American Express are offering 100,000 Membership Rewards Gateway points for new cardholders of the American Express Business Explorer until 4 February 2019.
Note that American Express is adjusting both earn rates and points transfer rates for most cards effective 15 April 2019. Here is our take on the changes and further information from American Express.
The card is very similar to the personal version of the American Express Explorer but with a few key differences which gear the business card toward consistently high spenders looking for high points return on their spend.
There is a requirement of $3,000 minimum spend within the first three months to trigger the bonus points. Also, offer eligibility criteria states that no previous cardholder of an American Express-issued card within the last 18 months are eligible for the bonus. If you have held a bank-issued American Express card, such as those from ANZ or Westpac, you will still be eligible for the bonus.
Membership Rewards Gateway points convert at a ratio of 4:3 Membership Rewards points to points in most frequent flyer programs. They also convert at a rate of 1:1 to Hilton Honors points and at a rate of 3:2 to Marriott Rewards.
This means the current bonus offer is equivalent to 75,000 points when transferred to frequent flyer programs such as Velocity, Krisflyer, Asia Miles and Etihad Guest Miles. We cover the transfer rates to different programs in more detail further down in the guide.
How you could use the bonus points from this card
All redemption figures shown are examples only and exclude accompanying taxes and fees. Points redemption price data is provided by a third-party, so inaccuracies may be present. Please check with the airline directly for a complete and accurate total redemption cost.
Key differences between the personal Explorer and Business Explorer cards
1. Earn 50,000 bonus points each year by spending $100,000
This is a simple, annual retention bonus designed by American Express to incentivise its high spenders on the card to keep and use the card on an ongoing business.
The $100,000 spend requirement equates to just under $8,335 per month on average, so depending on how you operate your business, it’s a sizeable bonus to have by trying to put more spend onto your Business Explorer card.
50,000 points annually is a sizeable amount, and is an initiative we would love to see more of from more banks to keep cardholders.
2. No $400 travel credit each year or smartphone screen insurance
50,000 bonus points are essentially offered to replace the $400 travel credit which is available on the Personal Explorer card. This is an understandable strategy, as the $400 travel credit could be harder to use by some businesses for business travel purposes.
The smartphone screen insurance policy is also missing from the Business Explorer.
3. Interest rate of 16.99% p.a. on all purchases
The Business Explorer card offers a slightly lower interest rate if you need to carry a balance that incurs interest at any point. The interest rate is 20.74% on the personal American Express Explorer card.
Otherwise, the benefits are similar between both versions of the Explorer card
You’ll find that the points earn rates and partners, twice-yearly access to an American Express lounge, travel insurances and up to 55 days interest-free on purchases are the same for both cards.
Points earned from ongoing spend are set at a solid 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar, which equates to 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar, again for most (but not all) frequent flyer partners.
|Card||American Express Business Explorer|
|Loyalty Program||American Express Membership Rewards Gateway|
|Points earned from spend||2 Membership Rewards points earned per $1 spent|
Transfers to most frequent flyer programs at 4 points = 3 frequent flyer points
|Minimum Income||$24,000 p.a.|
|Included Insurances||Travel Insurance|
Medical Emergency Expenses Cover
|Overseas transaction fee||3% of the converted amount|
|Annual fee||$395 p.a.|
Effective Frequent Flyer Program Point Earn Rates
|Frequent Flyer / Hotel Program||Points earned from spend|
|Velocity Points||1.5 points / $1|
|Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Miles||1.5 mile / $1|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1.5 mile / $1|
|Hilton HHonors||2 points / $1|
|Marriott Rewards-Starwood Preferred Guest||1.33 points / $1|
Earning points with the American Express Business Explorer
The card belongs to the American Express Membership Rewards Gateway program for points earned and redemption. We’ve covered Membership Rewards in depth—our full guide to the program is here.
The points earn rate on spend is 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar, however, this is a Membership Rewards Gateway card, so that is equal to 1.5 frequent flyer points (in Velocity, KrisFlyer, Asia Miles and most other frequent flyer programs) per dollar spent.
You’ll also earn the full points on the Business Explorer card for utilities and bills, unlike some other American Express cards. This means you’ll get full points on ‘telecommunications’ and ‘utilities’ but not on government charges, such as ATO and Australia Post.
The decision to put the Amex Business Explorer and personal Explorer cards into the Gateway flavour of Membership Rewards is an interesting one—it adds a little bit of confusion to the value of the points from this card; it is otherwise a card with simple, effective features. The other card that is also linked to the Amex Gateway program is the no-fee American Express Essential card.
So, it is important to remember that with the American Express Business Explorer, that Membership Rewards Gateway points transfer out to most frequent flyer programs at a lower rate than other Membership Rewards-linked cards, which lowers the value of the signup bonus and the ongoing earn rates.
That does not mean that the points bonus and earn rate on the Amex Business Explorer is not good—it is very competitive but it does mean it cannot be compared on a like-for-like basis with most of the other cards in the Membership Rewards range.
Membership Rewards Gateway links to most frequent flyer programs at 4 Membership Rewards points equal to 3 frequent flyer points—so the sign-up bonus and points earn rates are as shown below.
|American Express Gateway Rewards Partners||Transfer Rates until 14 April 2019|
Malaysian Airlines Enrich
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
THAI Royal Orchid Plus
Velocity Frequent Flyer
|1 Membership Rewards point = 0.75 frequent flyer point|
|Marriott Rewards-Starwood Preferred Guest||3 Membership Rewards points = 2 Marriott points|
|Hilton Honors||1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Honors point|
|Air New Zealand Airpoints||100 Membership Rewards points = 0.75 Airpoints|
American Express Travel Online
David Jones Pay with points
American Express Foreign Exchange
eGift Cards and Gift Cards
Select+Pay with points
Points for Credit Card
|13,500 Membership Rewards points = $100 travel reward|
In short, 1 Membership Rewards point on this card does not equal 1 frequent flyer point.
Get a room upgrade and US$75 hotel credit at high-end hotels
Card Members of this product can get special benefits when staying two or more consecutive nights at a high-end hotel booked through American Express’ The Hotel Collection. You will get:
- a US$75 hotel credit to spend on dining, spa and resort activities
- a complimentary room upgrade at check-in (subject to availability)
Your US$75 credit can be used to eat at restaurants within the hotel
Included travel insurances
As usual with the included insurances for credit cards, it’s not really possible to make a solid recommendation – each insurance is usually good for different reasons and different people.
The travel insurance included with the Amex Business Explorer covers incidents such as:
- Damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen personal baggage, money and documents during your trip
- Card Account Balance Waiver Cover
- Medical Emergency Expenses Cover
- Delayed flight or missed flight connection
- Luggage delay for luggage checked on a scheduled flight
- Travel disruption due to the unforeseen and unavoidable cancellation of a trip
Just like most other credit card insurances, to activate the travel insurances – you’ll need to have paid for the travel expenses on your card, or with your Membership Rewards points.
This guide references some of the benefits of insurance policies provided with this card.
You should read the PDS and obtain independent professional advice before obtaining this product.
Considering this card for Business-related transactions?
American Express offer a range of both business and consumer charge and credit cards. They do permit business transactions to be made on personal cards, unlike some other banks, but you might find some of the other business-focused benefits of the business cards to be appealing or more appropriate.
So – if you’re a sole trader or a business looking to earn points with your business spend – this card would still work for that purpose.
There’s a full list of business and personal consumer American Express cards which might be suitable for earning points from business-related transactions here.
American Express Apple Pay & Android Pay support
American Express cards support both Apple Pay & Android Pay, meaning you can use this card on your smartphone for easier payments. Find out more in our guides for each of the compatible services.
Eligibility criteria for bonus points for existing American Express Card Members
American Express are quite specific about whether existing Card Members will be eligible for bonus points if they apply for a card, are approved, and meet the minimum spend criteria.
If you hold a bank-issued American Express – such as from Westpac, Commonwealth Bank or NAB – that won’t affect whether you’re eligible for bonus points with an American Express branded card offer. There’s more in our guide to this here.
However American Express don’t allow existing cardholders, even for different types of American Express cards (e.g. Charge, Credit or Business) to be eligible for bonus points offers for cards in a different family.
How the Business Explorer compares with other American Express Business Cards
When looking at the American Express Business card range, the Business Explorer card fits neatly above the Business Accelerator card, which has a $160 annual fee, and 2 Membership Rewards Ascent points per $ spent which is equivalent to 2 frequent flyer points per $ – however this earn rate is only effective up to $50,000 spent per year.
It’s then well below the $1500 Business Platinum Charge card which is on a whole other level in terms of benefits – but also fees. The points earn rates on the Business Explorer are better for general spend, whereas the Business Platinum Charge card offers some higher points earn rates for specific bonus categories – travel, overseas spend, and a range of advertising and technology suppliers.
Our take on the American Express Business Explorer
This is a great addition to the American Express Membership Rewards range and helps fill a niche for business owners with substantial spend patterns for a card which will reward them in subsequent years of holding it with the 50,000 point bonus for spending $100,000 annually.
If you don’t meet that spend criteria, then arguably the personal version of the Explorer card is the more useful option—the $400 travel credit that comes with that card is not conditional on spend levels, whereas the bonus points are. American Express are also fine with using their personal cards for business purposes and, otherwise, the differences between the cards are relatively minor.
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