AMEX’s top-of-the-line Qantas Ultimate Card swaps its 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 75,000 bonus Qantas Points as well as 75 Qantas status credits just for signing up and meeting the spend/booking criteria. This is a significant boost in bonus earnings, and is only available until May 1 2017.
Also thrown in is a free return domestic flight each year with Qantas between selected cities, 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 free domestic return flight with Qantas on selected routes after you first use your card with Qantas – such as to book flights or renew your Qantas Club membership.
New customers to American Express Australia can also take advantage of a 75,000-Qantas-points + 75 Qantas status credits bonus sign-up deal, with the Qantas Points awarded after spending $1,500 on eligible purchases within the first three months. Apply by May 1 2017 and make sure you book and fly return with Qantas by 30 September 2017 to claim the Status Credits.
The points bonus itself is enough for a one-way upgrade from business class to first class on Qantas' flights from Australia to Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth and Dubai, or from flexible economy or premium economy to business class on the same routes.
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 award flight.
Airport lounge access: 2/5
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.
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 significantly offset by the free domestic return flight each year, 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.
Depending on how much you plan to spend and the benefits you require, 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.