The best credit cards in Australia for travel perks

By Chris C., April 8 2016
The best credit cards in Australia for travel perks

Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

These days you’d rightly expect to find travel insurance included with any respectable Platinum or Black credit card, but a few choice cards don’t stop there: promising everything from free flights and airport transfers through to airport lounge access and hotel loyalty boosters.

Choose your cards wisely and you could also be on the receiving end of free CBD parking in London, room upgrades and breakfast for two at luxury hotels the world over and substantial savings on paid Qantas Club membership: here’s what’s on offer from some of the nation’s top travel cards.

American Express Platinum Charge Card

Topping the list is American Express’ Platinum Charge Card which immediately offsets its hefty $1,200 annual fee with a $300 Platinum Travel Credit (from April 15 2016), yours to spend towards flights, hotel stays and the like when booking via American Express Travel.

Next, boost your elite level in four hotel loyalty schemes including instant Hilton HHonors Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Club Carlson Gold Elite status, delivering benefits such as room upgrades, free breakfast and welcome gifts with every stay.

Further, the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program promises similar privileges at some of the world’s most luxurious hotels such as the Park Hyatt Sydney, Crown Towers Melbourne, the Pudong Shangri-La in East Shanghai and The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong.

Also included with the card are two Priority Pass Prestige lounge memberships – one for the accountholder and the other for a supplementary cardholder – plus access to Virgin Australia lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, the AMEX Sydney Airport Lounge and Centurion Lounges in the USA.

Citi Prestige Visa Signature

Similarly travel-focussed is the $700/year Citi Prestige Visa Infinite card, beginning your journey with two complimentary airport limousine transfers each year and one unlimited-use Priority Pass Prestige membership for the primary cardholder also included as standard.

When you arrive at your destination, indulge in a free weekend hotel stay from a wide selection of four- and five-star hotels across the globe, and cut your travel bills on future visits or wherever else you choose to stay with every fourth hotel night free via Citibank’s concierge team.

Valid on stays of four consecutive nights or more, other niceties like room upgrades, daily breakfast for two and late check-outs can also be enjoyed on stays of any length at Starwood, Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental hotels.

Finally, just two stays or four nights spent at Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and DoubleTree hotels can fast-track you to Hilton HHonors Gold status, while a Harrods Black Tier card complements your London trips with car parking, refreshments and gift boxes given at no charge and a personal shopping service at your beck and call.

ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer Black

ANZ’s Qantas Frequent Flyer Black American Express and Visa combo is much more reasonably-priced at $425/year with benefits to match, including two visits to the AMEX Sydney Airport Lounge each year and two yearly Qantas Club lounge passes.

Those Qantas passes get you through the door at domestic Qantas Club lounges and international Qantas business class lounges (excluding Los Angeles), and if you get accustomed to your new surroundings, Qantas Club membership can be purchased at a generous $475 discount in the first year.

Further afield, ANZ’s tie-in with the Velocé lounge network gets you into airport lounges in major hubs such as Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai and London at no charge, while the American Express card is your ticket to AMEX Centurion Lounges in the USA with a payment of US$50 per visit.

ANZ’s optional eDine program ($35/year) also saves you money when booking hotel stays during peak times with discounts of up to 50% off the rack rate, but as this is the hotel equivalent of a ‘full fare’ plane ticket, you’ll often find cheaper rates elsewhere when planning ahead.

Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

Carrying a $450 annual fee, the Qantas AMEX Ultimate Card again offsets this cost through free travel by way of a complimentary return domestic flight with Qantas each year on selected routes after your first spend with the Roo, such as when booking another Qantas flight with your card.

If you’d otherwise be taking two or more domestic trips throughout the year, the money saved could easily amount to $300 or more on the return journey – and when combined with the included insurance cover could well save you more than you paid in annual fees.

The American Express Sydney Airport lounge also welcomes you twice per year at no charge and for $55 thereafter, with Centurion Lounges across the United States opening their doors to American Express cardholders for a payment of US$50 per visit.

Qantas Diners Club + World MasterCard

Sans free flight, a $260/year Qantas Diners Club + World MasterCard combo instead brings you unlimited access to over 500 international airport lounges across the globe with a swipe of your Diners Club card.

Many lounges participating in the Diners scheme can also be found in the Priority Pass network, so if planning to stack one atop the other, do check what’s available from each program at your most-frequented airports before diving in.

Closer to home, the accompanying World MasterCard doesn’t just come in handy where Diners Club isn’t accepted: it also gets you fast-tracked to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold for a year after just one night spent at Asia Pacific hotels like Westin, W or Sheraton, when using it to pay for your stay.

Also read: The top five credit cards for hotel perks and privileges

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Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

I've looked everywhere on the AMEX web-site under their Platimun Charge Card for any reference to Hilton HHonours status boost but can't find any reference to this.

Pretty sure it's an incorrect claim.

If anyone know different, please correct me.

01 Sep 2015

Total posts 17

Hi Dave,

I m a amex p holder and it offers HH gold, which replaces Accor Le Club platinum and Accor Plus, as Accor and Amex relationship is ending. 

Thanks Ivtravel01,

Seems the HHonours offer has expired now.

Unless of course it's top secret?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Not top secret, just brand new and confirmed by AMEX. We understand the AMEX website will be updated by April 15 to reflect this new perk.

Thanks Chris,

Hmmmm...   tempting....

01 Sep 2015

Total posts 17

After comparing HH, Shangari-la, Accor, Club Calson, the top pick for me is Accor with platinum and Accor plus. Golden Circle is pretty good but none in AU, unless you travel extensively in Asia. It also has good FF conversion with SQ/VA side. HH is good in AU. 

01 Sep 2015

Total posts 17

Correction- few shangari la hotel brands in au

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