Membership Rewards Credit Cards

Compare American Express credit cards that earn points with the Membership Rewards program.

Membership Rewards is a credit card loyalty program operated by American Express for the benefit of its cardholders. AmEx has the largest range of credit cards and charge cards on the Australian market, and every one of them earns loyalty points. While there are several cards which earn either Qantas or Velocity Frequent Flyer points exclusively, the vast majority earn Membership Rewards points only, or offer a choice between Membership Rewards and Qantas Frequent Flyer points.

Points never expire

Unlike many of its competitors, AmEx does not set a date by which points must be used before they expire, e.g. 36 months from the end of the year in which they were earned. You can keep your Membership Rewards points intact until you are ready to spend them, or until you have acquired enough of them for your chosen redemption.

No points cap or threshold

This is yet another point of difference with AmEx’s competitors.

Many cards have a set earning limit each month. Once that limit is reached (e.g. $3,000 spending in a single billing cycle) no further points can be earned until the beginning of the next monthly billing period.

Other cards may not have an absolute points cap, but set a monthly spending threshold, after which the points earning rate declines sharply (e.g. a drop from 2.0 points to 0.5 points per dollar once a monthly threshold of $2,000 spending is reached).

But AmEx cards have neither a points cap nor a points threshold. The advertised points earning rate remains the same throughout the month, no matter how much you spend. AmEx cardholders can make major purchases, such as technology, household appliances and travel, secure in the knowledge that every dollar they spend will earn points at the initial rate.

Earn points for government purchases

Once again, there are many rewards cards which do not award loyalty points for government spending (e.g. ATO payments, local government rates, Australia Post). But AmEx does give you points for government purchases, albeit at a rate lower than that granted for other purchases – usually 0.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar.

Some AmEx cards have tiered earning rates for specific spending types

The Membership Rewards points earning rate varies from card to card, with cards having a higher annual fee usually earning points at a faster rate. Most cards then apply this individual rate to all eligible purchases (with the exception of government purchases described above).

However, some AmEx cards have a tiered earning rate, depending on where you do your spending. E.g. 3.0 points per dollar for supermarket spending, 2.0 points at petrol stations, 0.5 points for government and telco spending, 1.0 points for everything else.

Bonus points

From time to time AmEx will offer large numbers of bonus Membership Rewards points to new customers applying for specific cards. There will usually be a target spending level to be reached in the first three months in order to qualify for the bonus points, e.g. 80,000 bonus points for spending $1,500 in the first three months.

My monthly spend: 
$5,000
 
Features: 
All features
Types: 
All types
rewards program
earn rate
sign up bonus
Points earned
American Express Explorer® Credit Card
Apply by 07 jan 19
5 reviews
Get 100,000 points when you apply online by 7 January 2019, are approved and spend $1,500 in the first 3 months.
Receive a $400 Travel Credit each year towards any flights, hotels and car hire when you book online with this card.
Enjoy up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge at Sydney or Melbourne Airports.
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Membership Rewards Gateway
Membership Rewards Gateway
2 pts
per $1 spent
100,000
points
after spend criteria
Transfers to 75,000
Velocity points
$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 bit.ly/rwd415 for more details
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Membership Rewards Gateway
Membership Rewards Gateway
1 pt
per $1 spent
-
Earn 80,000 points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Complimentary access for you and a guest to over 1,200 Airport lounges across 130 countries.
Point redemption rates will change as of 15 April 2019. Please go to bit.ly/rwd415 for more details.
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Membership Rewards Ascent Premium
Membership Rewards Ascent Premium
1 pt
per $1 spent
80,000
points
after spend criteria
Transfers to 80,000
Velocity points
Start your holiday with a $200 Travel Credit every year.
0% p.a. for 12 months for balance transfers and a one-off credit plan establishment fee of 1%.
Point redemption rates will change as of 15 April 2019. Please go to bit.ly/rwd415 for more details.
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Membership Rewards
Membership Rewards
1 pt
per $1 spent
-
Receive 20,000 points or 15,000 Qantas Points. (Conditions Apply)
Earn up to 3 points per $1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations, 2 points per $1 spent at David Jones, and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.
Flexibility to choose Qantas Frequent Flyer points or Membership Rewards points.
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Membership RewardsQantas Frequent Flyer
Membership Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75 pt
per $1 spent
20,000
points
after spend criteria
American Express Business Explorer Credit Card
Apply by 04 feb 19
Receive 100,000 points when you apply by 4th Feb 2019, are approved and spend $3,000 on your card within the first 3 months.
Earn 50,000 business loyalty bonus points when you spend $100,000 every 12 months from the card approval date.
Enjoy up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
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Membership Rewards Gateway
Membership Rewards Gateway
2 pts
per $1 spent
100,000
points
after spend criteria
Transfers to 75,000
Velocity points
Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for each dollar spent.
No pre-set spending limit means more flexibility.
Extend your cash flow up to 51 days.
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Membership Rewards Ascent
Membership Rewards Ascent
1 pt
per $1 spent
-
Receive 40,000 points or 30,000 Qantas Points when you apply. (Conditions Apply)
Earn either Membership Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer as your rewards program.
Earn up to 4 points per $1 at David Jones, 3 points per $1 at major supermarkets and petrol stations and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.
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Membership RewardsQantas Frequent Flyer
Membership Rewards or Qantas Frequent Flyer
1 pt
per $1 spent
40,000
points
after spend criteria
Earn up to 1 Membership Rewards point 1 for every $1 spent until 14 April 2019, after which you will earn up to 1.5 points for every $1 spent.
No pre-set spending limit means more flexibility.
Extend your cash flow up to 51 days.
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Membership Rewards Ascent
Membership Rewards Ascent
-
-
American Express Platinum Business Card
Apply by 04 feb 19
7 reviews
Receive 120,000 points when you apply before 4th Feb 2019, are approved and spend $5,000 within your first 2 months of Card Membership. (Conditions Apply)
Earn up to 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent.
Platinum benefits including a metal card right out of the envelope.
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Membership Rewards Ascent
Membership Rewards Ascent
2 pts
per $1 spent
120,000
points
after spend criteria
Transfers to 120,000
Velocity points

Q&A's about Membership Rewards Credit Cards from customers

Q: Do all American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points?

All American Express cards in Australia earn some kind of loyalty points. The vast majority earn Membership Rewards points, but there are a few which earn Qantas or Velocity frequent flyer points instead, or offer a choice between Qantas or Membership Rewards points.

Q: How do I earn Membership Rewards points?

By using your card to make eligible purchases. You will earn points (e.g. 2.0 points per dollar) for all your spending.

Q: How many Membership Rewards points will I earn per dollar spent?

The points earning rate per dollar varies, depending on which card you have. The cards with a higher annual fee tend to have a higher earning rate. For some cards the rate is global (i.e. the same rate for all purchases, regardless of where you do your spending, although spending with government departments almost always qualifies for a lower rate). For other cards there will be a tiered rate, depending on where you use the card (e.g. 3.0 points per dollar at supermarkets, 2.0 points at fuel outlets, etc.).

Q: Do all card transactions earn Membership Rewards points?

No, only “eligible purchases” earn points. In practice this covers most purchases made with the card. Transactions which do not earn points include balance transfers, card fees and interest charges, cash equivalents (cash advances, traveller’s cheque and foreign currency purchases) and any merchant fees.

Q: Do all American Express Membership Rewards cards charge the same annual fee?

No. There is a wide variety of annual fees, currently ranging from $0 to $1,500. As expected, the higher the fee, the greater the attached benefits.

Q: How much does it cost to belong to the Membership Rewards program?

Membership at the entry level, Gateway, is free. The higher levels of membership (Ascent, Ascent Premium) are free with specific premium cards, or can be purchased in return for an additional annual fee. Some levels (Ascent Spirit, Choices) are only available to business or corporate cardholders.

Q: Do Membership Rewards points expire?

No. You can hang on to them as long as you like. This is a particularly attractive feature of Membership Rewards points.

Q: Is there any limit to the number of Membership Rewards points I can earn?

No. Unlike some of competing cards, American Express cards have no cap on the number of points you can earn in a month or year.

Q: Is there a monthly threshold, beyond which the Membership Rewards points earning rate declines?

No. There is no monthly threshold which sees the points earning rate decline if it is exceeded. This is in contrast to many competing cards issued by major banks.

Q: What Membership Rewards points redemption options are available?

There is a wide range of options, including online purchases from David Jones, retail gift cards, card account cashback, travel, car hire and entertainment, and conversion to airline frequent flyer points or hotel frequent guest points.

Q: What is Membership Rewards Gateway?

This is the entry level for Membership Rewards. It comes free of charge with personal AmEx cards in the lower range of annual fees. It delivers a wide range of redemption options. The only real differences are that there is no option to convert points to Virgin Atlantic frequent flyer points (which comes with Ascent and higher membership levels) or Qantas frequent flyer points (only permitted at the very highest membership levels). The points conversion rates for the eight remaining airline frequent flyer options are also slightly less attractive.

Q: What is Membership Awards Ascent?

Ascent is the second level of Membership Rewards, granted to some premium cards with higher fees. Other cardholders can access this membership level by paying an additional annual fee. It has all the redemption options offered with Gateway, plus the additional benefits of a more favourable conversion rate for airline frequent flyer points and the ability to convert points to frequent flyer points with Virgin Atlantic.

Q: What is Membership Rewards Ascent Premium?

This is the highest Membership Rewards tier available to personal (rather than corporate) cardholders. It is built into the higher level platinum cards, and allows members the extra option of converting Membership Rewards points to Qantas Frequent Flyer points, as well as a better conversion rate to Emirates points than that offered by Membership Rewards Ascent.

Q: What is Membership Rewards Spirit?

For top-tier corporate cards members only, this level offers all the previously-mentioned redemptions, plus conversion to Qantas points at a rate of 1:1.

Q: What is Membership Rewards Choices?

Choices membership level comes with some AmEx business cards. It is similar to Ascent, but does not allow any conversion of points to frequent flyer or hotel points.

Q: What are David Jones Membership Rewards?

AmEx cards co-branded with David Jones offer a choice between earning direct Qantas points and David Jones Membership Rewards points, a separate type of Membership Rewards points which cannot be merged with standard Membership Rewards points. Redemption options are similar to the Ascent level, but frequent flyer points conversion rates may vary.

Q: What is the best way to redeem Membership Rewards points?

It largely depends on your lifestyle. If you are a frequent traveller, conversion to frequent flyer points may deliver the best return. Otherwise, retail gift cards or account cashback offer the greatest flexibility (but possibly a lower return per dollar spent).

Q: What if I don’t have enough points for the redemption I want?

You can choose to pay the balance in cash, using Points + Pay.

Q: Do supplementary cardholders earn points?

Yes, both primary and supplementary cards earn points for eligible purchases, but the supplementary card points will be credited to the account of the primary cardholder.

Q: Who can operate the Membership Rewards points account?

Only the primary cardholder can operate the points account and select redemptions.

Q: What are the other benefits of American Express Membership Rewards cards?

Depending on your card level and annual fee, you may also receive complimentary benefits such as travel and shopper’s insurance, airport lounge access, free or discounted flights, special privileges from retailers and hotel operators, travel credit vouchers and smartphone screen insurance.

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