American Express Essential Credit Card Review

Information verified correct on June 1st, 2016
American Express Essential Credit Card Find out more Go to site

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While the $0 annual fee, promotional balance transfer, interest-free days and rewards are all perks, it’s the smartphone screen insurance that sets the AMEX Essential credit card apart from the crowd.

The American Express Essential Credit Card is uniquely designed to suit the modern-day lifestyle of millennials. Offering no annual fee, a promotional balance transfer rate, interest-free days and complimentary enrolment into Membership Rewards Gateway, the Essential credit card could be a worthwhile investment for modest spenders who still want to earn rewards. If you spend $500 within two months, you’ll also receive a $50 credit. The added bonus of complimentary smartphone screen insurance is the cherry on top of a credit card designed for contemporary cardholders.

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
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 dont 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
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
Additional Cardholder Fee$0 p.a.
Number of Additional Cardholders1
  • 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.
Rewards ProgramMembership Rewards Gateway
Rewards Points per $ (AMEX)1
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 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 ongoing APR of 14.99% and up to 55 interest-free days.

The Essential credit card also gives you free entry into the Membership Rewards Gateway so you can earn points as you spend. Never suffer the blow of a cracked screen again with complimentary smartphone screen insurance, and shop with confidence with online and offline purchase protection.

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 with touch ID. Learn more here.
  • Bonus credit. If you spend $500 within the first two 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. 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.

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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

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

Required documents

  • You’ll also be required to provide proof of identification such as your birth certificate and driver’s licence.
  • 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.
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62 Responses to American Express Essential Credit Card Review

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. Default Gravatar
    hunt | May 12, 2016

    How do I unsubscribe and cancel an account?

    • Default Gravatar
      hunt | May 12, 2016

      No I want to unsubscribe from this website + close account

    • Staff
      May | May 12, 2016

      Hi Hans,

      Thanks for getting back.

      Sorry if I misunderstood your inquiry earlier. Please be assured that even if you have posted a comment on our page, you were not being subscribed/ signed-up automatically to anything on our website. So there is no record/account that needs to be closed or cancelled here. :)


    • Staff
      May | May 12, 2016

      Hi Hans,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you want to cancel or close your credit card, be sure to have fully paid all your outstanding balance before doing so. After which, you can call your card issuer’s customer service department to inform them of your decision. There are companies that might agree to cancel your card over the phone by confirming your identity, but some others might require that you send a written request.

      Please feel free to read our guide on how you can cancel your credit card account here.

      I hope this is helpful.


  5. Default Gravatar
    hunt | May 12, 2016

    Hi, I have an ANZ – Amex card. Will I be eligible for a new card directly from Amex for the balance transfer deal?

    • Staff
      Ysa | May 12, 2016

      Hi Hans,

      Thanks for your question.

      As long as you have not been a primary cardholder of an American Express credit card in the preceding twelve (12) month period, then you should be eligible to apply for this card offer.


  6. Default Gravatar
    vicki | April 28, 2016

    Does the card have a ongoing annual fee after 1 year and also if you pay the card off within 12 months can you close the card ? Looking to pay off existing credit card balance . thankyou vicki jakus

    • Staff
      Ysa | April 29, 2016

      Hi Vicki,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that the $0 annual fee applies for the life of the card. You should be able to close the account as long as you repay your balance and have no outstanding payments.
      If you have decided to close the account, kindly contact your card issuer for further assistance.

      For more information about this process, you may wish to check our guide on How to Close and Cancel Your Credit Card Account.

      I hope this helps.


  7. Default Gravatar
    Kamrul | April 13, 2016

    Hi, I just wanted to know about the Smart Phone screen insurance feature. I am paying for my phone every month because it is on 24 month contract. If I pay my monthly repayment via this card, will my phone be eligible for this insurance? How will it work?

    • Staff
      Anndy | April 13, 2016

      Hi Kamrul,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Your phone will be eligible for the Smartphone Screen Insurance feature of the American Express Essential Credit Card if you use your Essential card to pay for your phone, whether outright or on contract. With this, smartphone screen repairs of up to $500 will be covered. You can make up to two claims per 12-month period.

      I hope this answers your question.


  8. Default Gravatar
    Ric | April 12, 2016

    I’m interested in Amex Essential CC. Can I set this one up to use with the Amex Express Cash program (linked to an Australian bank account in order to access foreign cash while overseas).


    • Staff
      Sharon | April 21, 2016

      Hi Ric,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Please note that you have reach, not AMEX. Wth regards to this option, you may contact AMEX directly or visit a local branch. They will advise.



  9. Default Gravatar
    Nad | April 4, 2016

    Is the 0% balance transfer only available on application? I just did an application and was asked the info for balance transfer.

    thank you.


    • Staff
      Sharon | April 4, 2016

      Hi Nad, thanks for your inquiry.

      As per AMEX’s balance transfers terms and conditions, the promotional balance transfer interest rate is only available to new American Express customers who request a balance transfer at the time they submit their American Express Credit Card application.



  10. Default Gravatar
    Gt | April 4, 2016

    I already have AMex Credit card (me as main card holder and with additional card for my wife) . Can I or my wife apply this card so we can use the balance transfer (from another credit card, e.g. NAB) ..?

    • Staff
      Sharon | April 4, 2016

      Hi GT, thanks for your inquiry.

      Unfortunately, since you currently have an AMEX card, you are excluded from the balance transfer offer.

      However, if your wife meet the eligibility criteria for the Amex Essential credit card and haven’t held any other card issued by American Express in the preceding twelve (12) month period (as the main cardholder), then there shouldn’t be any issues with her application.

      I hope this helps.


Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated June 1st, 2016
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
St.George Vertigo Platinum
A platinum card with a balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 20 months and an introductory purchase offer of 0.99% p.a. for 4 months with a low annual fee.
0.99% p.a. for 4 months (reverts to 12.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 20 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Essential Credit Card
Receive a $50 credit on eligible spend and get Smartphone screen insurance combined with a no annual fee for life card.
14.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months $0 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
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
Earn up to 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 within the first three months and 1.5 points per $1 spent. Get complimentary airport lounge access, 24/7 concierge with $0 annual fee in the first year.
19.99% p.a. $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter) 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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