There is a popular finance myth that there is one best credit card out there that suits everyone. The truth is, a credit card that is perfect for you may be terrible for someone else.
Credit cards offer a variety of different features including low interest rates, balance transfers and rewards and depending on your spend amount and type, one feature or the other will have more weight for you.
However, by shopping around for the best credit card rates you're likely to find an option that suits your financial situation.
Here are a few features to consider when choosing your credit card:
The method of charging interest on credit card purchases can seem complex, but generally, interest accrues when you make a purchase, or alternatively, you can choose a card with an interest-free period, which can be up to around 60 days.
Conversely, if you don’t start with a zero balance, and/or fail to pay the credit card in full monthly, you may forfeit the interest-free break. At this point, you could end up paying interest calculated daily. Moreover, the interest charged, by a card with interest-free days, is often higher than those without free-days.
Many credit cards recognise your loyalty with reward points for using the card for purchases. In turn, you can redeem the points for merchandise – such as white-goods or new bike for instance – or flights or accommodation, depending on your rewards program. At first glance, credit card rewards sound appealing, but understand they usually have higher interest charges and fees than non-rewards cards. So it's important to do research before you sign on the dotted line.
When considering the best credit card rates, some cards offer attractive balance transfer terms, which are used to attract customers from one lender to another. The hook is that a balance transfer card carries a reduced interest charge for a length of time, which is often called the ‘honeymoon’ period and can be as low as zero interest!
However after the honeymoon period, the credit card will usually revert to a higher variable rate, which if you don’t change your spending habits, can create new financial hurdles. Also be aware that some cards don't offer interest-free days on purchases made using a balance transfer card – so you'll pay interest on purchases from day one.
Having the best credit card rate is immaterial if you’re paying a hefty annual fee. Some lenders may waive annual fees, however you’ll need to spend big on the card to earn this windfall.
RateCity lists and compares over 200 Australian credit cards online. Use the credit card comparison tool to track down your ideal credit card deal.