The Foundations Of An Effective American Express Rewards Points Strategy

Whether you’re brand new to the rewards points game, or looking to optimise current or future earning potential, there’s a handful of basic things you must understand to initiate an effective points strategy.

Updated November 13, 2018

Choose the right card for earning Rewards Points 

The best way to get enthusiastic about earning rewards points is to start with a solid base. That means choosing a card with an attractive sign on bonus. Depending on the level of the card, that bonus may be anywhere from 7,500 points up to 100,000 points (which we earned on our American Express Velocity Platinum cards), earned after a required spend on your new card. However, sign on bonuses aren’t the only things you should be looking for when choosing a rewards credit card. Analysing your needs plus your existing spending and travel habits will lead you to a card that matches your lifestyle. Work out what type of card is right for you, charge or credit, then check if it has an annual fee. What are the benefits? Is it worth it? Do you meet the requirements? For example, frequent travellers may be tempted by the new American Express Explorer Credit Card which offers 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points plus two airport lounge passes and $400 of travel credit each year to counter its $395 annual fee. And for keen shoppers, the David Jones Platinum American Express card exclusive benefits at David Jones, including free standard delivery for online and in-store purchases, free gift wrapping, free alterations on all women’s and men’s clothes purchased in-store, interest-free terms as well as high earn rates on fuel.

Take advantage of account offers and bonus partners

Once you’ve been approved, your American Express account tracks your various cards, transactions and points balance, keeping you up to date with current offers to save you money. I’ve just saved a $40 cash back with Expedia for a hotel stay in Paris plus a $15 cash back offer for Heinemann Duty-Free for a whisky purchase on my return home to Sydney. I don’t treat them as savings but more of an opportunity to spend more than I would on a nicer product. In addition to offers, my American Express Business Accelerator Card earns me 2 points per $1 spent on fuel purchases, with the current Virgin Velocity BP partnership I can double up and earn points for buying the fuel, plus additional points for swiping my Virgin Velocity card at the checkout.

Use your card wherever possible

This sounds daft, but I cannot stress it enough, stop using physical cash and debit cards! With contactless cards and Apple, Android and Samsung pay now available for American Express Card Members, paying by credit has never been easier. You want to make sure you are making as many transactions on your card as possible, both large and small. If you’re making large transactions consistently on a debit card or paying for dinners out in cash, you’re literally throwing away free points, especially if you’ve got a card that rewards you for spending in a particular category, i.e. with an airline or dining out. You may be met with a charge to use your card, but the points earn is always worth using it. Even with a 2.5% charge when I’m paying my dinner bill – with my American Express Velocity Platinum Card that $350 dinner is 1050 points with the card’s 3 points to $1 spend at restaurants – 1050 points for $8.75. Last month I bought a new video camera on TVG’s American Express Business Accelerator Card and paid the $33 fee to collect the 2200 points. An additional $33 expense to the business for 2200 points – a no-brainer.

American Express Cards Paris

Maximise work expenses

I often sit at home and think of ideas for self-sustaining businesses that could generate me millions of Rewards Points by paying expenses on an American Express card. That’s the sort of mind frame you want to get in with your points strategy. If you work in an office where you spend your own money and fill in an expense claim form and don’t use a credit card to accrue points, you’re a fool. Those points are free! Get a credit card and start earning points on all of your work expenses. Now.

Get crafty!

There are so many opportunities to earn points, even if the money isn’t all yours. If you are sitting at a lunch table with a group of 10 friends and everyone is throwing in $250 cash for a bill, collect it and put the bill on your card. With the right card that $2500 becomes 7500 points. Just 5000 points will get you a domestic business class upgrade on Virgin after a rough day of meetings. Find out if you can pay your rent on credit card and let your friends know you’re happy to make the group holiday booking on your card, use your personal referral code to refer friends and earn extra points when they sign up. Being aware of situations like this will have you well on your way to a serious points stash.

Link Your Woolworths Rewards card

Often overlooked, the Woolworths Rewards program is an excellent way to earn huge points on everyday purchases. Sure, it’s not as glamorous as wielding your steel Amex Platinum card but it’s free and you’re at a Woolworths owned business buying food and booze almost every day. You can earn a huge amount of points, especially if you shop online through the Qantas Online Mall, earning 2 points per dollar spent on top of paying for it with a card like the David Jones Platinum American Express, earning up to 5.5 points per dollar spent which is simply unheard of. 

Stay in control:

You’re an adult, you can be trusted with a credit card. Don’t throw away the idea of earning points because you ‘can’t be trusted’. There’s nothing more satisfying than earning points and keeping your credit card bill under control. Outwit the credit card companies and yourself with sensible spending and on-time payments, that itself is strangely rewarding.

To read our overview of the American Express Platinum Card click here.

To find out more about American Express Rewards or which card is right for you head to American Express.


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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