With the holiday season now behind you, you’ll be well and truly back into the swing of things – but when planning for the busy business year ahead, don’t forget to map out your business’ frequent flyer strategy as well, to earn points that can slash your travel costs or provide upgrades to business class.
One of the best ways that business owners can earn points is to use a points-earning American Express card to pay for their regular business purchases: whether that’s on stock, travel expenses like flights and hotels, utility and insurance bills, lunching with clients, or anything else.
While AMEX isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard, most airlines, hotel chains and car hire companies welcome AMEX payments, as do many restaurants, insurers, telcos, Internet service providers and more, which could be enough to cover the bulk of your business spend.
Services like AMEX Access Line and RewardPay also allow you to pay supplier invoices using American Express, even if the business you’re paying doesn’t actually accept AMEX – you simply pay Access Line or RewardPay using AMEX with a small processing charge attached, and they pay your supplier by bank transfer (EFT).
This can help maximise your business’ points, as can giving supplementary cards to your business partners and employees to use for their work-related spend, with points all pooled to the primary business owner’s account – so without further delay, here are five AMEX cards worth considering for your business spend.
American Express Platinum Business Card
Good for: Larger businesses that spend big on travel, entertaining, couriers, advertising and/or computer equipment, because these purchases earn two points per dollar spent via the Membership Rewards Ascent Premium program.
Key advantage: No pre-set spending limit means pesky hotel pre-authorisations won’t get in your way, so when you or your employees travel, checking into a hotel doesn’t impact your ability to pay your regular expenses, even if the hotel places a sizeable ‘hold’ on the card at check-in.
What it costs: An annual account fee of $1,500 applies, but there’s no additional fee to add up to 99 supplementary cardholders – making the yearly cost per card only $15 if you maximise that allowance – a price that also includes travel insurance for all cardholders, even if a client pays for the trip.
What you can earn: Start with a whopping bonus of 150,000 points when you apply by March 29 2018, are approved and spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months, and earn one frequent flyer point per dollar spent on most purchases, except for double points on the categories above, and half points on utility, insurance and government payments.
Points partners (1:1 transfer unless indicated): Qantas Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia Velocity, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Air New Zealand Airpoints (1=$0.01 Airpoints Dollars), Hilton Honors, Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1).
American Express Business Explorer credit card
Good for: Businesses that want more points than perks; that spend with a variety of merchants across a range of different industries; that pay hefty insurance and utility bills (which earn full points on this card); or where a defined credit limit is preferred.
Key advantage: Scoop up a ‘business loyalty bonus’ of 50,000 Membership Rewards Gateway points (37,500 frequent flyer points) if you spend $100,000 or more each year – plus a high uncapped earn rate of 1.5 frequent flyer points per $1 spent on most everyday purchases.
What it costs: $395/year, but again with no supplementary cardholder fees (up to 99 cards): so for that single annual charge, your business could be earning points from the spend of up to 100 cardholders in total, without any points capping or tiering.
What you can earn: New cardholders can fetch 100,000 bonus Gateway points (75,000 frequent flyer points) when applying by March 29 2018 and spending $3,000 in the first three months. You’ll also earn the equivalent of 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent on all purchases (including with insurers and utility providers), except on government payments where the rate is 0.375/$1.
Points partners (4:3 transfer unless indicated): Virgin Australia Velocity, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Air New Zealand Airpoints (4=$0.03 Airpoints Dollars), Hilton Honors (1:1), Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1).
American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card
Good for: Businesses that regularly book travel with Qantas; that want the flexibility of transferring the Qantas Points earned to anybody at all (not just family members); that want a high earning rate on everyday purchases; and that want no pre-set spending limit.
Key advantage: It’s the only American Express card that directly accrues points in the Qantas Business Rewards scheme as opposed to a personal Qantas Frequent Flyer account, meaning the business owner is free to use them for business travel or can gift them to employees or clients.
What it costs: $450/year. Once more, there’s no extra cost to add up to 99 supplementary cardholders onto the account, all of which can be covered by travel insurance when using their card to pay for their travel arrangements (which earns the business points, too).
What you can earn: 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on most purchases, except for 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent directly with Qantas and 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent with insurers, utilities and government agencies. 100,000 bonus points when you apply by March 29 2018 and spend $3,000 in the first two months.
Points partners: Directly attached to the Qantas Business Rewards program. All points earned on the card, including from all supplementary card spend, are pooled and credited to the business’ Qantas Business Rewards account, from which the business owner can distribute or use them as desired.
American Express Business Accelerator Card
Good for: Smaller businesses with smaller credit card spends, particularly less than $50,000 per year, but which still want to earn a meaningful number of frequent flyer points in a variety of programs without paying a high annual fee.
Key advantage: Earn the equivalent of two frequent flyer points per dollar spent on most purchases up to 100,000 points ($50,000) per year – that’s a higher earn rate than the Platinum Business Card, Business Explorer Card and Qantas Business Rewards Card offer on everyday spends of this amount.
What it costs: Pay only $160 in annual fees with this card while still being rewarded. No extra fees apply for additional cardholders (up to 99 cards), meaning the entire cost of your business credit card remains at $160, or just $1.60 per card if issuing 100 cards in total (including the primary card).
What you can earn: Two Membership Rewards Ascent points per dollar spent up to 100,000 points per year ($50,000 spend), after which you’ll earn one Ascent point per dollar spent without limit. Insurance, utility and government spend always earns 0.5/$1, though, but there’s a bonus of 10,000 points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first two months.
Points partners (1:1 transfer unless indicated): Virgin Australia Velocity, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards (4:3), Etihad Guest, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Air New Zealand Airpoints (1=$0.01 Airpoints Dollars), Hilton Honors, Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1).
American Express Velocity Business Card
Good for: Smaller businesses that regularly book Virgin Australia flights for employees – particularly from one main business credit card to minimise fees – without the need to issue many additional cards for employees.
Key advantage: The business owner enjoys two Virgin Australia airport lounge visits each year, although this isn’t a perk that can be shared with employees, unless travelling together and using both lounge passes at the same time.
What it costs: A $249 annual fee applies, but additional cards cost $99 per card per year (up to 99 cards) – so if planning to issue all spending employees with a business card, consider the total cost of doing so and whether a different business card could be more cost-effective.
What you can earn: Two Velocity points per dollar spent directly with Virgin Australia (such as booking Virgin Australia flights); 0.5 Velocity points per dollar spent with utilities, insurers and government providers; and one Velocity point per dollar spent everywhere else.
Points partners: All points earned on this card will be credited to the primary cardholder’s personal Velocity Frequent Flyer account. This would normally be the account of the business owner, who can decide how those points are spent.