How to earn 20x bonus Flybuys at Coles without spending more
Flybuys is the loyalty program of many Wesfarmers brands and most people know it through Coles. However if you just stick to the basics of the program (1 point per dollar spent at Coles), you are unlikely to get much of a benefit from Flybuys. There are ways to hack the system to improve your average points haul by 20 times or more. All it takes is a couple of extra minutes, a few slight changes to your buying habits, a little disloyalty and some luck. This topic of how disloyalty can see you with more benefits is detailed in Is it worth being loyal?

Flybuys bonus

In this example, spending $6,369 at Coles over the course of a year earned a total of 165,655 points. It also takes the earn rate per dollar spent to 26, and when converting to Virgin's Velocity points during a bonus period (see below) it increases to the equivalent of 30 Flybuys per dollar. Add in a Coles Mastercard with 2 Flybuys per dollar spent or the American Express Platinum Edge credit card, with 3 Velocity points per dollar at supermarkets (6.9 Flybuys equivalent*) would take the earn rates to 32x and 37x respectively.

*1 Flybuys is equal to 0.435 Velocity points but technically you can't transfer Velocity points back to Flybuys. Hence to make the values easy to understand we have used the relative values to calculate that 1 Velocity point is equal value to 2.3 Flybuys.

For those who claim the Coles $10 voucher per 2,000 points, the savings equate to $820 on a total spend of $6,369 or 12.8% discount.

Velocity points versus $10 discounts
Flybuys lets you claim 870 Velocity Points or a $10 Coles discount voucher per 2,000 points. Which option you choose will come down to personal circumstances. Generally speaking, they are similar value. Will the $10 saving be noticed by you or would you rather let the Velocity points slowly accumulate over time to redeem flights? Additionally, if you have other sources of Velocity points, such as regular flying with Virgin or a credit card that earns Velocity points, pooling Flybuys with these other earning options can help you build points faster for more significant reward flights.

Sources of bonus offers
Start by downloading the Flybuys app and signing up to the Coles Flybuys emails and offers through the website. From this, you will be targeted for special points promotions which will be sent via email and appear in the app. Some will be to buy specific products at Coles, which is great if you normally buy them, but otherwise they are often of little interest. The total Flybuys points you receive from individual products are generally not that much, so stick only to the offers for products you would normally buy. The best way to earn points is through the bonus offers based on the total you spend at the checkout and there are two major sources of these offers:

1. Once you've signed up to receive offers, you will you will need to download the Flybuys app and quarterly 'points booster' offers will appear when the next quarter rolls around. The app will only let you see the current offers and those coming up over the next few weeks (4 in total). The cycle typically starts with a fixed bonus points the first week (e.g. spend $100 and get 500 bonus points), followed by triple points in the second week. This cycle alternates throughout the quarter but can vary each quarter.

2. On top of the 'points booster', you will be emailed short term offers to earn bonuses and these can be fixed points or triple points. Most times they are valid for around 3-4 days from when they were sent. These typically appear once a month but you might find periods where you get offers once or twice a week as Flybuys tries to lure you to keep spending more. Multi-week bonus offers appear at the end of each quarter (multi-weeks require you to spend a minimum each week for 2-4 consecutive weeks and can be as high as 10,000 bonus points). Note that points booster offers can be used at the same time as email offers for 'stacking', more on that in a moment.

Note: Coles used to have docket offers at the bottom of your receipt, but since the introduction of the app, these have been phased out.

Hack: stacking bonus offers
This is where the real points are earned. In a good week, you may have offers from both the regular boosters, plus additional special points offers. You can use all current bonus offers together on a single shop. All you need to do is make sure you hit the spend targets and that you have activated the offers if required. Individual product bonuses can also be used (eg earn 200 points by buying Coles soup). Here is an example of how stacking can let you earn significant points per dollar spent.

Flybuys points stack 
An example of the hack for stacking points offers. The base spend of $152 dollars earned 2500 bonus points from a targeted email offer and 500 bonus points from the points booster promotion. Adding in the base spend of 152 points and the total points earned in this one shop was 3152. The points earned per dollar was significant at 21x. If you ignored the bonus offers, you would need to spend over $3,000, instead of $152, to earn the same amounts of points.

Triple spend offers
Not all bonuses earn a fixed amount of points. Often you'll get deals that are a multiple of your total spend. The most common is the triple points bonus. Occasionally these may be tied to a minimum spend level to trigger the bonus, but often they are not. The triple bonus points offer is a nice way to get some extra points if no other bonus is available and you need to do the shopping. Ultimately, however, 3x is not the best deal. This is even less attractive when there is a minimum spend requirement that is above what you need purchase at the supermarket. For example, being offered 3x points when you spend $100 yields 300 points, but being offered a 1,000 points bonus for a $100 spend earns 1100 points. The multiple points offers will also count your normal $1=1 Flybuys as part of the 3x points: it's not 3x extra, but 3x in total. In other words on $100, you get a total of 100x3=300 total Flybuys (only 200 bonus points).

One nice way to hack the system is to stack triple points offers together, or mix them with fixed bonus offers as long as they are all valid at the same time. Be aware that using more than one triple points offer simultaneously is not quite as good as it seems. Let's say you had three triple points offers to use at the same time. The end result will only be 7x (and in reality the bonus level is only 6x extra). The reason is due to the way triple points are calculated. Your base spend counts as 1x and it is only counted once, regardless of how many triples you use, so each triple only adds 2x. Use three triples and the maths looks like this: 1x+2x+2x+2x=7x.

Maximise your bonuses, minimise your spending
The biggest earners are the fixed bonus points deals based on you spending a certain amount of money at Coles. These have two major functions for Coles. They want you to spend more than your average, and if you've been 'quiet' on your account, they may offer you some incentive to return. You can use these factors to your advantage.

This is when to get a little crafty in the way you spend to the supermarket. Each offer is customised to an individual's spending habits and the bonus points can vary widely between offers, from a single 500 Flybuys bonus to 10,000 Flybuys for multi-week bonus offers. Your objective here is to spend as little as possible at Coles, on average, when you are not earning bonus points. The reason is simple: the weekly average you pay at the register determines how much you'll need to spend to receive the bonus when the new offers are issued in the future. They generally make it a little higher than your average to encourage you to purchase more items. Two different people may get an offer to earn 1,000 bonus points at the same time. But the first person may only need to spend $100 to earn the bonus, while the second needs to spend $300. This is because, on average, the first person probably spends around $70-80 a week, while the second spends $200-250. By sometimes shopping at Woolworths (or elsewhere), especially if the other supermarket has a points bonus when Coles isn't running one, you trigger two key conditions: it drops your average spend at Coles making it easier to earn future bonus points when the offers are sent; and being absent may trigger a bonus points enticement for you to return.

Additionally by shopping less at Woolworths when you switch back to Coles, it may trigger Woolworths to offer a bonus deal to return to them. Playing the supermarkets off against each other can keep generous bonus offers flowing through to you and often this will be much more than if you stayed loyal to one brand.

How do you avoid unnecessary spending on bonus offers?
As stated above, the objectives of Coles offering the Flybuys bonuses are to get you to spend more and keep coming back. However, you negate your benefits if you purchase addition items unnecessarily. Some weeks you may be presented with an offer but your shopping requirements mean you don't need to spend the amount needed for the bonus. Here is where a little planning comes in. Make a list of things which don't perish, are relatively more expensive and that you won't use faster if you have more of them in the home. Avoid temptations like chocolate and biscuits or fresh food that may go off. Do your planned shop and then buy the minimum amount of the non-perishable items needed to cross the bonus threshold. Sure it may mean that you now have two of the items in your house. However, over the course of the following weeks you will not need to buy them again. The end result is that it won't cost you more over time as all you have done is bought some extra supplies that you will use anyway.

Some examples
  • Hair shampoo and conditioner
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Razor blades
  • Coffee
  • Vitamin tablets
  • Household cleaning products
  • Personal care products

    The added advantage of this approach is that in the weeks where you don't buy these items - because you already have a supply at home - your spend will be less. This approach can reduce the spend level needed to obtain the extra points in subsequent offers. At the very least it will stop the the minimum spend on bonus offers from rising.

    Hack: bonus transfer offers
    Since the tie-up between Virgin's Velocity program and Flybuys, there has been a bonus period roughly every 6 months where you earn 15% more Velocity points on transfers from Flybuys. These are generally around May and November. There is no guarantee this pattern will continue, but there is no reason to transfer the points straight away, unless you intend you to use them immediately for a flight. This hack alone can see you earning thousands more points per year without needing to spend anything extra. Using the first example at the top of this page, 15% bonus means the 164,000 Flybuys points earned a second bonus of 24,600* Velocity points when transferred during a 15% bonus promotion. In total, the Flybuys earned over the year converted to total of 94,000* Velocity points, including the 15% bonus . If you had stuck to the basic $1=1 Flybuys and ignored all the bonus offers, the 6,369 Flybuys would have earned only 2,610* Velocity points, a difference of over 91,000 Velocity points. This equivalent to a free return economy ticket up to a distance of 8,500 miles (for example Sydney-Los Angeles return) or a return business class flight up to 4,800 miles, such as Sydney-Hong Kong.

    * the numbers are rounded down to the nearest 2,000 Flybuys as you can only convert in blocks of 2,000 from Flybuys to Velocity