Want to see the world in a truly cost-effective way? Then take some advice from Sydney-based IT worker David Maddison.
Over the last five years, David has travelled to dozens of countries and several using only Qantas Points – in the last 12 months alone he has visited Fiji, Peru, Chile, Brazil, the United States, Ireland, Morocco, Spain, Hong Kong, Lebanon, China, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. “My passport is so full these days that I often get stopped at customs and asked why I travel so much! It’s hard to believe I only took my first international flight seven years ago,” he says.
Inspired by his Qantas Points-guru manager at the time, David began researching strategies to maximise his accumulation of Frequent Flyer Points. The fact that his previous job in finance jetted him around Australia on a regular basis helped but David says that one of the fastest ways he grew his points balance was through everyday expenses and activities.
“My number one tip is to earn a passive points income stream on things you do every day, like paying for everything on a Qantas Points earning credit card*, using the Qantas Wellbeing app and purchasing Qantas Health Insurance.”
This strategy has helped David accumulate more than two million points, which he has used – rather wisely – to roam the planet.
“The key is to do your research, be persistent with checking for availability, and be flexible with dates and routes,” he says. “And get creative. I start with a rough timeframe and no particular destination in mind. Then I start looking for flights using Qantas and other OneWorld carriers – this is where you can begin to see some really great benefits. If there is a stopover, I often turn that into a separate holiday as part of the trip for no additional cost to the flight, because it’s still part of the multi-trip segment.”
While David generally looks for Classic Flight Rewards seats at least six months before he intends to fly, he has often secured them a day or two before travelling.
“There have been plenty of examples where points have saved me hundreds of dollars on last-minute flights. Recently, I needed to fly from Sydney to Adelaide at short notice. Flights were $500 return. I was fortunate to find a Classic Flight Rewards seat for about 24,000 points** (plus taxes, fees and carrier charges). With all of the tools and forums available online to help you with travel plans, you can save a mint.”
David has also used points to make his travels a little more comfortable when he steps off the plane. “I’ve spent points on booking hotels around the world,” he says. “Recently, in Las Vegas, I booked an over-the-top five-star resort using points. Because that’s what you do in Vegas.”
As for his favourite destination? “It’s hard to pick just one,” David says. “I love Fes in Morocco, Tripoli in Lebanon, Tallinn in Estonia and Cusco in Peru. And next? I’m determined to get to Central Asia – all those wonderful and exotic countries that end in ’Stan.”