The Commonwealth Bank Ultimate Awards card earns Awards points on spend and has no international transaction fees for purchases you make overseas or online.
Commonwealth Bank runs its own awards program with its credit cards, but you can transfer points to various airline partners or use them for retail products.
The Ultimate Awards credit card is the bank’s most prestigious one out of the four award cards it offers. You get a sleek black minimalistic card and the highest points earning opportunities, but the fees can also be high. Here is our independent review of the Commbank Ultimate Awards card.
Digging into the details of the CommBank Ultimate Awards Credit Card
|Card||CommBank Ultimate Awards|
|Loyalty Program||CommBank Awards|
|Points earned from spend||3 Award points for international transactions up to $10,000
2 Award points at major Australian supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations up to $10,000
1 Awards point on all other purchases up to $10,000
From May 2020, 0.5 Awards point for spend over $10,000 uncapped
|Points Cap||Soft capped at $10,000 per category but no hard cap|
|Earns points at ATO||No|
|Travel benefits||Lounge access via LoungeKey|
|Insurance included||International Travel Insurance|
|Annual fee||$35/month but can be waived if you spend at least $2,500 in your statement period|
The CommBank Ultimate Awards Credit Card offers a decent earn rate on certain categories up to $10,000. Afterwards, you will still continue to earn points but a reduced rate.
About CommBank Awards
Earning points and rewards
First, we look at the most interesting part of the card — how many points you can earn and what rewards you can get with it.
The current bonus offer is 100,000 Awards Points when you apply for a new Ultimate Awards credit card by 30 May 2020, get approved, then spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days. This is equivalent to 50,000 Velocity Points.
You can earn 3 points per $1 spent on international transactions (with no international transaction fees), in-store and online. 2 points per $1 is given for purchases at major Australian supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations. All other spend only earns 1 point per $1.
Your full points-earning capacity is capped up to $10,000 per statement period, after which the rate drops down to a flat 0.5 points per $1 AUD spent.
Through the Commbank Awards eShop, you can earn bonus points at retailers.
Redeeming points and rewards
Commbank Awards has a lot of members and redemption partners so you’ll have plenty of choices, but redemption rates are quite poor in general.
Transfers to Velocity Frequent Flyer is 2:1 (currently suspended), which is the best rate amongst all the other airline partners, which range from 2.5:1 to 4:1. This does mean you’re effectively earning 0.5 Velocity Points per $1 spent on general purchases and 1 Velocity Point per $1 at supermarkets and department stores.
For a $30 annual fee, you can opt-in to automatically earn Qantas Points at a rate of 2.5 to 1. If you choose this, you can’t use your Commbank Awards points for anything else. This means you’d only earn 0.4 Qantas Points per $1 spent on general purchases and 0.8 Qantas Points per $1 spent at supermarkets and department stores.
|Transfer partner||Transfer rate||Earn rate per $1 |
|Earn rate per $1 |
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||2.5 to 1||0.4 points per $1||0.8 points per $1|
|Velocity Frequent Flyer||2 to 1||0.5 points per $1||1 point per $1|
|AirAsia BIG||2.5 to 1||0.4 points per $1||0.8 points per $1|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||3 to 1||0.33 points per $1||0.66 points per $1|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||3 to 1||0.33 points per $1||0.66 points per $1|
|China Eastern Miles||3 to 1||0.33 points per $1||0.66 points per $1|
|Etihad Guest||3.5 to 1||0.29 points per $1||0.58 points per $1|
|EVA Air Infinity MileageLands||3 to 1||0.33 points per $1||0.66 points per $1|
|IHG Rewards Club||2.5 to 1||0.4 points per $1||0.8 points per $1|
|JAL Mileage Bank||4 to 1||0.25 points per $1||0.5 points per $1|
|Lufthansa Miles & More||4 to 1||0.25 points per $1||0.5 points per $1|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||3.5 to 1||0.29 points per $1||0.58 points per $1|
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||3.5 to 1||0.29 points per $1||0.58 points per $1|
|United MileagePlus||4 to 1||0.25 points per $1||0.5 points per $1|
These earning rates are quite poor for a top-tier card, compared to other airline-affiliated credit cards from other banks.
You can use Commbank Awards points for gift cards, where $100 will cost you 20,000 points. It’s also possible to pay-off purchases in-store at Myer and Flight Centre, or certain Commonwealth Bank banking fees with your points, which also costs the same rate of 200 points per $1.
Finally, you can use your points at an Awards store for retail products, but the value you get from each point will vary.
Ultimate Awards card perks
So what other benefits do you get with the card? International travel insurance for you, your spouse and accompanying children are automatically included. A base-level of medical cover is provided for all eligible trips, even if you don’t activate the cover.
However, if you do activate your cover by simply registering for it in NetBank or the Commbank App, then you will receive a comprehensive level of cover. This is better than most other credit card insurances since there are no other prerequisites, such as paying for your flights on the card, to activate cover.
There are no international transaction fees, which is good to see as you also earn the highest level of 3 Awards points per $1 spent on international transactions.
The card grants you access to the LoungeKey network of airport lounges, but complimentary access is not included. In the fine print, it mentions that a lounge visit fee and any accompanying guests will be charged to your Ultimate Awards card.
Through Mastercard Traveler Rewards, you can get cashback offers at participating overseas merchants.
Fees and charges
The Commonwealth Bank Ultimate Awards card doesn’t have an annual fee. Instead, it has a monthly fee of $35 which is waived if you spend at least $2,500 in a statement period and elect to choose online statements.
This means it’s technically possible to have the card fee-free if you happen to spend at least $2,500 a month ($30,000 a year). On the other hand, the maximum you’ll pay is $420 a year if you don’t ever get the monthly fee waived.
There is no international transaction fee, and an additional cardholder is free.
The purchase interest rate is 20.24% p.a. with a standard 55 days interest free. The $20 late payment fee, 21.24% cash advance rate and $3 or 3% cash advance fee is fairly standard on award cards. It’s always advisable to only spend what you can afford and pay back the full amount monthly, to avoid all of these fees.
The minimum credit limit is $6,000, but no minimum income is indicated in the application.
The Commonwealth Bank Ultimate Awards card is quite interesting, and I give the bank credit for offering up something different to most of its competitors.
I like the monthly fee structure instead of the annual fee, with the potential to not pay any ongoing fees if you maintain a $2,500 monthly spend. For couples or families, that’s not too unreasonable. The included travel insurance is also easier to use than most other products.
For this top-tier card, I would have liked to see more shopping-based insurances, such as price protection, extra warranty or damage protection.
Unfortunately, the main let-down of this card is the Awards program. The transfer rates to most frequent flyer products just aren’t that great, and you can get higher earning potential with most other top-level cards in the market.
The lack of any included lounge access also makes this card fail to stand out from the pack.