Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

Review: Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

What's Hot

  • Bonus points on Qantas spend
  • Domestic and international travel insurance
  • Up to 55,000 bonus Qantas Points

What's Not

  • Lower earning rates on government charges

X-Factor

  • Yearly $450 travel credit offsets the annual fee

Introduction

AMEX’s top-of-the-line Qantas Ultimate Card swaps its previously complex roster of earning rates in favour of a baseline 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar on most charges – including utilities, telecommunications and insurance – and 2.5 Qantas Points on selected Qantas products and services.

While this is down from the previous 3 Qantas Points per dollar on dining and Qantas travel, your points haul is boosted by 50% on all other spends and triples when paying your next insurance, utility or telephone bill.

What's more, new cardholders can earn up to 55,000 bonus Qantas Points just for signing up and meeting the spend criteria.

Also thrown in is a $450 travel credit each year to offset the annual fee, complimentary Qantas epiQure Premium Membership, and both domestic and international travel insurance: automatically activated when booking each journey with your card.

Qantas American Express Ultimate card: fast facts

  • Grade/tier: Platinum
  • Card type: American Express
  • Loyalty program: Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qantas Points earned per dollar:
         Selected Qantas products and services: 2.5
         Government charges: 0.5
         Everywhere else: 1.5
  • Points capping: Uncapped

Fees, charges and interest: 4/5

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Supplementary cardholder fee: $0
  • Interest rate on purchases: 20.74% p.a.
  • Interest-free days on purchases: Up to 44
  • Interest rate on cash advances: Not offered
  • International transaction fee: 3.0%
  • Minimum income requirement: $65,000 p.a.
  • Minimum credit limit: $3,000

Earning points for free flights: 4.5/5

Reward yourself each year with a $450 travel credit, which you can use towards the purchase of Qantas flights and which negates the cost of the annual fee: so if you'd have otherwise spent $450 on flights  throughout the year, making those bookings via AMEX at the same cost essentially makes this card 'free'.

New customers to American Express Australia can also take advantage of 55,000 bonus Qantas Points sign-up deal, awarded after spending $1,500 on eligible purchases within the first three months.

That's more than enough to upgrade most economy tickets to business class, one way, on Qantas flights to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Thereafter, you'd earn enough points for a near-free flight from Sydney to Melbourne after spending $3,200 with Qantas; $16,000 on government charges or $5,334 everywhere else, plus a small payment to cover taxes and fees when booking your reward flight.

Airport lounge access: 4/5

Flash your card at the American Express Sydney Airport lounge before your next international flight to enjoy a free visit – up to two visits every calendar year – regardless of the airline you're flying with or where you're sitting on board.

Those visits can be taken by the cardholder on two separate trips, or could be used at the same time to have a partner, friend or colleague join you – after which you can pay $55 per person, per visit for further access until the next year begins.

You'll also receive two complimentary Qantas Club lounge passes each year after your first spend on selected Qantas products and services (such as using your card to book a Qantas flight), which will be automatically credited to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account.

They'll open the door to domestic Qantas Club lounges and international Qantas business class lounges (both in Australia and abroad where Qantas operates its own lounge, with the exception of Los Angeles) when flying on a Qantas or Jetstar flight number.

Inclusive travel insurance: 4/5

With the Qantas AMEX Ultimate card, you may be covered by free domestic and international travel insurance when using the card to pay for your return ticket, including up to $2.5m for emergency medical expenses, but oddly, not when using the Qantas Points you've earned to book your flights instead.

Also included is refund protection should you be denied a refund on an unused eligible item bought with the card within the first 90 days, plus purchase protection if an eligible item bought with the card is stolen or accidentally broken within 90 days of purchase.

Qantas American Express Ultimate Card: the verdict

With the $450 annual fee offset by the $450/year Qantas travel credit, free insurance coverage and the points you'll earn from your spend, the overall value of the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card stacks up well.

The recent revamp of the frequent flyer earning rates also sees you pocketing 50% more Qantas Points on your everyday spends or three times as many points on utility and insurance payments.

We're also pleased that recent improvements to this card have introduced not just the offering of Qantas lounge passes, but also an epiQure Premium membership for the primary cardholder, which delivers extra points when purchasing wine through the Qantas epiQure scheme.

However, if you don't travel much yet still want to earn Qantas Points, also consider the Qantas American Express Discovery Card: churning out two Qantas Points per dollar spent directly with Qantas and one Qantas Point per dollar everywhere else (excluding government charges), with no annual fee.

Chris Chamberlin
Australian Business Traveller journalist Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

17 Comments

  • Brent Rogers

    Brent Rogers

    8 Mar, 2017 10:44 am

    Recently subscribed to this card, having been lured by the 100,000 bonus point offer they were running.  Disappointed to find out they do NOT offer a rental car benefit, which has been an Amex hallmark for many decades.  It's a deal-breaker for me, and they'll only be socking me with one $450 annual fee.
    No member give thanks

  • John Geromoschos

    JTG

    21 Apr, 2017 12:56 pm

    I have had this card for a couple of years and it has been ideal for me. With the reduction of Qantas spend down from 3 to 2.5 points per dollar and foreign spend down from 2 to 1.5 it is now less attractive. Since I travel 8-10 time a year to Singapore it might be time to look for  a credit card with Krisflyer benfits.
    Member who gave thanks

    WeeWillyWonka

  • V Champion

    Vulch

    21 Apr, 2017 05:06 pm

    The limitations of...Government charges:0.5
     Everywhere else:1.5...means the points earning ability is actually quite poor, compared to cards with a lower annual fee. Very sneaky fine print that. 
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew Lau

    Netsnipe

    2 May, 2017 11:41 pm

    I was recently disappointed to discover after getting this card that it doesn't provide "Buyer's Advantage" extended manufacturer's warranty on purchases. Especially more so with the cheaper American Express Explorer card providing this feature even with a $30 cheaper annual fee!
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew Lau

    Netsnipe

    2 May, 2017 11:42 pm

    Correction: The Explorer is actually $55 p.a. cheaper!
    No member give thanks

  • David Zrobek

    AviationGeek

    6 Sep, 2017 10:14 am

    I have had this card for two months now. Although I was weary about AMEX, it's a superior QF points card.

    In relation to the lower earning rate for government services, I have found that Australia PostBillPay online using PayPal is an easy way to bypass it and still get 1.5 points per dollar spent, such as on council rates. [But not at Australia Post outlets, which are treated as government bodies by AMEX].

    No member give thanks

  • mviy

    mviy

    6 Sep, 2017 10:39 am

    The domestic return flight is changing to a $450 travel credit later this year.

    The 100,000 point sign up bonus means that this is a good card for earning some quick points.

    After using the free flight / travel credit and getting the sign up bonus you could cancel the card and wait out the exclusion period and see what's an offer (it could be another easy 100,000 points).

    The credit card companies don't tend to reward loyalty unfortunately. It's usually not worth paying the annual fee twice on a card as you can get better value switching to a different card.
    No member give thanks

  • David Zrobek

    AviationGeek

    6 Sep, 2017 11:25 am

    Thanks for reminding me, mviy. From 1 October 2017, AMEX is changing the free domestic flight to a $450 travel credit. The travel credit is much better as you can use it on any QF flights to any destination.

    Under the current (soon defunct) regime, you have to make a QF purchase first to get the return domestic flight but it is restricted to only certain capital cities. From memory, you can only travel, for example, between MEL and SYD, ADL or BNE.

    No member give thanks

  • Stanley Raj

    rsjones

    4 Oct, 2017 05:08 pm

    Hi how long is the exclusion period before we can apply for another card with bonus points
    No member give thanks

  • tuzza1

    tuzza1

    6 Sep, 2017 03:18 pm

    As the $450 travel credit starts Oct 31, will I get that this year if I join up now or do I wait until after Oct 31?
    No member give thanks

  • David Zrobek

    AviationGeek

    6 Sep, 2017 04:26 pm

    My understanding is that, from 31 October 2017, you can use either the domestic return flight option (until April 2018) or the travel credit option. However, the AMEX terms and conditions are not exactly clear:

    "*Note: On 31 October 2017, the complimentary domestic flight will be replaced with a $450 Qantas Travel Credit. The Qantas Travel Credit can be redeemed for any eligible Qantas flight booked and paid online through American Express Travel in a single booking. The Qantas Travel Credit will be available each year of Card Membership, as long as you have paid the annual fee and your account is current and in good standing. You will have the option to redeem your complimentary domestic flight up until 30 April 2018, after which, only the Qantas Travel Credit will be available each Membership year."

    No member give thanks

  • Stanley Raj

    rsjones

    21 Sep, 2017 01:52 pm

    Hi mviy Could you enlighten me on what do you mean by "you could cancel the card and wait out the exclusion period and see what's an offer".
    No member give thanks

  • mviy

    mviy

    29 Sep, 2017 09:00 am

    This card has an exclusion period after you cancel before you can sign up again and get the sign up bonus again. By then the sign up bonus and other benefits may have changed.
    No member give thanks

  • MrT

    MrT

    29 Sep, 2017 09:44 am

    Does anyone have experience in how long it usually takes for the 100k sign up bonus points to be credited?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    29 Sep, 2017 10:14 am

    Usually they'll appear in your AMEX account on the same day the purchase that took you over the 'qualifying spend' threshold clears from being a pending transaction to being a finalised transaction. AMEX sends your points across to Qantas once per month, so the bonus points would then go across to your QFF account whenever the next automatic transfer is due to take place.

    (So from the time you've spent enough to the time you see the points in your Qantas account could be anything from a few days to a month - but as always, this isn't to be taken as 'personal financial advice'.)
    No member give thanks

  • MrT

    MrT

    29 Sep, 2017 11:32 am

    Thanks Chris - great advice. Didn't realise I could view my QF points tally in my AMEX account. Sure enough the bonus points are sat there waiting for the next scheduled monthly trasnfer.
    No member give thanks

  • Dante Giacomin

    danteg

    29 Sep, 2017 12:00 pm

    The lounge offering is also improving from 31 October. In the letter I received they advised they are also giving 2 Qantas Club lounge invitations every membership year in addition to the Amex lounge passes. That should improve the lounge rating to a 4/5.
    No member give thanks

  • Sunrise

    Sunrise

    30 Sep, 2017 08:53 am

    You should note in the T&Cs it says you must first purchase a QF flight before Amex will give you the “free” 2x QC invitations.

    Previous QF cards (Amex and bank backed Amex) have allowed cardholders to call the card’s concierge and simply request the QC invitiations. You would then be free to give them a family of friend.

    However, since you now must have a QF or JQ boarding pass to enter the QC lounge, this would probably only chew up one of the two free passes.
    No member give thanks

  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    29 Sep, 2017 02:28 pm

    Does anyone know if you'll be able to redeem the travel credit on taxes for award flights?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    29 Sep, 2017 02:31 pm

    It's for commercial bookings made direct through AMEX, so no, not possible.
    No member give thanks

  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    29 Sep, 2017 02:50 pm

    Thanks. Still a good card nevertheless for redeeming flights.
    No member give thanks

  • Clancy

    Clancy

    3 Oct, 2017 03:25 pm

    Yep, I'm a sucker... I have had this card for sometime and not been able to easily access the 'free' flight from regional locations, oh well...!! The new travel credit, however, will be a significant improvement for me.

    On the up-side though, this AMEX card is just about to click over 1,000,000 additional Qantas points through bonuses and regular spend... Yay...!!!

    No member give thanks

  • adr

    adr

    17 Oct, 2017 09:08 am

    For anyone who has received their 100,000 bonus points already - did the $450 fee count towards 'eligible purchases'?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    17 Oct, 2017 10:25 am

    Annual fees generally don't count towards spend requirements for bonus points.
    No member give thanks

  • mjcj1971

    mjcj1971

    3 Nov, 2017 03:02 pm

    When do you get charged the $450 annual fee?
    No member give thanks

  • tuzza1

    tuzza1

    3 Nov, 2017 03:40 pm

    I got charged at the end of the first month
    No member give thanks

Guest

19 Nov, 2017 08:05 am

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