Best frequent flyer and rewards credit cards January 2017

Sally McMullen 16 January 2017 NEWS


Whether you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity lover or a credit card rewards collector, compare the best offers in the credit card market this month.

As the appeal of a frequent flyer or rewards credit card largely lies in the type of rewards you want to earn, there isn’t one single best frequent flyer or rewards credit card on the market. This is why we’ve broken down our comparison to Qantas frequent flyer credit cards, Velocity credit cards and rewards credit cards to determine which is the most competitive product on the market based on your rewards goals. These represent our pick of the current deals on offer right now, based primarily on the number of bonus points on offer when you sign up.

Best Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card

If you’re a loyal Qantas flyer, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of credit cards that’ll let you earn Qantas Points on your everyday purchases. As a result, there are a lot of competitive offers on the market and you’ll need to compare your options carefully to find the right one for you.

Currently, the American Express Qantas Ultimate Card offers 100,000 bonus points for new customers. This is the highest Qantas bonus points offer on the market right now. The card also offers 1.5 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on the American Express and 0.75 Qantas points spent on the Visa card. Cardholders can also enjoy two complimentary Qantas Club Lounge invitations each year and unlimited complimentary access to Veloce Lounges around the world. The card also comes with complimentary travel and purchase insurance.

The card has a $450 annual fee and a purchase interest rate of 20.74% p.a. While the interest rate is fairly consistent with other high-end Qantas frequent flyer cards, this card has the highest annual fee on the market. So you’ll need to make sure that the value of the reward points (both the 100,000 bonus points and additional points you earn on eligible purchases) offset the annual fee. This may not be a challenge. For instance, a one-way business flight from Sydney to Melbourne costs $771 or 16,000 points. So, you’d already outweigh the cost of the annual fee if you used a portion of your bonus points to redeem this flight.

While this card does offer a number of perks for Qantas frequent flyers, there’s no doubt that it comes at a price. Before you’re enticed by the promise of 100,000 points, make sure you’ve compared other options. Learn more about the card and apply in our full overview.

Honourable mention

Another competitive Qantas frequent flyer ANZ Frequent Flyer Black card which has $0 annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter) and a bonus 75,000 bonus Qantas Points on signup. It's ANZ's highest earning uncapped Qantas card and also offers two Qantas Club lounge access passes per year.

Best Velocity Frequent Flyer credit card

Unfortunately, Velocity Frequent Flyer credit cards don’t offer bonus points as high as their Qantas counterparts right now. But if you prefer Virgin Australia over Qantas, there are still plenty of rewarding Velocity rewards cards to compare. The highest bonus points offer on the market is currently the American Express Velocity Platinum Card. This offers 50,000 bonus points and 1 Velocity Point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases.

Regular globetrotters will enjoy the complimentary annual domestic return flight and access to the Virgin Australia airline lounges. Other travel perks include discount business class companion fares and complimentary international travel insurance.

The card comes with an annual fee of $349 p.a. and a purchase rate of 20.74% p.a. While this card has a lower annual fee than the American Express Qantas Ultimate Card, you’ll have less than half the number of bonus points to use to outweigh the cost of the flight.

For example, a return business flight from Sydney to Melbourne will cost 18,000 each way or 36,000 points in total. This would usually cost you approximately $709.00 each way (or $1,418 in total). So, in this example, the monetary of the value of the reward easily outweighs the cost of the card for the first year and still leaves you with plenty of points to spare to redeem for another reward. In the first year of the card and beyond, you could also use the complimentary domestic flights and airline passes to help offset the cost of the annual fee. Learn more about the card and apply in our full overview.

Honourable mention

While the American Express Velocity Platinum card offers the largest bonus points deal, the Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer card also offers good value for money. The card offers 30,000 bonus points and a reduced annual fee of $144 p.a. For the first year and $289 p.a. thereafter.

Best rewards credit card

Unlike frequent flyer credit cards, reward credit cards give cardholders the flexibility to redeem their points within their bank’s rewards program and often with various partnered frequent flyer programs. Most of the major Australian banks have their own rewards cards and programs, but this month the American Express Explorer credit card takes the cake for the most competitive offer.

New cardholders will receive 100,000 bonus points on sign up and will continue to earn 2 Membership Rewards per $1 spent on eligible purchases.

While the card features a $395 p.a. annual fee, this is easily offset by the $400 travel voucher that comes with the card each year. The card also offers two complimentary passes to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport. While this is a saving of $110 (the passes are usually $55 each for an adult), it’s only of value if you were already planning to take a flight from Sydney airport. Like most rewards cards, it also comes with complimentary international travel insurance.

Under the Membership Rewards program, you can redeem your points for travel packages with partnered travel agency partners, purchases via David Jones Online and Ticketmaster and gift cards. You can also select to pay with points when using your American Express or redeem the points for cashback in your account. If you prefer frequent flyer rewards, you can also trade your Membership Rewards for frequent flyer points with 12 frequent flyer programs including Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Etihad Guest, Emirates Skywards and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. These don’t always have the most competitive exchange rates, though. Most of these have an exchange rate of 1 Membership Rewards points per frequent flyer point, which is a competitive trade in comparison to a lot of credit card reward programs with airline partners.

Learn more about the card and apply in our full overview.

Honourable mention

The HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card boasts the second most competitive bonus points offer on the market with 60,000 HSBC Rewards up for grabs. With a $199 p.a. annual fee and 19.99% p.a. interest rate, it’s a much more affordable product than the AMEX Explorer Card.

While each of these cards is a good deal, you can still benefit from comparing all of your frequent flyer and rewards credit card alternatives to ensure you’re picking up the right one for you. These cards are renowned for luring new customers with attractive bonus points offers and extra features, but make sure to pay attention to annual fees, interest rates and any bonus points spending terms and conditions to ensure the costs don’t outweigh the benefits.

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