Commonwealth Bank to slash CBA Award earn rates on American Express companion cards

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POSTED: May 2, 2017
UPDATED: November 8, 2018
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Note: CommBank has discontinued the Amex companion cards from 1 November 2018. This guide has been left up as reference and is no longer updated.

Please check our Commbank Awards cards guide for the latest updates.

Commonwealth Bank have announced upcoming changes to the earn rates of their CBA Award credit cards line up effective 1st July 2017, with earn rates across all cards seeing significant reductions.

Some exceptions are overseas spend, supermarkets, department stores, and petrol stations across Australia where they have retained the current earn rates – however the CBA Awards cards were already relatively unappealing for points-collectors given their historically low points-earn rates.

AusBT once again were first with the details and it seems that earn rates on the Mastercard account will remain the same across all cards, while points earned on the American Express are being cut significantly.

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

Personal Cards

CardOld Earn Rates Changes in Earn Rates on most eligible spendNew Earn Rates /
Points Caps
 
American ExpressMastercardAmerican ExpressMastercard
Diamond Awards Card3 points per $1.25 points per $-2.5 points per $ on the Amex3 points per $ on select transactions *

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
1.25 points per $
Platinum Awards Card2.5 points per $1 point per $-2 points per $ on the Amex2.5 points per $ on select transactions *

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
1 point per $
Gold Awards Card2 points per $1 point per $-1.5 points per $ on the Amex2 points per $ on select transactions *

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
1 point per $
Awards Card (Basic)1.5 points per $1 point per $-1 point per $ on the Amex1.5 points per $ on select transactions *

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

Business Cards

CardOld Earn Rates Changes in Earn Rates on most eligible spendNew Earn Rates /
Points Caps
 
American ExpressMastercardAmerican ExpressMastercard
Business Platinum Awards3 points per $1 point per $-2.5 points per $ on the Amex3 points per $ on select transactions *

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
1 point per $
Business Gold Awards2 points per $1 point per $-1.5 point per $ on the Amex2 points per $ on select transactions *

0.5 point per $ everywhere else
1 point per $
Business Awards1.5 points per $1 point per $-1 point per $ on the Amex1.5 points per $ on select transactions *

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

Effective Frequent Flyer Program earn rates from 1st July 2017:

The transfer rate of points from CBA Awards to both Qantas Points and Velocity Points will remain the same as current exchange rates:

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

Effective Earn Rates: Personal Cards

CardQantas Points Velocity Points 
American ExpressMastercardAmerican ExpressMastercard
Diamond Awards Card1.2 Qantas point per $ *

0.2 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.5 Qantas point per $1.5 Velocity point per $ *

0.25 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.625 Velocity point per $
Platinum Awards Card1 Qantas point per $ *

0.2 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Qantas point per $1.25 Velocity point per $ *

0.25 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.5 Velocity point per $
Gold Awards Card0.8 Qantas point per $ *

0.2 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Qantas point per $0.8 Velocity point per $ *

0.2 Velocity point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Velocity point per $
Awards Card (Basic)0.6 Qantas point per $ *

0.2 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Qantas point per $0.6 Velocity point per $ *

0.2 Velocity point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Velocity point per $
* Earn rates on overseas spend, at supermarkets, department stores, and petrol stations in Australia

Effective Earn Rates: Business Cards

CardQantas points Velocity Points 
American ExpressMastercardAmerican ExpressMastercard
Business Platinum Awards1.2 Qantas point per $ *

0.2 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Qantas point per $1.5 Velocity point per $ *

0.25 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.5 Velocity point per $
Business Gold Awards0.8 Qantas point per $ *

0.2 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Qantas point per $0.8 Velocity point per $ *

0.2 Velocity point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Velocity point per $
Business Awards0.6 Qantas point per $ *

0.2 Qantas point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Qantas point per $0.6 Velocity point per $ *

0.2 Velocity point per $ everywhere else
0.4 Velocity point per $
* Earn rates on overseas spend, at supermarkets, department stores, and petrol stations in Australia

Changes to foreign transaction fees

CBA are also tweaking how they charge for foreign transactions, with no fees in place for the personal Platinum and Diamond American Express cards. The existing 3% fee remains in place for Visa or MasterCard cardholders.

For Gold or Awards American Express cardholders and for Business cardholders, the fee jumps to 3.5% for international transactions.

Summing up

CBA’s changes to their card range are not unexpected, but it is a touch surprising they have decided to continue to cut points on their already less-rewarding card range.

The change to American Express earn rates is particularly marked – consumer have been trained over many years that American Express card offer more points, yet CBA are attempting to undo that by removing the higher points earning incentive except for transactions at supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations.

All up, the remaining earn rates on CBA cards seem like a bit of a mess and are very hard for the average consumer to understand where and when they should use their card to minimise fees or maximise their points. It makes my head hurt just looking at it.

Commonwealth Bank to slash CBA Award earn rates on American Express companion cards was last modified: November 8th, 2018 by Keith