The American Express Essential® Credit Card

What do you want this card for?
Save money
Earn points
Card features
balance transfer
purchase rate
annual fee
The American Express Essential® Credit Card
$0 p.a. annual fee.
Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs to your Smartphone.(Conditions apply)
Point redemption rates will change as of 15 April 2019. Please go to for more details
Add to comparison
12 months
0% p.a.
then 14.99%
with a 3% fee
14.99% p.a.

Pros & cons

What's good?

What's not so good?

$0 p.a. annual fee.
Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs to your Smartphone when you pay for your phone or contract with your Essential Credit Card.
Eligible for use with Google Pay™, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
Earn up to 1 Membership Rewards Gateway® point for every $1 spent.
Transfer your points to a choice of 8 airline rewards partner programs.
0% p.a. for 12 months for balance transfers and a one-off credit plan establishment fee of 3%.
Enjoy a low interest rate of 14.99% p.a. on purchases.
Complimentary insurances to cover shopping purchases.
Some businesses make you pay a surcharge for using your Amex card.

Point redemption rates will change as of 15 April 2019. Please go to for more details.

Our review

Our review of the The American Express Essential® Credit CardReviewed by Yvonne Taylor

Early adopters of the latest technology can take advantage of Apple Pay or Samsung Pay right now, with the American Express Essential® Credit Card. Couple either of them with the American Express mobile app and you will be prepared for the future of credit cards, able to make contactless transactions with an extra level of security and manage your account from your digital wallet. But while you’re waiting for the future to catch up with you, there’s lots more to love about this credit card.

$0 annual fee

The best annual fee is no annual fee, and that’s what you get with this card. additional cards on your account are also fee-free. Pay off your monthly purchase balance within the 55 days interest-free period, and there’s no reason for the card to ever cost you a cent. In fact, because it’s a rewards card with additional complimentary benefits, the card will pay you for using it. How good is that?

Low ongoing purchase interest rate

The purchase interest rate of 14.99% p.a. is not the lowest currently on offer, but it’s pretty reasonable for a credit card. If you hit a temporary liquidity problem and need to run a balance for a few months, or simply miss a payment due date by accident, you’ll appreciate the difference between 14.99% p.a. and the 20%+ you may be paying on your current card.

Cash advances are not offered with this card, so there is no cash advance interest rate.

Introductory balance transfer offer

To tempt you to switch, American Express are offering 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers. Bring across $10,000 (the maximum permitted) from your existing card, and if you are currently paying 20% p.a. and intend to reduce your card debt by making only minimum monthly repayments, doing this will save you around $1,907 in interest charges. Unfortunately, there is an upfront balance transfer fee of 3% to pay, but you will still be ahead by $1,807.

However, if you have $10,000 already on hand to pay off the debt you can put it on deposit to earn interest instead, or leave it in a mortgage offset account for 12 months and reduce your mortgage by more than $500. Don’t miss the repayment date at the end of the introductory offer, at which point unpaid balances will immediately begin to attract the revert interest rate of 14.99% p.a.

It’s a good idea to have another credit card in your wallet to use for purchases when you are running a balance transfer, because you won’t qualify for the monthly 55 interest-free days while you have an unpaid balance. Also, you won’t qualify for the bonus points if you have held any kind of Amex card in the previous 18 months.

Earn Membership Rewards Gateway points

The card comes with an uncomplicated rewards program. For every dollar you spend on purchases with the card you will earn one American Express Membership Rewards Gateway point, with no points capping. (But note that payments to utilities, telcos, government bodies and non-Amex insurance companies will only earn 0.5 points.)

Spend Membership Rewards Gateway points

Membership Rewards Gateway redemption is not limited by a catalogue of upmarket merchandise. Instead, you can use your rewards points for:

  • Shopping at David Jones online
  • Gift cards to use at major retailers, entertainment providers, travel agencies and car hire
  • Paying off or reducing your card account balance
  • Transferring your points to frequent flyer programs at eight major airlines (Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Emirates, Virgin Australia)
  • Transferring your points to Hilton HHonors or Starwood Preferred Guest programs
  • Buying foreign currency

Complimentary insurance policies

Zero annual fee credit cards rarely come with complimentary international travel insurance, so don’t expect to find it here. But you will get several types of insurance free of charge, cover which can be very useful for any major purchases you make with the card. They are:

  • Extended warranty insurance: This doubles the Australian manufacturer’s warranty up to a maximum of 12 extra months. So if your new TV, bought with the card, stops working a few months after the original warranty expires, you are still covered. (No excess, maximum $7,000 per claim and per year.)
  • Refund protection insurance: Most major retailers accept returns if you change your mind, no questions asked. But if you do run into a difficulty of this kind and the return is refused within 90 days of purchase, Amex will reimburse up to $500. (No excess, maximum claims $2,000 per year.)
  • Purchase protection insurance: Covers items bought with the card for 90 days, against loss, theft or accidental damage. ($50 excess, maximum claim $2,500 or $10,000 per year.)

Future ready

Amex knows that your smartphone is your lifeline. That’s why, as well as supplying Apple Pay and Samsung Pay capability and an efficient mobile app, they will also provide up to $500 for repairing your smartphone screen if you paid for your phone with the card (10% excess and a maximum of two claims per year).

Account management convenience is at your fingertips. Once you have the mobile app, with a single tap you can save Amex special offers to your card and enjoy discounts and cash refunds just by shopping at your favourite retailers. Another tap lets you pay off or reduce your account balance using Membership Rewards Gateway points.

You’ll also need to be willing to access your account statements online since mailed paper statements are not available. Given that paper statements are so last century, this hardly needs spelling out.

This is your card if…

  • You own an Apple or Samsung smartphone, or a tablet or Apple Watch
  • You want to make the most of mobile technology and turn your smartphone or other mobile device into a digital wallet
  • You’re fed up with high credit card interest rates and annual fees
  • You want reward points for your spending and flexible ways to use them
  • You earn at least $40,000 a year and have a good credit history

Time poor? American Express say that the application will take less than 10 minutes to complete with a response in around 60 seconds.

User reviews

4.5 out of 5.0 based on 5 reviews100% of reviewers would recommend this card

Rates and fees
Customer service

Reviews from users

Classy customer service, great value

Reviewed and recommended by Jack on 30 Apr 2017

The card is always reliable and great value. It has the simplicity of AmEx, with great rewards and a comparatively low interest rate.

Security and transparency of money are always paramount, and this makes the experience with American Express hands down better than any other competition. I have never had a problem with charges, interest payments or false purchases.

Customer service is always classy and very helpful. With every call I feel welcome and accepted by staff, who are able to understand each personal situation. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Pretty good basic card with no annual fee

Reviewed and recommended by Sreenath on 16 Jan 2017

AmEx Essential is a basic card with a $0 joining fee. Good offers are there in the card. It would be better if they could increase the value of the reward points.

There’s an easy-to-use AmEx app and good deals on balance transfers. The 55 interest-free days are very attractive and I am using it for my daily purchases, groceries, etc.

Great rewards, no fees!!

Reviewed and recommended by Jarrad on 21 Sep 2016

I was a little skeptical about signing up for an American Express card. Because I had heard of the surcharges that applied to American Express purchases, there was no way to see if this card would be advantages to my position. After doing my research I decided to sign up. I have found in most of my purchases, it was very rare to have been charged a surcharge, with the great membership program, I get 7 dollars back for every thousand dollars I spend, include no annual fee to the savings, and I am most definitely saving money from this card. Not to mention the great bonus offers that come by every now and again. Cannot recommend this card highly enough!

Pretty good card especially for travel

Reviewed and recommended by Bradley on 08 Jun 2016

Got this one to go to Hawaii—they love AmEx there! No surcharges, no funny looks.. just yes sir, of course sir. Instant updates on purchases made via the app; earned points quick enough to cover currency charges in credits; has phone screen insurance; and a low interest rate. They also increased the credit limit instantly when needed after a mini holiday emergency.

This card really floats my boat

Reviewed and recommended by Nelson Chan on 25 Jan 2016

I have never ever had a credit card before, but as a young individual getting amongst it has never been easier.

I’m all about the Apple Pay function. I’ve been tapping my phone everywhere I can with this! Also having the screen insurance means I drop my phone like it’s hot now that I’ve got protection.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed about credit cards are the reviewer's alone, and do not reflect the views of Credit Card Compare or the credit card issuer. Reviews have not been approved or otherwise endorsed by Credit Card Compare.

The basics

About this card

Card setup
Card tier
Card type
American Express
Card use
Credit rating
No history of bad credit
Gambling transactions allowed
Joint application
Minimum age
18 years old
Minimum income
Minimum income for pensioners
Rewards program
Membership Rewards Gateway
Temporary residents
Business Long Stay Visa (subclass 457)


Additional cardholders
Additional card fee
$0 p.a.

Credit limits

Minimum credit limit
Maximum credit limit


Interest charged from
Statement date
Interest free period
Up to 55 days on purchases
Minimum repayment
whichever is greater, $30 or 2.5%

Balance transfers

The offer

Interest ratePeriodFeeLimitRevert rate
Balance transfers0% p.a.12 months3%whichever is less, $10,000 or 70% of credit limit14.99% p.a.

Balance transfers to this card

Balance transfer earns rewards
Balance transfer fee payment due
First statement
Balance transfer from personal loan
Balance transfer processing time
10 - 14 days
Interest free days with unpaid balance
0 days
Maximum balance transfer
whichever is less, $10,000 or 70% of credit limit
Available to existing customers

Banks you can't balance transfer from

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

  • American Express

Rates & fees

Promotional interest rates

Interest ratePeriodFeeLimitRevert rate
Balance transfers0% p.a.12 months3%whichever is less, $10,000 or 70% of credit limit 14.99% p.a.
PurchasesN/AN/AN/AN/A N/A

Ongoing interest rates

Cash advances N/A N/A
Purchases 1.25% 14.99% p.a.


Annual fee
$0 p.a.
Cash advance fee
Dishonour fee
Duplicate statement fee
Foreign exchange fee
Late payment fee
Over limit fee
Overseas ATM balance fee
Overseas ATM withdrawal fee
Overseas emergency card replacement fee
Transaction verification fee

Rewards & points

Rewards program basics

Reward points expiry
Rewards program
Membership Rewards Gateway
Sign up bonus
Spend required for bonus points

Earning points with this card

Frequent flyer points
1 pt per $1 spent
Overseas earn rate
Same as standard earn rate
Points cap per month
Points cap per year
Points earned on ATO payments
0.5 pts per $1 spent
Reward points
1 pt per $1 spent

Additional benefits

Airport lounge access
Complimentary flight voucher
Concierge service

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 $40,000 per year
You have your personal details ready to complete the online application
Have not applied for multiple credit cards recently
Disclaimer: The minimum criteria 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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