These credit cards offer free travel vouchers every year

These credit cards offer free travel vouchers every year

Nobody likes paying credit card annual fees, but some cards lessen the sting by giving you free 'travel credits' every year, to spend on flights, hotel stays or car hire, the value of which can often surpass the annual fee paid.

For example, if your card has a $195 annual fee but a $200 travel credit – and you’d have otherwise spent $200/year on travel anyway – the card practically becomes ‘free’, because for the same amount of money spent, you’re getting your travel booking and a points-earning credit card, which rewards you throughout the year.

Here’s what’s on the table right now.

1. AMEX Platinum charge card + AMEX Platinum Reserve credit card

The feature-packed American Express Platinum charge card includes a standard travel credit of $300 every year, alongside other perks like unlimited lounge access with Virgin Australia, Delta Air Lines and Priority Pass, to help justify its pricey $1,200 annual fee.

However, Platinum charge cardholders are also entitled to apply for a free Platinum Reserve credit card from AMEX as well (contact AMEX once you have the Platinum charge card), which offers its own $400 travel credit. That means for the one $1,200 annual fee, you’ll getting $700 of that back in travel credits, which puts the ‘cost’ of the charge card at $500.

That’s barely more than you’d pay for a Virgin Australia lounge membership to access those lounges – or an unlimited Priority Pass membership for global lounging privileges – so if you make good use of these, or the card’s many other benefits, it’s easy to come out ahead while still paying a four-figure fee!

2. American Express Qantas Ultimate credit card

At $450/year, the AMEX Qantas Ultimate credit card is one of the pricier choices in the market, but that fee is offset with the inclusion of a $450/year Qantas travel credit, which you can use towards a flight booking with Qantas: just not with other airlines, or on hotel stays or car hire.

Trick is that you just have to make your flight booking via the American Express Travel website to use that travel credit – rather than it being a traditional Qantas ‘flight voucher’, as such – but the prices you’ll see here are the same as on the Qantas website: and you’ll still earn points and status credits on eligible fares.

On top, you’ll also earn a solid 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on the card on everyday purchases; 2.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent directly with Qantas (such as on flight bookings made via the Qantas website), and 55,000 bonus Qantas Points for eligible new cardholders who apply and spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months.

3. American Express Explorer credit card

Prefer to earn frequent flyer points with other airlines like Virgin Australia or Singapore Airlines instead? Then the American Express Explorer credit card is worth a look, as you’ll earn the equivalent of 1.5 frequent flyer points per $1 spent through the Membership Rewards Gateway program.

There’s a $395 annual fee to pay, which is again more than negated by a $400 yearly travel credit, and you can also pocket 50,000 Gateway points (equal to 37,500 Velocity points or KrisFlyer miles) when you apply and spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months.

Other perks on this card include two complimentary visits to the AMEX Lounge at Sydney Airport when flying with any airline, free smartphone screen insurance when you buy your phone or pay your contract using the Explorer card, and more.

4. American Express Platinum Edge credit card

The American Express Platinum Edge credit card isn’t overly expensive at $195/year, but rather than paying a fee each year and getting nothing back in return, this card also offers – you guessed it – a yearly $200 travel credit.

You can also earn the equivalent of three frequent flyer points per dollar spent at major supermarkets, again in programs like Virgin Australia Velocity and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, via the Membership Rewards Ascent scheme.

There’s no points capping, and you’ll also pick up two frequent flyer points per dollar spent when filling up at petrol stations; one point per $2 spent on utility, insurance and government payments, and one point per $1 spent everywhere else.

5. American Express Velocity Platinum credit card

While the AMEX Velocity Platinum card doesn’t have a ‘travel credit’, as such, it does still include a complimentary return Virgin Australia domestic flight every year, so if you’d have taken a return flight anyway – and will make use of the card’s other perks like two Virgin lounge passes – you’ll again come out ahead.

A $375 annual fee applies, with an earn rate of 1.5 Velocity points per $1 spent on most everyday purchases; 2.5 Velocity points per $1 spent on Virgin Australia flight bookings, and an offer of 50,000 bonus Velocity points when you apply, are approved and spend $3,000 within the first three months.

Spending $50,000 per year also unlocks 100 bonus Velocity status credits, which could help you climb the frequent flyer ladder to Silver, Gold or Platinum status, or help you retain your existing status for another 12 months.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and 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!
 

18 Comments

  • Sanjay Prakash

    sanj747

    26 Feb, 2018 11:29 am

    Chris many thanks for this. Very useful and provided me with information that I wasn't aware of with Item 1 on your list.
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  • MarkJohnSon

    MarkJohnSon
    Banned

    26 Feb, 2018 01:05 pm

    Are they really free if you're paying a hefty annual fee?
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    26 Feb, 2018 01:16 pm

    As addressed in the article, many of the travel credits essentially make the cards 'free' every year if you'd have otherwise spent the same amount on travel anyway (or vice versa: if you'd have otherwise paid for a credit card annual fee, paying a comparable on a card which includes a travel credit compared to no travel credit makes that travel credit 'free': something you're getting without necessarily spending anything more than you otherwise would have).

    We'll also remind that the comment area underneath articles is provided for readers to discuss the topic of articles among themselves, not the writing or presentation of an article with the author or editor, as noted in our comment policy.
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  • MarkJohnSon

    MarkJohnSon
    Banned

    26 Feb, 2018 02:02 pm

    [Deleted by admin - off-topic.]

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    26 Feb, 2018 02:19 pm

    MarkJohnSon: You have been reminded of AusBT's comment policy only an hour ago, in additional to other reminders in the past, and these reminders need not continue. If you choose to ignore this policy again, your commenting privileges will be suspended without further notice.
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  • romaau

    romaau

    26 Feb, 2018 01:50 pm

    The other one to mention is the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventure card which comes with a free Virgin flight that needs to be booked 60days in advance. This offsets the $225 annual fee. While the earn rate is not as good as some other cards it does come with no international transaction fees and 2 Virgin lounge passes.
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    26 Feb, 2018 01:55 pm

    Not covered here as this article is centred on 'travel credits' which are provided by AMEX (and require flights to be booked through AMEX), but indeed, ANZ's card offers a free return flight too.
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  • James Barker

    James Barker

    26 Feb, 2018 02:52 pm

    I really don't understand why more of these cards don't make a big deal out of highlighting these travel vouchers which nullify the annual fee. Is a frequent flyer going to spend a few hundred dollars a year on airfares? Of course he or she is, probably more like a few thousand!

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  • Michel

    Ozmichel

    26 Feb, 2018 03:09 pm

    It pays to read the fine print.
    The American Express Qantas Ultimate CC has been great and we use the 'free' flight option.
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  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    26 Feb, 2018 04:38 pm

    As a predominantly VA flyer, the Amex Velocity platinum card is a no-brainer for the free flight. In addition to the two Virgin lounge passes (which are useless for me), they also gift two Amex international lounge passes, which are useful.
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  • Simon Coveney

    Covvers

    26 Feb, 2018 05:06 pm

    Thanks Chris. Despite the attempt of some community members to sidetrack the discussion, this is a very helpful article on an issue I was considering myself quite recently.
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  • Rohit

    Rohit

    14 Mar, 2018 10:25 am

    Both Virgin Money flyer and high flyer cards come with $129 flight voucher to be used on VA flights. Additionally, High Flyer also brings in 2 single lounge passes. Pretty compelling deal I would say.
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  • KK

    KK

    14 Mar, 2018 11:34 am

    Chartered Accountant provides discount annual fee for both AMEX Platinum Charge ($950) and AMEX Platinum Edge ($149).
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    14 Mar, 2018 11:43 am

    Indeed, although we don't cover these types of offers as they're not broadly available: only to those working in a particular industry and with membership in a particular industry body, which communicates these benefits directly to its eligible members.
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  • Jay G

    jginpil

    14 Mar, 2018 12:59 pm

    Wow really?! i have been a CA for years now which means i have also been paying way too much,,, thanks for highlighting this! do you just call Amex to have the CA rate applied or is it through ICAA?
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    14 Mar, 2018 01:09 pm

    Your best contact here is your professional accounting body: as above, these aren't cards we cover (or that I've particularly looked into), although it's my understanding that you can't simply 'swap' to a discounted card: it has to be applied for separately.
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  • KK

    KK

    14 Mar, 2018 01:52 pm

    Check membership benefits on CA website please.
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  • Bill NORTHBY

    Brython14

    15 Mar, 2018 05:28 pm

    How do our cards stack up against the perks of U.S. cards?
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Guest

22 Jun, 2018 01:51 pm

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