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How can I earn more points with a CommBank American Express card?

Here’s how to get the most points per $1 spent through your CommBank Awards account – and how to avoid the lower rate of 0.5 points per $1.

CommBank Awards American Express cards typically offer a higher point earn rate than Mastercard or Visa options. But changes that come into effect on 1 July 2017 will impact on the number of points you can earn with an Amex card from CommBank, with the introduction of “Higher Points Merchants” and new earn rates ranging from as little as 0.5 points per $1 up to 3 points per $1.

As a result, there are times when you could earn more points using a CommBank Awards Mastercard or Visa instead of an American Express card. To help you make the most of your CommBank Awards Amex card, here we look at what’s changing and the types of purchases that will earn the most points so you can make the most of your CommBank American Express card.

Key CommBank Awards changes that affect American Express cards

Previously, CommBank Awards accounts offered both a Mastercard or Visa and an American Express card, with the Amex earning the highest standard rate of points per $1 spent for the account. From July 2017, two different earn rates will be applied for Amex purchases as follows:

  • Higher Points Merchants and overseas transactions. Using your Amex card to pay for purchases made with “Higher Points Merchants” or overseas allows you to collect the largest number of points per $1 available on your CommBank Awards account. The number of points per $1 varies depending on your CommBank Awards account, with the CommBank Diamond Awards offering 3 points per $1 and the CommBank Awards Classic offering 1.5 points per $1 for these transactions.
  • Other eligible purchases. These purchases earn a reduced rate of 0.5 points per $1 for all CommBank Awards American Express cards.

How many points will I earn with a CommBank Awards card?

Use the table below to compare earn rates between CommBank Awards cards. We’ve included details of the earn rates for before and after 1 July 2017. Note that only Amex earn rates are changing as of July 2017.

Card Earn rate before July 2017 American Express earn rate from July 2017
CommBank Diamond Awards Amex: 3 points per $1 spent

Mastercard/Visa: 1.25 points per $1 spent

3 points per $1 spent: Overseas (including purchases made online at overseas websites) or at Higher Points Merchants

0.5 points per $1 spent: Everywhere else

CommBank Platinum Awards Amex: 2.5 points per $1 spent

Mastercard/Visa: 1 point
per $1 spent

2.5 points per $1 spent: Overseas (including purchases made online at overseas websites) or at Higher Points Merchants

0.5 points per $1 spent: Everywhere else

CommBank Awards Amex: 1.5 points per $1 spent

Mastercard/Visa: 1 point
per $1 spent

1.5 points per $1 spent: Overseas (including purchases made online at overseas websites) or at Higher Points Merchants

0.5 points per $1 spent: Everywhere else

CommBank Platinum Business Awards Amex: 3 points per $1 spent

Mastercard/Visa: 1 point
per $1 spent

3 points per $1 spent: Overseas (including purchases made online at overseas websites) or at Higher Points Merchants

0.5 points per $1 spent: Everywhere else

CommBank Business Awards Amex: 1.5 points per $1 spent

Mastercard/Visa: 1 point
per $1 spent

1.5 points per $1 spent: Overseas (including purchases made online at overseas websites) or at Higher Points Merchants

0.5 points per $1 spent: Everywhere else

What are Higher Points Merchants?

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. Some examples of Higher Points Merchants include:

  • BP petrol stations
  • Coles supermarkets
  • David Jones department stores
  • IGA
  • Myer department stores
  • Woolworths supermarkets
Note that exceptions may apply if an individual merchant trading as one of the above named retailers does not accept American Express cards. The CommBank Awards terms and conditions also explain that the higher earn rate is not available if you pay “using an intermediary payment platform, for example, PayPal”.

How can I earn more points when shopping overseas?

CommBank Awards American Express cards also offer the higher earn rate for eligible spending overseas. For example, if you were paying for a taxi in London, shopping in New York or dining in Tokyo, you’d earn the highest number of points per $1 spent when using your CommBank Awards American Express card.

This higher earn rate also extends to purchases made online at overseas websites, which includes popular web-based merchants such as ASOS, Amazon (until it launches in Australia), Book Depository, Spotify and StrawberryNET.

Keep in mind that overseas transaction fees apply for purchases made when you’re travelling or shopping online with an international retailer, even if the transaction is made in Australian dollars. CommBank lists the following rates for Amex cards:

  • Overseas transactions converted by American Express: 2% (plus a currency conversion factor of 1.50% which is included in the converted transaction amount).
  • Transactions in Australian dollars but with an overseas connection: 3.00%.

Change to CommBank Platinum and Diamond American Express card fees

From 1 July 2017, the CommBank Awards Diamond and Platinum American Express cards will have $0 international transaction fees on overseas purchases made in-store and online. This means you’ll be able to enjoy the highest earn rate on your Amex card without paying the additional fee.

Maximising rewards with a CommBank American Express card

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From July 2017, you’ll earn the highest rate of CommBank Awards points per $1 when you use your American Express card at Higher Points Merchants or for overseas spending. So let’s look at how you could make the most of this earn rate.

Say you have the CommBank Platinum Awards, which offers up to 2.5 points per $1 spent with the American Express card, and used it for the following monthly expenses:

  • Supermarket shopping: $800
  • Petrol: $250
  • Clothes and gifts from David Jones: $150
  • Spotify subscription: $11.99
  • Total spending: $1,211.99

As all of these payments are eligible for the highest earn rate, you’d earn 3,029 CommBank Awards points. If you spent that much each month for a year, you’d collect a total of 36,348 points. That’s enough for $175 worth of gift cards (36,100 points if you got $100, $50 and $25 gift cards), a FitBit Flex Wireless Wristband (28,700 points) or 18,174 Velocity Frequent Flyer points.

How can I make the most of both my CommBank Awards cards?

CommBank Awards accounts come with both an American Express card and a Mastercard or Visa to help you maximise your spending power and rewards. With the changes coming into play from July 2017, there are times when your Mastercard or Visa will earn more points per $1 than your Amex card. So, here’s a quick guide to when you should use which card:

  1. Use your Amex for spending at major supermarkets, petrol stations and department stores, as well as any overseas spending (including online). This will give you the highest earn rate available for your account and can help you maximise the points you’ll earn on everyday costs.
  2. Use your CommBank Mastercard or Visa for all other domestic spending. Even if you have the CommBank Awards card, you will still earn a higher rate than you would with your Amex card (1 point per $1 with the Mastercard/Visa compared to 0.5 points per $1 with the Amex).

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What else should I consider?

Whether you currently have a CommBank Awards card or are thinking of getting one, make sure you weigh up the following factors to help you decide if this type of account is worth it for you.

  • Annual fee. CommBank Awards annual fees range from $59 p.a. for the Awards Credit Card up to $349 p.a. for the Diamond Awards Credit Card. Ideally the rewards and other benefits you get from the card (such as complimentary extras) should be worth more than the annual fee.
  • Annual points caps. CommBank Awards accounts all limit the number of points you can earn per year. For example, the CommBank Awards card lets you earn up to 50,000 Awards points per year, while the CommBank Awards Diamond has an annual cap of 1,000,000 points. Note that different Qantas Points caps apply if you opt-in to Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct.
  • Amex acceptance. While most major retailers in Australia accept American Express, you won’t be able to use it everywhere. What’s more, some merchants could apply a surcharge when you use your Amex card. Use our guide to find out more about Amex acceptance.
  • Bonus partners. The CommBank Awards program offers 1 bonus point per $1 spent with a range of partners including Adairs, Bob Jane T-Mart, Hoyts, Thrifty and Village Cinemas. From July 2017, using your Mastercard or Visa with these partners will help you maximise your rewards more than using your Amex card.
  • Amex benefits. Your CommBank American Express card also gives you access to exclusive shopping, travel, dining, entertainment and lifestyle offers from Amex Connect.
  • Transactions that don’t earn points. CommBank lists the following transactions as ineligible for earning points: BPAY transactions, payments to the Australian Taxation Office unless made using a Business Awards card, balance transfers, cash advance transactions, foreign currency and traveller’s cheques purchases, credit card insurance premiums, interest charges, Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct fees, bank fees, card account payments, transactions deemed by the bank to be for business purposes (unless made on a Business Awards card) and any other transactions which may from time to time be excluded by the Bank.

The range of CommBank Awards accounts gives you the convenience of both an American Express card and a Mastercard or Visa but has different earn rates based on the type of card you use and what you’re paying for. So make sure you consider these factors and compare a range of options to help you find a card that’s right for you.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a senior 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.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    bruceJuly 12, 2017

    i refer to Comm Bank award points with Amex cards. you mention department stores as being Higher points merchants.
    does that include Target, K mart and Big W.

    • Default Gravatar
      DanielleJuly 13, 2017

      Hi Bruce,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      Yes, you’ll earn points at the higher rate per $1 spent at supermarkets, department stores or petrol stations in Australia. To check if the business you’re shopping at is classified as a supermarket, petrol station or department store for the purpose of American Express transactions, simply log on to NetBank, then go to the account details screen of your credit card, and click on the transaction to view more detail. When the transaction listing is expanded you’ll be able to see if the business is listed as a supermarket, petrol station or department store.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

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