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American Express Explorer Credit Card

My monthly spend: 
$5,000
 
offer
card features
rewards program
earn rate
sign up bonus
your earnings
American Express Explorer Credit Card
APPLY BY 30 jan 17
Receive 100,000 points when you apply online by 30th Jan 2017, are approved and spend $1,500 on your card within the first 2 months of Card Membership.
Receive a $400 Travel Credit each year towards any flights, hotels and car hire when you book online with this card.
Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs when you pay for your phone or contract with this card.
Add to comparison
Membership Rewards Gateway
Membership Rewards Gateway
2 pts
per $1 spent
100,000
points
after spend criteria

Pros & cons

What's good?

What's not so good?

Receive 100,000 points when you apply online by 30th Jan 2017, are approved and spend $1,500 on your card within the first 2 months of Card Membership.
Receive a $400 Travel Credit each year towards any flights, hotels and car hire when you book online with this card.
Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs when you pay for your phone or contract with this card.
Earn up to 2 pts per $1 spent on eligible purchases with the Membership Rewards Gateway program.
0% p.a. for 12 months for balance transfers and an establishment fee of 1%.
Enjoy up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
Travel with peace of mind with the complimentary travel insurances.
The $395 p.a., but it is offset with benefits.
You can find better interest rates than 20.74% p.a.
To get a credit card like this one, you will need a minimum income of $65,000.
You won’t qualify for the bonus points if you have held any kind of AmEx card in the previous 18 months.

Review

Our review of the American Express Explorer Credit Card

American Express is laying down a serious challenge to its market rivals with its new, ultra-competitive American Express Explorer Credit Card, a premium rewards card aimed at the well-heeled leisure and business traveller. The benefits attached to the card are extensive but finely-tuned to deliver the maximum benefit to travellers at minimum cost—in fact, effectively zero cost.

High points earning rate

This is a rewards credit card linked to the American Express Membership Rewards Gateway program. It has the least complicated and most inclusive high points earning rate of all American Express Membership Rewards personal credit cards. The rates are:

  • 2 pts per $1 spent on all purchases, except
  • 0.5 points per dollar on government purchases (ATO, Australia Post, local government rates, etc.)

This is a major concession when compared with other American Express proprietary cards, which include spending on utilities, telephone bills and insurance in the 0.5 points per dollar category.

Boost the points rate even higher

Points earning can be boosted temporarily by shopping with AmEx bonus partners. Download the American Express mobile app to be alerted to the existence of bonus partners wherever you happen to be.

You can also receive bonus points for referring a friend who successfully applies for the same card, under the ‘Member Get Member’ program.

Membership Rewards points never expire, provided your card account remains open.

Extraordinary bonus points offer

Your points account balance will soar from the very start, with this staggering bonus points offer. Simply spend at least $1,500 in 2 months, and 100,000 points will be added to your account.

This is the highest number of bonus points on offer with any AmEx personal card. The same number of bonus points is offered with the American Express Platinum Business Card, which has a $1,500 p.a. annual fee. Also, you won’t qualify for the bonus points if you have held any kind of AmEx card in the previous 18 months.

Redeeming Membership Rewards points

American Express does not operate its own merchandise catalogue. Instead it gives you plenty of options to use points for travel, but if you’re having a stay-at-home year you can still choose to shop with points or just get a cashback. The choices are:

  • Transfer points to the frequent flyer programs of Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Malaysian Airlines, at the rate 4 Membership Rewards points = 3 airline points
  • Transfer points to the frequent flyer program of Air New Zealand at the rate 100 Membership Rewards points = 1 Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollar
  • Book flights, accommodation and tours with Helloworld, Webjet and American Express Travel Online
  • Convert points to hotel program points with Hilton HHonors (1:1) or Starwood Preferred Guest (2:1)
  • Redeem your points for foreign currency at an American Express Currency Exchange store
  • Shop with points at David Jones Online and Ticketmaster
  • Swap points for a range of retail, entertainment or travel gift cards, e.g. a combined Coles Group & Myer Gift Card, starting at 1,400 points for a $10 card and rising to 115,000 points for a $1,000 card
  • Get a cashback on your card account, starting at 8,000 points for a $50 cashback, up to 130,000 points for $1,000

A Points + Pay option is available with most redemptions, meaning that you can pay the balance in cash if you don’t have quite enough points.

Work out the value of those 100,000 points

Looking at the redemption options, it’s apparent that the 100,000 points are worth $870 in retail gift cards, $770 in account cashback, or 75,000 airline points (enough for two Virgin economy return tickets from Sydney to Perth, with 3,800 points left over).

$400 travel voucher every year

The annual fee for this card is $395 p.a.. But that won’t bother you. Because every year, after you pay your annual fee, you’ll receive a $400 credit to spend with American Express Travel Online. It can be used for flights, hotels, tours or car hire, for yourself or someone else. Use it every year and your card, with all its attendant benefits, is effectively free.

Two airport lounge passes every year

The benefits keep rolling in. Every year you’ll also receive two free passes to the highly-regarded American Express Lounge at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport, with complimentary access for your accompanying children under the age of 18.

Given that you’d need to pay $55 per person to access the lounge once you’ve used your two visits for the year, this benefit alone is worth $110 per year.

Complimentary insurance polices

No travellers’ card would be complete without complimentary travel insurance. But there’s much, much more. Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Domestic travel insurance: for the primary cardholder and accompanying family members, covering luggage, flight delays, missed connections, unavoidable trip cancellation and personal liability
  • Annual multi-trip overseas travel insurance: providing all the domestic travel insurance benefits plus emergency medical expenses
  • Transport accident cover: delivering cash compensation for serious injuries sustained on public transport and planes
  • Purchase protection insurance: covering personal items against loss, theft or accidental damage for 90 days after purchase
  • Extended warranty insurance: doubling the manufacturer’s Australian warranty, up to a maximum of 12 additional months
  • Refund protection cover: if a retailer refuses to let you return an unused item, up to 90 days after you bought it, AmEx will refund the purchase price (up to $500)
  • Car rental insurance excess waiver: for both international and domestic rentals
  • Smartphone screen cover: reimburses up to $500 of the repair cost each time the primary cardholder’s phone screen is accidentally damaged

Cover is activated by paying for the item with the card or points, or paying trip fares with the card, or points, or the $400 travel credit.

American Express Invites

Cardholders receive access to pre-sales tickets for premium events, and specially-curated dining experiences around the world.

American Express Connect

The American Express Connect program provides discounts and cashback offers for shoppers and travellers.

0% p.a. balance transfer for 12 months

Just in case you’re still wavering about switching from your old card, AmEx are making sure you have no excuses, because the card will pay you in cash to hold it for the first year.

Here’s how it works. There’s a big balance owing on your existing card? Not a problem. Transfer it to your new American Express Explorer Card (there’s a credit establishment fee to pay, which is 1% of the transferred balance) and drop the cash you earmarked for the repayment into your mortgage offset account. It will happily reduce your mortgage interest bill for 12 months.

The only problem is, the balance transfer will prevent you from using the card for purchases in the first year, because you will lose the “Up to 55 days on purchases” you would otherwise get each month, and pay interest immediately on every transaction. Not using it for purchases means that in the first year you would miss out on rewards points, bonus points and insurance. So think carefully before you apply for a balance transfer.

Predictable interest rate

Cash advances are not available with this card, and the purchases interest rate is an unappealing 20.74% p.a. Therefore, don’t choose this card to see you through even temporary liquidity problems. It’s a card designed, not for someone likely to be paying interest, but for a person keen to preserve and enjoy their existing comfortable financial position.

Digital wallet

A plastic card—even with a PIN and contactless payments—is a late 20th century payment method, fine for its era but definitely on the way out. That’s why this card is compatible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, apps which convert your smartphone into a secure digital wallet. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and it’s the 21st century way to pay.

Service and security

You expect and deserve world-class service and security with a card like this, and you’ll get it. As well as 24/7 priority service you will enjoy an online fraud protection guarantee. If you lose your card, or if it is stolen, AmEx assure you that they will replace it “Virtually anywhere, anytime… Almost always within 24 hours”.

But AmEx cards aren’t accepted everywhere

You can’t derive benefit from a card you can’t use, and there’s no getting away from the fact that AmEx cards are still declined more frequently than Visa or MasterCard, or attract a higher surcharge.

But look at it this way. Even if you choose to redeem your points for retail gift cards (generally agreed to give a lower-value return than airline points), for a $1,000 retail card you’ll get a return of 1.7 cents per dollar spent to earn the required points. So you can afford to pay a surcharge of up to 1.7% without batting an eyelash.

Just pull out your AmEx card at every possible opportunity, but keep a low-fee or no-fee Visa or MasterCard in your wallet for those few occasions when your AmEx card is waved away.

Take a look at the competition

It’s no secret that AmEx have other premium travel cards in their sights. They are trying to woo you away from cards like the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card and the ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card. They are both in the same premium benefits category as the AmEx card, with similar annual fees, and they are worth checking out. But neither of them has a $400 travel credit to offset the annual fee, year after year.

Why would you switch to this card?

Anyone contemplating switching to this card will almost certainly have arrived at a stage where travel and special experiences are an affordable and desirable adjunct to their lifestyle. For them, the American Express Explorer Credit Card is a travel facilitator. Rewards points, bonus points, lounge passes, travel insurance and the annual $400 travel credit combine to make this card virtually irresistible, because it brings the next journey closer while being effectively cost-free.

Basic details

About this card

Card setup
Single
Card tier
Platinum
Card type
American Express
Card use
Personal
Credit rating
No history of bad credit
Gambling transactions allowed
No
Joint application
No
Minimum age
18 years old
Minimum income
$65,000
Minimum income for pensioners
N/A
Pensioners
N/A
Rewards program
Membership Rewards Gateway
Temporary residents
Business Long Stay Visa (subclass 457)

Cardholders

Additional cardholders
Yes
Additional card fee
$0 p.a.

Credit limits

Minimum credit limit
$3,000
Maximum credit limit
N/A

Repayments

Interest charged from
N/A
Interest free period
Up to 55 days on purchases
Minimum repayment
2.5%

Balance transfers

The offer

Interest ratePeriodFeeLimitRevert rate
Balance transfers0% p.a.12 months1%$10,000 or 70% of credit limit20.74% p.a.

Balance transfers to this card

Balance transfer earns rewards
No
Balance transfer fee payment due
First statement
Balance transfer from personal loan
N/A
Balance transfer processing time
10 - 14 days
Interest free days with unpaid balance
0 days
Maximum balance transfer
$10,000 or 70% of credit limit
Available to existing customers
No

Banks you can't balance transfer from

You can't balance transfer to the American Express Explorer Credit Card at the promotional balance transfer rate from:

  • American Express

Rates & fees

Promotional interest rates

Interest ratePeriodFeeLimitRevert rate
Balance transfers0% p.a.12 months1%$10,000 or 70% of credit limit 20.74% p.a.
PurchasesN/AN/AN/AN/A N/A

Ongoing interest rates

MonthlyAnnually
Cash advances N/A N/A
Purchases 1.73% 20.74% p.a.

Fees

Annual fee
$395 p.a.
Cash advance fee
N/A
Dishonour fee
N/A
Duplicate statement fee
N/A
Foreign exchange fee
N/A
Late payment fee
$30
Over limit fee
N/A
Overseas ATM balance fee
N/A
Overseas ATM withdrawal fee
N/A
Overseas emergency card replacement fee
N/A
Transaction verification fee
N/A

Rewards

Rewards program basics

First purchase bonus
100,000 points
Reward points expiry
Never
Rewards program
Membership Rewards Gateway
Spend required for bonus points
$1,500 in 2 months

Earning points with this card

Frequent flyer points
2 pts per $1 spent
Overseas earn rate
Same as standard earn rate
Points cap per month
N/A
Points cap per year
N/A
Reward points
2 pts per $1 spent

Additional benefits

Airport lounge access
Yes
Complimentary flight voucher
Yes
Concierge service
N/A

Minimum criteria for this card

What you need before applying

Be over 18 years old
You are a resident or citizen of Australia
Earn a regular income of more than $65,000 per year
You have your personal details ready to complete the online application
Have not applied for multiple credit cards recently
Joint applications are not allowed
Disclaimer: The minimum criteria pointers are intended only to be a guide. Your application may still be rejected by the bank even if you can answer 'Yes' to all the minimum criteria. The final decision regarding your application is up to the bank.

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