For the first time in almost a decade, Commonwealth Bank is rolling out a new tier of points-earning credit card, with the Ultimate Awards Mastercard now perched above both Platinum and Diamond in the CBA credit card ranks.
With no international transaction fees, no additional cardholder fee and the ability to earn uncapped points in up to 14 airline frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, CBA Ultimate represents a refreshing change to the credit card line-up of Australia’s largest bank.
The card also ditches the common annual fee in favour of a $35/month charge. That’s still $420 a year on paper, but this monthly fee is waived by CBA in each month where a cardholder spends at least $2,500 and opts-in to online statements, potentially making the card fee-free for regular spenders.
Through the bank's partnerships with Mastercard and LoungeKey, cardholders also have the ability to purchase access to airport lounges via the Mastercard Airport Experiences app, often at a reduced price compared to walk-up rates.
Earning points on the CBA Ultimate Awards Mastercard credit card
The biggest appeal comes to regular international travellers with the ability to earn 3 CBA Awards points per A$1 spent abroad – and online on overseas-based websites – while also avoiding the typical 3% foreign transaction fee.
For a road warrior spending $10,000/month overseas, that translates into a monthly saving of $300 or an annual saving of $3,600, versus paying 3% extra on every purchase: not to mention qualifying for the waived monthly fee as well.
On the points front, 3 CBA points earned per $1 spent is also equal to 1.2 Qantas Points (via an automated monthly 2.5:1 conversion when enrolled in Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct, attracting a $30/year fee), 1.5 Virgin Australia Velocity points (via a 2:1 conversion from CBA Awards), or 1 Cathay Pacific Asia Mile (via a 3:1 conversion), among other options.
Purchases within Australia are less rewarding, instead fetching 2 CBA Awards points per $1 spent (0.8 Qantas Points / 1 Velocity Point / 0.66 Asia Miles) at major supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations, and 1 CBA Awards point per $1 spent (0.4 Qantas Points / 0.5 Velocity Points / 0.33 Asia Miles) on all other purchases.
CBA Ultimate's introductory points bonus
From May 2020, all spend exceeding A$10,000 per month, regardless of category, will earn points at a reduced rate of 0.5 CBA Awards points per $1 spent, however, fetching a mere 0.2 Qantas Points, 0.25 Velocity Points or 0.16 Asia Miles per dollar.
Spend exceeding $10,000 per month prior to May 2020 will earn points at the full rates above as an introductory offer, in the absence of a typical bonus points deal.
For some shoppers, the ability to continue earning points regardless of the amount spent each month may be preferable to the bank’s other points-earning cards, which all impose fixed annual limits on the number of points that can be earned: after which, no points are provided at all.
That said, CBA’s now second-best card, the Diamond Awards Mastercard, serves up a higher 1.25 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on all purchases up to 1,000,000 CBA Awards points per year with no monthly tiering, which may be more rewarding for infrequent travellers – albeit with a $349 annual fee that isn’t waived based on spend.
CBA’s Ultimate Awards Mastercard has no set minimum income requirement and comes with a minimum credit limit of just $6,000: much lower than the $15,000 minimum credit limit as is common of other top-tier rewards credit cards, and which is continues to apply to the bank’s Diamond Awards Mastercard.