CBA Awards Points adds 10 new airline transfer partners - but watch the exchange rates.
Good news arrived for Commonwealth Bank this week for their credit rewards program, Commbank Awards. The program is welcoming a series of new airline loyalty partners which has never been accessible from the Australia market.
You can now redeem your Commbank Awards Points to fly with TEN new airline partners, including JAL and United Airways.
Air Asia - Big points (2.5 CBA = 1)
Air France / KLM - Flying Blue (3 CBA = 1)
Eva Air - Infinity MileageLands (3 CBA = 1)
China Eastern - Eastern Miles (3 CBA = 1)
Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles (3 CBA = 1) - new partner from Nov2018
Etihad - Guest (3.5 CBA = 1)
Malaysia Airlines - Enrich (3.5 CBA = 1)
United Airlines - MileagePlus (4 CBA = 1)
Japan Airlines - MileageBank (4 CBA = 1)
Lufthansa - Miles & More (4 CBA = 1)
Plus - IHG Rewards, the loyalty program of InterContinental Hotels Group, is also available as the bank's first hotel transfer partner.
The change dramatically improves the flexibility of airlines which was previously limited on a pre-selected basis to Qantas Frequent Flyer or Virgin Velocity.
Qantas - Frequent Flyer (2.5 CBA = 1 direct-sweep, if opted into theQantas Frequent Flyer Direct for an extra $30 per year)
Virgin - Velocity (Platinum/Diamond cards 2 CBA = 1, Other cards 2.5 CBA = 1)
In comparison, American Express has up to 10 airlines partners (Qantas, Singapore, Virgin, Cathay, Emirates, Etihad, Malaysia, Thai, Virgin Atlantic, Air NZ), Westpac Altitude has six (Qantas, Virgin Australia, Malaysia, Air NZ, Singapore Air, Cathay Pacific), and Citi Rewards has 3 standard (Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Emirates), up to 12 with Citi Prestige.
We crunched a few numbers to test if these new loyalty partners are valuable or not? For those good with the calculator or spreadsheets, there are a few sweet spots of great value.
LET’S LOOK AT THE BEST AND WORST
One of these sweet spots is using your Commbank points to redeem Japan Airlines business class seats, which travels daily between Australia and Japan. To fly from Sydney to Tokyo requires 50,000 JAL Points for a return trip in Business Class. At the 4:1 transfer ratio, you will require 200,000 CBA Award Points.
In comparison, 200,000 CBA Award points transferred to Velocity or Qantas won’t get the same result. Velocity is a 2:1 transfer ratio, therefore you’ll receive 100,000 Velocity points. Which can get you to Fiji but not Tokyo. In fact, only getting you as far as a one-way to Hong Kong in Business. (note: a minimum transfer amount also applies)
For Qantas, 200,000 CBA Award points at a 2.5:1 transfer ratio converts into 72,000 QF points. Qantas flies direct to Tokyo from Sydney, but you will only get a one-way in Business with this amount of points in the bank.
This example was worked out for a specific airlines on specific routes, the same value does not necessarily apply for the different routes.
On the flip side, not all new partners are as sweet. We calculated United Airways for our second example. To fly Sydney to Los Angeles, you will need 160,000 miles for a return business class seat onboard United. With the 4:1 transfer ratio, that is 640,000 Commbank Award Points.
Sounds okay, until you compare with Virgin Velocity … the same 640,000 Commbank (at 2:1 ratio) turns into 320,000 Velocity points, getting you almost two return flights in business class (1.7 to be exact). Qantas can return 1.3 return flights, similar to United but with some points left over (please don’t redeem it on a nice toaster)
The benefit of adding JAL, United Airways the other seven partners is ultimately providing significantly more choice of options to fly and stay. Qantas and Velocity reward seats, like all airlines are limited, having more options leads to more chances of finding the right seats on the right dates.