The allure of Airpoints Credit Cards

In the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney plays a compulsive corporate traveller, obsessed with earning status points with American Airlines, Hilton Hotels and Hertz.

My own interest in retaining my Silver Air New Zealand Airpoints Status from year to year, aspirations to hit Gold Status and the challenges of doing so without an Airpoints linked credit card was documented in a post I had in draft for some time but I was not happy with to the point of hitting publish.

My reason for not having an Airpoints Credit Card – I’m entitled to a Platinum card with no fees as a previous bank employee. Paying a large amount in annual fees with another bank didn’t stack up.

Last Thursday it was announced BNZ’s GlobalPlus Airpoints relationship with Air New Zealand will come to an end on 30th April 2015 after 16 years. Westpac will offer Airpoints Credit Cards from the following day and I’m hoping the right launch offer will finally enable me to get my hands on one.

So why is this the loss/gain of an airline rewards scheme such a big deal for consumers? And what are the benefits of being an Airpoints Credit Card holder?

Air New Zealand Airpoints Credit Card Koru
Source

Perceived rewards value

Whatever the reason for the conclusion of the relationship, it’s no doubt a massive loss to BNZ (though their PR of course says otherwise) and they will likely lose numerous high value customers to Westpac and other banks despite offering cash back at the same rate Airpoints were previously dished out at as a sweetener.

Though to some markets, such as if you’re earning Airpoints on your mortgage payments and can’t afford to travel much, cash back may actually be preferable.

With Westpac’s hotpoints scheme on the other hand it is confusing to realise the value of a hotpoint (earned at x hotpoints per $1 spend depending on the card and redemeed at different rates depending on an items value in the hotpoints store). Offering Airpoints rewards where one Airpoints dollar earned = $1NZ when redeemed will be a clearer rewards scheme option for customers and I suspect customers in certain brackets will find this enticing.

Earn Rates

Eligble card holders with ANZ, Kiwibank, American Express, BNZ /Westpac receive 1 Airpoints dollar per NZ $65 – $160 depending on the card. Platinum Cards and certain others also receive 1 status point per $200-$250 spent which will help you inch your way to the next membership tier quicker.

As a frequent flyer, this is the feature which makes me want one of these cards.

Discounted Koru Memberships and joining fee waivers

Unless your work is paying for your Koru Membership, these exclusive memberships are crazy expensive at full price (joining fee of $255 plus $580 for a 12 month membership). Certain cards waive the Koru Club joining fee and give you $145-$166 off the standard 12 month membership rate, which amounts to a large proportion of the annual card fee.

My love of Air New Zealand’s Koru Lounges is no secret. My boyfriend kindly transferred a couple of Lounge Passes earnt through his credit card spend to me as my Christmas present, plus I received two complementary passes of my own for the year as a silver airpoints member. You can also buy your way in for $35 (for up to 4 hours in domestic lounges) which is a very fair deal for the amount I fly.

You can experience a little Koru hospitality when you fly domestically with Air New Zealand between 4.30 and 7pm Monday to Friday with Koru hour, where cheese and crackers are served along with New Zealand wines, beer and L&P. It will make you wish you were a member if you don’t already!

Other benefits

Depending on the Airpoints Credit Card you may receive Airpoints advances, non-expiry of Airpoints dollars, free flights, Koru passes, gifting ability or valet parking vouchers. Loyalty pays dividends. This comparison table may be of interest.

Do you have a credit card linked to an airline rewards scheme? Does it change your spending habits?

Please note content on this page is provided for information purpose only, without taking your particular financial situation or goals into account.

 

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8 Comments

  1. April 28, 2015 / 11:28 pm

    Hmm… I always find it such a struggle deciding whether or not to do this!
    We use to have one linked to our CC, but the negatives of having a CC at all made it not worthwhile.
    Plus we always travel with little kids and I’m not sure how those lounges would feel about us going in with a bunch of loud tired, stir crazy kids! 🙂

    Next wanderlust linkup is 6th May! You can sign up for a reminder too if you want. 🙂 see you then!

    • April 29, 2015 / 2:21 pm

      I think you have some pretty valid reasons there! May 6th is in the diary 🙂

  2. April 15, 2015 / 3:00 pm

    I always forget to get my points and kick myself later. I need to take more advantage of my frequent travels.

    • April 16, 2015 / 9:25 am

      Ah yes – I had a situation like that myself when I booked a trans-tasman flight which was on sale. I paid for the flights and realised I was only getting a tiny number of points and should have used my points to pay for it instead.

  3. April 2, 2015 / 12:20 am

    I got rid of my credit card and waved goodbye to the points, but perhaps I should reconsider. I accrued enough points over a couple of years to fly my kids godparents from WA to NSW business class, so perhaps its worth it. Hmmmm….you have me thinking #teamwanderlust

  4. April 1, 2015 / 11:05 pm

    Oooh I love an airport lounge! We’re very lucky that hubster’s Qantas Club membership gets us into Qantas lounges. But as for points, I’m happy to get the points I get with various cards, but it doesn’t make any difference to my spending habits.

    • April 2, 2015 / 11:30 am

      Other halves are great for perks like that! I’ve since picked up a points credit card, will see if the novelty wears off or proves worthwhile.