American Express Essential Credit Card

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Enjoy Membership Rewards points without an annual fee, plus complimentary smartphone screen insurance and access to Amex offers and experiences.

The American Express Essential is a no annual fee credit card designed to suit modest spenders, with a combination of money-saving features and complimentary extras. This card offers a 0% p.a. introductory balance transfer rate for the first 12 months (with a one-time 3% balance transfer fee), a low ongoing purchase rate and complimentary insurance covers.

0% p.a.

Balance transfer rate

for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee

14.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

1.25

Reward points

Per $ spent (American Express)

$0 p.a.

Annual fee

Details

Product NameAmerican Express Essential Credit Card
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards
Balance transfer rate0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
Balance Transfer Revert RatePurchase Rate (14.99% p.a.)
Balance Transfer Limit70% of available balance
Maximum Balance Transfer Amount$10,000
Purchase rate (p.a.)14.99% p.a.
Annual fee$0 p.a.
Interest Free Period55 days
Minimum Credit Limit$2,000
Maximum Credit Limit$25,000
Card TypeAmerican Express
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (American Express)3% of transaction value
Complimentary Travel InsuranceNo
Minimum Income$40,000
Minimum Age18 years of age
Available to Temporary ResidentsYes - Conditions apply
Joint ApplicationNo

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • Balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months.
  • Transfer points to a choice of 8 airline rewards partner programs.
  • Competitive 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
Rewards Points per $ spent (American Express)1.25
Rewards Points per $ Cap (American Express)Uncapped
Annual fee$0 p.a.
Minimum Monthly Repayment2.5% of the closing balance or $30, whichever is greater
Late Payment Fee$30
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (American Express)3% of transaction value
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Number of Additional Cardholders4

Expert review

Amy Bradney-George

Review by


Amy is an editor and writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

Expert review

The American Express Essential has the rare combination of rewards and an ongoing $0 annual fee. Its competitive purchase rate of 14.99% p.a. also stands out when compared to the typically high interest rates seen on other rewards credit cards. Plus you can use this card through Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, with the added benefit of complimentary smartphone screen insurance.

How to apply

If you've checked out a few credit cards and want to get the Amex Essential, you can apply online in around 10 minutes and may get a response within 60 seconds of completing the application. Get started by making sure you meet the eligibility criteria and that you have all the documents and details needed for the application.

Eligibility criteria

  • Minimum income. You must earn a minimum annual income of $40,000.
  • Residency. You must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or hold a current long term visa (12 months or more). Student visas are not eligible.

Card benefits

  • Membership Rewards Points. The Amex Essential earns 1.25 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent with government bodies in Australia. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, Select + Pay with Points and more, or transferred to 9 airline partner programs, including Velocity Frequent Flyer.
  • Complimentary purchase insurance covers. Use the American Express Essential to pay for eligible purchases and get peace of mind with purchase protection insurance, refund protection insurance and extended warranty cover (known as "Buyer's Advantage").

Rates & fees

  • $0 annual fee. There is no annual fee for the American Express Essential.
  • Interest rate. The Amex Essential has an ongoing purchase rate of 14.99% p.a. Note that you cannot make cash advance transactions with the Amex Essential.

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94 Comments

  1. Default Gravatar
    mama
    January 1, 2018

    would like to try this one as I want to save points however im wondering what is the requirements for me to apply and approve? Iam in single parenting payment income from centrelink and got a child support. I’d save a lot this time and no debts. I’d pay bills ontime.
    looking forward to here from you. Thanks

    • AvatarStaff
      Joanne
      January 2, 2018

      Hi Mama,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      These are the eligibility requirements for the American Express Essential credit card:

      *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.

      Having a good credit score and a history of paying your bills on time will be of much help, together with a proof of consistent income, whether it is from employment or government assistance.

      To add to your options this is a page that compares other AMEX card side by side and another page that lists cards individuals on centrelink can look into.

      Hope this helps,
      Joanne

  2. Default Gravatar
    Regina
    May 9, 2017

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

    • AvatarStaff
      Harold
      May 11, 2017

      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

  3. Default Gravatar
    Cassie
    April 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

    • AvatarStaff
      Dee
      April 13, 2017

      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

  4. Default Gravatar
    Bob
    April 7, 2017

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

    • AvatarStaff
      Dee
      April 7, 2017

      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

  5. Default Gravatar
    Tony
    February 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.

    • AvatarStaff
      May
      February 23, 2017

      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

  6. Default Gravatar
    amanda
    January 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?

    • AvatarStaff
      Dee
      January 18, 2017

      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

  7. Default Gravatar
    Mel
    November 11, 2016

    Hi,

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

    Thanks

    • AvatarStaff
      May
      November 11, 2016

      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

  8. Default Gravatar
    kwok
    November 5, 2016

    What can I redeem with the reward points?

    • AvatarStaff
      Jason
      November 5, 2016

      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

  9. Default Gravatar
    George
    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

    • AvatarStaff
      Ally
      September 23, 2016

      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

  10. Default Gravatar
    Asha
    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?

    • AvatarStaff
      Ysa
      September 21, 2016

      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

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