Should I use Qantas Points to pay for flight carbon offsets?

Posted: 5 June 2023 4:00 pm
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Is 159 points to offset a Sydney to Melbourne flight really a good deal?

Many airlines offer the option of paying for carbon offsets to reduce the impact of your flight. Some let you use your frequent flyer points to pay for those offsets. But is that a good use of your points? Let's use Qantas Frequent Flyer as an example.

Finder research shows clearly that you get the best value spending Qantas points on flight upgrades or flights. Ideally, you should get at least $20 in value for every 1,000 points you spend, and the higher you can make that figure, the better. Where do carbon offsets fit into that equation?

The table below shows how many points you'll need to pay for carbon offsets on some key Qantas economy routes, how much you'd pay otherwise, and how the points total needed converts to dollar value per 1,000 Qantas points.

RoutePointsChargeValue/1,000 points
Sydney-Melbourne159$1.50$9.43
Brisbane-Perth487$4.60$9.45
Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth1,492$12.79$8.57

Note that in none of these cases are we getting anywhere near $20 of value for 1,000 Qantas Points. While the exact charge varies depending on your flight, I've never seen a carbon offset value higher than $10 for 1,000 Qantas Points.

Flight length doesn't have an obvious impact, either: Brisbane to Perth is marginally better value than Sydney to Melbourne, but Sydney to Dallas is worse than either. The bottom line is none of these examples offer a particularly effective use of your points.

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Lots of customers participate in the Qantas Fly Carbon Neutral program: one every 59 seconds, according to the airline. If you're one of them, I'd suggest paying for it with your card, not your points. (Interestingly, when you do that, it shows up as a separate item on your credit card statement.)

One other obvious objection might be: "I don't have enough points to spend on anything meaningful, so I might as well use them for the offset." However, that doesn't withstand scrutiny either.

If you're booking a Qantas flight, you'll be earning points from that flight, with a minimum of 800 and potentially much more. So why spend points on a low-value transaction and keep your total flatter than it needs to be? Save all your points towards a goal instead and spend them for maximum value.

Want to keep your frequent flyer points balance growing? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.

We updated this guide on 5 June 2023 with current pricing and examples.

  1. Qantas flight prices, June 5 2023
Image: @swissmediavision via Canva.com

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