The best AMEX cards for earning and redeeming Velocity points

By Chris Chamberlin, May 31 2018

American Express cards can be some of Australia’s most rewarding when it comes to earning Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer points – not just when you apply for a new card, but as you continue to swipe it year-round when charging your everyday personal or business purchases.

If it’s Velocity points that you seek, here are some of the highest-earning American Express cards for unlocking your next free flight even faster through the Velocity program.

Best AMEX all-rounder for earning Velocity points: Velocity Platinum Card

Considering the number of points you can earn alongside what you’ll pay in fees, the AMEX Velocity Platinum Card emerges as the best all-rounder for scooping up Velocity points on your everyday purchases, with a solid uncapped earning rate of 1.5 Velocity points per $1 spent.

That includes payments to insurers and utilities which earn far fewer points on many other cards, while on Virgin Australia flight bookings, you’ll get an even-more-impressive 2.5 Velocity points per $1 spent. Only on government charges does the earn rate drop to 0.5/$1, while still remaining uncapped.

For new AMEX customers, an offer of 50,000 bonus Velocity points is also on the table when you apply and spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months, with the card’s $375 annual fee largely offset by the inclusion of a return domestic flight, two Virgin lounge passes and two AMEX lounge visits every year, plus 100 bonus status credits every year you spend $50,000 or more.

Read: How to plan and book your free AMEX Virgin Australia flight

Assuming you spend a lower $46,000/year on purchases which provide 1.5 Velocity points per $1 spent, that’s a yearly bounty of 69,000 Velocity points – and when combined with the 50,000 Velocity points you can also earn in the first year, that’s enough get you a return business class flight from Sydney or Melbourne to Hong Kong with Virgin Australia!

Best AMEX card for seriously savvy spenders: AMEX Explorer credit card

With the popular AMEX Explorer credit card, you’ll earn two Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent on most charges which can be converted into Velocity points at a 4:3 rate. That gives you the equivalent of 1.5 Velocity points per $1 spent as a starting base, aside a $395 annual fee that’s instantly offset by a yearly $400 Travel Credit.

But, because your points are converted to Velocity manually, you might choose to hold out on that conversion until one of Velocity’s generous points transfer deals comes into play, such as the 15-40% bonus under the most recent offer in May 2018, elevating your haul as high as 2.1 Velocity points per $1 spent.

For maximum freedom and flexibility, you can also convert your credit card points to seven other airline frequent flyer programs as needed – including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer – with eligible new customers able to earn 50,000 bonus Gateway points after spending $3,000 within the first three months: equal to 37,500 Velocity points or other airline miles.

Assuming you stick with Velocity, spend $60,000/year on everyday purchases and convert all your points (including the sign-up bonus) during a 20% transfer deal, that gets you 153,000 Velocity points in the first year alone: more than enough for a return premium economy flight from Australia to Los Angeles with points leftover.

Business owners might instead consider the comparable AMEX Business Explorer credit card, featuring the same annual fee, earning and conversion rates, but with a yearly 50,000-point Business Loyalty Bonus for businesses spending $100,000+ annually on the card, in lieu of a Travel Credit.

Best AMEX for premium personal spending: AMEX Platinum charge card

Offering the equivalent of three Velocity points per $1 spent at most restaurants in Australia and two Velocity points per $1 spent with hotels, airlines and on all overseas charges, the AMEX Platinum Charge Card can be incredibly rewarding for those who spend big on life’s luxuries.

While most other purchases provide one Velocity point per dollar spent via the Membership Rewards Ascent Premium program (0.5/$1 on insurance, government and utility charges), merely holding this card gets you into Virgin Australia’s network of domestic lounges – plus Delta lounges when flying Delta, and over 1,000 other lounges globally – giving you both points and perks from your plastic.

For new AMEX customers who apply, spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months and pay a $1,200 annual fee, a reward of 80,000 Ascent Premium points awaits, equal to 80,000 Velocity points, or even more if you transfer during a Velocity bonus promotion, as with the Explorer card.

Cardholders spending $120,000 per year – 15% at restaurants; 40% on travel and when overseas; 2% on government, utility and insurance charges and 43% on everything else – that’s a yearly benefit of over 200,000 Velocity points. With the 80,000-point bonus on top in the first year, that’s enough points for a return business class trip from Australia to Europe!

Best AMEX for premium business spends: AMEX Platinum Business Card

Businesses spending big on travel, entertainment and dining might instead consider the AMEX Platinum Business Card, offering two Velocity points per $1 spent at restaurants and hotels – including business functions booked at these venues when paid by card – and on airline flight bookings, too.

Courier charges, advertising expenses and computer equipment purchases from major suppliers (such as Apple, Dell and IBM) also attract two Velocity points per $1 spent via AMEX’s Ascent Premium program, with most other purchases providing one Velocity point per $1 spent, except government, insurance and utility payments which give 0.5/$1.

Eligible new cardholders who apply by July 2 2018, pay a $1,500 annual fee and spend $5,000 in the first two months can also earn 120,000 bonus Velocity points.

A company spending $200,000 per year via the account – 15% at restaurants; 35% on travel costs; 10% on couriers, advertising and tech purchases; 10% on government, insurance and utility charges, and 30% everywhere else – would take home an impressive 310,000 Velocity points per year.

Boosted by the 120,000-point sign-up bonus, that’s enough Velocity points for 55 one-way economy flights from Sydney to Melbourne (27 return trips + an extra one-way flight), which could save your business over $6,000 compared to buying normal airfares, even considering the amounts owed in taxes and fees and booking those reward flights.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

johnaboxall

johnaboxall

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 735

For ATO payments and suppliers that don't accept AMEX we use rewardpay with our Velocity AMEXs. Yes it's a 2.4% fee but you can write that off and still be way in front with $ value of flights redeemed.

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 102

Hi Tronix, just to clarify, the ATO surcharge for Amex payments is 1.45%, so is it not better to pay with Amex direct instead of via rewardpay? Or are there other benefits from rewardpay? Thanks.

bl5965

bl5965

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 35

I imagine the rationale is to collect full points on the transaction through RewardPay, rather than 0.5 points direct through the ATO?

johnaboxall

johnaboxall

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 735

Yes, that's right.

jeppetto367

jeppetto367

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 23

What about the Platinum Edge? $200 years fee offset by travel credit. 3 points per dollar at Supermarkets, 2 points per dollar at Petrol Stations, and 1 point per dollar at most other places. 1:1 transfer rate to Velocity, and done manually so you can wait for the Virgin bonuses.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2950

In this article, we've only covered the best cards, not every available option. While the Platinum Edge offers improved earn rates at supermarkets and petrol stations, those are places where the amount you can spend is realistically limited, and on everything else, you'll be earning points at a much lower rate.

Cards like the AMEX Platinum Charge Card which adopt a similar 3/2/1/0.5 tiered earning structure have a much greater earning potential at the top end with bonus categories that have less of a 'ceiling': centred on dining (which tends to include everything from fine dining restaurants to cafes, bars and even fast food: so it's not just when you go out for dinner), along with spend at hotels and airlines in Australia (big points earners if you're a regular traveller, which is the focus of this site), and on all overseas spend regardless of category: another biggie if you travel a lot, or even if you shop online at overseas websites in foreign currencies.

There's nothing wrong with the Platinum Edge card as such for those who can maximise its value, but for most people, they'd earn more points by using a different card (such as the Explorer which gives 1.5/$1 across the board except on government payments, and also offsets its annual fee with a travel credit).

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