American Express has been writing to members holding either the American Express Edge or Reserve cards that they will no longer receive the annual free Virgin Australia flight. In its place they will be offering a travel credit. This travel credit will be able to be used on the American Express Travel site.
The card that you hold will determine the travel credit that you will receive. For holders of the American Express Platinum Edge card, a credit of $200 will be available each year. In the case of the Platinum Reserve card, the available credit will be $400 per year.
The changes to the cards are schedules to kick in on March 30 2017. At that time, a travel credit may become available to you. The credit will be available to members that have an available free flight. Members that have used their annual free flight will need to wait until their next anniversary to see the credit.
These travel credits match the annual fee of the two cards quite closely, so effectively it cancels out the annual fee.
Depending on the exact flights you chose, this could represent a loss in benefit. For example, a member in Perth could often extract more than $400 worth of value out of the flights.
On the other hand, a travel credit does offer greater flexibility in what you can choose. Effectively, you can apply it to anything you can find at americanexpress.com.au/travel. According to the material being sent to cardholders, this includes flights, hotel stays, rental cars and activities.
Whether you find this better or worse is going to depend on your actual situation. While I have extracted good value out of the flight, I do prefer the idea of a travel credit.