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Michael writes on emerging markets, architecture and engineering. He has served as a correspondent in Tokyo, London and Johannesburg and has written for Reuters, the Financial Times, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

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NAB taken for a frequent flyer ride: $70 to rack up 380,000 points

Published 07 March 2013 09:18, Updated 12 March 2013 14:57

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NAB taken for a frequent flyer ride: $70 to rack up 380,000 points

Melbourne man Anthony Agius says NAB still owes him about 250,000 frequent flyer points. Photo: Fairfax Media

Meet the man who took NAB, Australia’s biggest commercial bank, for a ride. Anthony Agius only spent about $70 to rack up 380,000 frequent flyer points in a promotion that National Australia Bank cut short when it realised what he was doing. Melbourne man Agius claims the bank still owes him 250,000 points.

It all started in January, when NAB offered 100 additional points for each eligible purchase made on a NAB Qantas credit card. Agius, a co-founder of online community MacTalk which he sold in 2011, then struck on the idea of making 7000 purchases to the value of 1 cent each, mainly to CityLink, the operator of Melbourne’s toll roads.

“CityLink did call me, but they were mainly concerned with the fact my credit card may have been stolen, or that their billing system went crazy,” Agius told BRW. “Once I told them I was doing it on purpose to get points, they were relieved and didn’t say anything after that.”

NAB wasn’t so relaxed about it, however. On January 15, the bank wrote to Agius, pointing out that he had made over 3800 transactions between January 6 and January 9 and that it did not regard these numerous small transactions as the sort intended under the promotion.

“It was NAB’s intention that ‘eligible purchases’ would be the usual everyday purchases however there was no minimum spend noted in the letter of offer and I'm sorry if this has caused any misunderstanding,” the bank’s case manager wrote.

The bank said it would honour the points Agius had earned at that stage, but no more. Agius wants NAB to award him the points he says are still outstanding.

“There’s still around 250,000 points that I think they owe me,” he says.

NAB said on Thursday it won’t give him any more.

“We have contacted the customer to discuss these transactions, as we do not believe that they were made in the spirit in which the offer was intended,” a spokesman said.

“We have agreed to award 380,000 points he had accrued to that point, but have also made it clear the offer would be withdrawn for the rest of the January-February period for that customer.”

The toll road operator declined to comment on the Agius case specifically.

“City Link customer service is always vigilant against credit card abnormalities and has systems in place to detect and manage possible instances to protect its customers,” it said on Wednesday.

For all his ingenuity, Agius is still only a bronze-level Qantas frequent flyer member.

“I don’t pay for many flights, so I don’t get any status credits,” he says.

But he can at least use the points he has.

“I have used some of the points for a few domestic trips, but plan to book two business class round-the-world tickets eventually,” he says.

The bank, it seems, has learnt a lesson from the episode.

“We have clarified what an eligible purchase is to avoid a re-occurrence of a similar scenario,” the spokesman said.

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