The new Qantas Premier Mastercard – issued by Citibank on behalf of Qantas Money – packs in 75,000 bonus Qantas Points for eligible new cardholders and a solid 'everyday' earning rate of one Qantas Point per dollar spent on most Mastercard transactions in Australia, with up to 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent overseas.
There's also a reduced annual fee in the first year and familiar favourites like two yearly Qantas Club lounge visits and no limit to the number of points you can earn, but when you examine the card more closely, some of its other benefits like companion fare discounts on Qantas flights and international travel insurance do come with some important restrictions, while you'll also pay more to use your card overseas to earn those higher points.
Australian Business Traveller puts the new Qantas credit card under the microscope: revealing where this card excels, and where it doesn't.
Qantas Premier Mastercard: fast facts
- Grade/tier: Platinum
- Card type: Mastercard
- Loyalty program: Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qantas Points earned per dollar spent:
Foreign currency transactions (most overseas spend): 1.5
All payments in Australian dollars (including any international charges), up to $10,000 per month: 1.0
Exceeding $10,000 per month: 0.5
Bonus points on selected Qantas products and services*: 1.0
All government transactions (such as ATO payments, rates, car registration and more): No points
- Points capping: No cap, although tiered earn rates apply as above for heavy spenders
* Selected Qantas products and services include Qantas flight bookings direct with Qantas or selected travel agents, payments for Qantas Club or Qantas Frequent Flyer membership, Qantas flight vouchers, purchases from the Qantas epiQure wine store and the monetary component of transactions made at the Qantas Store.
Bonus points are awarded in addition to the applicable Australian dollar earn rate, being 2.0 Qantas Points per dollar spent in total where $10,000 or less has been spent that month, or 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent where >$10,000 has been spent in the same statement period.
Fees, charges and interest: 4/5
- Total annual fee: $299 (currently $149 in the first year)
- Supplementary cardholder fee: $50 (per card)
- Interest rate on purchases: 19.99% p.a.
- Interest-free days on purchases: Up to 55
- Interest rate on cash advances: 21.99% p.a.
- International transaction fee: 3%
- Minimum credit limit: $6,000
Earning points for free flights: 4/5
New cardholders who apply by January 31 2018, are approved and spend at least $3,000 within 90 days of card approval can pocket 75,000 bonus Qantas Points: more than enough for a one-way Qantas business class flight from Sydney or Melbourne to Singapore or Hong Kong.
As you continue to use the card, every $5,334 spent on foreign currency transactions or every $8,000 spent in Australian dollars nets enough points for a one-way Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne in economy, plus a payment to cover taxes and other fees of around $35 per flight.
That assumes you're spending $10,000 per month or less within Australia or on Aussie dollar transactions abroad – but if you exceed that threshold, you'd continue earning enough points for that same flight after every $16,000 spent.
We're pleased the Qantas Premier Mastercard offers an additional Qantas Point per dollar spent on things like Qantas flights and Qantas Club memberships, as found with many other Qantas-earning credit cards, but that this bonus also applies to Qantas epiQure wine purchases too, which is less-standard.
However, it's unfortunate that the higher earn rate on international transactions only applies when paying in a foreign currency, with Australian dollar payments processed overseas earning points at the card's lower, tiered rates, even if the cardholder has been slugged an international transaction fee.
(It's never a great idea to pay in Australian dollars overseas when you can simply pay in a business' local currency, as doing so attracts a padded exchange rate that provides a commission to the business accepting your card, known as Dynamic Currency Conversion: so falling for that trap not only costs you more, but rewards you with fewer points.)
Back in Australia, it's also pleasing that cardholders can earn up to one Qantas Point per dollar spent when using their card for everyday purchases, although it's important to highlight that no points at all are awarded on government or government-related transactions, including but not limited to "transactions made at Australia Post, payments to the Australian Taxation Office, council rates, motor registries, tolls, parking stations and meters, fares on public transport, fines and court related costs".
Also excluded from earning points: "transactions made in operating a business" – so don't be tempted to use this card to pay your business' suppliers, else you may find no points awarded on those payments.
Inclusive travel insurance: 3/5
Charge the full cost of your return international flight to your Qantas Premier Mastercard – or at least $500 of fares where the ticket price exceeds that amount – and you may be covered by international travel insurance on trips of up to 30 days, with a $500 excess payable on most approved claims.
You may also be covered when using Qantas Points to book your overseas flights, provided all of those points were earned via the Qantas Premier credit card. If, like most people, you earned some of your points by flying, some by shopping and some from your credit card, you may not be covered unless you've earned at least as many points via Qantas Premier as you spent on the ticket.
Full travel insurance isn't available on domestic trips – instead with more limited interstate flight inconvenience insurance provided, activated by using your Qantas Premier card to either book a return domestic holiday of 14 days or less, or using your Qantas Points to book the same where those points were earned via your Qantas Premier card.
Global car hire excess cover of up to $3,000 is also provided, as is 'golfer's insurance', covering theft or accidental damage to your golf clubs, although exclusions apply including when left "unattended in a public place", the definition of which includes airports and golf courses.
On the downside, this card doesn't provide purchase protection (cover for loss/damage to items purchased with the card), free extended warranty cover (when buying selected new appliances), a guaranteed pricing scheme (when you buy something with the card which is later advertised at a lower price), or domestic transit accident insurance: all of which are standard of most Platinum-grade cards in Australia.
Most other cards also provide international travel insurance on trips of 3-6 months – some even on trips of up to 12 months – although the cover you'll get via this card is only valid for return trips of 30 days or less, doesn't cover you on one-way bookings (even if planning to later buy a flight home) and can't be activated by pre-paying other travel charges like overseas hotel stays or tours, which are also common features of other Australian cards.
Airport lounge access, Qantas flight benefits: 3/5
As is standard of many Qantas-earning credit cards, the Qantas Premier Mastercard provides two complimentary Qantas airport lounge visits per year: usable either in domestic Qantas Club or Qantas Regional Lounges, or in Qantas international business class lounges with the exception of Los Angeles.
When travelling domestically with a partner, cardholders may also save 10-20% on selected domestic companion airfares once per year when booking via the card's concierge service.
At the top end, those 20% savings apply to domestic 'flexible business class' airfares (J, C); 15% savings apply to all 'flexible economy' fares (Y, B, H, K and M types); and 10% savings apply to most Red eDeal fares (L, V, S, N and Q tickets).
However, companion discounts are not available on the lowest-cost economy fares (O, E) or on Business Sale and Business Saver fares (D, I) – which means that booking and paying for flights at full price may actually be less-expensive than by using the companion fare discount during sale periods or when low-end fares are still available.
As a welcome offer for new cardholders, no interest is payable on the first eligible Qantas purchase for up to six months should you choose to carry a balance rather than pay your statement in full every month.
Qantas Premier Mastercard credit card: the verdict
All things considered, the Qantas Premier Mastercard is a solid choice for earning points on most spends within Australia, with one Qantas Point earned per dollar spent up to $10,000 per month, and 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent thereafter.
It's unfortunate that those reasonable earn rates don't apply to any government-related transactions – on which no points are earned at all, rather than attracting points at a reduced rate as with American Express – and that other perks like bonus status credits and Qantas Club membership discounts aren't included either, as you'd find with ANZ's top-tier Frequent Flyer Black Visa.
International spend does fetch a higher earn rate of 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent overseas (uncapped), but which is only achievable when paying a 3% international transaction fee – a charge that many other banks including ANZ, Bankwest, Commonwealth Bank, Coles Financial Services and Latitude have now removed from a number of their own travel-themed cards.
Unlike most Australian frequent flyer credit cards, you'll also pay an extra $50/year to have an additional cardholder on the account (such as your husband, wife or child), and while the card offers the usual platinum-grade telephone concierge services, only primary cardholders are allowed to use the service: not their additional cardholders.
It's for these reasons we'd suggest the Qantas Premier Mastercard is a great fit for people who want to maximise their points on spends within Australia at places where American Express isn't accepted, or who simply want one decent 'everyday' card to earn points wherever they shop: but may not be the right choice for people focussed on the other aspects of a premium card like insurance cover, fees, or getting the highest sign-up bonus.