Best way to spend Frequent Flyer points
Free flights remain the best way to redeem credit card and airline reward points as Qantas revamps its 13 million-member Frequent Flyer scheme.
Reward program specialists say flight rewards can deliver six times the value of swapping points for gift cards, toasters and other items.
And new research suggests a typical household could earn $11,000 of flight rewards annually without making major changes.
Specialists also warn that chasing points through credit card programs is only effective if the card debt is repaid before interest is charged.
A study by Point Hacks found a household could earn up to 192,000 frequent flyer points in one year by:
• Paying for living costs such as groceries, holidays, utilities, clothes and transport using a rewards card.
• Doubling up on points by using reward program partners such as retailers and energy companies.
• Taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonus promotions, which Point Hacks spokesman Daniel Sciberras said were "the most lucrative way to earn frequent flyer points".
Mr Sciberras said a reward points goldmine was easy to tap with little effort.
"Read recommendations regularly offered on frequent flyer websites," he said.
"Households won't be spending any more than they have on usual expenses, but by directing those expenses through the rights cards and partners they can easily meet their travel goals."
Reward credit cards charge annual fees but some offset them with a matching credit on travel bookings.
Mr Sciberras said the Qantas Frequent Flyer revamp was broadly positive and most members did not have to do anything. "The benefits of the changes are applied automatically," he said.
Qantas Frequent Flyer's changes require more points for overseas business and first class flights and upgrades, but fewer points for economy international flights.
It is also lowering carrier surcharges on international flights and freeing up more seats for program members.
Steve Hui, CEO of iFLYflat - The Points Whisperer, said dropping the cost of carrier surcharges was "good for everyone".
Mr Hui said Qantas was now the cheapest points program to fly internationally in economy class.
"There's so many easy ways to earn points - people are getting points by doing all sorts of stuff, so they will have enough for an economy flight somewhere."
Supermarket shopping, Uber fares and logging steps on a fitness tracker are among ways to boost points.
Mr Hui said one reward point was equivalent to half a cent in value when used to redeem gift cards and retail items. For economy flights it was worth about 1.2c, and 3c for business class flights, he said.
Separate research by Canstar has found that 9 per cent of Australians spend more on their cards to try and earn more reward points.
Canstar's group executive of financial services, Steve Mickenbecker, said using points to redeem gift cards "doesn't stack up well" against spending them on international flights.
He said the biggest winners of the Qantas changes were flyers who travelled economy class on international flights.
"Everyone is a winner when it comes to the out of pocket fees with reductions across the three classes. The release of extra seats will also be welcome news all around."