The Qantas American Express Ultimate card

Credit Card Review: The Qantas American Express Ultimate card

What's Hot

  • Bonus points on dining, Qantas, travel and overseas spend
  • Domestic and international travel insurance
  • Up to 50,000 bonus Qantas Points

What's Not

  • Lower earning rates on everyday spend, utilities

X-Factor

  • Free return domestic flight each year with Qantas

Introduction

Piling up an impressive three Qantas frequent flyer points per dollar, the Qantas American Express Ultimate card has the potential to skyrocket your points balance in no time, and what's more, new cardholders can earn up to 50,000 bonus Qantas Points just for signing up and meeting the spend criteria.

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:
         Australian restaurants, Qantas flights and services: 3
         Airlines, hotels, cruise and tour operators and all foreign spend: 2
         Utilities, government providers and most insurance providers: 0.5
         Everywhere else: 1
  • 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 50,000-point sign-up deal, with those awarded after spending $1,500 on eligible purchases within the first three months.

That's 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.

Use your points to indulge in a Qantas first class upgrade to the USA or UAE...

Thereafter, you'd earn enough points for a near-free flight from Sydney to Melbourne after spending $2,667 at restaurants or with Qantas; $4,000 with travel providers or abroad; $16,000 with utilities, most insurance companies and government providers or $8,000 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 with two free visits provided every calendar year, regardless of which 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 your partner, friend or colleague join you – after which you can pay $55 per person, per visit for further access until the next year begins.

Abroad, the American Express Centurion Lounges in the USA too await your visit with a payment of US$50 getting you through the door in New York (LaGuardia), Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Miami and San Francisco.

Inclusive travel insurance: 4/5

With the Qantas AMEX Ultimate card, you're 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.

Certainly, there are other American Express cards in the market which award more points per dollar on everyday expenses – such as 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 via the ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer Black AMEX – but ultimately, it depends on your spending habits.

If you frequently travel overseas, dine out, book flights or pay for hotel stays on your credit card, the extra points you'll earn on these transactions could well offset the lower earning rates of the other categories.

Otherwise, the Qantas American Express Discovery card could be a better fit, churning out two Qantas Points per dollar spent directly with Qantas and one Qantas Point per $1 everywhere else – including with utilities and the like – but sans an annual fee.

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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!
 

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24 Feb, 2017 07:04 pm

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