American Express Essential Credit Card Review

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With features including a $0 annual fee, promotional balance transfer rate, rewards program and smartphone screen insurance, the Amex Essential Credit Card stands out from the pack.

The American Express Essential Credit Card is uniquely designed to suit modern-day lifestyles, with a combination of money-saving features and complimentary extras. This no annual fee credit card offers a 0% p.a. promotional balance transfer rate for the first 12 months (with a one-time 3% balance transfer fee), interest-free days, enrolment into the Membership Rewards Gateway program and complimentary insurance options.
Compare the features and costs to determine whether this card is right for you.

Product NameAmerican Express Essential Credit Card
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards Gateway
Balance transfer rate (p.a.)0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
Balance Transfer Revert Rate
The interest rate after the balance transfer ends.
Purchase Rate (14.99% p.a.)
Balance Transfer Limit70% of available credit limit
Maximum Balance Transfer Amount$10,000
Purchase rate (p.a.)14.99% p.a.
Annual fee$0 p.a.
Interest Free Period
The interest-free period on purchases is the period or number of days you do not have to pay interest on your card purchases. You will be charged interest either from the day you make a purchase or from the statement date, unless you pay the closing balance in full by the due date (or within the interest-free period) on your statement.
Up to 55 days on purchases
Min credit limit
This is the lowest credit card limit that you can request. It is possible to apply for a higher credit card limit but not a lower one than this figure.
$2,000
Max credit limit
This credit limit may not be issued to you immediately on application. This is the maximum credit limit for this card which must be applied for or offered to you after you are approved and have already opened the account.
$25,000
Minimum Monthly Repayment2.5% or $30, whichever is greater
Minimum Income$40,000
Card TypeAmerican Express
Late Payment Fee$30
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (AMEX)
Foreign currency conversion fees are charged when you make a transaction that is converted by a credit card network, such as MasterCard, Visa or American Express, from Australian dollars to a foreign currency. You’ll also incur a currency conversion fee if you make a purchase or obtain a cash advance in Australian dollars while overseas or shopping online with a foreign merchant or financial institution.
3% of transaction value
Complimentary Travel InsuranceNo
Available To Temporary ResidentsYes - Conditions apply
Minimum Income$40,000
Minimum Age18 years of age
Available to Temporary ResidentsYes - Conditions apply
Credit Rating Requirement
Credit rating requirement is provided only as a guide. Understanding your credit file helps you make more informed decisions in regards to your finances. Learn more about what this means here.
Good
Min Credit Limit
This is the lowest credit card limit that you can request. It is possible to apply for a higher credit card limit but not a lower one than this figure.
$2,000
Max Credit Limit
This credit limit may not be issued to you immediately on application. This is the maximum credit limit for this card which must be applied for or offered to you after you are approved and have already opened the account.
$25,000
Annual Fee$0 p.a.
Minimum Repayment2.5% or $30, whichever is greater
Late Payment Fee$30
Over Limit Fee$0
Cash Advance Fee$2.50 or 2% of the cash advance amount (whichever is greater)
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (AMEX)
Foreign currency conversion fees are charged when you make a transaction that is converted by a credit card network, such as MasterCard, Visa or American Express, from Australian dollars to a foreign currency. You’ll also incur a currency conversion fee if you make a purchase or obtain a cash advance in Australian dollars while overseas or shopping online with a foreign merchant or financial institution.
3% of transaction value
Additional Cardholder Fee$0 p.a.
Number of Additional Cardholders4
BPAYYes
ChequeYes
Direct DebitYes
Australia PostYes
Phone BankingNo
Internet Banking TransfersYes
In BranchYes
MailYes

Pros

  • Pay no annual fee for life.
  • This card comes with a balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months.
  • Transfer your points to a choice of 8 airline rewards partner programs.
  • Add a supplementary card at no extra cost.
  • Enjoy a low purchase rate of 14.99% p.a.
  • Smartphone screen insurance of up to $500 per claim and up to two claims per 12-month period will be covered.

Cons

  • A one-off 3% credit plan establishment fee applies for balance transfers.
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards Gateway
Rewards Points per $ (AMEX)1
Rewards Points per $ (VISA/MC) CapN/A
Rewards Points per $ (AMEX) CapUncapped
Points ExpiryNever

American Express Essential Credit Card review

If you’re looking to keep costs low, consolidate debts and earn rewards, the Essential credit card from American Express could be right for you. With no annual fee for life and a promotional balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months, you can cut your credit card costs with the Essential card. Plus, you can reduce your interest burdens with a low standard variable purchase rate of 14.99% p.a. and up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.

The Essential credit card also earns 1 point per $1 spent through the Membership Rewards Gateway program. When you earn enough points, you can redeem them for a wide range of rewards including flights, gift cards, a statement credit or transfer to a choice of 8 frequent flyer programs.

Benefits of the American Express Essential Credit Card

Some of the perks you can expect include:

  • No annual fee. You can take advantage of a $0 annual fee for the life of the card.
  • Rewards. You’ll receive complimentary enrolment to the Membership Rewards Gateway. This program allows cardholders to earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on eligible purchases (and half of a Membership Rewards for every $1 spent on bills, utilities and government payments), uncapped. These points can be redeemed for flights and merchandise.
  • Smartphone Screen Insurance. Smartphone users are all too familiar with the heartbreaking reality of a smashed phone screen. If you use your Essential card to pay for your phone (outright or on contract), smartphone screen repairs of up to $500 will be covered. Each cardholder can take advantage of up to two claims per 12-month period.
  • Balance transfer. Consolidate your existing debt with a balance transfer of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months, with a one-time 3% balance transfer fee which applies to the entire balance transfer amount. The rate will revert to the standard purchase rate of 14.99% p.a. at the end of the promotional period.
  • Eligible for Apple Pay. Enjoy fast, secure and convenient payments with one touch to pay using the touch ID feature. Learn more here.
  • Eligible for Samsung Pay. Make easy and contactless payments with your qualifying Samsung device through the Samsung Pay application. Learn more here.
  • Eligible for Android Pay. American Express Essential Credit Card is eligible to use in Android Pay, allowing its cardholders to make contactless payments by simply tapping their android device on a contactless terminal. Find out more about it here.

Features of the American Express Essential Card

  • Purchase interest rate. The Essential card offers an ongoing purchase rate of 14.99% p.a.
  • Retail insurance. Cardholders can shop with confidence knowing their purchases are covered by refund protection (up to $500 per claim), purchase protection (up to $2,500 per claim) and extended warranty by up to 12 months.
  • Online fraud protection. All online purchases made using your Essential credit card are secured by online fraud protection.
  • Up to 55 interest-free days. If you pay your balance in full, you could receive up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
  • Amex offers. American Express cardholders can benefit from exclusive American Express offers on rewards and other perks.

How to apply for the American Express Essential Credit Card

If you’ve compared your options and decided to apply for the American Express Essential Credit Card, you can do so by completing the online application. But first, make sure that you meet the requirements below.

Eligibility criteria

  • You must be 18 or older.
  • You must make a personal gross (pre-tax) annual income of $40,000 or more.
  • You must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident or hold a current Business Long Stay Visa (subclass 457).
  • You need a good credit history to apply for this card.

Required documents

If you meet the criteria for this card, you can start your application. Make sure you have the following documents and information on-hand to speed up the process.

  • Personal information. This includes your full name, residential address, email address and contact number. You’ll also be required to provide proof of identification such as your birth certificate and driver’s licence.
  • Employment information. You’ll need to provide information about your employment and source of income.
  • Financial information. In addition to your employment information, you'll need to provide details about any other sources of income or assets, including property, shares and savings accounts. You also need to provide information about debts, liabilities or other expenses, including existing card debts, mortgages, rental payments and day-to-day expenses.

The American Express Essential credit card is a no annual fee option that also provides a wide range of valuable extras. Now that you know more about the features of this card, you can compare it with other options to help you choose the right card for you.

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92 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ReginaMay 9, 2017

    I would like to transfer my balance from David Jones AMEX card I currently hold? Is this possible?

    • Staff
      HaroldMay 11, 2017Staff

      Please note some credit cards have restrictions around which institutions you can balance transfer your debts from. This usually happens when credit card companies have financial ties to one another, or when both credit card companies are actually being financed by the same larger lending institution. You may want to check the available options here.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  2. Default Gravatar
    CassieApril 10, 2017

    Hello Team,

    Just wondering if you can clarify what this wording means.

    “This program allows cardholders to earn 1 Membership Reward per $1 spent on eligible purchases (and half of a Membership Reward for every $1 spent on bills, utilities and government payments). These points can be redeemed for flights and merchandise.”

    Does this mean that for every $1 spent on bills that you will only receive 50cents or .5 of a point?

    Thanks

    • Staff
      AnndyApril 13, 2017Staff

      Hi Cassie,

      Thanks for your question.

      With American Express Essential Credit Card, you’ll earn 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all purchases except utilities, insurance, telecommunications providers and government bodies in Australia where you will earn 0.5 point per dollar spent.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  3. Default Gravatar
    BobApril 7, 2017

    what frequent flyer programmes there are 8 of them are available on the amex essential credit card

    • Staff
      AnndyApril 7, 2017Staff

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you are referring to frequent flyer programs where you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards Gateway points to, you can check our guide here.

      Generally, you can transfer your points to the following frequent flyer accounts:
      Air New Zealand Airpoint
      Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
      Emirates Skyward
      Etihad Guest
      Malaysia Airlines Enrich
      Qantas Frequent Flyer*
      Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
      Thai Royal Orchid Plus
      Virgin Australia Velocity
      Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  4. Default Gravatar
    TonyFebruary 23, 2017

    Hello, I have always been hesitant about getting an American Express Credit Card, due to not everyone will accept Amex, and when they do they most likely will charge a % fee on the purchase. Also can you setup direct debits with Amex cards? Can the card be used online.? Probably silly questions but it shows my knowledge in regard to Amex. Thank you.

    • Staff
      MayFebruary 23, 2017Staff

      Hi Tony,

      Thank you for your inquiry contacting finder.com.au – a financial comparison website and general information service designed to help consumers make better decisions.

      The reason why some merchants do not accept AMEX cards because of the higher costs they pay for “payments facilitator fees”.

      As for setting up a direct debit with AMEX cards, you’ll need to confirm that with your merchant if they would accept AMEX credit card. Basically, AMEX allows that arrangement and their cards can also be used online.

      Cheers,
      May

  5. Default Gravatar
    amandaJanuary 18, 2017

    Can I confirm that you are able to transfer rewards to Emirate skywards? If so is there an option to select this on the application?

    • Staff
      AnndyJanuary 18, 2017Staff

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, you can convert your American Express Membership Rewards to Emirates Skywards anytime at a minimum transfer points of 2,000. The conversion rate is 4 Membership Rewards points = 3 Skywards miles.

      If you wish to transfer your points to Emirates Skywards, you must first register your membership number with American Express (this is normally done after the credit card application process), then login to your account to complete the transfer.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  6. Default Gravatar
    MelNovember 11, 2016

    Hi,

    Are you able to balance transfer from a personal loan with another financial institution to this credit card?

    Thanks

    • Staff
      MayNovember 11, 2016Staff

      Hi Mel,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Citi and Virgin Money credit cards give you the ability to transfer balances from personal loans. These card issuers provide a host of cards with different balance transfer offers where you can compare here.

      Hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      May

  7. Default Gravatar
    kwokNovember 5, 2016

    What can I redeem with the reward points?

    • Staff
      JasonNovember 5, 2016Staff

      Hi Kwok,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You can redeem your reward points for a wide range of rewards including cash back, flights, gift cards, merchandise and transfers to up to 8 frequent flyer programs.

      Cheers,
      Jason

  8. Default Gravatar
    September 22, 2016

    Hi,
    Rewards program – Which airlines can I use the points to book flights?
    Fees – Are there any other fees associated with Master Card other than the annual fee? I seem to remember that Master Card used to be more expensive to purchase items. Perhaps the retailers had to pay higher fees when customers used MC?
    Usage – is Master Card accepted as widely as Visa?
    Thanks George

    • Staff
      AllySeptember 23, 2016Staff

      Hi George,

      Thanks for our inquiry.

      Kindly see below:

      Rewards – You can transfer your points to a choice of the ff.:

      • Air New Zealand Airpoints
      • Asia Miles
      • Emirates Skywards
      • Etihad Guest
      • Malaysian Airlines Enrich
      • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
      • THAI Royal Orchid Plus
      • Velocity Frequent Flyer

      Fees – Kindly note that this is not a MasterCard, but this card’s fees include:

      • Late payment fee – $30
      • Duplicate statement fee – $10
      • Currency conversion fee – 3% of the converted amount
      • cash advance fee – $2.50 or 2% of the cash advance amount (whichever is greater)

      Usage – MasterCard is just as widely accepted as Visa, but once again, this card is not linked to either of the two.

      For more information, I have sent the key fact sheet of this card to your email.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      Ally

  9. Default Gravatar
    September 10, 2016

    Is it possible to balance transfer from Amex Essential card to any other bank credit card? If not, what is the use of having this credit card as it is not accepted at many places?

    • Staff
      YsaSeptember 21, 2016Staff

      Hi Asha,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, you’ll be able to do a balance transfer as long as you are not transferring to an existing American Express credit cards.
      However, please also note that your chances of approval will still depend on the institution that you will be applying for a balance transfer. Should you wish to clarify more regarding this matter, it would be best to contact American Express at 1300 366 105.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Ysa

  10. Default Gravatar
    peterAugust 29, 2016

    What is different between bank’s amex card and AMEX’s amex card? I have bank’s amex card, should i switch?

    • Default Gravatar
      AnnMarch 29, 2017

      I currently have a bank Amex card giving 1.5 points for QFF membership per $1 spend.As this card will be cancelled by my bank in September is there another card that will give me 1.5 Qff points (or more!) per $spent??….what should I be looking at?Thanks,Ann

    • Staff
      AnndyMarch 29, 2017Staff

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you are looking for a credit card that earns Qantas points, you can compare your options on this page.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

    • Staff
      MayAugust 29, 2016Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      The difference lies between the terms and conditions that govern the credit cards in the aspect of but not limited to the conditions of use, reward point systems, interest rates and more. The “bank-issued” AMEX cards are subject to the terms and conditions of the issuing bank while the cards issued by AMEX itself are determined by their own T&Cs. Nonetheless, these banks are also governed by AMEX’s terms and conditions in terms of using their logo for their credit cards.

      Cheers,
      May

Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated November 22nd, 2017
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
12.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers complimentary travel insurance, complimentary purchase insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
Qantas Premier Platinum
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Fly faster with up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent, receive 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations, plus, included travel insurance.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you apply by 31 January 2018 and make an eligible purchase by 28 February 2018.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.

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