Point Hacks Credit Card Guide

Commonwealth Bank Awards Guide

Commonwealth Bank Awards, with the linked Standard, Gold, Platinum and Diamond accounts, is one of Australia’s most popular is one of Australia’s most popular rewards programs when it comes to sheer bulk of members, but it’s not the most appealing out there – with a small set of points transfer partners and limited value to frequent flyer point collectors.


Changes to the Commonwealth Bank Awards credit cards from July 1st

Due to legislative changes relating to the costs incurred by retailers for accepting credit cards (more on this here) some banks have made changes to the features of their credit cards. Commonwealth Bank recently announced their changes, which we have outlined in more detail in an update here, if you apply for these cards between now and then, you’ll have two sets of points earn rates – those in place now, plus those in place from that date onward as outlined in this guide.

In summary, Commonwealth Bank have:

  • Lowered earn rates on companion American Express accounts
  • Introduced two tier earn rates on companion American Express accounts
  • Retained American Express earn rates on overseas spend, supermarkets, department stores, petrol across Australia
  • Retained earn rates on the Mastercard account on all CBA Awards Cards
  • Tweaked foreign transaction fees being applied across the card range

The basics of Commonwealth Bank Awards points

Rather than giving you points for a particular airline the Commonwealth Bank(CBA) has its own points scheme, Award Points, which you can then use in a number of different ways.

If airline points are what you are after, you can exchange your Award points for Frequent Flyer points. But you can also use Awards Points to go shopping, buy gift cards or even pay your CBA bank fees.

CBA Awards and Qantas Frequent Flyer Points

You can exchange your Awards points for Qantas frequent flyer points by opting into ‘Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct’ which will cost you $30 per year. Unfortunately this is an ‘all or nothing’ deal, meaning that all of your Awards points will automatically be converted into Qantas points each month. You won’t be able to use any of your Awards points on anything else.

The exchange rate is 2.5 Awards points to 1 Qantas Frequent Flyer point across all CBA Awards cards.

Type of credit cardExchange Rate
Awards Card,
Gold Awards Card,
Platinum Awards Card, or
Diamond Awards Card
2.5 Awards points = 1 Qantas Frequent Flyer Point

If you opt into Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct there is also a maximum number of points that you are allowed to earn each year. Check out the ‘Earning Points’ section below to learn more about each card and its maximum.

CBA Awards and Velocity Frequent Flyer Points

Unlike Qantas points, you don’t have to exchange all of your Awards points for Velocity points, and there is no annual fee associated with making any exchanges. However you will need a minimum of 3,600 Awards points to make your first exchange to Velocity points, and every subsequent exchange needs to be of a minimum of 1000 Awards points.

Once again, the exchange rates are different for each type of credit card:

Type of credit card
Exchange Rate
Awards Card, or
Gold Awards Card
2.5 Awards points = 1 Velocity Frequent Flyer Point
Platinum Awards Card, or
Diamond Awards Card
2 Awards points = 1 Velocity Frequent Flyer Point

Gift Cards

You can also exchange your award points for gift cards. Let’s be honest, gift cards are the next best thing to cold hard cash, and if you’re not an airline points person then chances are this is the best way to spend your Awards points.

Gift cards range from $25-$500 and surprisingly you don’t need to get the largest gift card to get the best exchange rate for your points.

Gift CardAward Points NeededRate (points per dollar)
$255,400Each $1 costs you 216 points
$5010,700Each $1 costs you 214 points
$10020,000Each $1 costs you 200 points
$25050,000Each $1 costs you 200 points
$500100,000Each $1 costs you 200 points

Although all the gift cards cost the same regardless of which retailer they are for, each retailer only offers certain values. There are currently 21 different retailers and the gift cards they’re offering can be seen in the table below:

Value of Gift Cards available

Retailer$25$50$100$250$500
Myer
Coles
Target
Kmart
BP
Caltex
Adairs
Red Balloon
Crown Hotels
Rebel Sport
Prouds the Jewellers
Sunglass Hut
Flight Centre
Napoleon Perdis
Bob Jane T-Mart
Dymocks
iTunes✓ ($20)
Getaway Golf
OPSM
Athlete's Foot

Purchasing with Points – Awards Store

Awards points can also be used directly for shopping. The Awards store has a whole range of items you can buy including clothing, electronics, beauty products, homewares, movie tickets and wine.
Some items also offer you the ‘Points Plus Pay’ option, which means you can choose to pay using a combination of Award points and cash. This works on a sliding scale, so you can tailor it to fit the amount of points you have at any one time.

Pay with Points In-Store at Myer and Flight Centre

A new and interesting facility that the Commonwealth Bank is now offering is the ability to pay in-store using your Awards points. At the moment it’s only for Myer and Flight Centre, but if it gains traction we can probably expect to see this option rolled out to more retailers.

The way it works is by presenting your credit card in-store and telling them that you’d like to use your points rather than your actual money.

The Awards exchange rate at both Myer and Flight Centre is $200 points per $1 (the same as for gift cards above $100, see Gift Cards). At Myer you need to be spending at least 200 points ($1) to use this function, but at Flight Centre the minimum is 2,500 points.

A few more things to note: if you are a Myer One member you will be able to claim credits on your Myer One card on purchases you make using Awards points. But you can’t use Awards points to pay off any money you owe in a Myer credit account or on layby.

Paying off Banking Fees

Finally, you can also use your Awards points to pay off certain CBA banking fees such as your credit card’s annual fee or repayments under an insurance policy you hold with the Commonwealth Bank.

For all of these CBA fees you will get the same rate of 200 points per $1.This means that it’s not the most effective use of Awards points, but it does give you the option of offsetting some of the costs of holding the card.

Card TypeAnnual FeePoints needed to pay off annual fee
Award$5911,800 points
Gold Award$11923,800 points
Platinum Award$24949,800 points
Diamond Award$34969,800 points

Earning Points

There are four cards options offered under the Commonwealth Bank Awards program and they will each give you two physical cards, one MasterCard and one American Express. But two cards doesn’t mean two accounts. Both of these cards are attached to the one account but they will each offer you different Awards points rates depending on which one you use to make purchases.

This table shows you an overview of points earning on each card, under each card type. More details of each card type can be found below.

 American ExpressMasterCard
Diamond Awards3 points per $ on select transactions*

0.5 point per $ everywhere lese
1.25 points
Platinum Awards2.5 points per $ on select transactions*

0.5 point per $ everywhere lese
1 point
Gold Awards2 points per $ on select transactions*

0.5 point per $ everywhere lese
1 point
Awards1.5 points per $ on select transactions*

0.5 point per $ everywhere lese
1 point
* Earn rates on overseas transactions, at supermarkets, department stores, and petrol stations across Australia

Awards Card (Basic)

This is the most basic option, offering the lowest Awards points earn rate, but also having the lowest annual fee.

Card Details

CardAwards Card
American Express Points Earn Rate1.5 points per $ on overseas transactions, at supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations across Australia

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
Mastercard Points Earn Rate1 point per $
Points cap50,000 Awards points per year
Minimum credit limit$500
ExtrasNo additional insurances included
Overseas transaction fee3.5% on the American Express

3% on the Mastercard
Annual fee$59 (you can choose to pay this off with 11,800 points)

Gold Awards Card

This intermediate card offers you a slightly better Awards points rate as well as additional insurances.

Card Details

CardGold Awards Card
American Express Points Earn Rate2 points per $ on overseas transactions, at supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations across Australia

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
Mastercard Points Earn Rate1 point per $
Points Cap125,000 points per year
Minimum credit limit$4,000
ExtrasTravel Insurance - for you and your partner + children (PDS)
Purchase Security Insurance - for up to 90 days
Extended warranty Insurance - for up to 1 year
Overseas transaction fee3.5% on the American Express

3% on the Mastercard
Annual fee$119 (you can choose to pay this off with 23,800 points)

Platinum Awards Card

This premium card offers a higher Awards points rate and access to CommBank’s concierge service.

Card Details

CardPlatinum Awards Card
American Express Points Earn Rate2.5 points per $ on overseas transactions, at supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations across Australia

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
Mastercard Points Earn Rate1 point per $
Points cap200,000 points per year
Minimum credit limit$6,000
ExtrasTravel Insurance - for you and your partner + children (PDS)
Purchase Security Insurance - for up to 90 days
Extended Warranty Insurance - for up to 1 year
Concierge - a 24/7 service to help with your requests (fees apply)
Overseas transaction fee0% on the American Express

3% on the Mastercard
Annual fee$249 (you can choose to pay this off with 49,800 points)

Diamond Awards Card

This premier card offers the highest Awards points rate, maximum points cap and also comes with complimentary airport lounge access, but all at the cost of a higher annual fee.

Card Details

CardDiamond Awards Card
American Express Points Earn Rate3 points per $ on overseas transactions, at supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations across Australia

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
Mastercard Points Earn Rate1.25 point per $
Points Cap1,000,000 points per year
Minimum credit limit$15,000
ExtrasTravel Insurance - for you and your partner + children (PDS)
Purchase Security Insurance - for up to 90 days
Extended Warranty Insurance - for up to 1 year
Concierge - a 24/7 service to help with your requests (fees apply)
Lounge Access - at the American Express lounge, Sydney Airport
Overseas transaction fee0% on the American Express

3% on the Mastercard
Annual Fee$349 (you can choose to pay this off with 69,800 points)

Summing Up

There are a number of ways to use Commonwealth Bank Awards points if you have a stash in your Awards points account.

One of the more commons ways we hear of CBA cardholders using the Diamond card is through discounted annual fee offers as a result of a home loan package. If this is on offer to you, then the Diamond card could be worth considering.

Their partnership with both Qantas and Virgin Frequent Flyer Programs makes those programs an option, but their Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct requirements are restrictive and stop you from making use of any of their other redemption options.

Relative to the competition though, points earn and redemption rates on Commonwealth Bank Awards linked credit cards are poor, with greater value to be had by looking elsewhere.

Commonwealth Bank Awards Guide was last modified: August 16th, 2017 by Keith

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Comments Expand Comments

  1. Linda

    Could you please direct us to where you determined the conversion rate of points to Flight Centre and Myer dollars? CBA guide/advert is saying $1 = 200 points

  2. Kerry

    If you would like to use Lounge Access – at the American Express lounge, Sydney Airport. Do you apply for a lounge pass prior to travel or can you just show your card on entry?

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