Reward your spending with the American Express Explorer card

Sally McMullen 7 February 2018 NEWS

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Fly from Melbourne to Hong Kong in Business Class or redeem $1,000 worth of Webjet travel with 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards.

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The American Express Explorer credit card rewards big spenders who want extra value when they pay on plastic. It offers a whopping 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards, a competitive earn rate and other platinum perks such as airport lounge passes and travel credits. However, with a weighty annual fee and purchase rate, you should weigh up the perks with the price tag before you apply.

From the bonus points offer and extra features to the rates and fees, we’ve broken down the details of the American Express Explorer credit card and compared it with other cards to help you decide if this is the right rewards card for you.

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  1. 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards
  2. $400 travel credit
  3. American Express lounge passes
  4. Complimentary travel insurance
  5. Smartphone screen insurance

Please note that the rates, fees and features mentioned here were correct at the time of publication.

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How many points can I earn?

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Bonus points

If you’re a new Amex customer, apply by 9 April 2018 and spend $3,000 in the first three months of card membership, you’ll score 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards. Considering the standard earn rate, this means you could earn 106,000 points altogether when you meet the spend requirement. This means the bonus points offer has a value of roughly 35 points per $1.

What can I redeem with my bonus Membership Rewards?

Unlike direct earn frequent flyer cards, you can exchange your Membership Rewards for a number of rewards including credit to your card, gift cards and travel perks. For example, 10,000 Membership Rewards equals $100 worth of travel with Webjet. So you could redeem anything from flights, accommodation and holiday packages worth $1,000 with your 100,000 Membership Rewards.

If you do prefer frequent flyer rewards, you can exchange your Membership Rewards for points with a bunch of partnered programs. You can transfer 4 Membership Rewards for 3 points or miles with Velocity Frequent Flyer, Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Malaysian Airlines Enrich, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and THAI Royal Orchid Plus. You can also exchange 400 Membership Rewards for 3 Air New Zealand Airpoint Dollars.

As an example, your 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards would equate to 75,000 Velocity Points. That’s enough points to get you a one-way from Brisbane to Los Angeles in Premium Economy, a Business one-way flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong or a return flight from Sydney to Auckland in Business Class.

Want to know more about your points potential? You can compare more Virgin flights you could redeem with your bonus points offer below.

Origin Destination Operating carrier Class One way points One way taxes & fees Return points Return taxes & fees
Brisbane Los Angeles VA Economy 44,800 $115.21 89,600 $162.12
Brisbane Los Angeles VA Premium 71,700 $115.21 143,400 $162.12
Sydney Melbourne VA Business 15,500 $23.39 31,000 $46.78
Melbourne Perth VA Business 35,500 $20.43 71,000 $40.86
Brisbane Melbourne VA Business 23,500 $28.99 47,000 $57.98
Sydney Auckland VA Business 35,500 $124.38 71,000 $185.96
Sydney Cairns VA Business 35,500 $30.36 71,000 $60.72
Melbourne Hong Kong VA Economy 27,800 $84.95 55,600 $157.85
Melbourne Hong Kong VA Business 59,500 $84.95 119,000 $161.05

All examples quoted as at 5 Feb 2018

Earn rates

You’ll also continue to earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and 0.5 points per $1 spent on government bodies in Australia (such as on your ATO bill). This is one of the few cards that lets you earn points on government transactions, so that may be a plus depending on your spending habits.

This card also offers uncapped points, meaning your points potential is only limited by your budget.

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Are there any extra features?

$400 travel credit

Each year, you’ll receive a $400 travel credit to use on everything from flights and accommodation to car hire and vouchers at American Express Travel. Not only will this help you save on travel costs each year, it’s also another way you can outweigh the card’s $395 annual fee every year.

Airline lounge access

You’ll also score two entries to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport each year. This means you could relax in style before your next flight and escape the stress of the public waiting area with complimentary food and drinks, fast Wi-Fi, comfy seats and barista service.

Amex has plans to open a new lounge in Melbourne in 2018, but you can check out our review of the Sydney lounge to see whether or not the lounge passes are worth it.

Complimentary travel insurance

Like most premium and rewards credit cards, the American Express Explorer credit card comes with complimentary travel insurance. The cover includes medical emergency expenses up to $2,500,000, travel cancellation up to $30,000, baggage, money and documentation cover up to $10,000 as well as travel inconvenience insurance up to $500.

Eligibility requirements, inclusions and exclusions apply, so make sure to check the insurance policy before you make a claim.

Smartphone screen insurance

There’s almost nothing more soul crushing than dropping your phone and smashing the screen. But with this card, you’ll receive up to $500 for screen repairs if you accidentally break your smartphone screen. There’s a 10% excess per claim and you can take advantage of up to two claims every 12 months.

0% balance transfer offer

You can also take advantage of 0% on balance transfers for the first 12 months. A 1% balance transfer fee applies. Although this is handy if you have a debt you need to pay off, you shouldn’t be using a card to collect points if you need to concentrate on repaying your debt.

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How much does this card cost?

The competitive points offers and extra features come at the cost of a hefty $395 p.a. annual fee. It also has a relatively high purchase interest rate of 20.74% p.a.

You can potentially outweigh the cost of the annual fee with the $400 travel credit and the value you’d get from the bonus points. However, this card isn’t suited to cardholders who carry a balance from month to month because the interest you’d collect could easily offset the perks of the card. This is the case with most rewards cards, so you’re probably better off comparing a low rate card if you’re planning to carry a balance.

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How does it compare to other cards?

The American Express Explorer offers one of the most competitive bonus points offers on the market right now, but it’s wise to compare your options before you apply. For the purpose of this review, we’ll compare this card to the Citi Platinum credit card.

The Citi card also offers new cardholders 100,000 Citi Rewards Points when they spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. However, it has a lower standard earn rate of 1 point per $1 capped at $10,000 per statement period for domestic spend and uncapped for international purchases.

Similar to the Membership Rewards program, you can use your Citi Rewards Points to redeem merchandise, gift cards, travel rewards and to shop with partners such as Amazon. You can also exchange your Citi Rewards for Emirates Skywards miles (3 Citi points for 1 Skywards mile), Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (3 Citi points for 1 KrisFlyer mile) and Velocity Points (2.5 Citi points for 1 Velocity Point). If you’re comparing this to the American Express Membership Rewards Gateway program, you’ll notice that the Citi card has a slightly less valuable exchange rate if you’re planning to transfer your points to Velocity.

This Citi card doesn’t come with airline passes or a travel voucher, but it does offer complimentary travel insurance and purchase covers. As a Citi cardholder, you can also enjoy a free bottle of wine when you dine at participating restaurants thanks to the Citi Dining program.

Although this card has fewer extra features and a lower standard earn rate, it does have a considerably lower annual fee of $49 p.a. for the first year and $149 p.a. thereafter. As a Visa, you could also potentially look forward to wider card acceptance than if you were to opt for an Amex.

Please note that terms and conditions apply. For a more comprehensive overview of the card’s rates and fees, check out our review of the American Express Explorer card. If you’d prefer to earn points for business purchases, you could also consider the American Express Business Explorer card.

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Images: Shutterstock and American Express

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