CommBank cuts back reward points on AMEX credit cards

Sally McMullen 1 May 2017 NEWS

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Commonwealth Bank Awards members will soon earn fewer points per $1 spent on American Express dual credit cards.

One of the major advantages of using a dual credit card has always been the competitive reward point earn rates that come with shopping with an American Express card. But with the interchange fee regulations coming into place this July, we’ve seen a few banks change how cardholders can earn points on their dual cards.

In March, ANZ ended its partnership with American Express and today, Commonwealth Bank has announced that it will be cutting back on how many points you can earn per dollar on your AMEX card. As of 1 July 2017, CBA will restrict the maximum number of points you can earn on an American Express card depending on where you shop. While you could typically earn up to 3 points per $1 spent with American Express, you’ll now earn a reduced earn rate unless you’re shopping at “High Points Merchants” such as supermarkets, department stores, petrol stations or overseas.

Not only does this reduce how many points you can earn with your American Express card, but it also means you’ll sometimes collect more points with your Visa or Mastercard than with your American Express.

How will the earn rates change?

For a breakdown of how the new earn rates will compare to the current earn rates across the different Commonwealth Bank personal and business cards, see the table below. As earn rates won’t change across Visa and Mastercard cards, we’ve only highlighted the changes to how many points you’ll earn with your American Express card in the third column.

CardCurrent earn rateNew AMEX earn rate (as of 1 July 2017)
CBA Diamond Awards3 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on American Express and 1.25 Awards points per $1 spent on Visa and Mastercard.3 CBA Awards points per $1 spent with Higher Points Merchants and 0.5 Awards points per $1 spent everywhere else.
CBA Platinum Awards2.5 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on American Express and 1 Awards point per $1 spent on Visa and Mastercard.2.5 CBA Awards points per $1 spent at Higher Points Merchants and 0.5 Awards points per $1 spent everywhere else.
CBA Gold Awards2 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on American Express and 1 Awards point per $1 spent on Visa and Mastercard.2 CBA Awards points per $1 spent with Higher Points Merchants and 0.5 Awards points per $1 spent everywhere else.
CBA Awards card1.5 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on American Express and 1 Awards point per $1 spent on Visa and Mastercard.1.5 CBA Awards points per $1 spent with Higher Points Merchants and 0.5 Awards points per $1 spent everywhere else.
CBA Platinum Business Awards3 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on American Express and 1 Awards point per $1 spent on Visa and Mastercard.3 CBA Awards points per $1 spent with Higher Points Merchants and 0.5 Awards points per $1 spent everywhere else.
CBA Gold Business Awards2 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on American Express and 1 Awards point per $1 spent on Visa and Mastercard.2 CBA Awards points per $1 spent with Higher Points Merchants and 0.5 Awards points per $1 spent everywhere else.
CBA Business Awards1.5 CBA Awards points per $1 spent on American Express and 1 Awards point per $1 spent on Visa and Mastercard.1.5 CBA Awards points per $1 spent with Higher Points Merchants and 0.5 Awards points per $1 spent everywhere else.

You can still earn the maximum amount of points on many everyday eligible purchases (such as your groceries or your fuel), but the new restrictions could limit how many points you could earn overall.

What other fees and rates will change?

Although you’ll see a drop in some earn rates, annual fees will remain the same across all of the cards. However, you will see the 3.5% international transaction fee waived for personal Platinum Awards and Diamond Awards cardholders, which is good news considering overseas purchases can offer a higher earn rate.

If you’re a frequent flyer, you should also note that conversion rates from CBA Awards points to Velocity or Qantas Points will remain at 2.5 CBA Awards points for 1 Velocity or Qantas Point. Of course, this means that you’ll need to spend more on your American Express card to earn the same number of frequent flyer points in many cases. Again, there is an exception for Platinum and Diamond Awards cards, which will collect 1 frequent flyer point for every 2 CBA Awards points.

While interchange fee regulations shouldn’t impact how many points you can earn on American Express cards, we are seeing banks cut back on dual cards to make up for potential losses once the regulations are introduced.

If you already have a dual card with Commonwealth Bank or another bank, keep your eye out for changes to the rewards program to ensure that your card is still offering you the benefits that you signed up for. Otherwise, it might be time to start comparing your options to find a card that offers you more value. For more information on how the interchange fee regulations will impact the number of points you could earn with your credit card, check out our guide.

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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ValerieJuly 18, 2017

    1) Why are we charge extra, with surcharge’ by other merchants, when we are already paying bank admin fee and interests?
    2) How can I view how much reward points I have, and how to claim it?
    Highly appreciate your replies. Thank you. God bless. Cheers

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 22, 2017

      Hello Valerie,

      Thank you for sending your inquiry. Let me help you with your questions. :)

      1. Merchants are paying fees to banks or card issuer companies in using card terminals. They usually pass this on the customers (which I know is disappointing) by applying a surcharge. You can find some guide on how to avoid these surcharges. It would also help to get updated about recent Australian reforms made to tackle them.

      2. You can see it online to the bank’s website by logging into your personal account, on the paper statement or simply drop a call to the bank’s hotline. That also applies on how to claim those points.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    July 16, 2017

    I have just received my CBA credit card statement which runs from 14 June – 13 July. I loaded up on AMEX purchases in June to make the most of the points change come 1 July. Now that I have received my statement CBA tell me they actually treated every transaction I made from 14 June under the post 1 July points system. To say I am filthy about it is an understatement.

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 28, 2017

      Hello Michael,

      Thank you for your inquiry today.

      I have checked the Commonwealth Awards program Terms and Conditions and on General T&Cs #16, it was stated that the Bank fixes a particular date (statement cycle date) every month where all points earned will be applied on the balance that date. Therefore, when your account has generated the bill after July 13, the bank has posted your points based on the current pointing system as it is after July 1.

      You may read the PDS on their website or call CommBank for further clarification.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  3. Default Gravatar
    CBAMay 26, 2017

    What is a Higher Points Merchant?

    • Staff
      LiezlMay 27, 2017Staff

      Hi there,

      This new category applies to major supermarkets, department stores and service stations in Australia and allows you to earn the highest rate of points per $1 with your CommBank Awards American Express card. This excludes any business or organisation paid using an intermediary payment platform, for example, PayPal. You can find more examples of high points merchant on our guide here.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

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