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American Express Essential Credit Card
American Express Essential Credit Card

American Express Credit Cards

American Express Essential Credit Card

Updated 12 October 2023

Cheap-as-chips rewards points? 🍟 The Amex Essential card earns points without charging an annual fee, making it ideal if you’re after more perks, more savings and more flexibility in how you spend your stash.

Amex Membership Rewards can be used for travel, merchandise or to pay off your account (which is like money in your pocket). You’ll also get up to $500 Smartphone Screen Cover, free additional cardholders to help earn points faster, and earn points on eligible government payments.

Terms and conditions apply.

Points Earn Rate (per $1 spent)

1.25 points


Rewards Program

Amex Membership Rewards

Bonus Points


Pros and cons

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn 1.25 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent, and 1 point per $1 on government spending
  • Smartphone Screen Cover of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with your Amex Essential card
  • Transfer points to a choice of 10 partnering airline programs
  • Add up to 4 additional cards at no extra charge
  • Syncs with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay

  • A basic rewards card with limited extras review

Editor Review

American Express Essential Credit Card

Pauline Hatch
Pauline is a personal finance expert at, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. about this card.

Who suits the American Express Essential card?

First Timer: you want a simple card with a few perks to get you started. You’d like it to have a low annual fee and a low interest rate. Deal Digger: you're always on the lookout for freebie perks like insurances, dining discounts and earning points for paying bills. Money Geek: you watch your accounts, and like budgeting and hitting money goals. You want good bang for your bucks.

Editor’s Overall Rating

Coming in at the low, low price of $0 in annual fees, the Amex Essential credit card is a winner if your focus is earning points for the minimum amount of outlay. You’ll get a few extra perks and discounts on travel and shopping plus cashback on your account, with no annual fee attached.

Points are earned on everyday spending and government transactions, plus you can get cashback on your card with Amex Offers. You can spend your points however you want without being locked into a frequent flyer program, giving you more flexibility and freedom.

Editor’s Review: What I love about the American Express Essential card

The American Express Essential card does a good job of keeping up with the big guns in rewards credit cards. It earns points but you won't pay an annual fee, which means you could snap up free flights, upgrades and other shopping, travel and entertainment perks without paying any card costs at all.

Let’s take a look at the card’s features and how to use the Amex Essential card to your advantage.

Rewards points. You’ll earn Amex Membership Rewards, which can be transferred to one of 10 partner airlines or redeemed for gift cards, shopping, travel or to pay for items you’ve already purchased.

This card earns 1.25 Amex Membership Rewards points on eligible everyday purchases, and 1 point for eligible government transactions (which Amex says includes the ATO, Australia Post, and some federal, state and local government bodies). I’ll cover the points in more detail in a moment.

Smartphone Screen Cover. You’ll get up to $500 for repairs if you, your spouse, a dependant child under 25, or an additional cardholder breaks their smartphone screen. Either the phone or 3 months of your phone contract must have been paid for on the Amex Essential card prior to the claim.

More cardholders for free. It won’t cost anything to add up to 4 additional cardholders over 16 years old and it helps boost your points faster. Extras cardholders can access many of the card's perks, but just remember you're responsible for the account.

Exclusive Amex offers. You can use the Amex Offers program for exclusive deals and credit back on entertainment, dining and travel, or earn credit back on your account when you buy online with MyAmexShop. You’ll also find discounts with local businesses using ShopSmall on Amex’s app.


You’ll earn Amex Membership Rewards points on your everyday spending, which has more partnering businesses than any other rewards program. You'll have plenty of flexibility in how you spend your points.

For example, you can redeem points for:

  • Gift cards: choose from a range of retailers such as Uber, Hoyts, Westfield, David Jones, Rebel Sport, Amazon, Event Cinema, Country Road, SuperCheap, Harvey Norman, iTunes and more.
  • Pay with Points: redeem points online for shopping, dining, entertainment, merchandise and electronics.
  • Points + Pay: if you’re short on points you can pay the difference with cash.
  • Cover Charges: nominate a purchase on your credit card to be paid with points and have the transaction credited back to your account.

If you want to convert your Membership Rewards into frequent flyer points, you can transfer them to one of Amex’s partner airlines at these conversion rates:

Program name Conversion rate
Air New Zealand Airpoints (NZ) 200 MR = 1 Airpoint Dollar
Cathay – Asia Miles 2 MR = 1 Asia Mile
Emirates Skywards 2 MR = 1 Skyward Mile
Etihad Guest 3 MR = 1 Etihad Guest Mile
Hawaiian Airlines 2 MR = 1 Hawaiian Mile
Qatar Airways Privilege Club 2 MR = 1 Avios
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 2 MR = 1 KrisFlyer Mile
Malaysian Airlines Enrich 2 MR = 1 Enrich Mile
THAI Royal Orchid Plus 2 MR = 1 Royal Orchid Plus Mile
Velocity Frequent Flyer 2 MR = 1 Velocity Point
Hilton Honors 2 MR = 1 Hilton Honors Point
Marriot Bonvoy 3 MR = 2 Marriot Points

What’s not so great

I’ll be honest…I can’t find many red flags with this card. It has an 18.99% p.a. interest rate which is lower than average for a rewards card. It also comes with 55 days interest free, so you can avoid interest altogether if you pay off the card in full each month.

It doesn’t come with travel insurance or lounge passes, but that’s to be expected for a card with no annual fee. My tip (as someone who broke a phone screen twice in 3 months) would be to make sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions for using the smartphone screen insurance. Also, you'll pay a 10% excess on the claimed amount.

Other extras

You'll get a number of nice extras with the Amex Essential. First, it syncs with Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay and you can use the American Express app to track your rewards, find discounts and manage your account and repayments.

Amex cards also come with covers that include refund cover in case a store won't refund eligible items, Buyer's Advantage Cover that might extend the manufacturer's warranty by up to 12 months, and Fraud Protection against unauthorised charges. If you want to pay off your card interest-free, you can use Amex's Plan It Instalments feature and pay your balance in equal monthly instalments for a small fixed fee.

User reviews

American Express Essential Credit Card ( based on 9 user reviews )

78% rating based on 9 reviews

Customer Service


5 March 2022

Have had this card for several years now…would recommend 100% only one issue i face is some vendors don’t accept Amex

Recommends this card


10 June 2020

Great card. Love the no annual fee.

Recommends this card
95% Visitor

31 May 2016

Good offer from Amex

Recommends this card

Rates and fees

Interest rates

Purchase rate 18.99% p.a.

Cash advance rate N/A

Interest free period on purchases up to 55 days

Credit limits

Minimum credit limit $2,000

Maximum credit limit N/A

Fees & repayments

Annual fee $0 p.a.

Additional cardholder fee Up to 4 at no extra cost

Foreign transaction fee 3%

Minimum repayment $30 or 2.5%, whichever is greater (personal & business); N/A (charge cards)

Cash advance fee N/A

Late payment fee $30

Rewards and points

Rewards program

Rewards Program Amex Membership Rewards Amex Membership Rewards

Bonus points N/A

Annual points cap uncapped

Bonus points spend criteria N/A

Earning points with this card

Amex Rewards points 1.25 points per $1 spent

Points cap per month N/A

Overseas earn rate same as standard earn rate

Additional features

Complimentary insurance

International Travel Insurance No

Flight Inconvenience Insurance No

Transit Accident Insurance No

Smartphone Screen Insurance Yes

Purchase Protection Insurance Yes

Extended Warranty Insurance No

Rental Vehicle Excess In Australia Insurance No


Eligible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay


American Express Essential Credit Card

The American Express Essential Credit Card lets you earn up to 1.25 points per $1 spent and features a $0 annual fee. Enjoy 18.99% p.a. on purchases. You can transfer your points to a choice of 10 airline rewards partner programs or redeem online for gift cards, travel, experiences, shopping and more. The American Express Essential credit card also comes with Smartphone Screen Cover for up to $500 for screen repairs to your smartphone when you pay for your phone or contract with your card.

Key features

  • No annual fee
  • Low interest rate of 18.99% p.a. on purchases
  • Earn 1.25 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent, plus 1 point per $1 for government payments
  • Smartphone Screen Cover of up to $500 for screen repairs to your Smartphone when you pay for your phone or contract with your Amex Essential card
  • Transfer your points to a choice of 10 airline rewards partner programs or redeem online for gift cards, experiences, shopping and more

Minimum criteria to apply for this card

  • Be over 18 years old

  • Good Credit and have not applied for multiple credit cards recently

  • Australian citizen or permanent resident or hold a long term visa (at least 12 months; does not include student visas).

  • You have your personal details ready to complete the online application


Pauline is a personal finance expert at, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger

Recently Asked Questions

Something you need to know about this card? Ask our credit card expert a question.

116 questions (showing the latest 10 Q&As)



25 September 2023
Hi Pauline, can I use my AMEX points to pay charges on my statement?? Also, if yes, what is the conversion rate?? I think in the US it is 6 cents for 1 point. Could you confirm. Thanks
    Pauline -


    26 September 2023
    Hi Tanmay, that’s a good question! I checked this for you and it looks like you can redeem your AMEX points as a credit on your card. I see here that you can redeem as low as 10,000 points which is equivalent to $50.


3 July 2023
Can I use this American Express Essential Credit Card to pay for domestic and international flights in any kind of airlines, purchase/ buy anything online shopping within Australia and international shopping online, pay for accommodations anywhere internationally. ?
    Pauline -


    4 July 2023
    Hi Mel, yes credit cards can make payments for all kinds of purchases in Australia and overseas (just note you will pay foreign exchange fees and international transaction fees). Not everyone accepts Amex though, so if you have a specific business in mind you can check businesses that accept Amex here. Thanks Mel!


15 June 2023
Hi Pauline, I am thinking to switch from CBA ultimate card to Amex Essential. I usually saved the points to pay credit card bill as I do not spend much on entertainment/ holidays/shopping. CBA 281 points can waive $1 from statement. How about Amex points? By the way, using points to waive some $ from credit card statement is good or not worth ? would like to know your thoughts. Appreciate!
    Pauline -


    16 June 2023
    Hi Ivy, those are great questions! With the American Express Membership Rewards Points, there are several options to choose from to use/redeem your points. You can redeem them to cover charges on your statement, transfer points to their travel partners and other great things. On average, 1,000 Membership Rewards Points is equivalent to a $5 value. And deciding whether it's worth using points to waive some of your credit card statement balance depends on factors like the value of the points and your financial situation. You can consider how much you could save and compare it to other ways you can use your points, like for travel or merchandise, to determine if it's a good choice for you. Hope this makes sense! :)


7 May 2023
Hi I am looking for a credit card which has no annual fee or low annual fee.
    Pauline -


    8 May 2023
    Hi Kath, there are multiple options for cards that you can consider. You have the option to review a list of cards we have partnerships with that have no annual fee and compare them to each other to choose the one that best fits your needs. Hope this helps!


22 February 2023
I'd like to know if you can apply a AMEX card on a 408 visa with an expiry in Nov'23.
    Pauline -


    23 February 2023
    Hi Riddhi, to be eligible to apply for an American Express Essential credit card (or any American Express credit cards), you must hold a long term visa which allows you to stay in Australia for at least 12 months. You may want to speak directly with American Express at 1300 882 538 for specific information about their eligibility requirements.
Krishneel lal

Krishneel lal

16 February 2023
Hello pauline i was wondering could i apply for a credit card with amax i hold a student visa in Australia subclass 500? If its a yes then will i be eligible for a credit card that gives me quantas points?
    Pauline -


    17 February 2023
    Hi Krishneel! Amex is one of the credit card providers that does issue cards to temporary residents, but it’s not specific about what type of temporary visa it includes. It would be best to call them directly to check your Visa. If you are eligible, you’ll get the bonus points and all the other inclusions of the card. Amex’s customer service number is 1300 132 639. We have more info about applying as a temporary resident here. Good luck Krishneel!


23 September 2022
Just rechecked the website and now there is no mention of minimum salary requirement per annum, does this mean you can be earning any amount and still apply for it?
    Pauline -


    29 September 2022
    Hi Mo, we checked too and it seems Amex has in fact removed that piece of information from their site. We can’t comment on this, but you could maybe draw the conclusion that the previous income requirements stand, but are just no longer public facing.


28 August 2022
Do I need to earn at least $40,000 per annum to apply for this card or is there any fluctuation between $30k to $40k to be eligible?. Also, regarding providing salary payslip do I have to provide quite a few or just one from recent days?
    Pauline -


    29 August 2022
    Hi Mo, the stated income is set by Amex and is at a hard $40k p.a. You generally need to provide the last 3 months worth of payslips, but in some cases you might need to provide more. Hope this has helped.


8 August 2022
Can student visa apply for amex?
    Pauline -


    9 August 2022
    Hi Julia, good question! I checked American Express Essential T&C’s, however it states that student visas are not accepted. You can explore some of the credit cards for students that we have access to for your options. You can compare the cards side by side, read our review and select the one that suits your needs.
Adarsh Singh

Adarsh Singh

7 August 2022
Can I used this card to pay rent ? Transfer the amount to different account? if yes, then what's the fee for that ?
    Pauline -


    9 August 2022
    Hi Adarsh, this will all depend on how your landlord and managing agent have set up your account. Take a look at our guide to paying rent with your credit card and have a chat to your real estate. Good luck!


21 July 2022
I am on student dependent visa with full work right and working full time, am I eligible for this credit card.
    Pauline -


    21 July 2022
    Hi Pierce, I checked American Express Essential card’s terms and see that this card is not open for anyone with a student visa. However, there’s a range of credit cards for students that you can compare side by side and select the best card for you. We’ve also listed out each provider's requirements for visa holders and credit cards in this post. Hope this has helped!


12 March 2022
Hi If I have held an Amex recently but it's closed now, do I qualify for the $200 cashback?
    Pauline -


    14 March 2022
    Hi Sam, thanks for the information! I checked the American Express Essential credit card’s terms and it states that the offer is only available to new card members only. There is a grace period of 18 months, but sounds like you might have missed that. If you’re looking to get cash back, you can use our cashback credit card comparison tool to see other cards with the similar options.Happy card hunting!


2 March 2022
Hi, Am I eligible to apply for American Express Essential Credit Card from Bridging A visa (I will soon be getting my 485 visa). Or do I need to wait till I get my 485 visa. Thanks.
    Pauline -


    2 March 2022
    Hi Chetan, the required eligibility criteria for Amex requires that you have a long term visa with at least 12 months left on it. They also state that this does not include student visas. It might be best to talk to an accountant around this matter.


12 February 2022
Does the American Express Essential Credit Card points have an expiry date? Can the card be used for paying bills,Bpay payments on bills and other? With the $200 cash back offer spend of $1,500 over three months, does this include a certain amount spent each month and up to which day in the third month is it safe to complete this offer? Considering earning 'up to' 1.25 points per $1 spend on card, what is the lowest earning point per $1? Is the 1.25points only for "Shop Small"?
    Pauline -


    14 February 2022
    Hi Marcia, good question! The points are both uncapped and do not expire which is nice as you can use your card for any transactions to collect points until you have enough to redeem for an awesome reward. For the $200 cashback eligibility, there’s no certain amount you need to spend each month but the transaction should be a total of at least $1500 in the first 3 months. Day 1 is when your card is approved. For example, you’re approved on the 1st of March, you have until the 30th of May to reach the total eligibility amount. Once the minimum spend is met, you can expect the $200 to be credited to your account in 8-10 weeks. Some credit transactions go though as “pending” on your statement, so leaving a few days buffer is generally a smart approach. To earn points on your BPAY spend we put together a guide on how to link BPAY with your credit card to earn points. For points, you earn 3 extra points with Shop Small when you save the American Express Shop Small offer to your card and spend at participating businesses. You also earn 1.25 points on purchases and 1 point(the lowest earning point) on purchases at government bodies in AU. Hope this has helped you out!


13 December 2021
Does Essential Credit Card have currency conversion fee?
    Pauline -


    14 December 2021
    Hi Ben, I checked this for you and yes there’s a foreign transaction fee of 3% charged on purchases made using a foreign currency - either overseas, or within Australia at an overseas merchant. If you’re looking for a no currency conversion fee carde, you can check a list of no foreign fees credit cards we have curated. Let us know which card you go with!


23 June 2021
Is there am minimum monthly spend amount to get the card ??
    Roland B Bleyer - Founder


    23 June 2021
    Hi Ayan, thank you for your question. Looking closer at the American Express Essential credit card, there’s no required monthly spend to keep the card.

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