American Express Essential Credit Card Review

With features including a $0 annual fee, 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.

Product NameAmerican Express Essential Credit Card
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards Gateway
Balance transfer rate0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
Balance transfer revert rate
The interest rate that will apply to any remaining balance after the balance transfer term 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 is the maximum number of days during which interest is not charged on new purchases. This only applies if you pay your closing balance in full by the statement due date.
Up to 55 days on purchases
Min credit limit
This is the lowest credit limit you can be granted. It is possible to request a higher credit limit but not a lower one than this figure.
Max credit limit
This is the maximum credit limit available on this card and you can apply for increases after the account has been opened. This credit limit may not be issued to you immediately upon application.
Card TypeAmerican Express
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (AMEX)
Charged when you make a transaction that is converted by 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
Minimum Income$40,000
Minimum Age18 years of age
Available To Temporary ResidentsYes - Conditions apply
Annual fee$0 p.a.
Minimum Monthly Repayment2.5% or $30, whichever is greater
Late Payment Fee$30
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (AMEX)
Charged when you make a transaction that is converted by 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
Number of Additional Cardholders4


  • $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.
  • Add a supplementary card at no extra cost.
  • 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.


  • A one-off 3% credit plan establishment fee applies for balance transfers.
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards Gateway
Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX)1.25
Rewards Points per $ (AMEX) CapUncapped

Benefits of the American Express Essential Credit Card

Some of the perks you can expect include:

  • No annual fee. You can take advantage of an ongoing $0 annual fee.
  • Rewards. You'll receive complimentary enrolment to the Membership Rewards Gateway program. Earn 1.25 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases, as well as utilities, insurance and telecommunications. You also earn 1 point per $1 spent on government payments. There is no points cap and your points can be redeemed for travel, frequent flyer points and merchandise.
  • Smartphone Screen Insurance. Many 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 is eligible to make two claims per 12-month period.
  • Balance transfer. Consolidate existing debt with a balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months, with a one-time 3% balance transfer fee. You can transfer up to 70% of your approved credit limit to a maximum of $10,000. At the end of the introductory period, any remaining balance will accrue interest at the 14.99% p.a. purchase rate.
  • Mobile payment technology. American Express credit cards are compatible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, allowing you to make payments with your Essential credit card through your phone, watch and more.
  • 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.

Features of the American Express Essential Card

  • Purchase interest rate. The Essential card offers an ongoing purchase rate of 14.99% p.a.
  • Online fraud protection. All online purchases made using your Essential credit card are secured by online fraud protection.
  • Interest-free days. If you pay your balance in full, you will 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 complete 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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94 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    mamaJanuary 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

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoanneJanuary 2, 2018Staff

      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,

  2. Default Gravatar
    ReginaMay 9, 2017

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

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      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.


  3. 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?


    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      LouApril 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.


  4. Default Gravatar
    BobApril 7, 2017

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

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      LouApril 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


  5. 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.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayFebruary 23, 2017Staff

      Hi Tony,

      Thank you for your inquiry contacting – 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.


  6. 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?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      LouJanuary 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.


  7. Default Gravatar
    MelNovember 11, 2016


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


    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      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.


  8. Default Gravatar
    kwokNovember 5, 2016

    What can I redeem with the reward points?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      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.


  9. Default Gravatar
    September 22, 2016

    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

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      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.


  10. 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?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      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.


Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated May 19th, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Annual fee Product Description
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
12.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a long-term balance transfer and $0 first year annual fee. Plus, insurance covers and Citibank Dining Program perks.
ME frank Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Save money with an ongoing $0 annual fee, the same low 11.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases and cash advances, and up to 55 days interest free.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Annual Fee Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$50 p.a.
Earn 20,000 bonus Velocity Points and save with an ongoing $50 p.a. annual fee. Plus, receive a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
Latitude Low Rate Mastercard
11.99% p.a.
$69 p.a.
Offers a competitively low interest rate and annual fee, plus up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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