How The Amex Credit Card Changes Will Affect You

On July 1, new reforms will impact credit card rewards programs. If you own an American Express credit card, this article will tell you how you might be affected.

Credit card rewards are changing

If you own a credit card, you will probably have been notified by your provider at some point in the past 12 months about some changes to their existing rewards programs. These changes might include a reduced earning rate, an increase in points needed to earn frequent flyer points, and so on.

This is because of a new regulation introduced by the Reserve Bank of Australia in May 2016 after a comprehensive review of credit card payments. This review led the RBA to lower the maximum cap of interchange fees. These fees are the main source of funding for banks’ rewards programs, and many rewards programs have now been made less rewarding as a result.

The Big Four banks in Australia – ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, and Westpac – have all announced major cuts and changes to credit card frequent flyer points. If you own a credit card from one of these four institutions, then here is how the rewards card changes may affect you.

But first, let’s check what’s changing if you have a credit card from American Express.

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American Express credit card benefits

Despite the changes to credit card rewards programs, American Express remains confident that cardholders who have an Amex-issued credit card will continue to enjoy excellent benefits, rewards and services.

American Express gives its cardholders a simple and transparent rewards program, and from July 1 onwards it will be the only place to get a Qantas or Velocity co-brand with an earn rate of 1.5 points per $1 spent.

All Amex-issued credit cards:

  • Have no cap to the amount of points you can earn
  • Have no points expiry
  • Offer points on payments made to the ATO

…and much more. American Express has 5 key credit cards on offer, and we’ll briefly cover the rewards that they can offer you.

American Express Explorer Card

With the American Express Explorer credit card was one of our 5-star rated outstanding value credit cards in 2017, and offers complimentary travel insurance.

This card’s Membership Rewards program has no points capping, so the number of points you can earn stay the same no matter how much you spend: 2 rewards points per $1 spent. There is no expiry on these points, allowing you to save over the years for your dream holiday.

Another key benefit is receiving 50,000 rewards bonus points if you spend more than $1,500 in the first 3 months (at the time of writing). This is enough for about 37,500 Qantas Frequent Flyer points, or $370 worth of credit towards travel expenses.

Membership Rewards

Your Amex Membership Rewards program offers spectacular ways to use your points and different ways to boost points.

Posted by American Express on Tuesday, 2 May 2017

American Express Platinum Edge Card

The Platinum Edge credit card from American Express enrols you in the Ascent Rewards program, which has no points cap and continually gives you the same rate regardless of monthly spend:

  • 3 points per $1 spent at supermarkets
  • 2 points per $1 spent at petrol stations
  • 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else

The points you earn also have no expiry date, so you can save them for whenever is most convenient for you.

American Express Platinum Card

With the American Express Platinum card, you can earn up to 3 rewards points per $1 spent as follows:

  • 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants
  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and with foreign merchants
  • 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else

The earnings threshold on these points is 300,000 per year, after which the rate changes to 0.5 points per dollar. These points have no expiry date however, and you can transfer them to any of 10 airline rewards programs. At the time of writing, if you apply online and spend $1,500 in the first 3 months you can get 80,000 rewards points for free!

Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

Amex’s Qantas Ultimate card gives you 1.5 Qantas points per $1 spent on all purchases, as well as 1 additional point on Qantas products and services. There is no monthly or yearly cap on the amount of points you can earn, and they can be transferred directly to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account each month.

At the time of writing, membership with this card gives you a complimentary return flight (domestic economy) with Qantas each year, as well as 55,000 free points when you spend $1,500 within the first 3 months.

American Express Velocity Platinum Card

The final Amex credit card on offer is the Velocity Platinum card which is very similar to the Qantas Ultimate card, as it offers almost the same benefits except with Virgin Australia. You can earn 1.5 Velocity points per $1 spent, and an additional 1 point if that spend is on Virgin products or services.

There is no cap on the amount of Velocity points you can earn, and they can be transferred directly to your Velocity account at the end of each month. Cardholders are given a complimentary domestic flight (economy class) with Virgin Australia each year.

At the time of writing, new cardholders can get 100,000 bonus Velocity points if they spend $1,500 before July 31 this year (enough to fly one-way from Sydney to LA!).

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The Big Four changes for American Express cards

The Big Four are known for offering American Express companion cards, where the bank issues an American Express card and a MasterCard or Visa to the same account. There are some big changes going on in terms of how many points you can earn with an American Express companion card from the Big Four, which we summarise below.

ANZ American Express credit card changes

We previously ran an article in March about the changes that were coming for ANZ’s Amex credit cards. That article will give you a proper, in-depth explanation, but to summarise, ANZ has ceased their commercial partnership with American Express and will no longer issue any American Express companion cards.

You will be unable to use ANZ branded Amex cards after 5 August 2017, with only the ANZ branded Visa card remaining.

Canstar research shows that you will have to spend twice as much using an ANZ rewards Visa card to earn a flight from Sydney to Melbourne than you would have had to previously with the ANZ Amex cards.

If you deem this unacceptable and are looking to swap from your ANZ Amex credit card, then you should compare what else is on the market using our website:

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Commonwealth Bank American Express credit card changes

CBA Amex cards have been retained, but the earnings rates on rewards will be reduced by up to 85% in some cases. Cardholders will actually earn more points per dollar on a regular Commonwealth Bank Awards MasterCard or Visa than they would using a CommBank American Express credit card.

Four of CBA’s individual Amex cards have been affected. Compare the rest of Commonwealth Bank’s other credit cards on our website.

CommBank Awards Card

The Awards card is CommBank’s entry-level frequent flyer card, and the Amex awards credit card initially earned its customers 1.5 points for every dollar spent, with a cap of 50,000 points per year.

After July 1 this year, cardholders will continue to earn 1.5 points per dollar spent, but only at certain department stores, supermarkets and petrol stations. Everywhere else will see you earn just 0.5 points per dollar.

CommBank Awards card
  Old New
American Express 1.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1 except at certain locations
MasterCard 1 point per $1 1 point per $1
Annual Points Cap 50,000 per year 50,000 per year

CommBank Gold Awards Card

The Gold Awards card previously let you get 2 awards points per dollar spent up to 75,000 per year, but this will no longer be the case. Now – while you can earn 2 points per dollar spent at the supermarket, buying petrol, overseas merchants, and department stores – you will only earn 0.5 points per dollar spent everywhere else.

CommBank Gold Awards card
  Old New
American Express 2 points per $1 0.5 points per $1 (2 points per $1 at certain locations)
MasterCard 1 point per $1 1 point per $1
Annual Points Cap 75,000 per year (60,000 for Qantas Frequent Flyer) 75,000 per year (60,000 for Qantas Frequent Flyer)

CommBank Platinum Awards Card

The Platinum Awards card from CBA will earn you 2.5 points per dollar spent until July 1. After then, it will earn the 0.5 points per dollar that is now standard across the four CommBank Amex credit cards.

The exception to this is with purchases made at the supermarket, buying petrol, overseas merchants, and department stores. Purchases here will continue to use the 2.5 points per $1 rate.

A benefit of these changes is that the CommBank Platinum Awards Amex card will not come with any overseas transaction fees.

CommBank Platinum Awards card
  Old New
American Express 2.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1 (2.5 points per $1 at certain locations)
MasterCard 1 point per $1 1 point per $1
Annual Points Cap 150,000 per year (120,000 for Qantas Frequent Flyer) 150,000 per year (120,000 for Qantas Frequent Flyer)

CommBank Diamond Awards Card

The last of CBA’s American Express credit cards that is affected is the Diamond Awards card.

The Diamond Awards card is CBA’s top of the line Amex card, and traditionally has earned owners a huge 3 points per every dollar spent, while the ordinary MasterCard earned them 1.25 points.

But like the others, it will now only earn 0.5 points per dollar with the exception of overseas purchases, department stores, supermarkets, and petrol stations, which will earn a reduced 2.5 points per dollar. This is a massive decrease in points per spend.

CommBank Platinum Awards card
  Old New
American Express 3 points per $1 0.5 points per $1 (2.5 points per $1 at certain locations)
MasterCard 1.25 points per $1 1.25 points per $1
Annual Points Cap 1 million per year 1 million per year

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NAB American Express credit card changes

Like Commonwealth Bank, NAB will continue to offer its existing American Express credit cards to customers, but at reduced earn rates. There are four Amex cards at NAB’s disposal, and they all suffer from these rate cuts.

The biggest change is that there is a cap on the amount of spend that will earn points; after you reach that cap, you can keep spending up to your credit limit, but you will not earn any more points.

NAB Velocity Rewards Card

The most basic of NAB’s Amex rewards cards, the Velocity Rewards card from NAB, initially earned customers 1 reward point per dollar spent, which will be reduced slightly to 0.75 per dollar spent with the new rules.

The monthly cap of $20,000 points earning spending has been slashed to only $3,000 per month.

NAB Velocity Rewards credit card
  Old New
American Express 1 point per $1 0.75 points per $1
Visa 0.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1
Monthly Points Earning Cap Up to $20,000 per month Up to $3,000 per month

NAB Qantas Rewards Card

The NAB Qantas Rewards credit card is a direct mirror of the NAB Velocity card, so all of the rates and monthly caps are the same.

NAB Qantas Rewards credit card
  Old New
American Express 1 point per $1 0.75 points per $1
Visa 0.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1
Monthly Points Earning Cap Up to $20,000 per month Up to $3,000 per month

NAB Velocity Premium Rewards Card

The Velocity Premium card is NAB’s premium American Express credit card, along with the Qantas Premium card below. This card currently earns 1.5 points per dollar spent with a monthly points earning cap of $20,000 per month, but after July 1 this will be reduced to 1 point per dollar at a cap of $5,000 per month.

NAB Velocity Premium Rewards credit card
Old New
American Express 1.5 points per $1 1 point per $1
Visa 0.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1
Monthly Points Earning Cap Up to $20,000 per month Up to $5,000 per month

NAB Qantas Premium Rewards Card

The NAB Qantas Premium card from Amex is structured the same way as the Velocity Premium card, so it suffers from the same cuts.

NAB Qantas Premium Rewards credit card
Old New
American Express 1.5 points per $1 1 point per $1
Visa 0.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1
Monthly Points Earning Cap Up to $20,000 per month Up to $5,000 per month

Compare Rewards Credit Cards

Like the previous 3 big banks, Westpac has prepared for the imminent cuts to interchange fees by altering the rewards on offer form its range of American Express credit cards.

These cards will be retained, but they will each earn fewer frequent flyer points per dollar, and top-level cardholders won’t be able to accrue bonus points on overseas transactions.

Cardholders will also not generate any rewards points for using the card to pay bills on Australian Tax Office (ATO) transactions (this will be in effect for each of the following Westpac cards).

Counting the Altitude Platinum Plus legacy card, there are 5 American Express credit cards that will still be available from Westpac after the July 1 cut-off date. They are as follows.

Westpac Altitude Platinum Plus Card

This card is a legacy product, which means it is not available to new applications. Those who do own it are currently enjoying a 3-to-1 rewards earn rate. After July 1, this will fall down only slightly to 2.5 points earned per dollar spent.

Westpac Altitude Platinum Plus credit card
Old New
American Express 3 points per $1 2.5 points per $1
Visa 1 point per $1 1 point per $1
Points Exclusion No points for ATO spend No points for ATO spend

Westpac Altitude Black Card

Amex spend on the Altitude Black credit card will also decrease to earning 2.5 points per dollar spent, while the points you earn on regular MasterCard purchases will remain the same at an above average earn rate of 1.25 points per dollar spent.

As with the Altitude Platinum card, you will no longer be able to gain any points for ATO spend.

Westpac Altitude Black credit card
Old New
American Express 3 points per $1 2.5 points per $1
MasterCard 1.25 points per $1 1.25 points per $1
Points Exclusion No points for ATO spend No points for ATO spend

Westpac Altitude Qantas Card

This is the most basic of Westpac’s American Express credit cards, and it shows in the already low rate of rewards. The points earn rate has been unchanged, remaining at just 1 point per dollar spent, while you will continue to earn up to 2,500 Qantas Frequent Flyer points each month.

Westpac Altitude Qantas credit card
Old New
American Express 1 point per $1 1 point per $1
Visa 0.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1
Points Cap Up to 2,500,000 QFF points per month Up to 2,500,000 QFF points per month
Points Exclusion No points for ATO spend No points for ATO spend

Westpac Altitude Qantas Platinum Card

This Westpac Amex credit card will remain largely unchanged, apart from the fact that you can no longer gain any rewards points for ATO expenditure. You will continue to gain 1 point per dollar spent while earning up to 3,750 Qantas Frequent Flyer points per month.

Westpac Altitude Qantas Platinum credit card
Old New
American Express 1 point per $1 1 point per $1
Visa 0.5 points per $1 0.5 points per $1
Points Cap Up to 3,750,000 QFF points per month Up to 3,750,000 QFF points per month
Points Exclusion No points for ATO spend No points for ATO spend

Westpac Altitude Qantas Black Card

Westpac’s final Amex credit card is the Altitude Qantas Black credit card, which has had its Amex earning rates cut by 15% for domestic transactions and by 60% for international transactions.

Westpac Altitude Qantas Black credit card
Old New
American Express 1.5 points per $1 1.25 points per $1
MasterCard 0.625 points per $1 on domestic transactions, 1.5 points per $1 on overseas transactions 0.625 points per $1 on domestic transactions, 0.625:$1 on overseas transactions
Points Exclusion No points for ATO spend No points for ATO spend

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So now that the big banks will receive less of a cut on transaction fees, there will be less money for them to purchase frequent flyer points from the likes of Qantas and Virgin Australia. They cannot pass these points onto consumers as easily, and therefore have had to significantly slash – and in ANZ’s case, abolish – their existing rewards schemes for Amex credit cards.

On the other hand, this reduction in interchange fees could lower excess card fees for payments at various places, such as corner stores and hotels. It is also expected to reduce the airline booking fees imposed by airlines.

If you are looking for a great value rewards credit card, now is a good time to compare your options and examine the American Express credit cards and other credit cards on the market. Click the button below to compare rewards credit cards with Canstar.

Compare American Express Rewards Credit Cards

 

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