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1 in 3 Aussies don’t know their credit card interest rate, do you?
New research from Defence Bank has found that one in three (35 per cent) of credit card holders don’t know their interest rate. If you’re constantly being stung by credit card interest, it may be worth considering switching to a low-rate credit card.
There are a lot of credit cards connected to rewards programs, like Airpoints from Air New Zealand.
There’s a vast range of rewards customers can benefit from. So, what are they exactly?
Rewards are a point-system whereby you can earn points simply by using your credit card. The points accrued can be converted into goods or services and discounts.
Rewards programmes are designed to give you fringe benefits for your loyalty. By using your credit card as your preferred payment method, you are rewarded via the point-system.
However not all credit cards offer rewards, and different credit card providers offer different types of rewards.
Some of the most popular credit card rewards programmes are for flights and travel. You might be familiar with frequent flyer points associated with Flybuys, Qantas or Virgin’s Velocity program.
A growing number of credit card providers are offering customers points that can be earned and redeemed with major airlines.
Airlines are also establishing membership programs that reward members for loyalty to the brand. One such reward scheme is Air New Zealand’s ‘Airpoints’.
What is Airpoints?
Airpoints is Air New Zealand’s answer to frequent flyer points, which earns its loyal members Airpoints Dollars that can be spent on air travel, car hire and accommodation.
In addition to earning Airpoints Dollars, the Airpoints programme lets you accrue membership status points. The more status points you earn, the more likely your membership will be upgraded.
Through status points, you could elevate your membership to silver, gold or elite, which gives you access to a greater range of benefits to spend your Airpoints Dollars on.
You might be happy to know that you don’t need to be a frequent flyer (not all of us are) to grow your Airpoints or spend your Airpoints Dollars.
What are the benefits of Airpoints?
You already know that being a frequent flyer is not a pre-requisite for Airpoints membership. That said, most of the member rewards are travel-related.
One of the main benefits of an Airpoints membership is the ability to earn Airpoints Dollars that can be redeemed as flights and upgrades, car hire, travel insurance or a Koru membership.
There are literally thousands of flights you can purchase using your Airpoints Dollars with Air New Zealand, one of its partner airlines or on selected star alliance flights.
Participating Airpoints partner airlines include:
- Virgin Australia
- Cathay Pacific
- Jet Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
Star alliance has more than 18,500 daily flights to nearly 1,500 destinations in 192 countries that you can spend Airpoints Dollars on.
As an Airpoints member, you also have the option to use your Airpoints Dollars on hire cars from Avis or Budget and choose from a range of travel insurance policies for your next holiday.
How can I earn Airpoints Dollars?
You can start earning Airpoints Dollars by simply joining the free Airpoints programme. Either jump on Air New Zealand’s website and register, or click here to find out more about Airpoints membership.
As an Airpoints member, you can earn Airpoints Dollars on Air New Zealand flights as well as many partner airline and Star Alliance flights.
Airpoints Dollars can also be earned through Avis and Budget car rentals, Expedia accommodation bookings and via selected credit card partners.
Airpoints has partnered with more than 10,000 hotel properties around the world. You can earn Airpoints Dollars by booking your accommodation directly with one of them.
Air New Zealand has also partnered with a number of leading financial services organisations, each of which offers an associated credit card product.
Reward points earned through these partner credit cards can be converted into Airpoints Dollars. However, you don’t have to have a credit card to earn Airpoints Dollars.
There’s the option to earn Airpoints Dollars by making purchases with participating retailers.
How can I spend Airpoints Dollars?
Airpoints Dollars are not convertible into cash; however, you can use them to redeem rewards. The list of rewards available is regularly updated; you can check out the current list here.
As an Australian member, any Airpoints Dollars you earn will be converted into Australian dollars where applicable.
And just for the record, you can’t transfer your Airpoints Dollars or Status Points to another airline’s frequent flyer programme (in case you were wondering).
Do Airpoints Dollars expire?
The good news is that your Airpoints Dollars are valid for four years from the date of accrual (or the date of purchase). After that, they will expire and be removed from your account.
Is the Airpoints reward program for me?
If you’re not much of a traveller, you might want to consider a different rewards program. As an Airpoints member, you can earn Airpoints Dollars easily enough, but if you don’t plan on traveling… there’s not much opportunity to redeem those dollars (or points) earned.
If you’re a Kiwi or someone who often travels across the ditch, the Airpoints reward program might be advantageous, particularly within New Zealand.
How do I decide which is the best^ Airpoints reward credit card?
Each Airpoints credit card partner offers a unique credit card product that carries with it an Airpoints Dollars conversion rate.
Which credit card appeals to you will depend on what you want out of your credit card – aside from the Airpoints membership benefits.
When making your decision it’s worth comparing features such as fees and charges, the list of participating reward partners, and of course how the points can be used outside of Airpoints.
Air New Zealand offers Airpoints members a range of selected credit card products. Each credit card gives you the ability to earn Airpoints Dollars while delivering the regular features of a credit card.
What other airlines have reward programs?
Other major airlines offering well-established reward programs are Qantas and Virgin Australia. Qantas Frequent Flyers earn Qantas points, while Virgin has the Velocity Frequent Flyer program.
Like Air New Zealand’s Airpoints program, Qantas and Virgin Australia give members a range of credit card options to choose from.
Many banks in Australia offer credit cards that allow you to earn Qantas Points, which are automatically credited to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account.
Of course, you must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program to earn and redeem Qantas Points.
Qantas goes on step further than the competition by offering Qantas Points on select transaction and savings accounts, home and car loans, insurance products and online trading accounts.
Virgin Australia gives you two options to turn your credit or charge card spend into Velocity Points. One way is by using a Velocity co-brand credit card; these are tailored to the Velocity program.
Or you can use a participating partner credit card which allows you to transfer your existing reward points to your Velocity account.
Velocity Points can be transferred from participating hotel, credit card, charge card and shopping rewards partners. And redeemed for flights, upgrades, car hire, fuel, merchandise or hotels.
^The best credit card for you may not be the best choice for somebody else with different financial circumstances, and vice versa. Before selecting any credit card, it’s important to compare the available options, consider your personal financial goals, and calculate which card will likely offer you value. If you’re not sure which option is the best credit card for you, consider asking a qualified financial adviser for assistance.
Property Personal Finance Writer
A property and personal finance writer, Nick Bendel covers property, loans, credit cards, superannuation, and other bank products. Nick has previously written for The Adviser, Mortgage Business, Lifehacker, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and InvestorDaily, and loves getting elbow-deep in the latest ABS, APRA and RBA data.
Frequently asked questions
What coverage does Coles credit card insurance offer?
Most customers who own a Coles credit card may be eligible for complimentary purchase protection insurance, but low rate card owners won’t receive this benefit.
Some premium credit cards issued by Coles include transit accident insurance and extended warranty cover in addition to purchase protection insurance. Covered items paid for at least partially with your Coles credit card usually qualify for purchase protection insurance.
However, you may only be eligible for transit accident and extended warranty coverage if the entire travel cost or purchase price is billed to the eligible card. Additionally, the extended warranty coverage matches the manufacturer’s warranty up to a maximum of five years. If your credit card offers extended warranty, but the covered item comes with a six-year warranty, you're unlikely to receive the benefit.
How does the ANZ credit card instalment plan work?
While you usually need to settle all or part of your credit card dues at the end of your statement period, some credit cards afford you the option of setting up instalment plans. This allows you to settle your credit card debt at a pace that's more convenient for you, paying a fixed amount over a fixed period, thus making it easier to budget your repayments every month.
With the ANZ credit card instalment plan, you can set up a structured repayment schedule for part or all of your balance, or even for specific purchases over a certain value.
Some of the benefits of instalment repayment include:
- Structured repayments: You’ll have a fixed sum to pay each month.
- Easier to budget: A fixed repayment sum makes it easier to make your monthly budget.
- Account benefits: You might also get benefits such as discounted interest rates or debt-tracking tools.
There are disadvantages of opting for instalment repayment, however, and they include:
- Less flexibility: You will not be able to pay a smaller amount once you set an instalment plan.
- Different interest charges: In case the instalment plan only covers part of the balance, different interest charges could apply, making it challenging to budget.
- Additional fees: You might have to pay fees or penalty charges in case of missed payments.
How to apply for an HSBC credit card instalment plan?
HSBC provides a host of different features and benefits to its customers, including interest-free finance options for purchases made at select retailers.
Using this feature, you can make a purchase in-store or online through your credit card, and spread your repayments for up to 60 months. Opting for a credit card instalment plan may be an ideal option as you can make big purchases without worrying about making immediate payments.
The interest-free instalment plan is valid for all HSBC credit cards, so you shouldn't need to fill out separate forms or apply for a particular plan. Rather, all you should need to do is use your HSBC credit card at any of the participating retailers and inform the vendor that you want to pay using HSBC interest-free.
As HSBC has partnered with over 1,000 retailers for its interest-free credit card instalment plan, you get the flexibility to purchase a host of different products. Some of the popular retailers that HSBC allows instalments for are:
- King Furniture
- Betta Home Living
- Video Pro
- Bing Lee
Once you have provided approval to the vendor, HSBC will send you an SMS asking you to confirm the purchase, following which the payment will go through, and you can select your preferred instalment plan.
While you may be inclined to choose the most prolonged duration for repayment considering there are no interest charges, it’s important to know that minimum monthly repayments will still apply (3%, or $30, whichever is higher), making it important to choose the right HSBC credit card instalment plan that suits your requirements.
How to increase my Commonwealth credit card limit?
Commonwealth Bank credit cards are extremely popular in Australia for everyday purchases and big ticket items alikers. A number of the card’s functions can be customised, depending on your needs and desires. If you wish to increase your Commonwealth credit card limit using the CommBank, you can usually do so on the app or via NetBank.
In the CommBank app, tap on the ‘Cards’ icon and choose your credit card. Then, click on ‘Credit Limit’ and select the ‘Increasing your limit’ option. If you don’t have the CommBank app, you can also increase your Commonwealth Bank credit card limit through NetBank. Simply log on and go to Settings, then click on ‘Product Requests’ and then choose ‘Credit Card Limit Changes’.
Once the bank has received your application, they will review your account and payment history. Based on this assessment, your application will either be approved or denied. If approved, your new limit will be applied to your card instantly.
While increasing your credit card limit may be an easy process, it’s important to remember that you should only request limits that you can manage. A high limit increases the risk of having a larger debt, even with cards that provide low-interest rate options. So, it’s important to think carefully and seek advice from people you trust before increasing your Commonwealth Bank credit card limit.
How to increase your Qantas Premier credit card limit
When your income or spending habits change, you might wish to increase your credit card limit. The Qantas Premier credit card allows you to do this over the phone. You can contact Qantas Premier Card Support by calling on 1300 992 700. Unlike some other credit providers, Qantas doesn’t give you the option to increase your limit online.
Qantas will only accept your application if you have a good history of repayment and have not increased your credit or bought another credit product from Qantas in the past six months.
Before approving your Qantas Premier credit card limit increase, Qantas will perform a credit assessment on your current financial circumstances and ask why you would like to increase your credit limit.
To ensure that there are no bumps in your application process, you must provide accurate and recent information about your financial situation. You should also account for any future changes you’re anticipating which could hinder your ability to repay the loan.
Once the assessment is complete, Qantas will either approve or deny your application. If they approve it, you will need to sign a credit limit increase agreement - and you can request a written copy of the credit assessment. However, if your application is rejected, Qantas can opt not to provide a copy of the assessment.
Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to my bank account?
If you’re an American Express credit card customer, you may not be able to transfer money from your credit card to your bank account. However, you may be eligible for cash advances, which involves withdrawing money through an ATM.
To qualify for a cash advance, you’ll likely have to enrol for American Express Membership Rewards. Consider checking your online credit card account to see if you can withdraw a cash advance and, if so, the fees and charges you’ll incur for this transaction.
You should remember that cash advances are different from balance transfers, which were available with some American Express credit cards earlier. Balance transfers allow customers to consolidate debt from high-interest credit cards to a credit card offering a lower interest rate. If you only recently applied for an American Express credit card, balance transfers may not be available irrespective of the card you own.
Do I get HSBC credit card insurance on purchases I make?
As an HSBC credit card (HSBC Platinum, HSBC Platinum Qantas and HSBC Premier World) cardholder, you may be entitled to complimentary international and domestic travel insurance. This HSBC credit card insurance covers you for hospital stays and medical expenses, flight cancellations or delays, as well as lost luggage or personal items.
To be eligible for the insurance, you should have paid for at least 90 per cent of your overseas return travel ticket with your HSBC credit card. The cover is automatically activated without a need to contact HSBC. However, it’s always best to let your card issuer know when you travel overseas. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, you’ll need to contact Allianz directly to organise cover for these as they aren’t covered by the insurance. You can call Allianz on 1800 648 093.
The complimentary international travel insurance that comes with your HSBC Platinum credit card is valid for up to four months from the date of your departure from Australia. Your HSBC credit card insurance cover also covers your spouse and dependent children if 90 per cent of their travel ticket is purchased using your HSBC card.
What's the best credit card for rewards?
There is no one-size-fits-all best rewards credit card. It's best you research what type of rewards program you'd like, as well as the fees, interest rate and conditions associated with those types of cards before making a choice.
Rewards credit cards can also come with high annual fees that may end up nullifying the rewards, so think how often you use the card to decide whether the benefits outweigh the extra cost for you. A card with a lower annual fee might require a lot of spending to get any useful rewards, while another card with a higher annual fee might need fewer purchases to get a reward.
How to increase your HSBC credit card limit
You can opt to increase your HSBC credit card limit in multiple ways.
The easiest way to change your HSBC credit card limit is through online banking. Log on to your account and click on ‘Manage your account’. Then, click on ‘My Cards’ and choose to change your credit card limit. Simply complete the HSBC credit card limit increase form and click on ‘Submit’.
You can also request to increase your credit card limit by calling HSBC’s customer service hotline on 1300 303 168.
Lastly, you can visit any HSBC branch to apply to lift your card limit.
If you are facing challenges while trying to complete an HSBC credit card credit limit increase online, you can chat with a representative using internet banking. Click on the ‘Need Help’ button on the right of the dashboard and open the chat window to speak with the customer service officer.
How easy is it to get a credit card?
For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.
Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.
Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.
Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.
What should you do when you lose your credit card?
Losing your credit card is a serious situation, and could land you in financial trouble. Here is a simple guide detailing what to do when you lose your credit card.
Lock you card – Contact your provider and inform them about your lost credit card. From here lock, block or cancel your card.
Keep track of transactions – Look out for unauthorised credit card transactions. Most banks protect against fraudulent transactions.
Address recurring charges – If your card is linked to recurring charges (gym membership, rent, utilities), contact those businesses.
Check credit rate – To ensure you’re not the victim of identity theft, check your credit rating a month or two after you lose your credit card.
What should you do if your credit card is compromised?
Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.
Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.
Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.
Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.
What does Westpac credit card insurance cover?
If you own a Westpac credit card, one of the perks may be free travel insurance. If you’re eligible, you may be covered if you get sick while travelling, have lost your luggage, have to cancel a trip or have an accident while you’re on the move.
Besides these standard inclusions, the Westpac credit card insurance policy may also cover you for hospital essentials, emergency dental treatment and alternative transport if your original plans go awry. It may also cover loss of income when you get back home after being sick overseas and your pets’ boarding costs too.
If you have any queries, the Westpac credit card insurance contact number is 1800 091 710. You can submit a claim online.
How do you apply for a credit card?
You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.
Should I get a credit card?
Once you've compared credit card interest rates and deals and found the right card for you, the actual process of getting a credit card is quite straightforward. You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at a bank branch.
How do you cancel a credit card?
It’s important to cancel your old cards to avoid any additional fees. Unless you’re doing a balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance before you cancel your credit card. If you’ve opted for a card with reward points, make sure you redeem or transfer the points before you close your account. To avoid any bounced payments and save yourself an admin headache, redirect all your direct debits to a new card or account. Once you’ve done all the preparation, call your bank or credit card provider to get the cancellation underway. Once you receive a confirmation letter, destroy your card and make sure the numbers aren’t legible.
Does ING increase credit card limits?
You may want to increase your credit card limit for many reasons, such as having access to more spending money. However, if you are using the Orange One credit card issued by ING, you may not be able to do so.
ING customers can choose a credit limit of their preference when applying for the Orange One credit card. Depending on your financial situation, this limit can be anywhere between $1,000 and $30,000. If you qualify for a Rewards Platinum card, the minimum credit card limit will likely be $6,000.
Ideally, you should set your credit card limit knowing how much you can afford to repay each month and keep your expenses lower than this level. With most credit cards, you should have the option of requesting a credit card limit increase at a later time, although you will need to qualify for any increase. With an ING credit card, limit increases are out of the question (at the time this was published), which means you may want to apply for a higher credit card limit from the beginning. Remember that you have the option of decreasing your ING credit card limit at a later time.
How to increase your Bendigo Bank credit card limit?
As a Bendigo Bank credit cardholder, you can avail a minimum limit of $500, but if you use your card regularly, you may want to consider increasing it. To increase your Bendigo Bank credit card limit, you can contact the bank’s credit card team on 1300 236 344 and talk to the bank directly.
You can also apply for a credit card limit increase through online banking, by logging into Bendigo Bank web portal or through the app on your phone or tablet. Once you’ve successfully logged in, you'll want to send a secure message to Bendigo Bank asking them to increase your credit card limit.
If you cannot access the online portal or the app, you can also apply to increase your credit card limit through the online enquiry form. Simply add relevant information in the required fields and click ‘Submit’. Once you have completed the application, Bendigo Bank should verify your details and analyse your current financial standing. Based on this assessment, the bank will either accept your application to increase your credit card limit or deny it.
How do you use credit cards?
A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.
How to get a credit card for the first time
A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.
If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.
Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.
When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.