One of our readers contacted us last week to let us know about a more lucrative way to earn KrisFlyer miles when booking hotels through Agoda, and in a nutshell it’s simple enough – credit to Virgin Australia Velocity points instead of crediting to KrisFlyer directly, then transfer the miles to KrisFlyer afterwards.
There’s a snag from the outset however, you must have a Virgin Velocity account (obviously), and unlike most frequent flyer schemes you can’t just have one. Velocity membership requires a residential address in one of the key markets they operate from (basically in Australia or New Zealand).
If like most of our readers you live in Singapore, it’s probably a non-starter. It might not be impossible to set up a Velocity account for yourself though, perhaps you have relatives in Australia? If so presumably they have a residential address. And after all, what is family for?
How does it work?
I’ll admit when I first read the suggestion I thought it sounded like a lot of hassle for probably a small gain. After all – you lose 26% of your Velocity points when you transfer them to KrisFlyer (the transfer ratio is 1.35:1). Nonetheless I started looking at a few examples to find out how much better this method was, and as you’ll see I was pleasantly surprised.
What’s Agoda PointsMAX?
It’s Agoda’s answer to the likes of Kaligo and Rocketmiles, basically when you book a hotel stay you’ll also receive frequent flyer miles or points with one of several available loyalty schemes. It’s also possible with Agoda to ‘buy’ additional miles by voluntarily paying even more for your hotel stay, which sometimes makes sense and sometimes doesn’t.
At the time of writing it is possible to credit reward points to a staggering 67 airline or award loyalty schemes through your Agoda booking using PointsMAX.
As you can see Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Virgin Australia Velocity are both available frequent flyer programs to credit miles to from Agoda under their PointsMAX offer, and that’s where this arbitrage becomes possible.
Velocity > < KrisFlyer
As many of you will know, Velocity points and KrisFlyer miles are transferable, in either direction. If you didn’t know – you do now!
There’s a catch though – if you transfer Velocity points to KrisFlyer miles the ratio is 1.35:1 (so 10,000 Velocity points, for example, will credit as 7,407 KrisFlyer miles).
If you do the same in reverse, KrisFlyer miles will transfer into Velocity points at a 1.35:1 ratio. That’s right – you lose both ways. It’s not a negligible loss either, you’re forgoing 26% of your miles or points each time you do this, in either direction.
It means Agoda PointsMAX has to be at least 26% more generous when crediting to Velocity than it is to KrisFlyer, just to end up with the same number of miles in the end. Luckily, it’s a lot more generous than that as you’ll see.
Here’s an example booking a 2-bed villa in Bali for 2 nights through Agoda PointsMAX, with the bonus miles shown for both KrisFlyer and Velocity.
After a few searches with different dates and different cities / hotels, it soon became obvious I didn’t need to search any more. The difference between Velocity Points and KrisFlyer miles is proportionately fixed at 2.7x – so you’ll always get 2.7 times more points crediting a booking to Velocity than you will crediting to KrisFlyer.
Even after the 1.35:1 conversion ratio is taken into account, that makes it a neat 2 times multiplier, meaning you’ll get twice as many KrisFlyer miles at the end of the process for each booking by crediting to Velocity first – then converting.
Bear in mind
Do remember before you get too excited that most KrisFlyer members will not be eligible for a Velocity account due to their residential address, so this method is only applicable to those who can sign up, or already hold accounts with both airlines.
Remember too that Agoda might not be giving you the best deal for a hotel stay. In general they charge more for their PointsMAX rates than their everyday rates, so you’ll have to assess for each booking whether paying extra is generating a worthwhile miles bonus.
As we mention in our Kaligo article, check the cheapest rate you can get directly, elsewhere on the web like Expedia, at Rocketmiles (credit them to Heathrow Rewards then transfer later for more KrisFlyer miles) and at Kaligo (credit to Citi, DBS Altitude, UOB, or failing that Changi Rewards – and transfer to KrisFlyer later for the same reason). Then check Agoda PointsMAX too.
The total price when booking through sites awarding miles or points as part of the deal is rarely identical to the lowest price, so you are usually paying for the miles. It’s therefore important to calculate how much you’re paying per mile then determine whether it’s worth it. For example paying an extra $30 for 3,000 miles (1 cent per mile) is probably worthwhile. Paying $200 for 10,000 miles (2 cents per mile) might be more marginal – unless you need them quickly.
(Thanks to reader Xavier for alerting us to this)