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 100,000 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 100,000 bonus Qantas Points, awarded when applying by April 9 2018 and spending $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months.
That's more than enough to upgrade most economy tickets to business class, return, 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 and three times as many points on utility and insurance payments than before.
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 on which you'll earn 0.5/$1), with no annual fee.