Credit Cards Guide, Step 3 of 7, Rewards

Credit Cards Guide - Step 3 of 7 - Rewards

While low interest rates can be the key to saving some serious dollars, if you are a big spender who always pays your balance off on time each month – the real value may lie in the rewards.

One of the benefits of having a credit card, besides the convenience of online purchases, is the rewards. If you want to get more out of your credit card, then perhaps you should consider a card that has a rewards program attached. This way you will be rewarded every time you use your credit card instead of just incurring nasty interest charges.

There are a range of different types of rewards programs available including:

Frequent Flyer rewards

If you are a loyal airline traveller you could reap the benefits with a frequent flyers rewards card. Each time you pay for something using your credit card, you will receive Frequent Flyer reward points that can be redeemed towards Qantas, Virgin, or other flights anywhere in the world. This type of rewards program is great for those people who are frequent travellers or for businesses whose staff travel frequently. Most programs have a main partner such as Qantas Frequent Flyer or Virgin Velocity, however some cards allow you to convert your points to a range of global frequent flyer programs based on what you need for your next dream holiday.

Cashback

Everyone loves money don’t they? Especially cash! Cashback rewards programs allow you to redeem your points for cash. There is usually a limit on how many points you need to collect before you can redeem for cash. The cash usually comes in the form of money credited back to your account, so it is essentially a delayed discount on your spending. Cash back is often not the most efficient way to claim rewards, requiring more of your precious rewards points to claim each dollar worth of cash back. However the trade-off is versatility, once the cash is back in your account, you are free to spend it as you please – something not offered by any other type of reward.

Travel

If travelling is your chocolate – your ultimate indulgence – then consider using your credit cards to earn yourself points to redeem for your next holiday. For each dollar you spend, you are allocated points to redeem to book a range of products and services depending on the provider such as tours, hotels and flights. Australians love to travel, so being rewarded with a travel voucher once a year could turn your dream holiday into a reality.

Merchandise

Get rewarded for shopping with your credit card with more shopping! For each dollar you spend you are allocated a certain amount of points to go shopping for a wide range of items such as appliances, sports gear, entertainment and more. While your choice can be limited by what is offered in your provider’s catalogue, merchandise rewards often have the best ‘bang for buck’, or point. The card providers can negotiate bulk discounts, so if they offer something you want, you may find this to be the most efficient use of your hard earned points.

Gift card

Gift cards make great presents, even for yourself. Use your points to receive gift cards for a range of outlets such as Myers and David Jones. Gift cards could just be the happy medium between cash back and merchandise. While not quite as versatile as cold, hard (electronic) cash, you have significantly more to choose from than merchandise, you can even take advantage of the sales at some of the big stores. The ‘bang for point’ is reflected in this too. For every thousand points, you’ll generally get more back claiming gift cards than cash back, but not quite as much as merchandise.

Be aware that cards with reward programs often cost more in fees and interest so only choose a rewards card if you can pay off your balance in full each month and your annual spending will outweigh the cost of the rewards program membership.

It's nice to be rewarded so make sure you compare credit card rewards on RateCity to find out how you can cash in.

Walk through the complete Home Loans Step by Step guides below;

Credit Cards Guide – Step 1 of 7 – Usage
Credit Cards Guide – Step 2 of 7 – Interest
Credit Cards Guide – Step 3 of 7 – Rewards
Credit Cards Guide – Step 4 of 7 – Features
Credit Cards Guide – Step 5 of 7 – Brands
Credit Cards Guide – Step 6 of 7 – Type
Credit Cards Guide – Step 7 of 7 – Checklist

 

 

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Learn more about credit cards

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. 

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 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 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.

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.

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 to get money from a credit card

You can get money from a credit card, but generally it will cost you.

Withdrawing money from a credit card is called a cash advance, as it operates more as a loan than a simple cash withdrawal. Because it is a loan, you may be charged interest on your cash advance as soon as you make the withdrawal. Interest rates are also usually much higher for cash advances than standard credit card purchases.

In addition to the interest rate, you may also be charged a cash advance fee. This could be a flat rate, or a percentage of your total cash advance. If you are considering a cash advance, make sure to add up how much it will cost you before committing.

How to get cash with just a credit card number

Banks and merchants usually will not allow you to access cash without a physical card, because doing so would open up opportunities for fraudulent activities. Even most non-cash credit card transactions (such as shopping online) require you to know the expiry date and CVV on your credit card in addition to the card number.

However, some banks offer cardless cash for transaction accounts. Using a secure app installed on your mobile phone, you can log onto an ATM and withdraw the money you need. This could be a practical and secure solution if you don’t have a card and need cash.

How to get a free credit card

There's no such thing as a free lunch. All credit cards come with associated costs when used to make purchases, even if it’s simply the cost of making repayments.

However, many lenders offer incentives for customers such as a $0 annual fee or 0 per cent interest on purchases during an introductory period. Additionally, paying off your balance in full during an interest-free period means you could only have to pay back the cost of purchases without interest. You could also be eligible for additional rewards such as cashback during that time, saving you more money.

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 is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How do you pay off credit cards?

The best way to pay off a credit card bill is to set a realistic spending budget and stick to it. Each month, you’ll get a credit card statement detailing how much you owe and how long it will take to pay off the balance by making minimum repayments. If you only make the minimum repayments, it will take you years to pay off your outstanding balance and add extra costs in interest charges. To avoid any extra charges, you should pay the entire bill. 

How do credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

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.