I recently returned from a week in Fiji.
I booked my flights last minute (my return flight I literally booked at the airport two hours before I left), and guess how much I paid?
Both my flights were free.
(Okay, not exactly, I still had to pay the airport taxes, but we’ll get to that soon).
In a month, I’ll be heading to Rarotonga for the summer, and that flight will be free as well.
Best of all – I’ve managed to do this without any changes to my lifestyle/spending.
I haven’t had to clip coupons, enter competitions or do a boatload of surveys.
I’ve simply been living my life, and every year I get to fly somewhere for free.
Sound too good to be true?
Then I’m about to change your life.
Introducing the world of Airpoints
You might have heard of Airpoints.
It’s the frequent flyer program by Air New Zealand.
It’s a simple system.
Simply earn as many Airpoints as you can, then spend them.
1 Airpoints dollar = $1 NZD, so if you have $1,000 Airpoints dollars, you can buy a $1,000 plane ticket.
Here are the two tickets I purchased to Fiji recently:
And here’s what my Airpoints balance looks like right now, after just spending $800 of Airpoints on tickets to Fiji:
This means I have 1,220 points left, so I can buy any ticket on Air NZ (or alliance airlines) that costs $1,220 NZD or less.
Pretty cool, no?
The trick is optimising your earning, which I’m going to show you how to do right now.
How To Earn Airpoints
The first thing you will need is an Airpoints credit card.
There are a multitude to choose from, and I’ll talk you through your options soon.
Then you can start racking up Airpoints dollars.
Every time you use an Airpoints credit card to purchase something, you get rewarded with Airpoints dollars.
There’s no need to do anything special. Just keep buying all the same things you buy right now, but start using an Airpoints credit card instead.
For most people, that’s going to give you at least one free flight per year.
You can also get Airpoints sign-up bonuses with various cards, which will give you a nice boost to your balance before you even start!
How To Use Your Airpoints Credit Card
To earn Airpoints with credit cards you don’t need to churn a ton of cards and you don’t need to spend any money on fees.
In fact, I don’t pay any fees for any of my Airpoints card. I’ll show you my exact setup below.
One important thing to note here is you need to manage your finances properly for your Airpoints strategy to work. That means:
- Always pay your credit card bill on time. If you don’t, you’re going to be charged late fees which will cancel out any Airpoints you earn pretty quickly.
- Always pay your credit card bill in full. If you just pay the minimum payment you will be charged interest which will also cancel out any Airpoints very quickly. Make sure you pay the full account balance every time.
These two rules are non-negotiable. If you can’t follow these, Airpoints is not for you. However, as long as you do these two simple things, you can literally pay nothing in fees or interest the entire year, including annual fees, and still get free flights.
What Is The Best Airpoints Credit Card?
There are many Airpoints credit cards issued by the various banks in New Zealand (Kiwibank, ANZ, Westpac, and American Express).
The setup I am going to show you is what I believe to be optimal for most people, and the one I use personally.
First, I have an Airpoints American Express Card.
This is a FREE card which means it has no fees at all, as long as you pay your bills on time.
It also has an earn rate of 1 Airpoint for $100 NZD of spending, meaning if you spend $1,000 NZD in a month on your card, you’ll earn 10 Airpoints.
This is hands down the best Airpoints card in New Zealand today, because it’s totally free. Even if you NEVER use it, it’s not going to cost you anything to have, so why not have one?
They also often have a 50 Airpoints sign-up bonus, which means you’ll get 50 Airpoints for just filling out a form.
The second card I have in my arsenal is the Kiwibank Airpoints Low Fee Visa.
This card is not free (it has a $50 annual fee) and the earn rate isn’t as good as the American Express.
However, I keep it because I have a lot of expenses that cannot be paid with American Express but can be paid with Visa.
Therefore I only keep it because it’s beneficial to me but only in my unique situation – the same might not be true for you.
The annual fee for this card is $50 p.a., so unless you plan to spend $8,000+ that you can’t spend on the Amex, there’s no real reason to have one.
You would be better off solely using the American Express card.
The reason I use the Kiwibank Low Fee Airpoints Visa is it has the lowest annual fee of all the Airpoints Visa cards.
The third option you have is slightly more complicated, so pay attention.
This is the American Express Airpoints Platinum card.
This can be a great card if:
- They are offering the 300 Airpoints sign-up bonus.
- You are happy to pay the $195 annual fee.
Let me explain.
At most times during the year, a 300 Airpoints sign-up bonus is on offer, meaning as soon as you get the card and meet the approved spending threshold ($1,500 within the first 3 months), you will get 300 free Airpoints.
However, it does come with a $195 annual fee.
If you know you are going to use these Airpoints, then it’s a good deal. You are basically paying $195 to get $300 in return.
And the added and more important benefit is, you earn way more Airpoints with this card.
Instead of earning 1 Airpoint per $100 NZD spent, you get 1 Airpoint per $59 NZD spent, which nearly doubles your earning rate.
So basically, you get $105 worth of free Airpoints, and earn 40% more Airpoints during the year.
Now, in the second year of owning the card, things change.
Because you don’t earn a sign-up bonus again in the second year (obviously), based on the earn rates between the two cards, you would need to spend close to $40,000 on the card to make the Platinum card worth the $195 annual fee.
For example, if you spend $25,000 on the free card, you’ll earn $250 Airpoints. If you spend $25,000 on the Platinum card, you’ll earn $423
Therefore, I recommend most people downgrade their Platinum card in the second year to the free card.
This is simple to do and can be done with a simple email request to American Express.
In case you’re wondering, yes, this is exactly the strategy that I followed!
What about the other Airpoints cards?
There are various other Airpoints cards on offer from ANZ, Westpac and Kiwibank
In my opinion, all of these cards are inferior to the cards I’ve shared above, because:
- They have higher annual fees (between $65 to $390 p.a.)
- They don’t offer signup bonuses
- The earn rates are less than the AMEX cards
Of course, all the perks are slightly different for each card, so still check them out and see if they could work for you.
However, if your goal is to earn the most Airpoints for the lowest fees, I’m confident the setup I’ve described above will be optimal.
If you would like to actually see the numbers and a more detailed breakdown of every Airpoints card and their earn rates compared against each other, I would recommend having a read of this article here.
Spoiler: It will tell you to get the same three cards I recommended above 😉