American Express Airpoints credit card review

A rewards card with one of the best Airpoints earn rates and no annual fee. The AMEX Airpoints card is great on value, but is it the right card for you?

The American Express Airpoints credit card

The breakdown

  • The American Express (AMEX) Airpoints credit card has the third highest Airpoints dollars earn rate of any card and comes with 50 bonus Airpoints dollars on sign up.
  • There is no annual fee, so all rewards earned is pure profit.
  • AMEX is widely accepted in NZ, but still not as much as Visa or Mastercard.

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    Author: Kevin McHugh, Head of Publishing at Banked.

    The best value rewards card?

    In terms of sheer value for money, the AMEX Airpoints card may just be the best value rewards card out there. This is down to a couple of factors.

    Firstly, it has no annual fee — the only rewards credit card of any kind in NZ to not have an annual fee.

    Because most rewards credit cards involve an annual fee, the user may have to spend quite a lot on the card before they effectively balance out the fee and start getting the benefit of the reward. But with no annual fee on the AMEX Airpoints card, this isn’t necessary.

    (Check out our guide to all credit cards with no annual fee.)

    Secondly, the AMEX Airpoints card has a strong Airpoints earn rate. There are currently nine Airpoints credit cards on the market and the AMEX Airpoints card has the third-highest earn rate with 1 Airpoints dollar earned for every $100 spent.

    This puts only behind the AMEX Airpoints Platinum (1 Airpoints dollar per $59 spend) and the Westpac Airpoints World Mastercard (1 Airpoints dollar per $95 spend).

    On top of this, the AMEX Airpoints card comes with 50 bonus Airpoints dollars on sign up (although you do have to spend at least $750 on the card in the first three months to get the bonus).

    How does it compare with the competition?

    For Airpoints earning potential, the closest competition to the AMEX Airpoints credit card is its big brother, the AMEX Airpoints Platinum.

    American Express Airpoints Platinum
    The American Express Airpoints Platinum

    The AMEX Airpoints Platinum significantly outguns the AMEX Airpoints in terms of features. It has a much better Airpoints earn rate and a higher amount of bonus Airpoints dollars on sign-up (300 vs 50). It also includes complimentary international and domestic travel insurance, free Airport lounge vouchers, smartphone screen insurance, and more.

    However, the AMEX Airpoints Platinum also has an annual fee of $195, while the more basic AMEX Airpoints card is completely free.

    Learn more about the AMEX Airpoints Platinum credit card in our full review. Alternatively, see how the card compares with all other Airpoints credit cards.

    Another option is the BNZ Advantage Visa Classic. This card allows the holder to earn either Flybuys or BNZ Rewards on their spend and it also has a much more modest annual fee of $40.

    BNZ Advantage Visa Classic
    The BNZ Advantage Visa Classic

    The comparable rewards earn rate is not as strong with the BNZ card and it does still include an annual fee, but it may be worth considering if you are less interested in the Airpoints loyalty programme.

    BNZ Rewards programme may not be as well known as Airpoints, but it’s a flexible scheme that has its own benefits. For a start, you can use BNZ Rewards Points can be redeemed for cash back to your card, which effectively means you can use rewards to pay for anything you use your credit card for. This isn’t possible with Airpoints.

    For a full guide to all rewards credit cards, check out our guide.

    Features and benefits


    As one of the more basic rewards cards available in NZ, the AMEX Airpoints card doesn’t have a wealth of features. However, it does have some strong benefits.

    One of the best Airpoints earning cards

    That the AMEX Airpoints card has the third-best Airpoints earn rate of any credit card in NZ (1 Airpoints dollar per $100 spend) is very impressive considering it has no annual fee.

    It’s also only one of only two credit cards that come with bonus Airpoints on sign-up — 50 of them.

    With no annual fee to consider, all Airpoints earnings are pure profit.

    6 months interest-free on purchases

    The AMEX Airpoints card also has an interest-free period of six months for all purchases made on the card during that time.

    While this doesn’t quite put it in competition with credit cards that offer interest-free, long-term finance deals, it could make it a great option for those who want to make a one-off large purchase and expect to pay it off within six months.

    Again, the fact that the card has no annual fee is a major benefit as all other cards that offer interest-free finance have a fee of at least $50 per year.

    Eligibility criteria

    Required criteria

    To successfully apply for an American Express Airpoints credit card, you must meet the following criteria:

    • Age: You must be at least 18 years of age.
    • Credit history: You must have no history of bad debt or payment defaults.
    • Status: You must have the right to work in New Zealand. If you’re self employed, you must have been trading for at least 18 months (or 12 months if you are already an AMEX credit card holder).

    Required documentation

    In order to apply, you may need to provide:

    • An NZ driver’s licence number or alternative ID (such as a passport)
    • Details of your income, as well as any debt
    • Proof of income (such as a recent payslip).

    Fees and interest rates

    Pricing and fees

    If you are looking at the the AMEX Airpoints credit card, remember to factor in the fees and interest rates that may apply.

    • Annual fee: $0
    • Purchase interest rate: 22.95% p.a., however, remember that all purchases are interest free for the first six months.
    • Cash advance interest rate: 22.95% p.a. (note that the six-month interest free period does not apply to cash advances).
    • Late payment fee: $25

    Pros and cons of the AMEX Airpoints card


    • No annual fee: The AMEX Airpoints card is the only rewards credit card in NZ with no annual fee.
    • Bonus Airpoints: As well as having a strong Airpoints earn rate, you will also get 50 bonus Airpoints when you sign up (as long as you spend at least $750 in the first three months).
    • Six-month interest-free period: All purchases on the card will be interest free for the first half a year.



    The AMEX Airpoints card will be a great choice for many Kiwis for a combination of reasons.

    It’s the only rewards credit card with no annual fee and has the third-best Airpoints earn rate of any available card. In terms of sheer value, no other card compares.

    It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a platinum card, such as complimentary travel insurance or airport lounge vouchers. But that it has a better rewards return than many cards in the platinum category is impressive when factoring in that there is no annual fee to pay.

    The purchase interest rate on the AMEX Airpoints card is high, so it’s best suited to those who expect to pay off the full balance each month. If this isn’t the case for you, you may be better off looking at a credit card with the lowerest possible interest rate.

    Picture of Kevin McHugh

    Kevin McHugh

    Kevin is the founder and Head of Publishing at Banked. With years of experience working in personal finance, insurance, and related areas, Kevin created Banked to help Kiwis make better financial decisions.