Australia’s Best Co-Brand Airline Rewards Cards for Frequent Flyers

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American Express and Velocity Rewards are the latest brands to partner to launch credit cards designed for people who want to escape faster. With growing competition in this space, credit card comparison website, Credit Card Finder has conducted an analysis to determine which of these types of travel rewards cards stack up best. It specifically looked at premium Cards launched in partnership between financial services providers and airline programs, known in the industry as co-brand travel cards.

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Analysis of Platinum Airline Co-Brand & Frequent Flyer Credit Cards

The American Express Velocity Platinum Card is the best rewards card in Australia for the high spending frequent flyer said Jeremy Cabral from CreditCardFinder.com.au.

American Express and Velocity Rewards are the latest brands to partner to launch credit cards designed for people who want to escape faster. With growing competition in this space, credit card comparison website, Credit Card Finder has conducted an analysis to determine which of these types of travel rewards cards stack up best. It specifically looked at premium Cards launched in partnership between financial services providers and airline programs, known in the industry as co-brand travel cards.

Ten cards were reviewed as part of the analysis. They included: the ANZ Platinum Qantas Frequent Flyer Card, Citibank Emirates Card, Jetstar Platinum MasterCard, Qantas American Express Ultimate Card, American Express Velocity Platinum Card, Westpac Altitude, Westpac Earth Platinum, NAB Qantas Platinum, Singapore Airlines Westpac Platinum and the Virgin High Flyer.

Best co-brand travel cards:
Scenario 1: Domestic traveler who spends $2,000 per month on their card:

First: American Express Velocity Platinum Card

Key benefits:

  • A complimentary Virgin Australia economy return flight between selected Australia cities after the consumer's first Card spend every year.
  • Unlimited access to complimentary full priced business class companion airfares with V Australia or codeshare partner Delta.
  • 1.5 Velocity Points for every dollar the consumer spend on purchases with the Card and 3 Points for every dollar spent on the Card with Virgin Australia, V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue.
  • Access to complimentary domestic and international travel insurance when the consumer purchase eligible travel on his/her Card.
  • Two complimentary, single entry passes to the Virgin Australia lounge each year at selected airports.
  • Complimentary domestic and international travel insurance when the consumer use the Card to purchase eligible travel (or if his/her ticket was redeemed as a complimentary Virgin Australia domestic return flight)
  • Travel Accident Cover and Travel Inconvenience Cover for when trips don’t go according to plan.
  • Retail protections including Purchase Protection and Refund Protection.
  • 24/7 Cardmember services.
  • Access to amexnetwork.com.au where the consumer will find American Express promotions including American Express Selects™, a program that connects him/her with some of the best shopping, dining, travel and entertainment offers both at home and around the world.

Second:
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

Key benefits:

  • Points earn rate of 1.5 Qantas Frequent Flyer points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases with the Card. Qantas Frequent Flyers will also earn 1 additional point for every $1 spent on your Card in Australia on selected Qantas products and services
  • Receive up to 30,000 extra Qantas Frequent Flyer points if the consumer apply by 15 September and are approved, that's 5,000 extra points after the consumer's first purchase with the Card, 22,500 points after $500 spend on purchases in the first 2 months of becoming a Card member and 2,500 points after the first Card spend in Australia on selected Qantas products and services
  • Complimentary Qantas domestic Economy return
  • Domestic and overseas Travel Insurance for the consumer and his/her supplementary Cardmembers
  • Travel Inconvenience Cover will cover the consumer for flight delays, missed connections or delayed luggage
  • Refund Protection means American Express will credit the consumer's account if he/she is refused a refund on an unused eligible item within 90 days of purchase.
  • Purchase Protection means American Express will repair or replace eligible items if they are accidentally broken or stolen within 90 days of purchase.

Third:
Virgin High Flyer Card

Key benefits:

  • 4 free flights a year, every year all around Australia. Buy a Virgin Australia domestic seat with the card and American Express will give the consumer a second seat on the flight free , up to 4 times a year. All you need to do is cover the credit card booking fees. Flights subject to availability, conditions apply.
  • Complimentary International Travel Insurance for consumer and his/her family
  • Enjoy American Express' highest level of service, with the consumer's very own personal concierge, plus a host of other Platinum benefits.
  • An impressive balance transfer rate of 6.9% p.a. for the first 6 months. At the end of the 6 months, the rate on the consumer's balance transfer will revert to the cash advance rate.
  • A competitive annual purchase rate of 20.99% p.a.
  • Enjoy up to 44 days interest free on purchases
  • All this value for an annual Card fee of $249
  • And access to some great Virgin family offers

Scenario 2: International traveller who spends $2,000 per month on their card:
First: American Express Velocity Platinum Card
Second: Virgin High Flyer Card
Third: Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

“The American Express Velocity Platinum Card is the best rewards card in Australia for the high spending frequent flyer”, said Jeremy Cabral from CreditCardFinder.com.au. A domestic traveller who spends $2,000 a month on the Card each year will receive $834 worth of value from the Card. For an international traveller, it’s $1,319, which is impressive considering the Card has an annual fee of $349.

“Research shows that most people know credit cards that can help them escape on their next holiday sooner exist. Yet of all people who have travel cards, only a quarter understand fully how they work and what features and benefits they offer”, said Jeremy Cabral from Credit Card Finder .

What is a co-brand card?
A co-brand card is created when financial services providers partner with brands, most commonly in the retail or travel industries, to introduce cards to the market. These cards reward card holders each time they use their card with the card partner, through special privileges and rewards, for instance greater rewards points.

An example of a co-brand card partnership was when in 2008 American Express partnered with retailer David Jones to launch the David Jones American Express Card which rewards shoppers when they shop at David Jones.

Co-brand travel cards
The majority of co-brand travel cards are linked to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program, however new cards have emerged associated with airlines such as the Virgin Australia group of airlines, Singapore Airlines and Emirates.

Each time a member uses their card they earn rewards points which are automatically swept into the airline loyalty program of their card. Rewards points can then be redeemed for flights and often other travel expenses like accommodation and car hire.

Co-brand travel cards are designed for travellers and typically come with other benefits such as travel insurance, airport lounge access and even complimentary flights.

Who are co-branded travel cards designed for?
These cards are designed for people who want to, or regularly travel and want to maximise the number of frequent flyer points they can earn by having a co-brand card.

What to look for in a co-branded travel card?
The first question a consumer should ask when they are considering getting a co-branded travel card is ‘Do I mind which airline to fly with?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ then that narrows down their options. If the consumer is happy to be flexible on this point, one of the most important things to consider is how many rewards points their spending will get them and what destinations can they fly to when they do have enough points for a plane ticket.

Some cards also come with attractive bonus points offers when they sign up and also when they use the card with the partner airline. These incentives are worth looking out for.

Each card will have a different annual fee and it will come down to weighing this up with the features and benefits of the card.

The newest entrant in the market, the American Express Velocity Platinum Card with its annual fee of $349 p.a. well and truly pays for itself when if one looks at all of its features and benefits, which include: unlimited buy-one-get-one-free full-priced international business class airfares, a complimentary domestic economy return flight each year, two entries to the Virgin Australia lounge each year, domestic and international travel insurance and refund protection.

For more information about the American Express Velocity Cards visit http://www.amexvelocity.com.au.

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