Enjoy the benefits of American Express and Mastercard or Visa on a single credit card account.
Some reward and frequent flyer credit cards are dual accounts that give you both a Mastercard or Visa card and an American Express card to help you maximise your rewards. Use this guide to find out exactly what dual credit cards are and how they work. You can also compare dual credit cards and look at the other factors to consider before applying for a new credit card.
What are dual credit cards?
Dual credit cards are a type of reward or frequent flyer account that provides you with two cards: an American Express and a Mastercard or Visa. Both cards have your name on them and transactions will show up on a single credit card statement for your account.
The main difference between the Amex card and the Mastercard/Visa is the amount of points per $1 you earn. Generally, Amex cards offer higher earn rates but are not as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa. With a dual credit card, you can choose when to maximise your points with the Amex card and when to earn points with the Mastercard or Visa if Amex is not accepted by a particular merchant.
Example: How to earn more points with a dual credit card
In this scenario, let's say Eva has a dual credit card that earns 1.5 frequent flyer points per $1 spent on the American Express card and 0.5 points per $1 spent on the Visa. She plans to use the account to pay for the following expenses:
- Supermarket shopping: $400
- Petrol: $200
- Coffee: $100
- Dining out: $200
- Total: $900
Amex is accepted at all major supermarkets (Coles, IGA, Woolworths etc.) and service stations, so Eva is able to earn the higher point rate by using her Amex card for those expenses. But because she knows some of her local cafés and restaurants don’t accept Amex, she decides to use the Visa card to pay for coffee and dining out. After a month, here’s how the earnings look.
- Amex card: Eva spent a total of $600 on this card, earning her 900 points for the month.
- Visa card: Eva spent $300 and earned 150 points on this card.
- Total points earned: 1050 points per month.
To put this in perspective, Eva has earned 150 more points than she would with a credit card that offered 1 point per $1 spent, making the dual card more valuable to her.
What else do I need to consider?
If you’re interested in applying for a dual credit card, make sure you also consider the following factors:
- Earn rates. With a dual credit card, the amount of points you earn per $1 spent varies depending on whether you use the American Express card or the Mastercard or Visa. It may also vary depending on the type of transaction.
- Annual fee. Dual credit card annual fees range from around $59 to $400, which is similar to other rewards credit card options. Ideally, the value of the rewards you earn should outweigh the annual fee for the card you choose.
- Points caps. Many reward and frequent flyer credit cards limit the amount of points you can earn per month or year. When comparing cards, look at how much you expect to spend to decide if this cap will affect you.
- Amex benefits. Having an American Express card gives you access to exclusive travel and lifestyle offers and promotions through Amex Connect.
- Visa or Mastercard benefits. The inclusion of a Mastercard or Visa will give you access to exclusive travel, dining, shopping, entertainment and experience offers and promotions through Mastercard Priceless Cities or Visa Entertainment.
- Sharing your account. Even though you get two cards with a dual credit card account, they are designed to be used solely by you. Sharing them with someone else would void your account’s fraud protection. However, you can share your account by requesting an additional cardholder. When approved, this person will be issued with their own Amex and Mastercard/Visa linked to the account.
- Surcharges. Some businesses apply a surcharge when you pay with a credit card. Generally, this cost will be around 1–1.5% for Mastercard or Visa and up to 3% for American Express cards. Keep this cost in mind so you can decide if the cost is worth the potential points you’ll earn on a transaction.
How your transactions could impact on your dual credit card points
As well as the Amex and Mastercard/Visa earning different amounts of points per $1 spent, some dual credit cards vary the earn rates based on the type of transaction you make. For example, as of July 2017 the CommBank Awards credit card offers the following rates:
- Amex: For spending overseas (including online with overseas merchants) or with Higher Points Merchants, you earn 1.5 Awards points per $1 spent. For all other eligible spending, you earn 0.5 Awards points per $1 on the Amex card.
- Mastercard: 1 Awards point per $1 spent.
This means that in some cases, you’ll earn more points with the Mastercard than with the American Express card.
Dual credit cards are designed to help you maximise your rewards points by offering you two different cards to spend with. As the value of this type of credit card depends on how you use the Amex card and the Mastercard or Visa, make sure you compare a range of options and consider your spending habits so you can apply for a card that’s right for you.
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