American Express Essential Credit Card Review

Information verified correct on July 28th, 2016
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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 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.
$2,000
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.
Good
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.
$2,000
Annual Fee$0 p.a.
Minimum Repayment2.5% or $30
Late Payment Fee$30
Over Limit Fee$15
Cash Advance Fee$2.50 or 2% of the cash advance amount (whichever is greater)
Additional Cardholder Fee$0 p.a.
Number of Additional Cardholders1
Pros
  • 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.
Cons
  • 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 fro 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 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 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.
  • 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, with a one-off 1% 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

  • 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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70 Responses to American Express Essential Credit Card Review

  1. 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 finder.com.au 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 60 day 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 twelve (12) month period.

      Cheers,
      May

  2. 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.

      Cheers,
      May

  3. 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 finder.com.au 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.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  4. 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.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  5. 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.

      Cheers,
      May

  6. 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.

      Cheers,
      May

  7. 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.

      Cheers,
      Ysa

  8. 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. :)

      Cheers,
      May

    • 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.

      Cheers,
      May

  9. 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.

      Cheers,
      Ysa

  10. Default Gravatar
    vicki | April 28, 2016

    Hi
    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. thank you. 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.

      Cheers,
      Ysa

Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated July 28th, 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
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. Also enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer rate for 12 months.
14.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. Go to site More info
Citi Qantas Signature Credit Card
Earn up to 70,000 bonus Qantas Points on eligible spend, plus enjoy a 0% p.a. for 6 months offer on balance transfers.
20.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 6 months $99 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 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.
9.99% p.a. $0 p.a. Go to site More info

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards CreditCardFinder.com.au 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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