Lots of people think super’s hard to understand, or something they don’t have to worry about until they’re close to retirement. But whether you’re 26 or 56, it’s important to understand the basics of super and its benefits so you can plan for the life after work that you want.

Superannuation, or super, is simply a way of saving for your future. It’s your money, just being held for you in an investment structure run by super fund trustees for the benefit of members, like you, at retirement.

The types of investments you can make via super are generally no different to the investments available to you outside of super. Super is simply a trust structure that surrounds your investment, and affects the accessibility of your money and the tax that’s paid on it.

Nearly every employed person must join a super fund that meets the Superannuation Industry Supervision (SIS) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) standards. You can usually choose your own fund, but if you don’t a ‘default fund’ will be chosen by your employer, or set by an award. Qantas Super is the default super fund for Qantas Group employees.

Generally, to be eligible for super you must be working full time, part time, or casual, and be paid more than $450 (before tax) per calendar month by the one employer. If you’re under 18, you must work more than 30 hours a week to be eligible.

Government policy on super means you can make your own choices for your future, as it’s regarded as a basic right of every Australian worker. The overall aim of superannuation is to make sure retirees rely less on the Age Pension, and more on their accumulated super savings.

How are super savings accumulated?

Your super is made up of employer contributions, personal contributions, super co-contributions, and earnings from the fund itself, less fees and charges.

Most of us start super when we start working, because our employer must pay contributions, called the Superannuation Guarantee (SG). The SG requires your employer to pay a minimum percentage of your ‘ordinary time earnings’. This percentage is currently set at 9.5%, however will increase progressively over the next few years to 12%. You can also choose to top up your super out of your own pocket.

Your super grows over the long term because your employer and/or you make regular contributions, your super fund invests your money, and your fund gets tax concessions that boost your earnings.Your super fund may also offer life insurance cover and disability insurance.

Your super is held for you until you:

  • Reach preservation age and retire, if under age 60
  • Finish working after age 60
  • Reach age 65
  • Become permanently disabled or die
  • Meet eligibility requirements for severe financial hardship or specified compassionate grounds
  • Commerce a transition to retirement pension
Your preservation age depends on when you were born:
Date of birthPreservation age
Before 1 July 196055
1 July 1960 - 30 June 196156
1 July 1961 - 30 June 196257
1 July 1962 - 30 June 196358
1 July 1963 - 30 June 196459
After 30 June 196460

Date of birth

Types of super funds available

Corporate funds

A corporate fund is arranged by an employer, for its employees. They are one of the oldest forms of superannuation funds, and may offer generous benefits and large plan discounts on fees to employees.

Qantas Super is a corporate fund.

Industry funds

These are multi-employer super funds, which normally cover employees in an industry or group of industries, or in a particular geographic area.

Retail funds

Retail super funds are open to the public for membership – they are public offer funds and are also known as Master Trusts.

Public sector funds

These funds are generally established under an Act of Parliament, not under a trust deed like other funds. The Act sets out the rules for the fund. Most are only open to government employees.

Self-managed super funds

These funds are regulated by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The member is a trustee of the fund, and therefore takes responsibility for administration and investment of the fund.

Superannuation benefit design

How much you receive from your super will depend on the type of fund you’re in and how they calculate your payment. Generally, funds fall into two main categories.

Accumulation funds

Accumulation funds are the most common type of super fund. Benefits in an accumulation fund are determined by how much your employer contributes on your behalf, and how much your fund earns.

Qantas Super Divisions 3A, 5, 6, 7, 10, and Gateway are accumulation funds.

Defined benefit funds

Defined benefit funds are traditionally associated with large corporate and public sector funds. They generally pay a retirement benefit that is linked to salary and period of employment.

Qantas Super Divisions 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, and 15 are defined benefit funds.

Some funds, called ‘hybrids’, are a combination of the two.

Other info you might be interested in

What is a defined benefit super fund?

A defined benefit fund is a super fund where the benefits are calculated by a predetermined formula.

What's salary sacrificing?

Salary sacrificing is when an employee agrees to give up part of their salary or wages in return for benefits of a similar value.

What are co-contributions?

The super co-contribution is a tax-free bonus from the government to help people on low to middle incomes boost their super.

Learning Hub

Understand your super and the simple steps you can take to stay in control.

We're here to help

If you want to learn more or need help with making a decision about your super, you can get simple advice over the phone or face to face. It’s included as a part of your membership so there’s no extra cost.