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A rewards card from a major Australian bank that offers customers 50,000 bonus points on sign up.
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Afterpay versus credit cards: which is better for your finances
A younger generation of Australians are turning to Buy Now, Pay Later services to fund their spending. But two of the big four banks are stepping up to the plate, offering a no-interest credit card alternative to Afterpay and its competitors.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
How to pay a credit card
There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:
- BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
- Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
- In a branch.
- Via your credit card provider's app.
How do you use a credit card?
Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.
What is a balance transfer credit card?
A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. A balance transfer credit card generally has a 0 per cent interest rate for a set period of time. When you roll your debt balance over to a new credit card, you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest-free period to pay your credit card debt off faster without accruing additional interest charges. If your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card.
Can a pensioner get a credit card?
It is possible to get a credit card as a pensioner. There are some factors to keep in mind, including:
- Annual income. Look for credit cards with minimum annual income requirements you can meet.
- Annual fees. If high fees are a concern for you, opt for a card with a low or $0 annual fee.
- Interest rate. Make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises on your credit card bill. Compare cards with a low interest rates to minimise risk.
How to make a credit card online
If you’re wondering about how to make a credit card online application, here are some steps to follow:
- Test the market. Many credit card options are available online. Compare providers by fees, interest and perks to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
- Complete the application. Once you’ve selected a card, head to the provider’s website and complete the online credit card application form. Forms vary by providers.
- Provide details. Most cards require you to meet age, residency, income and credit status condition, and you need to provide details like a bank account statement to prove this.
- Review details. Ensure the information you’ve entered is correct.
How do I apply for a credit card online?
How to get a new credit card
To get a new credit card, generally you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don’t need to be an Australian citizen. Usually you can apply online or in person at a branch of the card issuer. You’ll typically have to supply information like:
- Your income and living costs (e.g. rent/mortgage, loan repayments, living expenses)
- Your employer’s contact details
- Details of your assets and any debts you are paying off
How many numbers are on a credit card?
The numbers on your credit card actually follow a universal standard which is used to identify specific functions. Each credit card has a different amount of numbers. Visa and Mastercard have 16, American Express has 15 and Diner’s Club has 14.
The first number on a credit card always identifies what type of credit card it is. Visa cards start with a 4, whereas Mastercard starts with a 5 and American Express with a 3. The remainder of the digits represent the account number, including the last number which is used to verify that your credit card is actually valid.
Credit cards also have additional verification numbers, which are mainly used when the card isn’t present for phone and online purchases. These are the three-digit numbers on the back of Visa and MasterCard or the four-digit numbers on the front of an American Express card.
Do you need a credit card to get a loan?
You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.
If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset. Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for. But you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset. For more information on improving your credit score, go here.
How to pay a credit card from another bank
Paying or transferring debt from one lender to the other is called a balance transfer. This involves transferring part or all of the debt from a credit card with one lender to a credit card with another. As part of the process, your new lender will pay out the old lender, so that you now owe the same amount of money but to a new institution.
Many credit card providers offer an interest-free period on balance transfers to help new applicants better handle their debt. During this period, cardholders are not required to pay interest on the debt they brought over from the other card. This can be a great opportunity for consumers to pay off credit card debt with no interest. There are often fees associated with balance transfers; normally, these are a percentage of the amount transferred.
So make sure you read the terms and conditions of the card before transferring any debt across.
Where can I get a credit card?
Looking to get your first credit card? You might be confused as to exactly where to go to apply for one. Here’s where to go when you are ready to put in that application.
The bank: Your bank is a great place to start, provided that you have a good banking history. Since you already have a financial history, you have more chance of your application being approved.
Credit card provider: Another option is to apply for a credit card directly from the issuer, such as Visa, Mastercard or Amex. This will most likely be an online application, so do your research and apply for a suitable card for your circumstances.
Major retailers: Coles, Woolworths, Myer and David Jones all have credit cards available. But watch out for the interest rate and annual fees – these cards are designed to help you spend more in store.