With an earning rate of up to two Virgin Australia Velocity points per dollar spent with no points capping to get in your way, the Australian Diners Club charge card with its companion World Mastercard is often overlooked, but it's a compelling option for those who do spend where Diners is accepted.
That's because the Diners card now boasts Australia's highest everyday earning rate for Velocity points, and an uncapped earn rate of 0.75 Velocity points per $1 spent everywhere else via the 'backup' Mastercard isn't to be sniffed at either, allowing cardholders to earn points in more places.
Being a charge card with no pre-set spending limit, the closing balance must be repaid in full each and every month: there's no option to carry a balance, although it does mean things like hotel pre-authorisations don't inhibit your ability to spend – provided you can afford to repay that spending, of course.
Diners Club personal charge cards: fast facts
- Grade/tier: Above-Platinum
- Card type: Diners Club + World Mastercard
- Loyalty program: Diners Club Rewards
- Diners Club points earned per $1 spent (Diners Club card): 2
- Diners Club points earned per $1 spent (Mastercard): 0.75
- Excluding: Government payments, which earn no points on either card
- Points capping: Uncapped
From the Diners Club Rewards program, points can be converted into a variety of airline frequent flyer and hotel frequent guest programs at varying rates.
Here's how many airline or hotel points you could be earning per dollar spent, based on each card's Diners Club Rewards earn rate and the onward conversion rate to each program:
|Loyalty program||Conversion rate
||Earn rate on Diners Club
||Earn rate on Mastercard
|Virgin Australia Velocity
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
IHG Rewards Club
Malaysia Airlines Enrich
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
|American Airlines AAdvantage
Jet Airways JetPrivilege
Starwood Preferred Guest
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
* Formerly Club Carlson
Fees, charges and interest: 3/5
- Annual fee: $299
- Supplementary cardholder fee: $50
- Interest rate on purchases: N/A (charge card, no option to carry a balance)
- Interest-free days on purchases: Up to 44
- International transaction fee: 3.0% (Diners), 3.4% (Mastercard)
- Minimum income requirement: $35,000 p.a.
- Minimum credit limit: No pre-set spending limit, but balance must be paid in full each month
Earning points for free flights: 3/5
While the Diners Club Rewards scheme has a comprehensive range of partners, they're all positioned as a less attractive choice than Velocity – despite often having more favourable redemption rates on flights – simply due to the differences in conversion rates that Diners Club applies, giving you fewer frequent flyer points at the end of the day in those other programs.
However, if you're chasing Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles in particular, there's an easy hack to boost your haul by almost 50%, without costing you anything extra.
Because Diners' conversion rate to Velocity Frequent Flyer is twice as generous as for KrisFlyer, and separately, Velocity points can be converted into KrisFlyer miles at a 1.35:1 rate straight from your Velocity account, you could ship your points through Velocity – instead of converting from Diners straight to KrisFlyer – to maximise your points.
For example, converting 100,000 Diners Club points directly to KrisFlyer yields 50,000 KrisFlyer miles, but converting 100,000 Diners Club points to Velocity gives 100,000 Velocity points: and then, converting 100,000 Velocity points into KrisFlyer miles delivers 74,074 KrisFlyer miles at the end of the day, being almost 25,000 extra miles than if you converted straight from Diners.
That process essentially boosts your KrisFlyer earning rate to 1.48 miles per $1 spent on Diners Club transactions – on-par with 1.5 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent on the American Express Explorer card – and 0.55 miles per $1 spent on the Mastercard.
Note that the fees and earning rates are different if you apply solely for a Diners Club charge card sans the companion Mastercard. Even if you don't use it, having the Mastercard attached to your account doubles the number of points you earn on Diners Club spend, so it's a no-brainer when chasing points.
Airport lounge access: 4.5/5
Flash your Diners Club card at over 700 airport lounges worldwide for free and unlimited access with an onward boarding pass the same day – including in major transit hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
It's a perk you can enjoy regardless of which airline you're travelling with, just as long as you can physically reach the lounge.
Closer to home, Diners has lounge partnerships in Sydney (the Rex Lounge at T2), Melbourne (the Plaza Premium Lounge in T2 and the Rex Lounge in T4), Brisbane (the international Plaza Premium Lounge), and Darwin (the Catalina Lounge): all of which can be accessed on presentation of your Diners Club card.
Speaking of freebies, because the Diners Club card is issued by Citibank, you can also take advantage of the bank's "free wine every time you dine" deal at a range of participating Australian restaurants, whether paying for your meal using the Diners Club card or the companion Citibank Mastercard.
Free international travel insurance: 3.5/5
Book your next overseas flight using your Diners Club card or World Mastercard and you may qualify for free international travel insurance on trips of three consecutive months or less when holding a return ticket before leaving Australia.
You could also book and depart on a one-way international flight and be covered on journeys of up to 31 days, subject to the usual policy wording and restrictions, which is handy when your plans aren't yet set in stone.
On the downside, there's no cover if you book your flight using frequent flyer points: so if that's your plan, consider paying for your flight using your Diners Club card and use your points to request an upgrade on that flight instead.
Also included: interstate flight inconvenience insurance, transit accident insurance, extended warranty cover, complimentary purchase protection insurance and a 'guaranteed pricing scheme'.
Diners Club personal charge cards: the verdict
Diners Club may not be the most accepted card in town, but it's still welcome at most airlines, hotels, car hire and parking companies, major chain stores and many restaurants, with the backup World Mastercard at hand for use everywhere else.
Thanks to an agreement with the Discover network, you'll also find the Diners Club card welcomed across the United States wherever Discover is accepted – including on most inflight Internet access portals outside of the US.
Pairing that with a strong conversion rate for Velocity Frequent Flyer points and a range of other partners too, the Diners Club personal charge card with the companion World Mastercard could easily pay for itself, once you consider the points you can earn and the other perks like airport lounge access, travel insurance and free wine at participating restaurants.
Of course, that assumes Diners Club is accepted where you spend most frequently – but if you'll be relying on the backup Mastercard more regularly, it may make sense to use a separate, higher-earning Visa or Mastercard for those purchases instead, to maximise your points, but which may attract its own annual fee.