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So, why should you apply for an American Express card over another card powered by Visa or Mastercard? One thing that sets American Express cards apart from other card issuers Visa and Mastercard is the fact that they issue their own cards. Where Mastercard and Visa cards are issued by banks and other card providers, American Express keeps the day-to-day running of their credit card empire to themselves.
That means, instead of relying on a bank or card provider to provide the various features, rewards and support on your credit card, there is no middle man with American Express cards. You apply for an American Express card direct from American Express, and if you need help then it’s American Express you contact. How well does this work? Let’s find out.
American Express prides itself on its excellent customer service and support. As American Express itself says, taking care of Card Members is their number one priority. As a cardholder, you will have access to Global Support, so no matter where you are, if your card is lost or stolen, or if you’ve been a victim of credit card fraud, help from American Express is only a phone call away, no matter the time of day.
In terms of security, American Express cards are of course installed with Chip & PIN technology. On top of that, all cards feature American Express’s Credit Card Fraud Protection Guarantee means you won’t pay for unauthorised spending on your account, with help on hand from the dedicated American Express Card Security Team.
While not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard, American Express has been expanding its footprint both in New Zealand and internationally. You can now use your American Express card at thousands of places in New Zealand and millions overseas. So, if you want to make the most of your card, check out where you can use it for purchases big and small.
Another feature American Express prides itself on is its access to features. Compared to certain other bank-issued credit cards, American Express cards can provide an abundance of exciting extras. From American Express Invites and Amex Offers to travel privileges and platinum perks, these cards can offer plenty back to cardholders who want that little bit more.
American Express is also know for its rewards, allowing cardholders to earn points for frequent flyer programmes such as Airpoints, as well as within its own Membership Rewards programme. This allows you turn your everyday purchases into rewards such as overseas adventures, experiences, gift cards and merchandise.
With an American Express card, you can transfer and redeem points with:
To successfully compare American Express credit cards, you have to know what you need from a card, and what’s out there – which is where CreditCard.co.nz comes in.
Low fee credit cards: This type of card would work well for someone who wants to keep costs low, who perhaps won’t use the card very often, and are not overly bothered about fancy features and high points earning.
Low rate credit cards: These cards are often a good choice for cardholders who tend to carry a balance. While they may not offer as much in the way of features and rewards, they can help to save on interest month-to-month.
Rewards cards: This type of card is designed to offer rewards for credit card spending, and tend to work best for people who use their card regularly, while clearing their balance every month.
Premium cards: These cards offer plenty of extras, and usually work well for cardholders who want perks and privileges, on top of a higher earn rate. To make the most of these cards, cardholders must get more value from the rewards and extras on offer than they pay out in annual fees, while also clearing their balance each month.
Some cardholders choose American Express simply for the extras this provider offers. But for extras to be worthwhile, they have to offer value. Let’s take a look at some of the features and extras you can find when you compare American Express cards.
American Express extras often focus on travel, making them a great choice for cardholders who frequently travel within New Zealand and overseas. First up, American Express has global acceptance, which means cardholders can use their card at millions of outlets within New Zealand and around the globe.
As we mentioned previously, American Express also offers Global Support, so cardholders can ask for help no matter where they happen to be. If their card is lost or stolen overseas, emergency card replacement may be available (fee may apply).
In terms of booking travel, American Express Travel allows cardholders to book travel arrangements such as accommodation and car hire, taking the stress out of travel organisation. Cardholders may also use the points they earn using their card – whether that’s Membership Rewards Points or Airpoints Dollars – to pay for anything from flights to hotel stays.
Certain cards provide travel certain perks, so keep a look out for the following:
Some American Express cards offer elite status with hotel loyalty programmes. These include Radisson Rewards Gold Elite, Hilton Honors Gold Status, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade Membership, and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite Status, which is ‘Gold Elite’ status with the entire Marriott group.
The American Express Platinum Card in particular offers access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, which provides:
The American Express Platinum Card and American Express Gold Card expands on the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme with access to The Hotel Collection, which includes over 500 properties in more than 30 countries, from brands like Hyatt and Hilton Hotels. Booking two consecutive nights at one of these properties using your card provides:
Accor Plus membership is another perk of the American Express Platinum Card, which provides cardholders an array of benefits at more than 700 hotels in 18 countries throughout Asia Pacific, including a free one-night stay.
American Express Platinum cardholders who enjoy spending time on the high seas can enjoy up to $300 USD in on-board credit when booking with the following:
Providing a number of flight-related privileges, American Express cards can offer everything from free flights to airport lounge access. With an American Express Platinum Edge Card, for example, cardholders can enjoy a complimentary direct domestic return flight every year with Air New Zealand.
Or, with an American Express Platinum Card in your wallet, you could take advantage of the card’s Airline Privileges Program, which offers savings on First and Business Class fares with airlines that include Air China, Etihad, Emirates, LAN Airlines, Lufthansa, Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines.
The American Express Platinum Card also offers cardholders Star Alliance Gold Status through their complimentary Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status after three flights with Singapore Airlines. Star Alliance Gold offers a number of benefits on flights with Air New Zealand, including free seat selection, increased baggage allowance, and access to Koru lounges across the country.
American Express cards can also offer direct access to lounges both in New Zealand and overseas. With the American Express Airpoints Platinum Card, cardholders benefit from two complimentary passes per year into Priority Pass lounges, and two complimentary entries per year to The American Express Lounges at Melbourne and Sydney International Airport.
On top of that, this card offers discounted Koru membership, Air New Zealand’s lounge programme, which also has reciprocal lounge entry benefits with partner airlines around the world. Cardholders can save $255 on the Koru joining fee, and $145 per year on the annual fee for as long as they hold the card.
American Express also has its own lounge programme, in the American Express Global Lounge Collection. American Express Platinum cardholders will have unlimited access to over 1,100 airport lounges in more than 500 countries, including Amex Centurion Lounges, Amex Lounges, Priority Pass, Plaza Premium Lounge, Virgin Australia Lounges, Delta Sky Club and Lufthansa Lounges in Munich and Frankfurt.
When travelling, access to a vehicle is often required. Fortunately, having an American Express card in your wallet can provide some privileges when hiring a car as well. All American Express cardholders can enjoy discounts at participating Avis locations, while American Express Platinum cardholders benefit from complimentary enhanced membership with Avis Preferred.
All American Express cardholders are entitled to complimentary enhanced membership with Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, providing discounts, car class upgrades and a fee waiver for additional drivers. American Express Platinum cardholders receive enhanced Gold Plus Rewards Five Star membership offering a higher discount, upgrades and guaranteed vehicle availability.
American Express Platinum cardholders also have access to Sixt Platinum Card membership via the Shangri-La and Singapore Airlines Infinite Journeys partnership, as long as they have secured KrisFlyer Gold status. This provides discounted car and limo rentals, guaranteed rental availability, and four hours mobility guarantee in case of breakdown.
On to entertainment perks now. Through American Express Invites, cardholders benefit from access to pre-sale tickets, special offers, member-only experiences and more. Amex Offers, meanwhile, provides cardholders access to shopping, dining, travel or entertainment offers such as their ‘spend-and-get’ promotions for supermarket, fuel, dining and retail.
American Express Platinum cardholders can enjoy even more from the By Invitation Only programme, with access to experiences that are not available to the general public. These can include intimate wine dinners, drive days, fashion shows, theatrical previews, VIP functions, major sporting events and much more.
When dining out, all American Express cardholders can take advantage of American Express’s global dining program, American Express Dining. When attending more than 400 specially selected restaurants around the world, cardholders can advise the establishment of their cardholder status to receive one of the following:
As for American Express Platinum cardholders, they have Platinum Dining Program membership. This provides access to an expanded range of exclusive restaurant offers that are not available to those holding standard cards. Benefits may include getting a table in a restaurant that is fully booked, or a complimentary bottle of wine or appetisers.
Travelling frequently means plenty of time spent organising. When it comes to organising travel insurance, American Express can help to relieve some of the pressure by providing complimentary travel insurance on the American Express Platinum Card, American Express Platinum Edge Card and American Express Airpoints Platinum Card.
Coverage varies from card to card, so it’s best to read the PDS closely before relying on cover.
Rewards are a pretty important feature on many American Express cards, so it’s a good idea to compare the various rewards options on offer to find the one that best works for you. You may want to earn Membership Rewards on American Express’s own rewards programme, or you may opt for a frequent flyer programme such as Airpoints.
Consider the earn rate on the card – that is how many points you will earn on your card spending. Also look at the rewards programme itself. For example, choosing an Airpoints card such as the American Express Airpoints Platinum Card would typically work best for cardholders who frequently fly with Air New Zealand, and who would really benefit from the perks on offer.
You may choose to add additional cardholders to the account, which can help you to earn points faster. Bear in mind, some cards charge an extra fee for additional cardholders, so make sure the extra points earned make up for the added cost. It’s also nice to know that when earning Membership Rewards points on an American Express card, there is no points cap or points expiry.
If there is one thing we could say about American Express is they know their platinum perks. By choosing a platinum American Express card, you could benefit from such perks as smartphone screen insurance, travel insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, Platinum Travel Credit and Platinum Concierge, among the many other features we have mentioned in previous sections.
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