, and in the restaurant/bar at select Mercure properties (latter is not available in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Asia Pacific)
  • 15% discount at the Raffles hotel boutique
  • Complimentary ironing service at Pullman Hotels & Resorts (one item per stay)
  • Guaranteed restaurant table at Raffles, with 24/hr notice
  • Daily turndown service at Fairmont properties (in addition to the hotels available for Silver and Gold members)
  • Free soft drinks from the mini-bar at MGallery
  • Extend Platinum benefits to another room at MyResorts properties, plus receive a surprise gift

Some have reported receiving complimentary Platinum status if you become an Accor Plus member through your New Zealand-issued American Express Platinum Charge card. However this is not a guaranteed benefit.

Earning and redeeming Le Club AccorHotels Rewards points

How can I earn points?

AccorHotels have varying earn rates at their different property brands, making it a bit confusing to calculate how many points you’ll earn. They also base their earn rate on the amount you spend, converted to euros.

Here is the full earn rate table:

Accor Earn Rates

They do have a calculator that you can use, which makes it a bit easier to work out exactly how much you’ll earn for your spend at any given property.

You can also earn points with a few niche partners:

  • Club Med, 1 point for every euro spent
  • Club Opinions, 300-600 points for completing your first survey
  • e-rewards, 250 points for completing your first survey
  • Europcar, earn up to 1,000 points for every rental, plus get a 15% discount
  • La Collection, 1 point per euro spent on shopping
  • Priority Pass, up to 1,500 points for a new membership
  • The Economist, up to 4,500 points for a print + digital subscription

Many of the offers above are ‘one-time’ only, so make sure you look at offers with different programmes first to make sure you’re picking the one that offers you the points you need (for example, you can earn up to 1,000 Airpoints Dollars on a ‘The Economist’ subscription, at the same price as offered here).

Flying Blue Miles+Points Partnership

Flying Blue Partnership Banner

Every time you complete an eligible stay at an AccorHotels property or take an Air France, KLM or HOP flight, you can earn both Rewards points and Flying Blue Miles.

While most will be unfamiliar with the Flying Blue programme—in New Zealand, their points are mainly only of use with SkyTeam partners like China Airlines and Korean Air—these are effectively points for nothing, so you may as well take advantage of this.

Start by joining Flying Blue, logging in, and then linking your accounts.

Then:

  • With the exception of ibis and Adagio properties, you will earn 1 Flying Blue mile for every 1 Euro spent at AccorHotels properties worldwide.
  • For every 2 Euros spent on a flight with Air France, KLM or HOP, you will earn 1 Rewards point

You can find the full terms and conditions of the partnership here.

How can I redeem points?

AccorHotels offer a variety of ways in which you can use your points.

The most obvious is using your points on future stays. You can redeem 2,000 Rewards points for 40 euros (~$68 NZD) of credit to spend at participating AccorHotels properties.

Other redemption opportunities/partners include:

Most of these redemptions are poor value, though if you are a road warrior and prefer to experience other things in life than more hotel stays, using your points for any of these would make perfect sense.

Frequent flyer transfers are explained further below.

Should I transfer Le Club points to frequent flyer programmes?

As a general rule of thumb, points earned through hotel rewards programmes are best kept and used towards future hotel stays. This is where you maximise their value.

Rewards points have a value of approximately NZD 3.4 cents each when used for credit to spend at Le Club AccorHotels properties. This should always serve as your value baseline when deciding whether to transfer to a frequent flyer programme.

You can read more about how we value points here.

If you want to use the points towards a flight redemption, the general rule is 4,000 Rewards points transfer to 2,000 miles.

This means you’re effectively ‘spending’ 6.8 cents on every mile. You’d have to be doing very well with your flight redemptions to be getting that much value from each mile.

Why preference Qantas and Velocity?

There are some exceptions, with Qantas and Velocity being the two most applicable to Kiwis where points are converted at a more favourable 1:1 ratio — 1 Rewards point equals 1 Qantas or Velocity Frequent Flyer point.

This means you’re ‘spending’ a far more favourable amount per point – only 3.4 cents. While we generally only value these points at around 2 cents each, you’ll be more likely to find redemptions where you’ll get much more bang for your buck, compared to those programmes where the ratio is 2:1.

You can then use your Qantas Points to fly in Emirates First Class

What about Airpoints Dollars?

You cannot convert Rewards points to Airpoints Dollars. However you can choose to earn Airpoints Dollars instead at select hotels in New Zealand and Fiji.

You’ll earn 20 APD for stays at Sofitel properties.

Stays at Pullman Hotels, Mgallery Hotels, Grand Mercure Hotels & Apartments, Novotel Hotels & Resorts, and Mercure Hotels & Resorts will see you earn 1 APD per NZD $15 spent.

See here for more information.

From my experience, you cannot earn both Airpoints Dollars, and book your stay online as a logged in AccorHotels member. If you are logged in, when you check-in at the hotel, they will often inform you that you will only earn Rewards points and not Airpoints Dollars. I raised this issue with Air New Zealand and was told that they are working on tweaks to this arrangement but I have not heard anything further.

How to transfer points to frequent flyer programmes

Le Club AccorHotels offers the option of transferring your points to any of their partner frequent flyer programmes.

Here are the transfer rates and minimum manual transfer amounts for the most popular programmes for us in New Zealand:

  • Qantas: 1:1 ratio, 2,000 minimum
  • Velocity: 1:1, 4,000 minimum
  • Asia Miles: 2:1, 4,000 minimum
  • KrisFlyer: 2:1, 4,000 minimum
  • United MileagePlus: 2:1, 2,000 minimum

To transfer your points from Le Club AccorHotels to the frequent flyer programme of your choice, you can either do it yourself when you reach the minimum threshold or set up an automatic transfer (not available for Velocity).

You can choose auto-transfer for Qantas, Asia Miles, and KrisFlyer

With manual transfer, you need to log in, and then transfer the points once you reach the minimum transfer amount, and you need to use or transfer the points within 12 months. There are ways around this though—for Qantas Points, you only require 1 Le Club point in your account to enable auto-transfer; for Asia Miles and KrisFlyer, it’s 2 points.

So, to get around the manual transfer minimum generally needed for frequent flyer programmes, you can select automatic transfer over to these three programmes, which is a great win. Once you change your preference to auto-transfer, all existing points in your account will transfer upon completion of your next stay.

You can accrue as little as 1 or 2 points and they will still be automatically transferred.

This is a good option for those who don’t think that they’ll accrue the minimum 2,000 points to use towards a future hotel stay, which is generally where you’ll get better value per point.

You can also set up an auto transfer for MileagePlus miles but this will only kick in once your account reaches 2,000 points – the same number you need for a manual transfer. So not as much benefit as the programmes above.

You need to do a manual transfer for Velocity

Unfortunately, the automatic transfer option without a minimum points balance is not available for Velocity members; if converting your points to Velocity, you need to accrue 4,000 points to do so.

For more information, check the short general terms and conditions related to airline partners of the Le Club AccorHotels loyalty programme.

Current offers

You can access a full list of current offers here.

Summing up

The best value option between keeping your points in Le Club AccorHotels compared to transferring to frequent flyer programmes is dependent on your personal circumstances, as always — and especially in this case how many Le Club points you have, are likely to earn, and where you want to transfer them due to Accor’s transfer limits.

I stay at AccorHotels properties quite frequently, and therefore keep my points in the AccorHotels programme until I know exactly what I want to do with them. They’ll never expire as long as you earn points at least once per year. This way, it effectively functions as an excellent flexible points programme.

Though for those people who don’t stay at hotels regularly, I would be inclined to recommend transferring the points to frequent flyer programmes, and learning how to get the best value for their use.

Supplementary images courtesy AccorHotels.

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Updated guide to Qantas Points requirements and surcharges https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/updated-guide-to-qantas-points-requirements-and-surcharges/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/updated-guide-to-qantas-points-requirements-and-surcharges/#respond Sun, 14 Jul 2019 19:30:13 +0000 Sun, 14 Jul 2019 19:30:13 +0000

Qantas recently announced a number of changes to its Frequent Flyer programme, with one of the major changes being the revised reward rates, something that is likely to affect most members.

For those looking to redeem for International Economy redemptions, this is actually a good news story, with both the points cost and carrier charges having decreased immediately from 20 June 2019. In fact, carrier charges have decreased across the board on international redemptions, from Economy to First.

All other redemptions in International Premium Economy, Business and First will increase in points from 18 September this year. Read on for a summary of the major changes (all figures are quoted for one-way travel) as well as our take at the end.

All figures in this article are for Classic Flight Rewards with solely or a mix of segments with Jetstar (mixed only), Qantas, Airnorth, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu, American Airlines, and/or Emirates.

Australian Domestic flights

There won’t be any changes to taxes and carrier charges for Australian domestic flights. However, the points required for these redemptions will increase for business rewards bookings.

Melbourne to SydneyCurrent ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
Business16,000 points + $3718,400 points + $37
Economy8,000 points + $37Unchanged

Sydney to PerthCurrent ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
Business36,000 Qantas Points + $3741,500 points + $37
Economy18,000 points + $37Unchanged

Trans-Tasman and South Pacific flights

There won’t be any changes to taxes and carrier charges to Trans-Tasman and South Pacific flights either. However, the points needed for Business redemptions will also increase.

The number of points needed for longer flights will drop, such as between Auckland and Perth.

Auckland to MelbourneCurrent ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
Business36,000 points + $7341,500 points + $73
Economy18,000 points + $73Unchanged

Auckland to Noumea (via Brisbane)Current ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
Business36,000 points + $15041,500 points + $150
Economy18,000 points + $150Unchanged

International flights

These journeys will benefit from reduced carrier charges. Remember, the lower economy rates are already in effect, while the increased premium rates will kick in from 18 September 2019.

In many cases, Qantas’ own ‘carrier charges’ will drop quite significantly.

All examples routes below are with Qantas unless otherwise stated.

Auckland to Denpasar (direct with Emirates)Current ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
First90,000102,600
Business60,000 points68,400 points
Economy25,200 points
(was 28,000 points)
Unchanged

Auckland to Singapore (via Sydney)Current ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
First108,000 points123,100 points
Business72,000 points82,000 points
Premium Economy54,000 points61,500 points
Economy31,500 points
(was 35,000 points)
Unchanged

Christchurch to Beijing (via Sydney)Current ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
Business84,000 points94,900 points
Economy37,600 points
(was 40,000 points)
Unchanged

Melbourne to Hong KongCurrent ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
First126,000 points142,300 points
Business84,000 points94,900 points
Premium Economy63,000 points71,100 points
Economy37,600 points
(was 40,000 points)
Unchanged

Auckland to LondonCurrent ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
First192,000 points216,900 points
Business128,000 points144,600 points
Premium Economy96,000 points108,400 points
Economy55,200 points
(was 60,000 points)
Unchanged

Auckland to Los Angeles (direct with American Airlines)Current ratesNew rates
(18/09/2019)
Business84,000 points94,900 points
Economy37,600 points
(was 40,000 points)
Unchanged

Summing up

These changes are great for anyone looking to redeem for International Economy, as the points and surcharges needed have both dropped effective immediately, except for the shortest of international flights. It is Qantas’ vision to make frequent flyer points more usable for the masses who generally tend towards Economy redemptions, especially for international flights.

For long-haul international routes, it is a mixed bag. While it is annoying to have to fork out as much as 49,800 points more for a return First Class trip with Qantas to London, this will be offset by less carrier surcharges.

This guide is a snapshot of the points and taxes changes on Qantas’ most popular routes. To see the changes for all routes (ex Australia), head to Qantas’ page on the new programme and use this special calculator which will show you the one-way taxes and points needed.

Qantas Surcharges

Qantas have stated that there will be more availability being made for popular routes, such as London, Los Angeles and cities in Asia, with an extra million award seats offered annually. This is made possible by the increase in the points requirement for premium seats, along with the addition of five new international airline partners.

Given how difficult it is to get a Business or First seat on any given date, we hope that Qantas comes through on their word and make the Frequent Flyer programme even more accessible to everyone, albeit at a higher points cost.

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Offer Extended: Buy AA miles at their best price https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/aadvantage-purchase-miles-guide/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/aadvantage-purchase-miles-guide/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2019 23:30:07 +0000 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 23:30:07 +0000

American Airlines have extended their offer which sees AAdvantage miles at a 10% discount and up to 100,000 bonus miles if you make a purchase by 2 August 2019 — this equates to around 1.72 US cents per mile at the best-value tier.

These offers run almost monthly (see Offer history for details of past points value). This current offer is at the best price these miles are sold at.

Buying AAdvantage miles makes the most sense when topping up your balance for a specific Business or First Class redemption on American Airlines, a oneworld partner like Qantas or Qatar Airways, or partner airlines like Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways.

The current AAdvantage purchase miles promotion

  • Discount:10% off
  • Bonus:2,500-100,000 bonus miles (tiered)
  • Valid until: 2 August
  • Best value redemptions: domestic Australian and Trans-Tasman Qantas Business Class, Fiji Airways Business to Fiji, Qantas/Cathay Pacific/Japan Airlines Business to Asia, and oneworld Business to Europe
  • Book awards online: for AA, Qantas, British Airways, and some others (full list)
  • Book awards over the phone: for other partners, you can only book over the phone and are charged a $75 USD booking fee
  • You can buy miles in this promotion through this link

This promotion yields the cheapest per mile price of ~1.72 US cents per mile when buying exactly 300,000 miles (inclusive of a 150,000 mile bonus) for $4,315.05 USD.

Qantas A330 Business Class

Note: AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of inactivity in your account, so make sure to keep your account active by earning/redeeming miles regularly.

Why purchase AAdvantage miles?

  1. For oneworld partner redemptions: American Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, so you can redeem AAdvantage miles across any oneworld airline, including all those who fly direct from New Zealand – Qantas, Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, and Qatar Airways
  2. For other partner redemptions: American Airlines have other partner airlines that fly to New Zealand that you can redeem AAdvantage miles for, including Fiji Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui
  3. Very helpful award hold policy: with AA, it is possible to hold award bookings for up to five days (if booking more than two weeks from departure) or 24 hours (if booking closer), allowing you to pencil in plans and then confirm the ticket once you’ve bought or transferred the miles into your account. This policy makes it easy to make risk-free redemption holds while you re-confirm total costs of making your booking and buying the points

The best value AAdvantage redemptions for NZ travellers

Here are some of the better-priced and more readily-available awards for travellers from NZ:

Example RedemptionAAdvantage Miles requiredCost (USD) with latest promotion at highest discount tier*
* All redemption prices are in USD, one way and do not included booking fees, taxes and other charges
Australia to/from New Zealand in Business Class with Qantas or LAN 25000$430
New Zealand to Fiji in Fiji Airways Business Class30000$516
New Zealand to Tahiti or Air Tahiti Nui Business Class30000$516
New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 1 (Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)40000$688
New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 2 (Japan and Korea)40000$688
New Zealand Business Class to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines65000$1118
New Zealand Business Class to Contiguous 48 U.S. states80000$1376
New Zealand Business Class to Europe85000$1462

Factors to consider when purchasing AAdvantage miles

Just like any miles purchase deal, you’ll need to take into consideration the following factors:

  • The cost of the miles required for your intended route
  • The $75 USD phone booking fee for some partners
  • The USD:NZD exchange rate
  • The taxes that come along with the booking, which are most easily confirmed by American over the phone
  • The time taken to research award availability and make the booking
  • AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to buy or gift miles, so register for an account now so you can take advantage of future promotions
  • AAdvantage usually lets you purchase or gift 100,000-150,000 miles (not including the bonus miles on offer) per year per account receiving the miles, so ensure you are buying into a deal when you have a redemption in mind OR you think it’s a really good one
  • Be sure to get to the checkout page to see the full cost of your purchase including all USD fees and taxes

Previous offers

The simplest way to track historical AAdvantage offers is with the US cents per mile cost for the best offer tier for that period:

DateCost Per Mile
(USD cents)
Notes
June-August 20191.72Lowest
May 20191.92
March-April 20191.92
January 20192.14
December 2018-January 20191.77
November 20181.92
October-November 20182.25Highest
October 20182.03
August 20181.84
June-August 20181.72Lowest
May 20182.08
March 2018 1.81
February 20182.02
January 20182.13
December 20171.77
November 20171.91
October 20172.10
September 20172.02
August 20171.83
July 20171.72Lowest
June 20171.72Lowest
May 20171.77
March 20171.80
February 20172.24Highest
January 20172.13
December 20161.77
November 20161.90
September 20162.02
August 20162.00
June 20161.72Lowest
May 20161.89
March 20161.81
February 20162.02
January 20162.13
December 20151.81
November 20151.98
October 20152.10
August 20152.09
July 20152.00
May-June 20152.06
May 20152.09
April 20152.00
February 20152.07
January 20152.14
Average1.95

Why purchasing AAdvantage miles is easier than earning them

The most common way to acquire AAdvantage miles for New Zealand travellers outside of flights would be to either:

Purchasing miles directly from American Airlines is usually the most cost-effective method if you have a specific flight you are targeting.

With most of these promotions I am usually quite risk-averse, and would only recommend purchasing miles for topping up an account or buying the full chunk of miles if you have a specific redemption in mind, but not to purchase speculatively. Your preferences may differ though!

Making your booking

Bookings using your miles can be made online if you are looking to fly American, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas or and a heap of other airline partners.

If not, they’ll have to be made over the phone with the (usually excellent) call centre for the region, which happens to be in Fiji.

From New Zealand, you can contact them on (09) 308 4014, selecting option 3 for award travel.

Be sure to check the taxes and fees that will be incurred with your booking as well. I find the easiest way to do this is simply to research availability online on the Qantas website and call AAdvantage to price up the booking.

Summing up

AAdvantage provide those in Australia and New Zealand with some well-priced redemption opportunities available to use for cheaper premium cabin flights by buying miles and immediately redeeming them.

Their generous award hold policy makes the process much less risky, allowing you to hold an award, buy the miles and then call back to get it ticketed once they are added to your account.

Buying miles to redeem for flights in this way is still time-consuming, requiring you to research availability to death before you can book.

Whilst there aren’t many valuable deals for Economy travellers here, if you are keen for a Business or First Class bargain, you can still pick one up when buying AAdvantage miles.

You can purchase AAdvantage miles here.


Are you new to the purchasing points game?

If you’re new to the world of buying points/miles, I’ve written a full intro guide.

You can also access more comprehensive guides for buying points in each individual frequent flyer program below.

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Ending soon! Partner exclusive 300 Airpoints Dollar bonus for new Card Members of the American Express Airpoints Platinum https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/credit-cards/american-express-airpoints-platinum-card-guide/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/credit-cards/american-express-airpoints-platinum-card-guide/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2019 21:30:49 +0000 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 21:30:49 +0000 American Express are offering 300 Airpoints Dollars for new Card Members of the American Express Airpoints Platinum Card until 16 July 2019.

The Airpoints Platinum Card earns 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59 spent. You’ll also receive two Priority Pass lounge visits, and two visits to the American Express lounge in Sydney or Melbourne too.

The 300 Airpoints Dollars bonus for new Card Members has a $1500 minimum spend requirement in the first 3 months.

Digging into the details of the American Express Airpoints Platinum credit card

Card Details

CardAmerican Express Airpoints Platinum
Loyalty programAir New Zealand Airpoints
Points earned from spend1 Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollar for every $59 spent
Travel benefitsAccess to the American Express Lounge in Sydney International Airport twice yearly, and two Priority Pass network lounge visits yearly
Included insurancesMedical emergency expense cover, travel cancellation cover, baggage/money/documentation cover, transport accident cover and inconvenience insurance (if your flight is delayed) when you pay for travel with the card, smartphone screen insurance
Annual fee$195

The American Express Airpoints Platinum card has the following key benefits:

  1. The fastest way to earn Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars in New Zealand for personal credit cards at 1 APD earned per $59 spent
  2. Complimentary access twice per year to the American Express Lounge at the Sydney or Melbourne International Airport
  3. Two Priority Pass network lounge visits per year, including to the Strata Club Lounge at Auckland International
  4. Koru Club (Air New Zealand lounges) joining fee waiver, saving you $255, and a Koru Club annual discount of $145 for as long as you hold the card
  5. Air New Zealand status points earned too – 1 status point for every $250 spent


Earning Airpoints Dollars from spend

The American Express Airpoints Platinum will earn you 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59 spent on the card, so an effective earn rate of 0.0169 Airpoints Dollars per dollar spent. This is one of the highest earn rate for spend within New Zealand available – Westpac’s World MasterCard beats it for international spend, but that’s about it.

Air NZ’s Airpoints program is not complex – 1 Airpoints Dollar = $1 of flight credit with Air New Zealand when it comes to redemption time and making use of the points earned with the card.

By comparison, the American Express Platinum Edge (which also comes with a free domestic flight) earns half the Airpoints Dollars per dollar spent (outside supermarkets and fuel) when transferred to Airpoints, but with a lower fee of $149.

You could use Airpoints Dollars to fly one way to Australia in Business Class – Read the review of Business Premier between Auckland and Sydney →

Or fly to / from Australia in Premium Economy Class – Read the review of Air New Zealand Premium Economy →

Earning Airpoints Status from spend

Alongside the Airpoints Dollars earned, you also earn Airpoints Status Points with your spend, with an earn rate of 1 status point for every $250 spent.

The earn rates for Status Points on spend are not high enough to make significant progress toward status with Air New Zealand, with Gold membership requiring 900 Status Points and half of those have to be earned from Air New Zealand or Star Alliance partner flights.

To max out the eligible 450 Tier Points toward elite status with status points earned from your card you’d need to spend $112,500 on the card.

Koru Club fee reductions

Air New Zealand’s Koru lounge membership program offers Air New Zealand lounge access for a member and a guest when travelling on an Air New Zealand flight, regardless of class of travel – along with priority check-in for Air New Zealand flights.

The standard joining fee of $255 is waived for American Express Airpoints Platinum Card Members, while the annual membership fee is reduced by $145 to $484 annually, which helps cover the cost of the annual card fee if you were going to be buying membership anyway.

Insurances and other benefits

Supplementary Card Members with the card are free, while the card also includes domestic and international travel insurance for you and your family, including coverage for medical expenses, cancellation and baggage/money/documents, plus smartphone screen insurance. You’ll need to check the terms of the insurance to make sure this will cover your own needs.

The smartphone screen insurance is unique in the market as a credit card insurance offering, and it will cover you for screen repairs up to NZ$500, with a 10% excess on the claim. If the smartphone is paid on a monthly contract, cover will start 30 days from the date of the first monthly payment on your card.

The full terms and conditions of the card can be found here (PDF).

Summing up – American Express Airpoints Platinum

The Airpoints Platinum card is a faster Airpoints earning, less-complex card than the old Air New Zealand Platinum card. There are still benefits to holding the card each year outside of earning Airpoints Dollars, but these are less valuable now than the previous free flight.

That said, the annual fee of $195 hits a much more appealing price point to hold and makes the card well worth considering. Particularly for those who are committed Air New Zealand frequent flyers looking to increase their potential for free flights by earning Airpoints Dollars and improving their status earn.

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