How to Stop Qantas frequent flyer points from expiring
Given the value of Qantas frequent flyer points, it's important to ensure that you don't end up in a situation where you lose them all. Not travelling on Qantas for a year or two and not having a Qantas credit card can see many frequent flyers squander points due to them expiring. when they can be rescued. It can happen easily if you fly other airlines, have travelled extensively then taken a break or given up using a Qantas credit card. The rules for expiring points are fairly simple, so let's start with them.

How do Qantas points expire?
Qantas frequent flyer points themselves do not have an expiry date. As long as your account has activity in the last 18 months, the points will remain in your account regardless of when they were earned. However, all points will be lost if your account has zero activity over an 18 month period, regardless of the balance.

Activity is classed as earning or using points, but notable exceptions include family points transfers and points transferred from Qantas Business Rewards. There is no minimum level of activity, so just one point is enough to keep your points safe for another 18 months. What catches most people out is that Qantas does not notify that your points that are due to expire, so it is up to you to keep track of your last activity.

Importantly, keep in mind that some points-earning activities will take some time before they appear on your account to count as activity. In many cases for earning points, you may be looking at 1-4 months. For flights, it is based on when the flight was taken, Australian time, and they will credit to your account shortly after you have flown. Note that you only earn points if you actually fly. A no-show for your flight earns nothing.

Warning: family transfers
As noted above, Qantas Business Rewards and Family points transfers do not count as points activity on your account. This means if you transfer points into your account from these sources (or other non-activity generating sources) they will get deleted if you reach 18 months of no qualifying activity. This is regardless of when you transfer them over. Let's say you had 17 months of zero activity and transferred 100,000 points into your account from another family member. The following month when that account hits 18 months of no qualifying activity, the newly transferred 100,000 points will be removed along with whatever points were already in the account.

Warning: credit cards
If your credit card points go directly into your Qantas account, this is considered a qualifying activity. However, one trap is that Qantas business credit cards often have the points deposited into your Qantas Business Rewards account. These do not qualify as activity, even if you subsequently transfer them over to your normal Qantas frequent flyer account. In this case, you'll still need some sort of other qualifying activity every 18 months.

How to stop Qantas points expiring
The first things you need to find out are: how many points do you currently have and how long ago was your last activity? For balances under 10,000 points, earning points is your best option. It is hard to spend your points in a meaningful way if your points balance is well under 10,000. If you are looking at earning points, the less time you have, there are far fewer options as many points earning options can take time to be credited to your account. For example, you may be in a situation where your points expire in a month and to rescue them you decide to purchase an item through Qantas Mall. The danger here is that while the purchase was one month before the expiry date, if those points take longer than a month to show up in your account, the current points balance will still expire.

The fastest options for points expiring very soon
Assuming you are not immediately planning to fly on Qantas or redeem the points for a flight anytime soon, the quickest way to record activity is to spend points in some other way. Generally this will be recorded as activity in your account within 24 hours or less.

Gift Cards
One of the most flexible options is to buy a small gift card for $25. This is not the best use of points with the cards starting around 4,000 points. If your balance is low, this may eat up what you have left but for significant balances in the hundreds of thousands that are expiring with a few days or weeks, it works out to be one of quickest ways to keep them active. The Qantas Store lists plenty of gift card options for $25 from David Jones to JB Hifi and Woolworths.

Burn 1,000 points
Qantas charges 1,000 points or $10 to issue a replacement frequent flyer card. Call up and ask for the replacement, pay 1,000 points (obviously not the $10 option) and you have generated activity on your account to keep the remaining points another 18 months.

Qantas Cash
Every frequent flyer card is also a Qantas Cash debit card (hence the Mastercard logo on the reverse side). Simply activate the card on the Qantas Cash site and transfer some money into the account. Then use the card to make a purchase. Keep in mind that this process may take several days by the time the money makes it into your Qantas Cash account, and also add in the time to go out, spend the money and have the points credited to your account. Be sure that whatever you buy is included as a qualifying points earning option. One notable exception is Bpay.

Other options
The stores listed on Qantas Mall all earn some kind of Qantas points when you use the links on the site to purchase items, as does Qantas Epicure (wine club). The most flexible of the lot is probably eBay but be aware that it may take 1-4 months before the points are credited to your account for many of the Qantas partners.

Likewise Deliveroo and booking restaurants through Qantas also earn frequent flyer points, but they can take up to 8 weeks before they appear in your account. These options are really only useful if there is plenty of time left before you are going to hit the 18 month expiry and the Qantas points-earning partners have something you want.

You may see that Woolworths is partnered with Qantas to convert Woolworths Rewards points to Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Unless you are already a significant spender at Woolworths and related stores, it is not that useful for generating last-minute activity on your Qantas Account. The two main stumbling blocks are that points are only transferred at the end of each quarter and you need a minimum of 2,000 Woolworths Reward points for a transfer, generally requiring a total spend of $2,000. It is however, an easy way to generate ongoing activity on your Qantas account if you shop there.

Qantas points can also be earned by using the Woolworths link on the Qantas Mall site. There is no minimum spend, plus Woolworths offers click and collect to save you the home delivery fee. As above, be aware that the points may take a month to be credited to your account.

Last resort: Family member transfer
If there is a family member who qualifies for a family transfer, and no other qualifying activity looks like it will work for you, you may want to consider a family transfer. As a precaution, make sure the member receiving the points has recent activity in their account, otherwise the points will disappear when their inactivity hits 18 months (see the warning above). There are also restrictions: 5,000 minimum and 600,000 maximum. Once you have activity on your account, you can transfer them back.

How to ensure ongoing activity without flying Qantas
To prevent the situation of points coming up for expiry, there are some easy things you can do:

  • Apply for a Qantas points credit card (if you are intending to get one for business, see the warning above). You may also consider Qantas Cash if you don't have or want a Qantas credit card.
  • For regular Woolworths shoppers, converting points over to Qantas can keep the activity ticking over
  • Use Qantas Mall for selective online shopping or buying items on eBay via Qantas Mall as discussed in Earning points for shopping on eBay.
  • If you are travelling but not flying Qantas or one of its partner airlines, consider using the Qantas hotels site to book a room. Similarly car hire through Qantas partners can generate some activity and earn extra points. For more information see, Triple-dipping to get the most car hire benefits.
  • Use Qantas restaurants if you are planning a night out or Deliveroo if you'd rather eat at home. For more information see Earn frequent flyer points for Deliveroo and Menulog takeaway delivery.