One of the simplest ways to start earning frequent flyer points without spending any extra money is reviewing your grocery shopping habits and making sure you’re getting the most from your spending.
Supermarket loyalty programs
In Australia, both major supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths offer their customers the opportunity to earn points from spending. IGA doesn’t have its own loyalty scheme, but bonus points can be earned through the right credit card. Unfortunately Aldi doesn’t have any loyalty scheme.
Flybuys is Coles’ supermarket loyalty program. Most regular purchases from Coles earn 1 flybuys point per $1 AUD spent. Flybuys is partnered with Velocity Frequent Flyer. Converting your flybuys points to Velocity Points at a rate of 2000 flybuys points to 870 Velocity Points equates to 0.435 Velocity Frequent Flyer points per dollar spent.
The earn rate is fairly low but is on par with Woolworths. The real strength of the flybuys program comes from fairly regular targeted promotions. Some promotions ‘challenge’ participants to spend $50 per week at their local Coles over 4 weeks to receive 10,000 bonus flybuys points. Participating in this offer brings the Velocity Frequent Flyer earn rate to 22 Velocity Points per dollar spent. A very good return.
The amount that flybuys challenges you to spend each week is generally just above your regular weekly expenditure, which could be much higher than $50. You may benefit from having multiple flybuys cards and switching between them to trick Coles into thinking that you spend less per week.
Flybuys points can also be converted into Etihad Guest Miles at a rate of 10,000 flybuys points for 4,000 Etihad Guest Miles. This gives shoppers an effective earn rate of 0.4 Etihad Guest Miles per dollar spent.
Woolworths allows customers to earn 1 Woolworths Reward point per dollar spent. A partnership with Qantas Frequent Flyer allows you to convert 2000 Woolworths Rewards points into 870 Qantas Frequent Flyer Points equating to an earn rate of 0.435 Qantas Points per dollar spent. This rate is the same as can be obtained from Coles.
Credit card bonus points
Perhaps the best way to earn airline points from your supermarket shopping is not through the supermarket at all, but through a credit card that offers bonus points for your spend.
American Express Platinum Edge
The Platinum Edge Credit Card from American Express offers 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 AUD spent at all of the major supermarket chains in Australia; including Woolworths, Coles and IGA.
American Express Membership Rewards points are a very valuable currency that offer 1:1 conversion rates for many airline partners; such as Velocity, Etihad and Singapore Airlines. Unfortunately Qantas Frequent Flyer is not a transfer partner.
The Platinum Edge costs $195 per annum but includes a $200 travel credit to use on American Express Travel.
American Express Local Champion
An additional unique benefit to American Express issued American Express cards is Local Champion. Once a card holder has opted in, Local Champion can be accessed via the American Express mobile app. This feature is not exclusive to the Platinum Edge and works with most American Express cards.
The app allows you to nominate up to 10 places where you use your American Express card to try to become the ‘Local Champion’ at that shop by making more transactions than other card holders. Unfortunately not all shops participate but you’ll find most major supermarkets and chains. The number of transactions it takes to become the ‘Local Champion’ depends on how many others are playing the game at that vendor, sometimes it’s 1 transaction, sometimes it takes 20 or more.
If successful at becoming the ‘Local Champion’ at your supermarket, it can be a great way to boost your points earn for groceries.
Coles branded credit card
Although not as generous as the American Express earn rates, Coles offers a branded MasterCard that gives card holders 2 flybuys points per $1 AUD spent anywhere, which equates to 0.87 Velocity Points per dollar. When using this card at Coles along with your flybuys card you’ll take in 3 flybuys points per dollar, equal to 1.3 Velocity Points per $1 AUD.
The earn rate is reasonable for a MasterCard and comes with no international transaction fees and an $89 annual fee. This card may appeal to people with an already healthy flybuys balance that they are looking to boost for transfers to Velocity or Etihad.
If you or your family spends a fair amount of money at your supermarket every week it’s worth taking a moment to check whether you’re getting the most value from your spend, depending on your travel or points goals. For me, the Platinum Edge with 3 points per dollar is the real winner, and then using my Woolworths Rewards or flybuys card depending on which store I’m at.
What’s your strategy?