American Express cards and avid frequent flyers go hand-in-hand: you’ll generally earn more points on an AMEX than you would on a Visa or MasterCard, which means booking your next award flight or business class upgrade even sooner.
While American Express acceptance isn’t universal – and is often patchy with smaller businesses and in remote areas – it’s accepted surcharge-free by most large companies including Coles, Woolworths, Myer, David Jones, BP and Harvey Norman.
If a surcharge does apply, such as with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Hilton Hotels, it’s often no more than what you’d pay to use a Visa or MasterCard: yet you’re again earning points at a higher rate without paying more to use AMEX.
Whether you’re building a balance with Qantas, Virgin Australia Velocity or even Membership Rewards, here are three of the best American Express cards that you’ll want to slip into your wallet…
NAB Velocity Rewards Premium
If you’re after a solid American Express card for Velocity points, look no further than NAB Velocity Rewards Premium – yours for just $150/year.
Earning 1.5 Velocity points per dollar – up to 150,000 points per month or 1.8 million points per year – you’ll also pocket a bonus 40,000 Velocity points when you apply by October 19 2014 and spend once on the card within the first 90 days.
The 'free' travel insurances are also rather generous and include domestic hotel burglary insurance on top of the usual international travel and medical cover.
Better yet, you’ll only need to charge at least $500 of your pre-paid travel expenses for a particular trip – which can include flights, hotels, transfers, hire cars and activities – to be covered on that journey.
Read our review: NAB Velocity Rewards Premium cards
Westpac Earth Black
Westpac Earth Black is more than your typical American Express Card, paying out 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent with no annual points cap – although from November 9 2014, that earning rate does drop to 0.75 Qantas Points per dollar on payments to the Tax Office.
While the annual fee is a staggering $395, you’ll also grab two single-use Qantas lounge passes – redeemable in domestic Qantas Clubs, international Business Lounges and The Qantas Lounges in Singapore and Hong Kong.
After staying for just one night at hotels such as Sheraton, Westin and W, you’ll also be gifted Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program when charging the stay to the companion Earth Black MasterCard.
While insurance cover is more standard and comes after holding a return ticket and charging $500 of pre-paid travel costs to the card, you’ll earn an extra point per dollar on Qantas spend – so a $3000 airfare nets 7,500 Qantas Points before you’ve left the ground.
Read our review: Westpac Earth Black cards
American Express Platinum Edge
If you’d like the flexibility to earn uncapped points not only with Virgin Australia, but also with airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways, the American Express Platinum Edge card could be just what you’re looking for.
At just $195/year, you’ll earn three Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at supermarkets, two MR points at petrol stations, one point on most transactions, although just 0.5 points on payments to utilities, insurers and government bodies (including Australia Post and the ATO).
Each year, you’ll also get a free domestic return flight with Virgin Australia – more than offsetting the outlay on the annual fee, plus free travel insurance that covers domestic flights as well as international journeys.
Coverage is automatic when charging your full return airfare to the card, and if you apply by January 31 2015 and spend $500 on the card within the first two months, you’ll earn a neat little bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points to get you started.
Read our review: American Express Platinum Edge card
More on credit cards:
- Five credit card strategies to maximise your frequent flyer points
- The best of black: the top frequent flyer credit cards
- Using your AMEX card to earn extra Qantas points on gift cards
- The best credit cards for international travellers
- Five tips for using your credit cards overseas
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