Aussies win credit card travel perks lifeline
Australians have been given more time to use credit card travel perks amid continued uncertainty around international travel and domestic border closures.
American Express told News Corp it had extended the validity of unredeemed travel credits and complimentary flights until March 31, 2021.
This would apply to customers whose benefits with an expiry date between February 1 and December 31 this year.
It said the extension would apply to all American Express cards that include a travel credit or complimentary flight, including: Platinum Edge Credit Cards; Platinum Reserve Credit Cards; Explorer Credit Cards; Express Platinum Cards; Qantas American Express Ultimate Cards, and Velocity Platinum Card.
In the case of Explorer Credit Card members, if their $400 travel credit was due to expire on August 31 this year, it would mean they have two $400 vouchers to use into 2021 - one that is valid until March 31, and one that is valid until August 31.
The travel credits would have to be used in two separate bookings.
Lounge pass benefits have also been extended.
Cardholders eligible for American Express Lounge passes will now be able to use them until June 30, 2021. For those who receive Virgin Australia Lounge passes, the new expiry date for unredeemed passes is now March 31, 2021.
Validity for Qantas Lounge passes has been extended by six months, and card members can check their expiry date via the Qantas Frequent Flyer site.
"With travel plans on hold for many of us at the moment, we're doing everything we can to ensure our Card Members continue to get the most from their relationship with American Express," an American Express spokesperson said.
Virgin Money customers with travel-oriented credit cards have also been given an extension.
A spokesperson from Citi, who provides Virgin Money's cards, said Velocity Flyer and High Flyer customers who requested their $129 travel voucher from April would receive a full 12 month redemption window, up from the standard six months.
Cardholders with lounge passes that were set to expire after April 2020 would now receive an extension until mid-next year, the spokesperson said.
Those who had requested a travel voucher in the past with a redemption window that was about to expire would be offered a Travel Bank Credit reflecting the value of their voucher.
"We hope to be able to provide cardholders with details of this soon," the Citi spokesperson said
However, ANZ customers who hold a Travel Rewards Adventures Card - which comes with a complimentary domestic flight and two lounge passes each year on the proviso they meet the minimum spend requirement - will not get an extension.
An ANZ spokesperson said there were no plans to extend travel benefits that expire this year into 2021.
"Our ANZ Travel Rewards Adventure card is currently unavailable to new customers as we continue to work through the impacts of the Virgin Australia Group entering into Voluntary Administration," the spokesperson said.
"Existing customers with an ANZ Travel Rewards Adventures card are still able to take their complimentary flight, subject to meeting the product terms and conditions."
Patrick Veyret, a Banking Policy Expert from consumer advocacy group CHOICE, said it was "disappointing" ANZ had not provided an extension, and called on them to "step up and do the right thing by their customers".
"Both Virgin Money and AMEX should be commended by offering relief to their customers, but they must be flexible in their assistance if air travel remains untenable for the moment," Mr Veyret said.
He said credit cards with interest rates of more than 20 per cent should be slashed amid coronavirus-spurred financial hardship and a historic low cash rate.
Consumers should also ditch expensive frequent flyer credit cards if they are not using them, Mr Veyret said.
"Ask your bank for a cheaper rate or switch lenders to find a better priced card," he said.
The Federal Government presently has a ban on all overseas travel out of Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic unless an individual is granted an exemption.
Australians also face difficulties with interstate travel, with state and territory borders subject to varying degrees of restrictions.
Originally published as Aussies win credit card travel perks lifeline