St George Bank will no longer give points on government-related transactions, including tax payments to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), from 9 December 2020.
The change affects the St George Amplify, Amplify Platinum and Amplify Signature credit cards, which until now have continued to reward points for government payments. The St George Amplify Signature card has been particularly popular for tax payments because it comes with the equivalent of 0.75 frequent flyer points per $1 spent, which is uncapped. This is before the 10% “birthday bonus” points that St George also gives to cardholders.
Unfortunately, this change also affects Bank of Melbourne and Bank SA, which issue identical credit cards to St George. All three banks – St George, Bank of Melbourne and Bank SA – are owned by Westpac and participate in the Amplify Rewards program.
St George has started issuing notice of the upcoming change on cardholders’ credit card statements. The message reads:
We will treat any transaction that the card scheme (Visa or Mastercard) tells us is government related as a government related payment. From 9 December 2020, points will no longer be rewarded for purchases or payments to a local, state or federal government entity or government related agency, including to the Australian Tax Office, Australia Post or to motor vehicle registries.
St George Bank has always had the following clause in its Amplify Rewards terms & conditions:
4.5 While Amplify Points are earned when you purchase goods and services, please note that Amplify Points are not earned in respect of the following amounts that may be charged to your Card Account:
government charges (other than GST payable in connection with the purchase of goods or services on which you earn Amplify Points)
But St George has not specifically excluded tax office payments until now, and in practice cardholders have continued to receive points when paying tax, HECS or other similar bills.
If you’re an existing St George, Bank of Melbourne or Bank SA credit card customer, you still have until 8 December 2020 to earn Amplify or Qantas points for ATO payments.
St George was the last bank standing
By no longer awarding frequent flyer points for ATO tax payments, St George Bank marks the end of a very lucrative era.
Since the ATO began accepting credit card payments in 2009, clever frequent flyers have been earning extra points by using a points-earning credit card to pay their tax bills. The 9,000+ posts in our ATO (tax office) payments by credit card thread are a testament to this!
But Australia’s banks have slowly cottoned on, and one-by-one have removed the ability to earn points for government payments. (Presumably, these have lower interchange fee margins and are less profitable for the banks to process). Since Bankwest removed points for ATO transactions in May 2019, St George (and Bank of Melbourne/Bank SA) has been the only Australian bank to still reward points for tax payments at a compelling rate.
There are still some business credit cards in Australia that award points at the full rate for government payments.
There are also still some American Express personal credit cards that award points for ATO payments. But this is generally only at a reduced rate or on cards that only earn the equivalent of 0.5 frequent flyer points per $1 spent anyway. Combined with the higher surcharge for paying the Australian Tax Office with an Amex card, this is unlikely to be worthwhile.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: ATO (tax office) payments by credit card