After two years of harsh restrictions, the world is finally wide open again and dreamy destinations such as Australia is back in the mix for many.
The country is known to be far and expensive. Thankfully, there are a good number of reward programs to help us build a memorable holiday in Australia on points.
How to get to Australia on points?
From Vancouver, Brisbane is under 7,500 miles in distance so you may expect to pay less, but when connecting from anywhere in Canada, you will most probably fall in the 7,501–11,000 miles range of the chart.
With Air Canada, dynamic pricing goes both ways and I’ve found many dates where the return cost from Sydney was under 100,000 points in economy which is on the lower end of the price range.
Also, you can use your eupgrade credits to fly in premium economy or in business class should there be any availability on segments operated by Air Canada.
To set expectations right, you shouldn’t assume the business class fares to be on the lower end of the spectrum so you should book as soon as possible if you see a good price. As for R space, they will become scarce if they aren’t already as premium cabins on those long flights to Australia are extremely coveted.
ExpertFlyer can monitor availability on United for you and send an alert when space opens up. You can also employ them to search for R space on Air Canada. As we are still in Revenge Travel mode, it is crucial to play that game if you want to fly to Australia in a lay-flat.
United flies to Australia on points from Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco at the fixed partner airline price. If you can find availability on United Airlines, you can get a one-way ticket to Australia for about 60,000 points in economy class.
While you can’t add a stopover in North America, there are plenty of options where you can do so; think of Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, etc. All of these partner airlines fly to Australia and you can break the journey in a wonderful place.
You can quickly and easily earn the points you need with just one or two credit card welcome bonuses such as the Platinum Card; consider the $499 card fee (after the $200 Amex travel credit) as the cost to buy the points required to get to Australia. Considering the “typical” $2500 cash fare found on Google Flights, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
If you do end up paying in cash by lack of space or points, remember to check your Amex Offers. There is currently a nice one with Qantas.
The other major currency you can utilize to travel to Australia on points is Avios. This is great as you can even fly in the fantastic Qatar Airways Qsuite all the way down under!
Indeed, you can get away with 60,000 Avios in economy and 120,000 Avios in business class for a one-way fare with Qatar Airways’ loyalty program. Taxes and fees are costly, but this is a solid product and I wouldn’t mind paying this amount for comfort in a closed suite all the way to the other side of the world.
When you take things into perspective, the Platinum Card also gives you enough Avios to reach to Australia on points; Membership Rewards are so versatile and you can keep your options open. When going by with this strategy, you can simply choose to transfer your points when you find space in either program (Avios or Aeroplan).
Also, if you can uncover availability in Qantas’s elusive first class, you can redeem 225,000 Avios for a flight between DFW/LAX and Australia.
Then, there is also the Oneworld multi-partner chart that can help you get to Australia on points. However, after some simulations, a one-way fare to Australia with Qatar Airways’ program will require fewer points (60,000 Avios compared to 90,000 Avios with the Oneworld multi-partner chart in economy).
The Oneworld multi-carrier chart might be more worth it if you were to combine a trip to Japan or elsewhere in Asia on your way to Australia.
Alaska Mileage Plan
In addition, you can use Alaska Mileage Plan to fly to Australia’s major hubs on Qantas and American Airlines for as little as 40,000 miles in economy. The taxes and fees charged are also very low.
You can even grab a premium economy seat for 47,500 miles, business class for 55,000 miles and the elusive Qantas first class for 70,000 miles. This is the fewest number of miles you can redeem to travel to Australia in the front of the plane. The best time to search for availability is when Qantas releases its award space to partner, 330 days in advance.
Unless are from Vancouver, you will probably have to book a positioning flight which is very easy to do with Aeroplan points. Make most of this opportunity to spend some time in Vancouver or Los Angeles!
As with Aeroplan and Avios, book and secure your airfare as soon as you see availability, especially if you want to get to Australia on points in a premium cabin.
It is now more difficult to accumulate enough Alaska Mileage Plan miles as registration is closed for MBNA cards; the number of miles required is quite low compared to other programs so that’s why I am still recommending them to travel to Australia on points.
You can buy miles during a sale; there are frequently bonus miles offered on Alaska Mileage Plan miles purchase, which can be significant savings for flights to Australia as compared to paying cash. Do your math! Also, Marriott Bonvoy is a transfer partner.
How to travel within Australia on points?
Domestic flights in Australia can sometimes be expensive. Thankfully, we can easily use either Aeroplan points or Avios. While the price in cash can fluctuate, the fare in points will remain the same.
However, always calculate the value of your points as paying with cash can make more sense depending on the flight cost. If you do so, remember to use a card such as the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® where you can redeem points on your flight purchase!
Australia’s flagship airline, Qantas, is a member of Oneworld so Avios comes in handy once more. As British Airways Executive Club calculate their fare based on distance, it can be very useful for some short but expensive routes in Australia.
Where to stay in Australia with award points?
Marriott Bonvoy Hotels
Remember that you get the 5th night free when you book with points; that’s like a 20% discount so you can stretch your points all the way! This is a great feature of the program since you can use big cities as bases to travel around their respective regions. For example, you can stay in Brisbane and in Melbourne for a few days and explore the Coast and Victoria.
Also, a Free Night Award Certificate can go a long way in Australia; since you’re earning them at either $120 or $150 with the renewal of the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card and the Marriott Bonvoy® Business American Express®* Card, you’re getting tremendous value when they are employed to at properties like these:
And below, you’ll find the current offers for Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards:
There’s a ton of places to stay in Australia on points ranging from very standard hostels to fancy hotels.
Hostel dorms are a good way to budget travel in Australia and backpacking culture is well established here. While they are more expensive (from $30AUD to $50AUD per bed), they are often in prime locations for exploring.
In terms of employing reward points, those costs can easily be offsets with awards such as the ones offered by the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®. Those points can be used to cover any travel purchases so you’re free to book whatever you see fit and deal with the statement credit when you get home.
In addition, you will be able to avoid the 2.5% Foreign Exchange Fees throughout your trip in Australia.
Travelling to Australia on points is very achievable but as it is a very long journey, you might want to aim for a more comfortable seat.
As soon as you can, secure your flights as airfares are more expensive than what they were, especially in premium cabins.
Finally, Marriott Bonvoy really goes a long way in Australia; your wallet needs all the help it can get!