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The new Qantas Premier Mastercard offers up to 1.5 Qantas frequent flyer points per dollar spent, a bonus of 60,000 Qantas Points for eligible new cardholders, further bonus points when booking Qantas flights and airport lounge passes.
It's a decent feature set – but how does the airline's new own-branded plastic compare to other credit cards in the market?
Certainly, American Express remains the go-to for earning the most frequent flyer points on your everyday spends – the drawback being that AMEX isn’t as widely accepted as Mastercard and sometimes attracts a surcharge.
Here's how the new Qantas card stacks up against its Visa and Mastercard counterparts.
How the Qantas Premier Mastercard compares: the sign-up bonus
Slip the Qantas Premier Mastercard into your wallet to scoop up 60,000 bonus Qantas Points, provided you spend over $3,000 within the first 90 days. That's enough points for a one-way business class flight from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Singapore or Hong Kong.
However, the Westpac Altitude Black card offers a higher 80,000 bonus Qantas Points if you apply by October 26 2017 and spend $5,000 on the account within the first 90 days.
Likewise, ANZ’s Frequent Flyer Black Visa, providing 75,000 bonus Qantas Points for eligible new customers who spend $2,500 within the first three months.
The ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa also delivers 75 Bonus Status Credits to eligible new customers who apply before September 30 2017 and then book and take a Qantas return flight by January 31 2018, helping you climb the frequent flyer ranks faster and giving you more than just points for signing-up.
(As of November 2017, Qantas Premier's sign-up bonus is now 75,000 Qantas Points, replacing the previous offer of 60,000 points.)
How the Qantas Premier Mastercard compares: earning points
An earning rate of one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to $10,000/month within Australia (0.5/$1 thereafter) and 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent in foreign currencies (uncapped) makes the Qantas Premier Mastercard both appealing and competitive for ongoing use.
Compare that to the popular HSBC Qantas Platinum Visa which provides one Qantas Point per dollar only on spends of up to $2,500/month (halved thereafter) and no bonus points abroad, and higher spenders could be earning significantly more points through Qantas Premier instead.
Aside from a few niche cards from small and relatively unknown banks (such as G&C Mutual and Bank Australia), the next-best Visa or Mastercard earner behind Qantas Premier is again the ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa, giving one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to $7,500 per month – a ceiling most cardholders probably won’t reach – and 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar thereafter.
It's also worth noting that the Qantas Premier Mastercard gives no points on government-related payments – that includes Australia Post and the ATO, car registration, council rates, parking meters, road tolls and public transport – whereas ANZ and Westpac have no such restrictions with the exception of ATO payments.
How the Qantas Premier Mastercard compares: booking Qantas flights
When it comes to booking Qantas flights using your credit card, you’d expect the Qantas Premier Mastercard to be top of the pile with an earn rate of 1.5-2 Qantas Points per dollar spent on those bookings.
Yet most Qantas-partnered Mastercard and Visa cards give you this anyway, while AMEX cards can earn even more points for your flight booking but without any additional surcharge.
For instance, you could accrue a higher 2.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent on Qantas flight bookings via the American Express Qantas Ultimate Card, or a still-greater 2.25 Qantas Points on the same when using the American Express Qantas Premium Card or the Westpac Altitude Black AMEX (when opting for Altitude Qantas rewards).
Even the basic, no-annual-fee American Express Qantas Discovery Card delivers two Qantas Points per dollar spent on these charges, uncapped, whereas the Qantas Premier Mastercard drops from 2 to 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar after A$10,000 has been spent every month.
(It's also disappointing to see that Qantas doesn't waive its credit card booking surcharge, even for the airline's own plastic.)
How the Qantas Premier Mastercard compares: airport lounge access
Qantas Premier cardholders pocket two free Qantas Club airport lounge passes per year.
Given this is par for the course on many Qantas-earning cards, it’s a shame that Qantas is content to offer the same benefit as other cards already in the market rather than doing something better.
As is stands, the ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa trumps Qantas’ own card in terms of lounge access. You get the same two Qantas Club passes per year but also gain discounts of up to $475 on year-round Qantas Club membership plus unlimited use of international Velocé lounges: perfect when flying on a different airline with which you hold no status.