American Express tweak earn rates on the Qantas American Express range – good for some cardholders, not so much for others

American Express are changing some of their earn rates on the Qantas Ultimate, Qantas Premium and Qantas Discovery cards, generally looking to simplify the points earned from spend.

There are some increases in earn rates on general spend, but some of the category specific bonuses are reduced. As a result, whether this is a good or bad thing for cardholders will depend on how you personally spend on the card.

This comes after several months of offering a chunky 100,000 point bonus on the Qantas Ultimate card, so there are likely to be many readers holding this card now – so pay attention!

Timing of the changes

First up, let’s quickly cover off when this is happening – American Express are announcing the changes to cardholders now and if you already hold a card, you should receive a letter in the next few weeks confirming the changes outlined in this article.

So, this is how it will work:

  • Existing cardholders won’t have the new earn rates applied until 1st June.
  • New Applicants will have the current earn rates applied until 1st June – although I imagine this could change for new applicants before then

What’s changing?

First, let’s look at Qantas Ultimate. In short, the overall earn rate on spend is increasing to 1.5 Qantas Points per $, while the bonus points categories of dining, travel and overseas spend have been removed. The previous reduced earn rate on Utilities, Insurance and Telecommunications of 0.5 Qantas Points per $ is being removed – so now almost all spend will earn 1.5 Qantas Points per $.

American Express Qantas Ultimate Card Earn Rate Change
Old Earn RatesNew Earn Rates
Qantas products and services3 Qantas Points per $2.5 Qantas points per $
Restaurants3 Qantas Points per $1.5 Qantas points per $
Airlines, accommodation and travel agencies2 Qantas Points per $1.5 Qantas points per $
Non-AUD transactions2 Qantas Points per $1.5 Qantas points per $
Utilities, Insurance and Telecommunications0.5 Qantas point per $1.5 Qantas points per $
Government Spend0.5 Qantas point per $0.5 Qantas point per $
Card Purchases (all other spend)1 Qantas point per $1.5 Qantas point per $

It’s a shame to see the bonus categories go, but once you factor in the increase in earn rate across the board, the difference is not too great.

Onto Qantas Premium. The general earn rate is going up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $, but this time with the supermarket and fuel spend bonus categories being removed, and the Utilities, Insurance and Telecommunications reduced earn rate being removed also.

American Express Qantas Premium Card Earn Rate Change
Old Earn RatesNew Earn Rates
Qantas products and services2 Qantas points per $12.25 Qantas points per $1
Supermarket and petrol stations2 Qantas points per $11.25 Qantas points per $1
Airlines, accommodation and travel agencies1 Qantas point per $11.25 Qantas points per $1
Non-AUD transactions1 Qantas point per $11.25 Qantas points per $1
Utilities, Insurance and Telecommunications0.5 Qantas point per $11.25 Qantas points per $1
Government Spend0.5 Qantas point per $10.5 Qantas point per $1
Card Purchases (all other spend)1 Qantas point per $11.25 Qantas points per $1

Then, with Qantas Discovery, the entry level no annual fee card, the only change is a reduction in the points earned on the Government Charges category down to 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar – which is a loss for those who used this card for that purpose.

American Express Qantas Discovery Card Earn Rate Change
Old Earn RatesNew Earn Rates
Qantas products and services2 Qantas point per $12 Qantas point per $1
Card Purchases (all other spend)1 Qantas point per $11 Qantas point per $1
Utilities, Insurance and Telecommunications1 Qantas point per $11 Qantas point per $1
Government Spend, Australia Post and ATO1 Qantas point per $10.5 Qantas point per $1

Finally, none of the other benefits of the card are known to be changing at this point – so Qantas Premium cardholders still get 2 x Qantas Lounge passes annually, while Qantas Ultimate cardholders still receive the complimentary domestic economy flight.

Summing up – American Express Qantas card changes

These changes are not necessarily good or bad – it will depend on your own personal spend habits how they impact you. The exception is for Qantas Discovery cardholders – but given that’s a no annual fee card, it’s not surprising it’s being brought into line with other cards in the Qantas American Express range.

An American Express spokesperson provided us with this statement to explain. “We’re implementing the changes based on feedback from our customers. From the extensive research we conducted recently, we know they prefer simple earn rates and this is why we have made an investment in our Qantas Premium and Ultimate cards with a higher, fixed earn rate across most categories. Based on the way they spend, most of our Card Members will be better off as a result of these changes.”

Generally speaking I think it’s good when banks try to differentiate with the use of bonus categories (i.e. the old setup) – this allows greater consumer choice and the ability to pick out a card that works best for their circumstances. Normalising the earn rates takes that away for some people.

The increase in earn rates across the board is obviously a good thing as it helps to minimise the impact of the changes and offer more points earned from a wider range of retailers – but with the downside that they will become lesser points earners for a small subset of cardholders.

Finally, I think the timing – while I imagine this is not intentional – is not great, with Qantas Ultimate coming off a 100,000 point offer over the last few months. Many new cardholders would have applied with the existing earn rates in place. American Express have done the right thing by giving advance notice of the changes for existing cardholders, but it’s a reminder that the world of earning points is always fluid.

American Express tweak earn rates on the Qantas American Express range – good for some cardholders, not so much for others was last modified: November 30th, 2017 by Keith