American Express Essential Credit Card Review

Information verified correct on September 26th, 2016
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With featuring including a $0 annual fee, promotional balance transfer offer, rewards program and smartphone screen insurance, the Amex Essential Credit Card stands out from the pack.

The American Express Essential Credit Card is uniquely designed to suit modern-day lifestyles, with a combination of money-saving features and complimentary extras. This no annual fee credit card offers a 0% p.a. promotional balance transfer rate for the first 12 months, interest-free days, enrolment into the Membership Rewards Gateway program and complimentary insurance options. Plus, you can receive a $50 credit for your account if you spend $750 within the first 3 months you have the card.

Compare the features and costs to determine whether this card is right for you.

Product NameAmerican Express Essential Credit Card
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards Gateway
Balance transfer rate (p.a.)0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
Balance Transfer Revert Rate
The interest rate after the balance transfer ends.
Purchase Rate (14.99% p.a.)
Balance Transfer Limit70% of available credit limit
Purchase rate (p.a.)14.99% p.a.
Annual fee$0 p.a.
Interest Free Period
The interest-free period on purchases is the period or number of days you do not have to pay interest on your card purchases. You will be charged interest either from the day you make a purchase or from the statement date, unless you pay the closing balance in full by the due date (or within the interest-free period) on your statement.
Up to 55 days on purchases
Min credit limit
This is the lowest credit card limit that you can request. It is possible to apply for a higher credit card limit but not a lower one than this figure.
Minimum Monthly Repayment2.5% or $30
Minimum Income$40,000
Card TypeAmerican Express
Late Payment Fee$30
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (AMEX)3% of transaction value
Complimentary Travel InsuranceNo
Available To Temporary ResidentsNo
Minimum Income$40,000
Minimum Age18 years of age
Available to Temporary ResidentsNo
Credit Rating Requirement
Credit rating requirement is provided only as a guide. Understanding your credit file helps you make more informed decisions in regards to your finances. Learn more about what this means here.
Min Credit Limit
This is the lowest credit card limit that you can request. It is possible to apply for a higher credit card limit but not a lower one than this figure.
Annual Fee$0 p.a.
Minimum Repayment2.5% or $30
Late Payment Fee$30
Cash Advance Fee$2.50 or 2% of the cash advance amount (whichever is greater)
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (AMEX)3% of transaction value
Additional Cardholder Fee$0 p.a.
  • Pay no annual fee for life.
  • This card comes with a balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months.
  • Transfer your points to a choice of 8 airline rewards partner programs.
  • Add a supplementary card at no extra cost.
  • Enjoy a low purchase rate of 14.99% p.a.
  • Smartphone screen insurance of up to $500 per claim and up to two claims per 12-month period will be covered.
  • This card has a minimum income requirement of $40,000 per year, so this isn't for everyone.
  • A one-off 1% credit plan establishment fee applies for balance transfers.
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards Gateway
Rewards Points per $ (AMEX)1
Rewards Points per $ (VISA/MC) CapN/A
Rewards Points per $ (AMEX) CapUncapped
Points ExpiryNever

American Express Essential Credit Card review

If you’re looking to keep costs low, consolidate debts and earn rewards, the Essential credit card from American Express could be right for you. With no annual fee for life and a promotional balance transfer of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months, you can cut your credit card costs with the Essential card. Plus, you can reduce your interest burdens with a low standard variable purchase rate of 14.99% and up to 55 interest-free days.

The Essential credit card also earns 1 point per $1 spent through the Membership Rewards Gateway program. When you earn enough points, you can redeem them for a wide range of rewards including flights, gift cards, cash back and transfers to up to 8 frequent flyer programs.

Other benefits include a range of complimentary insurance options. For example, you’ll never suffer the cost of a cracked phone screen again with complimentary smartphone screen insurance. You can also shop with confidence with online and offline purchase protection, extended warranty and refund protection insurance.

Benefits of the American Express Essential Credit Card

Some of the perks you can expect include:

  • No annual fee. You can take advantage of a $0 annual fee for the life of the card.
  • Rewards. You’ll receive complimentary enrolment to Membership Rewards Gateway. This program allows cardholders to earn 1 Membership Reward per $1 spent on eligible purchases (and half of a Membership Reward for every $1 spent on bills, utilities and government payments). These points can be redeemed for flights and merchandise.
  • Smartphone Screen Insurance. Smartphone users are all too familiar with the heartbreaking reality of a smashed phone screen. If you use your Essential card to pay for your phone (outright or on contract), smartphone screen repairs of up to $500 will be covered. Each cardholder can take advantage of up to two claims per 12-month period.
  • Eligible for Apple Pay. Enjoy fast, secure and convenient payments with one touch to pay using the touch ID feature. Learn more here.
  • Eligible for Samsung Pay. Make easy and contactless payments with your qualifying Samsung device through the Samsung Pay application and receive $15 credit back on your account if you meet the spend requirement. Learn more here.
  • Eligible for Android Pay. American Express Essential Credit Card is eligible to use in Android Pay, allowing its cardholders to make contactless payments by simply tapping their android device on a contactless terminal. Find out more about it here.
  • Bonus credit. If you spend $750 within the first three months of approval, you’ll receive a $50 credit.

Features of the American Express Essential Card

  • Balance transfer. Consolidate your existing debt with a balance transfer of 0% p.a. for the first 12 months, with a one-off  credit plan establishment fee which applies to the entire balance transfer amount. The rate will revert to the standard purchase rate of 14.99% p.a. at the end of the promotional period.
  • Purchase interest rate. The Essential card offers an ongoing purchase rate of 14.99% p.a.
  • Retail insurance. Cardholders can shop with confidence knowing their purchases are covered by refund protection (up to $500 per claim), purchase protection (up to $2,500 per claim) and extended warranty by up to 12 months.
  • Online fraud protection. All online purchases made using your Essential credit card are secured by online fraud protection.
  • Interest-free days. If you pay your balance in full, you could receive up to 55 interest-free days.
  • Online statements. This card only offers online statements, saving you from the clutter that comes with paper copies.
  • Amex offers. American Express cardholders can benefit from exclusive American Express offers on rewards and other perks.

How to apply for the American Express Essential Credit Card

If you’ve compared your options and decided to apply for the American Express Essential Credit Card, you can do so by completing the online application. But first, make sure that you meet the requirements below.

Eligibility criteria

  • You must be 18 or older
  • You must make a personal gross (pre-tax) annual income of $40,000 or more
  • You must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident or hold a current Business Long Stay Visa (subclass 457)
  • You need a good credit history to apply for this card

Required documents

If you meet the criteria for this card, you can start your application. Make sure you have the following documents and information on-hand to speed up the process.

  • Personal information. This includes your full name, residential address, email address and contact number. You’ll also be required to provide proof of identification such as your birth certificate and driver’s licence.
  • Employment information. You’ll need to provide information about your employment and source of income. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to provide your accountant’s contact details.
  • Financial information. In addition to your employment information, you’ll need to provide details about any other sources of income or assets, including property, shares and savings accounts. You also need to provide information about debts, liabilities or other expenses, including existing card debts, mortgages, rental payments and day-to-day expenses.

The American Express Essential credit card is a no annual fee option that also provides a wide range of valuable extras. Now that you know more about the features of this card, you can compare it with other options to help you choose the right card for you.

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76 Responses to American Express Essential Credit Card Review

  1. Default Gravatar
    George | September 22, 2016

    Rewards program – Which airlines can I use the points to book flights?
    Fees – Are there any other fees associated with Master Card other than the annual fee? I seem to remember that Master Card used to be more expensive to purchase items. Perhaps the retailers had to pay higher fees when customers used MC?
    Usage – is Master Card accepted as widely as Visa?
    Thanks George

    • Staff
      Ally | September 23, 2016

      Hi George,

      Thanks for our inquiry.

      Kindly see below:

      Rewards – You can transfer your points to a choice of the ff.:

      • Air New Zealand Airpoints
      • Asia Miles
      • Emirates Skywards
      • Etihad Guest
      • Malaysian Airlines Enrich
      • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
      • THAI Royal Orchid Plus
      • Velocity Frequent Flyer

      Fees – Kindly note that this is not a MasterCard, but this card’s fees include:

      • Late payment fee – $30
      • Duplicate statement fee – $10
      • Currency conversion fee – 3% of the converted amount
      • cash advance fee – $2.50 or 2% of the cash advance amount (whichever is greater)

      Usage – MasterCard is just as widely accepted as Visa, but once again, this card is not linked to either of the two.

      For more information, I have sent the key fact sheet of this card to your email.

      I hope this has helped.


  2. Default Gravatar
    Asha | September 10, 2016

    Is it possible to balance transfer from Amex Essential card to any other bank credit card? If not, what is the use of having this credit card as it is not accepted at many places?

    • Staff
      Ysa | September 21, 2016

      Hi Asha,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, you’ll be able to do a balance transfer as long as you are not transferring to an existing American Express credit cards.
      However, please also note that your chances of approval will still depend on the institution that you will be applying for a balance transfer. Should you wish to clarify more regarding this matter, it would be best to contact American Express at 1300 366 105.

      I hope this helps.


  3. Default Gravatar
    peter | August 29, 2016

    What is different between bank’s amex card and AMEX’s amex card? I have bank’s amex card, should i switch?

    • Staff
      May | August 29, 2016

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      The difference lies between the terms and conditions that govern the credit cards in the aspect of but not limited to the conditions of use, reward point systems, interest rates and more. The “bank-issued” AMEX cards are subject to the terms and conditions of the issuing bank while the cards issued by AMEX itself are determined by their own T&Cs. Nonetheless, these banks are also governed by AMEX’s terms and conditions in terms of using their logo for their credit cards.


  4. Default Gravatar
    Jason | July 26, 2016

    I am an existing AMEX customer, is the 1% balance transfer available as well as the $50 cashback?

    • Staff
      May | July 26, 2016

      Hi Jason,

      Thank you for your question. You’ve come through to we are an Australian financial comparison website and general information service, not actually AMEX.

      As stated in the T&Cs on AMEX website:

      1. The promotional rate of 0% p.a. on balance transfers for the first 12 months with 1% BT fee - Excludes Card Members who have held any Card issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding twelve (12) month period. This offer is available to new applicants who apply online and are approved.

      2. For the $50 cashback – This offer is available to new Card Members only and excludes Card Members who have held any other Card issued by American Express in the preceding 12-month period.


  5. Default Gravatar
    Brian | June 30, 2016

    I just received the new American Express Essential Credit Card but no word was mentioned about balance transfer that was stated in my application at 9k. The limit received is just 10k.

    Is there any number I can call to make a query about balance transfer please? Many thanks.

    • Staff
      May | July 1, 2016

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for your question.

      With American Express Essential Credit Card, there are some important conditions on balance transfer that need to be met:

      1. Card Members who currently hold or held a Card issued by American Express Australia Limited in the last 60 days are ineligible for this balance transfer offer.

      2. The maximum balance transfer amount is $10,000 or 70% of your approved credit limit, whichever is the lesser amount. Transfer amounts will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. AMEX will not process balance transfer requests for amounts greater than $10,000 or 70% of your approved credit limit.

      3. The balance you transfer to American Express must be from an account in your name.

      Further information about the balance transfer with AMEX Essential credit card is outlined in the T&Cs I’ve forwarded to your email. I also sent you the AMEX contact details.

      I hope this has helped.


  6. Default Gravatar
    Rhoda | June 22, 2016

    Hi, i have applied for the amex essential card online. But i did not receive any email confirmation that my application was received. No proof of income was also required. Is that possible? Or that application has not materialised?

    • Staff
      Anndy | June 22, 2016

      Hi Rhoda,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that is a financial comparison and information service and is not a credit card provider.

      When you apply for an American Express Essential Credit Card, a decision regarding your application will be sent to you by post within 5-10 working days. However, to confirm if your application was successfully completed, I suggest that you directly inquire from American Express on the number I’ve sent in your email.

      I hope this helps.


  7. Default Gravatar
    Patrick | June 18, 2016

    If I have a $29K limit, with say a 15K debt, at another financial institution, will you transfer the whole debt?
    Is there a limit on transfer? Will I get the same limit as I had at the previous institution?

    • Staff
      Anndy | June 19, 2016

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The maximum balance transfer limit for the American Express Essential Credit Card is 70% of your available credit limit. If you have $29,000 credit limit, that should allow you to transfer the full $15k debt.

      As to how much credit limit you will be approved for, the bank will base it on the financial information and eligibility criteria you provide them during the application process. In saying this, your new credit limit may or may not be the same as your credit limit with your previous credit card.

      I hope this helps.


  8. Default Gravatar
    Arnov | May 24, 2016

    I tried to apply this card via AMEX website, after filling all detail’s the page crashes and goes back to personal details screen. Couldn’t finally submit the application. Don’t know what to do?

    • Staff
      May | May 26, 2016

      Hi Arnov, thanks for your inquiry!

      If you have lost the page and cannot submit your application, you may try to fill out the form again. Please click on the ‘Go to American Express’ website’ button and head over to AMEX’s site and start processing your application again.


  9. Default Gravatar
    Chris | May 20, 2016

    In regards to the Essential Credit Card are there any banks that American Express do not accept balance transfers from and what is the limit of balance transfer?

    • Staff
      May | May 22, 2016

      Hi Chris, thanks for your inquiry!

      Generally, AMEX accepts balance transfers from all other credit card companies including those bank-issued credit cards with a dual Visa/MasterCard and American Express Card. However, they don’t accept BT from credit cards that were underwritten/ issued by AMEX itself.

      You might like to check this page to find more information about which banks you’re allowed to transfer your balance to and from.

      Meanwhile, with American Express Essential Credit Card, you can transfer a balance up to 70% of your available credit limit.

      I hope this has helped.


  10. Default Gravatar
    shopcat | May 15, 2016

    Are there any balance transfer fees

    • Staff
      Ysa | May 15, 2016

      Hi shopcat,

      Thanks for your inquiry.
      There is no balance transfer fee applicable for the American Express Essential Card; however, please note that any remaining balances will revert to the standard purchase rate of 14.99% p.a.

      I hope this has helped.


Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated September 26th, 2016
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer offer for 18 months and also earn 2 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on everyday spend.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ME Bank frank Credit Card
Enjoy a low and consistent interest rate on purchases and cash advances, combined with no annual fee.
11.99% p.a. $0 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Visa
Introductory offer of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers and 1% p.a. for 12 months on purchases, plus a low annual fee.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $55 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Receive a full annual fee refund and save $149 if you meet the $6,000 spend requirement. Enjoy a balance transfer offer and platinum card benefits such as complimentary insurances and concierge services.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 15 months $149 p.a. Go to site More info

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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