Five budget Christmas shopping hacks

Five budget Christmas shopping hacks

Let’s face it: Aussies are Christmas obsessed. According to a recent study from Pay Pal, this has reached the point where getting ready for the holidays is taking precedence over the festivities themselves. 

“The average Aussie spends around 46 hours — or almost two whole days — getting ready for Christmas but only spends on average, eight hours celebrating the actual day,” the report states. This includes an average of 14 hours spent buying gifts!

Combine this with data from mobile app Pocketbook released at the start of the year, and consumers might have cause for concern. Australians spent 123 percent of their income last December, and swiped their credit cards ten percent more than in other months. 

Given this, it might be useful to have a few shopping hacks up your sleeve to take advantage of this December.

Looking online

Rather than spending dollars and hours fighting off other shoppers for an overpriced product, consider the serenity — and affordability — involved in the online shopping experience. Not only is it more convenient, simpler to navigate and easier to compare prices on, but you’ll often also find the prices are markedly lower. 

Making use of travel rewards

Plenty of people use the Christmas period to take work off and go travelling, whether overseas or domestically. Rather than dipping into your well-funded savings account, why not make use of the points you might have built up on your rewards credit cards to fund the trip? If you don’t have any rewards points built up, consider getting an airline-branded credit card in advance for next Christmas. 

Don’t be afraid of bargain bins

Often there is a stigma attached to the products kept on the shelves and aisles for clearance — you might think they’re defective or in some way lower-quality. During Christmas, however, keep in mind that stores are desperately trying to get rid of old stock, and have simply marked the price down to get it off the shelves, rather than due to quality issues. 

Zero-interest credit cards

In the lead-up to Christmas, banks tend to offer a lot more of this type of product, giving you zero percent interest on the loan you build up for a fixed period of time. Given the statistics provided by Pocketbook, look for this feature if you’re trying to compare credit cards — it could be a good solution for your short-term Christmas spending. 

Monitor price drops

There are a number of ways to do this. You could sign up to newsletters of all kinds in order to get notifications of deals and sales for certain retailers. This could leave you with a messy inbox to clean up at the end of the day. Alternatively, try a price drop alert website like ShoppingNotes.com, which will email you when prices fall for the retailer whose URL you provide. 

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Current Annual Fees

These are the current annual fees on your existing credit card.

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 I apply for a credit card online?

Current Interest Rate

This is the current interest rate on your existing credit 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. 

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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

Can I get a credit card on part-time/casual work?

Yes, as credit card providers look at your annual income amount as well as your occupation. Minimum income requirements tend to be between $30,000 – $40,000 for standard and rewards credit cards, however low income credit cards can have minimum income requirements as low as $15,000 per year.