Here’s a gold-plated opportunity to earn a ton of rewards points just for doing business as usual. The American Express Gold Business Card will deliver ongoing Amex Ascent Membership Rewards points at a very satisfactory rate, up to 51 interest-free days per month and top-level insurance cover, all packaged in a card designed to make your business life much easier.
Earn up to 1.5 points per dollar on purchases
All your business purchases will earn valuable Amex Ascent Membership Rewards points – that’s one step up from the entry-level Gateway points.
Amex cards are notable for allowing points to be earned on payments to the government. Paying your taxes becomes less painful when you earn 1.0 points for every dollar you part with. (The ATO charges a 1.45% fee for Amex payments.)
Points are uncapped and never expire, so you can use your card as much or as little as you like, secure in the knowledge that the earning rate will continue as stated and that you won’t use your valuable points as a result of inactivity.
There’s just one catch (or extra option, depending on your viewpoint). Membership of the rewards scheme is not automatic. You need to opt in, and pay an annual fee of $80 on top of the standard annual fee for the card. That $80 will be quickly recovered with just $10,667 of ‘all other’ purchases (by redeeming points for retail gift cards), but if you don’t want to bother with points you don’t need to.
Heaps of ways to redeem your points
The hardest part about redeeming Amex points is choosing between the many redemption options, although transferring them to an airline frequent flyer program probably delivers the best value.
Here are just some of the things you can do:
The Amex points earn and burn combination is very competitive when compared with similar cards.
Interest-free days, even though it’s a charge card
This is not a credit card, but a charge card. You can’t treat it like a revolving line of credit, and choose to repay only a minimum amount and accrue interest on the remaining balance. There are no interest rates quoted, no balance transfer option and no cash advances because you will be expected to repay your account balance in full on the due date every month.
However, during the course of the month you will receive up to 51 days interest free on purchases, which gives you some flexibility in managing the cash flow of your business. Plan your major purchases to fall at the beginning of the statement cycle and keep your cash in the bank for 51 days until payment is due.
Avoid being late with payments because there is a steep $30 late payment fee. Prolonged payment default will attract liquidated damages charges, which can be punitive. You can sign up for SMS or email alerts to notify you when payment is due, as well as giving balance updates and payment confirmation.
Business-oriented insurance cover
This is both a gold card and a business card, so it includes both international and domestic travel insurance for business and personal travel, with additional business cover that does not come with the average personal card. The complimentary policies are:
Just pay all your trip fares with the card to activate the policies. This type of comprehensive business cover would probably cost well in excess of $1,500 per year on the retail insurance market.
Making your business life easier
The business-tailored aspects of this card are not confined to insurance cover designed for business travellers. There’s an abundance of other features designed to smooth the path of the small business person or sole trader:
What’s not so good?
There are so many positives to this card it’s easy to lose sight of a few downsides.
For a start there’s the fact that American Express cards are not universally accepted, and when they are accepted they often attract a surcharge. (However, Coles, Woolworths and major national retailers will accept Amex without a surcharge, and American Express has been actively working on improving card acceptance by bringing its fees into line with those of its competitors. And you can use AccessLine to pay suppliers who don’t accept Amex cards.)
You can’t do a balance transfer from another card or take a cash advance, or elect not to pay your account balance in full and on time.
The annual card fee of $169 is not negligible, plus there’s an $80 p.a. fee for the rewards program and each supplementary card costs a pricey $119. So the overall package, with just one card for a spouse or an employee, would cost $368 every year. Nevertheless, the points and insurance, if you can use them, will recover the fees many times over.
Similar cards worth considering
This card lies in the centre of the range of Amex business cards. Amex has the whole spectrum covered, with the more modest American Express Business Card, the American Express Business Explorer Credit Card and the sky-high American Express Platinum Business Card. There are also Amex business cards dedicated to the Qantas and Velocity frequent flyer programs if you are already locked in to either of these reward schemes.
On our Business Credit Cards page in our Features section you can also check out NAB business credit cards, plus cards from other banks, covering a whole range of options from low interest rate cards to premium rewards points or frequent flyer points cards.
But you can also use a personal credit card for business purposes, if rewards and complimentary benefits are more important to you than the card’s business features. For a similar cost, you could have the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card, with a choice of rewards programs, a high points earning rate and lots of built-in benefits.
So why choose the American Express Gold Business Card?
If you are operating your business on a sound financial basis, the fact that this is not a credit card won’t concern you, because your bank will already cover your borrowing needs at a competitive interest rate. What really sells this card is the point that it is custom-made for business purposes and will prove its worth at tax time, and also when you need to see historical expenses so that you can set up a budget for the future. Issuing supplementary cards to employees will ensure that you can keep business costs down (or employee morale up) by earning rewards merely for going about your normal business.
I signed up for this card with an offer of 100,000 Qantas points sign-up bonus. I use it wherever I can to maximise my points earning potential, including ATO payments.
If only Amex would reduce their fee percentage, more retailers might accept them.
The card has an annual fee of $249.
I am a long time AmEx user – I have gold and platinum, and love them. The rewards have been very important for me, my family, and our four grandchildren.
The only issue is Aldi and other stores, restaurants, bars, and businesses do not accept AmEx, which I find difficult to get my head around.