When it comes to paying often-hefty insurance and utility bills, some credit cards ‘reward’ you by offering fewer frequent flyer points per dollar spent than you’d fetch on your normal everyday purchases: but some cards rise above the rest by offering full points on these expenses.
That can mean taking home up to three times as many frequent flyer points per dollar spent on things like telephone, Internet, electricity, gas and water bills than by using a lower-earning card – not to mention other biggies like car, home, contents, health, life and travel insurances too.
So, whenever your next bill arrives in your letterbox, don’t be earning a miserable 0.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent, or even less: consider one of these top credit cards instead to maximise your points.
1. The American Express Explorer credit card
With an everyday earning rate of 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent including on utility and insurance payments, the American Express Explorer credit card tops our list thanks to its flexibility and uncapped earning potential, both as a card to use for your regular purchases as well as your bill payments.
Through the Membership Rewards Gateway scheme, cardholders can convert their points across to eight different airline partners – including Virgin Australia Velocity, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and more – plus SPG and Hilton Honors at varying rates.
What’s more, because you manually transfer your points when you’re ready to fly, you can maximise your haul by making that transfer during promotional periods, such as Velocity’s recent 15% bonus offer, elevating your earning rate to an even higher 1.725 Velocity points per dollar spent.
The card carries a $395 annual fee but also includes a $400 Travel Credit every year which can be used towards flight and hotel bookings: so if you’d normally spend at least $400 on travel each year, the Explorer card is practically free, with a solid stash of frequent flyer points earned on top.
2. Qantas AMEX Ultimate Card, AMEX Velocity Platinum Card
Also with a solid ‘everyday’ earn rate of 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent which covers insurance and utility payments is the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card, and also the American Express Velocity Platinum Card.
Unlike Explorer, the points you earn are automatically credited to your Qantas or Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer account every month, so while you can’t take advantage of the occasional ‘15% bonus’ transfer offers, all your points will be in the one place, which saves time.
You’ll pay $450/year for the Qantas Ultimate Card – again offset by a yearly $450 Qantas Travel Credit which can be used to purchase Qantas flights – or $375/year for the Velocity Platinum card, which buys a free return flight every year, Virgin Australia lounge access and more.
Just note that these American Express cards, plus the Explorer card above and the Premium card below, earn a reduced number of points on 'government' transactions, such as with Australia Post Billpay and local councils, which can usually be avoided by paying with AMEX through PayPal, or making direct payments to non-government billers.
3. The Qantas American Express Premium Card
With a lower annual fee of $249, the Qantas American Express Premium Card serves up 1.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent on insurance costs and utility bill payments, along with most everyday purchases.
As with all the cards mentioned so far, there’s no limit to the number of points you can earn every month or year. The Qantas AMEX Premium Card also includes two yearly Qantas Club visits and complimentary Premium membership to Qantas’ epiQure wine club.
Domestic and international travel insurance comes as standard, too – so although you’ll earn full points on travel insurance purchases with this card, you may that purchase unnecessary if the card’s complimentary cover meets your needs, saving you money and again negating the ‘cost’ of the annual fee.
4. ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa
The cards above work well with billers that accept AMEX, but for accounts where payment by AMEX isn’t possible or there’s a surcharge you’d rather avoid, the ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa still proves rewarding on both regular transactions and payments to insurers and utilities.
You’ll earn one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to $7,500 per month and 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent thereafter, uncapped, with no annual fee in the first year ($425 thereafter), plus 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
While the competing Qantas Premier Platinum Mastercard offers a higher ceiling of one Qantas Point per $1 spent up to $10,000 per month in Australia, it awards no points at all at Australia Post, so any bills paid over the counter or with Post Billpay online would generate no reward.