Still stuck for a good New Year’s resolution? Then vow to maximise your credit card frequent flyer points this year, along with the perks and privileges these credit cards can bring!
Among the best benefits: free hotel status boosts, travel insurance, complimentary airport lounge access and no international transaction fees when using your card abroad: provided you whip out the right card, of course.
Choosing the best credit cards: start with an everyday American Express
Start your credit card hunt by finding a great American Express card from ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB or Westpac, or direct from American Express Australia.
That’s because in most cases, you’ll earn more points per dollar spent using an AMEX card than when swiping a comparable Visa or MasterCard, getting you that free flight or upgrade sooner.
For instance, the ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer Black AMEX delivers 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent, uncapped, plus an extra Qantas Point per dollar spent on Qantas flight bookings and Qantas Club membership, with no annual fee for the first year.
Joining that, two complimentary Qantas airport lounge visits, savings of up to $475 on the purchase of year-round Qantas Club membership, access to the American Express Sydney Airport lounge, an array of insurance covers and up to 75,000 bonus points for eligible new customers (conditions apply).
Or, look to the American Express Explorer card to earn the equivalent of 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent on most charges with airlines such as Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Etihad Airways, also with no capping, and a $395 annual fee that’s offset by a $400/year travel credit.
As you’d expect, the Explorer card also opens the doors to AMEX’s Sydney Airport lounge, but too provides free smartphone screen insurance when using it to pay for your phone or contract. Eligible new cardholders can also earn up to 37,500 bonus frequent flyer points.
Consider your backup MasterCard or Visa
While American Express acceptance is usually quite strong, there can still be times when a trusty Visa or MasterCard comes in handy: particularly with low-cost retailers like Costco, Ikea and Aldi, and in some regional areas.
That’s where you can use the ‘companion’ Visa or MasterCard that comes with your AMEX at no extra cost from ANZ, CBA, NAB or Westpac, or an entirely separate card issued by another bank.
For example, use the ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer Black Visa – which comes included with the ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer Black AMEX – and you could earn 0.75 Qantas Points per dollar, uncapped, without paying any extra annual fees.
Frequent travellers might instead prefer the Bankwest Qantas World MasterCard: earning 0.66 Qantas Points per dollar spent worldwide with no international transaction fees, no points capping and a boost to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status after just one hotel stay, against a $270 annual fee.
More options for international travellers
Bankwest isn’t the only bank to waive international transaction fees while still offering points: ANZ too ditches the pesky overseas charges on its ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures AMEX + Visa combo, on which cardholders can earn up to 1 Velocity point via AMEX and 0.5 Velocity points using the Visa through the ANZ Rewards program.
There’s a $225 annual fee to pay, but in return, cardholders who spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months can score a complimentary return domestic flight with Virgin Australia plus two Virgin Australia airport lounge visits each year until the card is cancelled.
To truly maximise your points, consider instead a Qantas AMEX Ultimate Card, AMEX Velocity Platinum Card or the AMEX Platinum Charge Card to earn two frequent flyer points per dollar spent abroad with 3% overseas transaction fee.
Whatever you choose, be sure to swipe the best credit card for each purchase: such as an AMEX where AMEX is accepted in Australia, or a no-fee or high-points card when travelling abroad to champion your credit card points and savings this coming year.