Using credit cards to boost your points balance is the no-brainer part of the equation. I’d actually argue that this is the only way you’re going to get to redeem anything of real value, unless you’re Don Draper and being flown around the world in Business Class by your workplace.
Many of the bonus offers alone can get you a long way, with some card issuers like American Express offering 80,000 points or more as a signup bonus. That could get you a fair way in Economy. Work at it for a while, or even sign up to more than one card and you’re well on your way to getting somewhere at the pointy end of the plane.
Which credit card?
You can choose between ‘direct earn’ cards, that will earn points directly for Air New Zealand, or you can join a bank’s rewards program, and then decide later how to use the points.
Generally speaking, American Express’ reward program is the only non direct-earn scheme in New Zealand that can transfer points to multiple different airlines, including Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific. A wonderful asset for points collectors who aren’t devoted to any one program.
So, take note of the point earn on any card you’re thinking about. More often than not, any additional annual fees are going to be higher the more points are on offer, so do your due diligence.
Point Hacks covers all the major cards on offer in New Zealand showing the best deals and bonus offers for both direct earn and bank rewards cards. Have a read through the various credit card guides to get an idea of the different products available.
This strategy certainly isn’t for everyone, as these cards can attract massive interest rates. If you’re not prepared to commit to paying off your balance every month, then skip this section and look at your debit card options below.
Note that the following in no way constitutes anything even close to financial advice- it’s simply a commentary on how I run our household finances. Take from it what you like.
In an average month, there are thousands of points coming in the door, just by running everything through our points earning cards. And by everything, I mean everything. If I’m buying a bottle of water from the corner store, it goes on my Amex.
How involved you get in the mechanics of this is up to you, with many cards offering differing points earns for different items. Things like fuel and supermarkets can earn different points rates, depending on which card you use.
If you’re already spending the money, you may as well get something back for it – every point counts in the long term. If you’re not earning them, someone else is, with the underlying cost of points built into the cost of everything that you buy. You didn’t think that they were being given away for free, did you?
Direct Debiting my bills through my Amex is one example of a pretty nice win. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate paying bills, but at least now they have an upside.
There’s a lot to be said for cards which earn points into ‘flexible points programs’ like American Express, instead of a direct earn Air New Zealand branded credit card. These are still very accessible to beginners to the points game, but will take a little reading to understand why they are so beneficial – thankfully there’s a full guide to flexible points programs here.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, then there’s still an opportunity to earn points with Qantas Cash, which is a debit travel card that can rake in the points as well (albeit not with Air New Zealand).
None of these are personal recommendations about any particular product. You’ll need to do your own research to assess whether they’re suitable for you.
Earning Points: First Principles
- Getting Started with Frequent Flyer programs
- Earning by Flying
- Buying points and miles
- Earning from Credit Cards
- Earning from Offers & Partners
- Earning and Using Points – First Principles
Using Points: First Principles
- Who, What, When, Where and How?
- Flexible Points Programs
- Maximising Points value
- Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia Key Partners
- Searching for points seats