Banks across Australia are cutting the number of frequent flyer points that credit card users can earn in response to the Reserve Bank’s new cap on credit card ‘interchange fees’ – so if your existing plastic is about to become less fantastic, it's time to make a move.
For instance, even after these changes wash through, you’ll still be able to earn up to 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent on everyday purchases using cards direct-issued by American Express, or up to one Qantas Point per dollar spent in Australia on various Visas and Mastercards.
Australian Business Traveller wades through all the RBA-related credit card cuts and changes to bring you the top five credit cards for earning Qantas frequent flyer points as of July 1 2017, when the new cap on ‘interchange fees’ kicks in.
1. Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
With the Big Four Banks winding back points on their American Express cards – or in the case of ANZ, abolishing AMEX cards altogether – you can continue to earn 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent, uncapped (0.5/$1 on government charges), by slipping a Qantas American Express Ultimate Card into your wallet instead.
This card carries an annual fee of $450, but reduces the sting by including a free Qantas domestic return flight every year, two yearly visits to the AMEX Lounge at Sydney Airport, domestic and international travel insurance, an extra point per dollar spent when booking Qantas flights, and more.
New cardholders can also earn 55,000 bonus Qantas Points after spending at least $1,500 on purchases within the first three months, provided they’re new to American Express Australia. Having an existing AMEX card issued by ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB or Westpac won’t disqualify you – only if you already have an AMEX card issued direct by American Express Australia.
2. Qantas American Express Premium Card
For a good balance between fees paid and points earned, look to the Qantas American Express Premium Card: delivering 1.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent without limits aside an annual fee of $249.
Using this card to purchase Qantas flights or Qantas Club lounge membership also attracts a higher 2.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent, while all government transactions accrue 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent.
Also thrown in as part of the parcel: two complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year, worldwide travel insurance and an offer of 30,000 bonus Qantas Points for cardholders new to American Express Australia who spend at least $1,500 on purchases within the first three months.
3. Westpac Altitude Black American Express
As of July 1 2017, the Westpac Altitude Black American Express card also promises 1.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent (including on government transactions, except for ATO payments) with no monthly or yearly capping, and 2.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent on purchases direct with Qantas.
It’s paired with a World Mastercard on the same account which instead delivers 0.625 Qantas Points per dollar spent to use where American Express isn’t accepted, with a total annual fee of $395 covering both cards: reduced to $195 in the first year if you apply by June 28 2017.
Apply by that date and you could also collect 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval via either the AMEX or the Mastercard – just be sure to choose the ‘Altitude Qantas’ rewards option during the application process to earn Qantas Points.
4. Qantas Frequent Flyer Diners Club Card
Although Diners Club acceptance trails that of Visa, Mastercard and even American Express, the Qantas Frequent Flyer Diners Club Card churns out 1.25 Qantas Points per dollar spent on all but government transactions, on which no points are earned.
Surprisingly, that earn rate is achieved not by applying for the standalone Diners Club card, but for the ‘Diners Club + World Mastercard’ combo for $260/year, because having the Mastercard attached to the account boosts the number of points earned on Diners Club payments, whether or not you actually spend on that Mastercard.
Using the Mastercard delivers 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent, while both cards provide one extra Qantas Point per dollar spent on Qantas flight bookings and lounge membership, being 2.25 Qantas Points per dollar via Diners Club or 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar through the Mastercard.
5. Earn one Qantas Point per dollar using Visa, Mastercard
Serious frequent flyer fiends should be using an American Express or Diners Club card wherever they’re accepted to earn the most points possible, while keeping a Visa or Mastercard in reserve to still earn some points on all other payments.
You’ll ideally want a card that earns one Qantas Point per dollar spent in these circumstances – such as the Qantas Premier Mastercard on the first $10,000 of monthly domestic spend (halved thereafter) or the ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa on the first $7,500 of monthly spend (also halved thereafter).
You can also earn up to one Qantas Point per dollar spent on various Visa and Mastercard products from HSBC, Macquarie Bank, Woolworths Money, Qudos, Jetstar, Bank Australia and G&C Mutual Bank, with annual fees, points caps and monthly tiering arrangements varying from card to card.