American Express is accepted in many places, but there are still times when you’ll need to swipe your Mastercard or Visa instead – and that’s where having a solid back-up option to your AMEX card can keep you earning a respectable number of points.
Australian Business Traveller takes a look at the top Mastercard and Visa credit cards that can sit in your wallet for when they’re needed, whether you spend a little each month, or a lot.
Best Mastercard, Visa credit cards for earning Qantas Points
Priced at $149 in the first year and $299 thereafter, the new Qantas Premier Mastercard goes strong on points, with one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to $10,000 per month (excludes all government transactions), and 0.5 Qantas points per dollar thereafter, uncapped.
Use the card overseas and you’ll pick up a higher 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent when transacting in foreign currencies, also uncapped, with 75,000 bonus Qantas Points on the table as well when you apply by January 31 2018 and spend at least $3,000 within 90 days of card approval.
Or, pay no annual fee in the first year with a new ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa (normally $425), while earning one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to and including $7,500 per month – halved thereafter but uncapped – plus 75,000 bonus Qantas Points and 75 bonus status credits for eligible new customers.
If your ‘non-AMEX’ spends each month are relatively small, the HSBC Qantas Platinum Visa provides one Qantas Point per dollar spent up to $2,500 per month (government payments excluded) and 0.5 Qantas Points thereafter, with an annual fee of $199: but which applies from year one.
Best Mastercard, Visa credit cards for earning Virgin Australia Velocity points
Look to Virgin Money’s Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Visa to earn one Velocity point per dollar spent up to $8,000 per month and 0.5 Velocity points thereafter, in exchange for a $289 annual fee – plus, get 16,000 Velocity points in each of the first five months where $3,000 or more is spent.
As with Qantas, you can again avoid paying annual fees in the first year with ANZ and its Rewards Black Visa (normally $375), offering the equivalent of one Velocity point per dollar spent up to and including $5,000 per month, and 0.5 Velocity points thereafter.
That’s achieved through the ANZ Rewards program, with 75,000 bonus ANZ reward points (equal to 37,500 Velocity points) also on the cards when you spend at least $2,500 within the first three months of approval.
For lower spenders, the $89/year Coles Rewards Mastercard is also a good fit, providing two Flybuys points (equal to 0.87 Velocity points) per dollar spent, uncapped: although you can’t transfer more than 138,000 Flybuys points (60,030 Velocity points) from Flybuys to Velocity each year.
However, you can also convert two Flybuys points into 0.8 Etihad Guest miles without any annual limits (when converting Flybuys points in increments of 10,000) and can use Etihad miles to book Virgin Australia flights, so the annual cap on Velocity transfers doesn’t stop you from earning points.
Best Mastercard, Visa credit cards for earning Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines miles
If Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles are your goal, slip a St. George Amplify Signature Visa into your wallet to earn the equivalent of 30,000 KrisFlyer miles when you spend $3,000 on the card within 90 days of approval, plus 0.825 KrisFlyer miles per dollar spent, uncapped, against a $279 annual fee.
That’s achieved by earning 1.5 Amplify Rewards points per dollar spent – equal to 0.75 KrisFlyer miles – plus a 10% ‘birthday bonus’ in the month of your special day, calculated on all the Amplify points you’ve earned over the past year, and taking the full earn rate to 0.825 KrisFlyer miles per $1.
For Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, the ANZ Rewards Black Visa is top of the ranks when spending $5,000 or less each month, with the equivalent of 0.66 Asia Miles earned per dollar spent up to that threshold with no annual fee in the first year, with points halved on spends above $5,000/month.
Heavy spenders might also consider the Westpac Altitude Black World Mastercard, which delivers 0.5 Asia Miles per dollar spent, uncapped and with no monthly tiering – promising more points each month than the ANZ Rewards Black Visa when your spend averages five figures or more.