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The American Express Explorer Credit Card is one of the most versatile cards on the market, allowing you to earn flexible reward points that can be transferred to nine airlines, used to pay for purchases, or redeemed for other rewards. The card also delivers a strong points earn rate on spend, an annual $400 Travel Credit that fully offsets the card fee, and numerous other benefits.
The Explorer card was my primary card until I upgraded to the very high end ($1,450-per-year) American Express Platinum Card. Both cards earn Membership Rewards points, which is Amex’s own-brand points currency. Membership Rewards points are safely stored with Amex until you’re ready to transfer them to a partner airline or use them in another way.
Right now, new American Express Card Members can get 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points with the Explorer card, which converts to 25,000 frequent flyer points with most partner airlines or $250 of credit on your card account.
Here’s an overview of the card features you can enjoy, with more details and a mobile-friendly application form available here.
1. Enjoy a high points earn rate and flexible rewards
You earn 2 Membership Rewards (MR) points per $1 spent everywhere except with government bodies, where you earn 1 point per $1 spent. This is a very strong earn rate.
Hundreds of thousands of merchants accept Amex in Australia, and that number is growing, so there’s no shortage of places where you can earn points with this card.
There’s also no cap on the amount of points you can earn.
The standout feature of MR points is that they’re extremely flexible. You can manually transfer them to nine airline frequent flyer programs when you’re ready to book a flight, or you can use them to pay for travel via American Express Travel, redeem them for gift cards or pay for purchases on the card.
Right now, 10,000 Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for $50 of gift cards, travel or card purchases – a potentially attractive option if you’re looking to save money.
2. Take off with nine airline partners
If you prefer to use points for air travel, the big advantage of MR points (compared to Qantas or Velocity Points) is that you’re not locked into any single airline frequent flyer program, rather you accumulate MR points until you’re ready to transfer them to a partner airline.
When the time comes to transfer points, you can choose from these quality airline frequent flyer programs:
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Malaysian Airlines Enrich
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Air New Zealand Airpoints.
Use your points to fly with top airlines like Singapore Airlines
Having so many airlines to choose from means it can be much easier to find award seats when the time comes to book, especially if you want to fly in a sought-after business or first class cabin.
3. Enjoy a $400 Travel Credit each year
At the start of each card membership year, you’ll receive a $400 Travel Credit that you can redeem for flights, hotels, car hire or experiences in Australia or overseas.
It’s very easy to redeem the travel credit online via American Express Travel and you can use it to book something for yourself or anyone you choose.
Since you receive the travel credit every year, it effectively offsets the card’s $395 annual fee.
4. Get up to US$100 in hotel credits and room upgrades
Amex’s Hotel Collection includes more than 600 hotels and resorts in over 30 countries worldwide, including from trusted brands like Hyatt and Hilton.
Every time you book at least two consecutive nights’ stay at one of these properties with your Explorer card, you’ll receive:
- a hotel credit of up to US$100 for qualifying charges – typically dining, spa, golf or other hotel facility-related charges (but not the room rate, taxes or fees)
- a complimentary room upgrade at check-in, subject to availability.
Enjoy benefits at hotels like Hyatt
These complimentary extras can substantially enhance your hotel stays in the future.
5. Save money with a range of valuable insurance covers
You’ll receive complimentary travel insurance cover for you, your partner and dependent children when you pay for travel with your card or use MR points to book.
The cover is comprehensive and includes medical, trip cancellation, travel delay and baggage-related costs, as well as many other expenses.
You’ll also receive smartphone screen insurance when you pay for your phone or monthly contract with your card, with $500 available for repairs up to 2 times every 12 months (with a 10% excess).
And for good measure, you’ll also get refund and purchase protection and extended warranties for eligible purchases made using your card.
The T&Cs for these insurance policies can be viewed here.
6. Earn more points, save money and enjoy other lifestyle benefits
There are so many other perks to enjoy with this card, including:
- up to 4 free additional cards for family members over 18 years of age – an easy way for your household to earn points faster
- two entries each year to the exclusive American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport international or Melbourne Airport international (currently closed due to COVID-19)
- a complimentary year of Calm Premium membership – the award-winning sleep, meditation and relaxation app, valued at $79.99. Plus, get 50% off the following year if you choose to continue. Ends 31 December 2020
- up to 55 days interest-free on purchases (the interest rate thereafter is 20.74%)
- use your card with Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay
- Amex Offers: save money with regular discount offers with top brands
- American Express Experiences: access sought-after events like music, theatre and film, including via pre-sale tickets, and enjoy exclusive lounges at selected events.
Plus 50,000 bonus points
Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new card in the first 3 months.
This bonus point offer is only available to new American Express Card Members. That means you must not have held a card issued directly by American Express Australia in the last 18 months. However, you are still eligible for this offer if you’ve held an Amex card issued by a bank (i.e. Westpac, ANZ, CBA or NAB) or if you’re an additional Card Member on someone else’s account.
The minimum income to qualify is $65,000 per annum.
Important: This article is not intended to suggest that you should apply for a card. You should seek independent, professional advice and consider your personal circumstances before deciding to apply for a card.
If you apply for a card via a link in this article, we may receive a commission from Amex. This income helps keep our site running, and we thank you for your support.
Read more in our Cards Disclosure.