While plenty of American Express cards include 'travel credits' to offset the cost of their annual fees, most Australian spenders need more than an AMEX card in their wallet to pay everywhere they shop, given Visa and Mastercard are accepted much more widely.
However, that doesn't mean you have to pay an annual fee for what could be your 'backup card' while getting nothing in return: some Australian Visa credit cards get you flying every year with a free return flight or an airline gift voucher to put towards the same.
Depending on how much you spend, the earning rate on the Visa card could even be enough to make it your 'primary' card: such as the Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card, which gives 1 Velocity point per $1 spent up to $8,000 per month (halved thereafter).
Here are the two Visa cards you should know about as you take to the skies.
1. Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card
Another card that gets you up in the air is Virgin Money’s Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card, which costs only $64 in the first year and $129 thereafter – but provides a $129 Virgin Australia gift voucher every year to spend on flights, covering the cost of the annual fee.
Beyond that, an earn rate of up to 0.66 Velocity points per $1 spent (0.5/$1 after spending $1,500 each month), joined by up to 60,000 bonus Velocity points for eligible new customers who apply by January 31 2019 and meet the spend criteria.
Those points are awarded in three parcels, being 20,000 points in each of the first three months where at least $1,500 has been spent on purchases in each of those months, for up to 60,000 bonus points at the end of month three following a minimum spend of at least $4,500 (min. $1,500 per month).
Take home the full bonus and you’d have enough points to book a return economy class Virgin Australia flight from Sydney or Melbourne to Hong Kong – or, two return economy class trips on routes like Brisbane to Port Vila (Vanuatu) or Melbourne-Brisbane, plus an additional one-way flight on the same routes.
Assuming you fly return to Hong Kong, that’s around $500 of value – being what you’d otherwise pay for an airfare during sale periods, less the amounts payable in taxes, fees and charges when using your points – joined by the $129 flight voucher, for up to $629 of value in exchange for the $64/$129 annual fee.
The minimum income to apply is $35,000, to qualify for a credit limit of at least $6,000.
2. Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card
Being the Black-level version of the regular Velocity Flyer Card above, the Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card attracts a higher $289 annual fee, providing the same $129 Virgin Australia flight voucher every year as the standard Velocity Flyer Card, but with extra perks in exchange for the higher fee.
Those begin with two complimentary Virgin Australia lounge passes every year – again valued at $65 each compared to the airline’s walk-up rates – and for eligible new customers, up to 90,000 bonus Velocity points when you apply by January 31 2019 and meet the spend criteria.
These come as 30,000 bonus points per month in each of the first three months where at least $3,000 is spent every month, providing up to 90,000 bonus points at the end of month three, following a total card spend of at least $9,000 (min. $3,000 per month).
With more bonus points to spend than on these other cards, you can be a little more creative in where and how you travel – such as taking a return business class trip from Sydney to Perth, Darwin, Auckland or Nadi, or a return economy class flight to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, all with points to spare.
If your travels are already taking you to Hong Kong, you could also book a return economy class journey from Hong Kong to London with Virgin Australia’s sister airline, Virgin Atlantic, or within Australia, could enjoy up to 16 business class upgrades from domestic Freedom fares on short routes.
Finally, spend on the card also generates one Velocity point per $1 spent up to $8,000 per month, and 0.5 Velocity points per $1 spent thereafter. There’s a minimum income of $75,000 to apply, with a minimum credit limit of $15,000.