Gift cards get better, but there are still some on the naughty list

Gift cards get better, but there are still some on the naughty list

RateCity has today revealed its annual ‘naughty and nice’ gift card list, as tough new rules abolish short expiry cards.

National legislation that came into effect last month means gift cards must now have an expiry of at least three years, with the date clearly written on it.

Post-purchase fees are now also banned, to ensure that what you’re given, is exactly what you’ll get this Christmas.

The nice list:

  • Bunnings has no expiry date and will give you your balance in change if its below $10.
  • JB-Hi Fi and the Good Guys also have no expiry and will post you out a card for free.
  • Netflix and Spotify round out this year’s ‘nice’ list with, in most cases, no expiry and no hidden fees attached.

The not so nice list:

The worst offenders are typically the gift cards that are pre-loaded with money.

  • Giftstore.com.au fees can climb as high as $12.68.
  • Australia Post’s Mastercard includes a purchase fee of $5.95.
  • Westfield’s eftpos card costs $2.95, plus an extra $2.95 if you want it delivered.

RateCity.com.au research director Sally Tindall said that despite the new legislation, shoppers could still get caught out.

“Short expiry dates and post-purchase fees might have hit the scrap heap but there are still plenty of ways to get tripped up by gift cards this Christmas,” she said.

“Admin fees, credit card fees, postage fees and conditions on how the money is spent are often lurking in the terms and conditions when you do a bit of digging.”

Top traps:

  • Hidden fees.
  • Excessive postage charges.
  • Rules about where you can redeem them.

Top tips:

  • Read the terms and conditions before you buy.
  • If you have an expired card, ask the store to honour it.
  • Don’t spend extra money, just for the sake of getting your balance down to zero – If your balance is under $10, ask for it back in change.
  • If you have a few dollars on your card and you can’t get it in cash, pay it forward to someone else in the queue.

RateCity 'nice' gift card list

Company The nice bits Fees
Bunnings No expiry. Change given below $9.95. Gift cards can be personalised with a photo. Postage $2.60 for physical cards (e-gift cards are free).
The Good Guys No expiry. No fees, old expired gift cards will be honoured. Free postage for physical cards.
JB Hi-Fi No expiry. No fees, old expired gift cards will be honoured. Free postage for physical cards.
Aldi No expiry None
EB Games No expiry Free postage for physical cards.
Netflix No expiry None
Spotify No expiry for digital gift cards, 3 years for physical cards None

RateCity ‘not so nice’ gift card list

Company The no so nice bits Fees
Westfield Up to $5.90 in fees and postage, 3 year expiry. $2.95 service fee plus $2.95 delivery fee (no e-gift card option)
Australia Post

Mastercard gift card

$5.95 in fees. Purchase in store only, 3 year expiry. $5.95 purchase fee
Giftstore.com.au Up to $12.68 in fees, 3 year expiry. $9.05 postage and handling, $2.48 credit card service fee, $1.15 GST.
Coles Mastercard

gift card

3 year expiry, $5 purchase fee. Only bought in-store. $5.00 purchase fee
Sportsgirl Website says expiry is 3 years for NSW and SA and 1 year elsewhere. Gift cards can only be used in store. Postage is $6 (free over $50). No e-gift card option.
Sussan Website says expiry is 3 years for NSW and SA and 1 year elsewhere. Gift cards can only be used in store. Free postage for physical cards. No e-gift card option.

 

RateCity’s comprehensive gift card guide can be found here.

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Learn more about bank accounts

How do I open a new bank account?

There are a number of ways to open a new bank account – online, over the phone or in the branch. The trick is to decide what type of bank account you want beforehand.

It might sound like a simple enough task, but there are literally hundreds of bank accounts to choose from. And each offer their own banking features and benefits.

A comparison site like RateCity can help you work out what bank account product matches your needs.

Once you’ve made up your mind what you want, it’s advisable to have the following information ready for the application process.

  • A couple of forms of identification (such as driver’s licence, Medicare card, passport)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, contact phone number and email (though email is not essential)

Can you get a payday loan without a bank account?

Yes. Some payday lenders are willing to transfer loans to prepaid debit cards instead of bank accounts.

How can I check my bank account balance online?

Checking your bank account balance online is a simple process. Once you’ve logged in to your online banking, clock on the relevant account and the balance should be visible.

Can I close a bank account with pending transactions?

You can close a bank account with pending transactions. But after the account is closed, any incoming transactions will be declined by your (old) bank.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t occur is to either wait to close your account until all pending transactions are complete, or contact the creditor and supply them with alternate bank details.

If you’re unsure whether you have any scheduled transactions, you can speak to a banking representative over the phone or via online support.

In most cases, your bank withholds the amount owing for pending transactions (such as online purchases).

Because the pending amount is deducted from your bank balance, you can close your bank account and the purchase will be honoured.

Can foreigners open bank accounts in Australia?

Many Australian lenders allow foreigners to open bank accounts in Australia. Often, this can be done before you arrive in the country – with no Australian address required. When you get to Australia, you can pick up your debit card, using your passport as identification.

What do you need to open bank accounts?

Opening a bank account is one of the simplest online tasks you could perform. The hard part is deciding which type of bank account you want to open.

All banking institutions have a website where you hit ‘apply’ on the account of your choice and step through an application in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s a list of information that is generally required for applications.

  • Identification (driver’s licence, passport, proof of age card, proof of citizenship and/or birth certificate)
  • Tax file number (so you don’t get charged the highest tax rate)
  • Address, contact email and phone number

If you decide to open a new account at the branch, make sure you ask beforehand what information you need to take with you, or take all of the above to be safe.

How do I open a bank account if I'm under 18?

The good news for savvy young folks like you wanting to take charge of your finances is that there are many bank accounts available for under-18s.

For bank accounts that require you to be 18 or older, you’ll have to rope in a parent or guardian to open the account for you.

Otherwise, you can apply by yourself online or at the branch of the bank, credit union or building society that has the account you would like to open. 

If applying online, you might be asked for a form of identification. For under-18s, this could be a Medicare card you’re listed on, your birth certificate and/or your current home address.

In most cases, you can verify your identity online (at the time of applying) or at the branch afterwards.

How do I close a bank account?

Closing a bank account is one of those tasks that’s easy to put in the too-hard basket. There are quite a few steps involved, some which may require you to hang on the phone for a while.  

Here’s a handy checklist of items to tick off, so the job gets done quicker. If you don’t do your banking online, the following steps can also be done at a branch.   

  • Cancel any scheduled or recurring payments
  • Update your direct debit details (such as loan repayments) with creditors
  • Export your payee address book (to keep a record of saved third-party bank account details)
  • Transfer the balance of your account (to the new bank account)
  • Close your account online, or by calling the bank or visiting a branch

How do you deposit change into your bank account?

One way to deposit change into your bank account is to visit a branch. Many lenders will also allow you to deposit your change through one of their ATMs.

What do I need to open bank accounts online?

Opening a bank account online is a simple process and only takes between five to 10 minutes to complete. To get started you will need a computer or smartphone with internet access.

Information to have available when you’re ready to apply is:

  • Identification (such as driver’s licence, birth certificate, passport, proof-of-age card)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, email and a contact number

In some cases, you might be asked to provide employment details. If you’re not able to verify your identity online, most financial institutions let you provide this in the branch at a later date.

There are some types of bank account that you can apply for only in a branch. However, most bank accounts can be applied for conveniently online.

How can you cash a cheque without a bank account?

You can cash a cheque without a bank account if you visit the bank that issued the cheque. For example, if somebody sends you a cheque from Bank X (as written on the cheque) and you visit Bank X, it’s likely that Bank X will let you cash the cheque – provided the person who wrote the cheque has enough money in their account. Bank X would probably charge you a fee for the service.

How can I deposit cash into my bank account?

The traditional way to deposit cash into your bank account is to go to a branch and give it to a teller. These days, many banks will allow you to make deposits through an ATM as well.

Can British expats still open bank accounts?

As a British expat, you can open an Australian bank account, and you can apply for an account the same ways an Aussie would. You can even open an account online from the UK prior to relocating.

If you’re overseas, the bank you choose to open an account with may call you to provide you with our new account details beforehand. You can then have your ID verified within a branch once you’ve arrived.

And if you’re already living down under, the following list outlines the types of information required by most banks when opening an Australian bank account.

  • Australian residential address
  • Tax file number (TFN) or a TFN exemption
  • Identification (this can be your passport)

How do I open a bank account for a baby?

If you’ve just welcome a new baby into the world, congratulations. Opening a bank account for your child can be a wonderful first gift.

Before you can open your child an account, you’ll need to have a birth certificate or passport for your baby.

As the parent or guardian, you’ll also be listed as a joint holder on the account. This means you’ll need to have proof of your identification and address (a driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate or Medicare Card).

Many banks and credit unions offer baby banks accounts. Usually, you can apply online; otherwise you can head into a local branch or office with your documents.