How to spend smartly online

How to spend smartly online

In years gone by, you’d head to the supermarket or fashion retailer in person and fumble in your wallet for cash or your credit card at the checkout. Nowadays, you can get almost anything – from groceries and clothing to power tools – delivered to your door.

Recent figures show online shopping is growing at a speedy pace, with online retail spending now valued at around $15.6 billion for the year to July, according to NAB‘s Online Retail Sales Index: In depth report — July 2014.

Thanks to the pace of technological change, browsing online retailer’s sites on your mobile phone from the comfort of your couch or bed is perfectly possible. But are you spending smartly online?

Is this a spending revolution?

NAB‘s report documented an 8.6 percent annual growth in online retail spending, with 35 to 44-year-olds dominating the online spending space.

Furthermore, a recent report from Nielsen questioned what’s happening in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, in relation to e-commerce. The Global Survey of E-commerce, which surveyed over 30,000 consumers in 60 countries worldwide, revealed “online purchase intention rates have doubled in three years for 12 of 22 measured categories”, Nielsen explained.

According to the report, Australia has 89 percent internet penetration — the highest of all Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, ahead of New Zealand (88 percent) and South Korea (83 percent). With more and more Australians turning to the cyber world, it’s no wonder e-commerce is picking up speed.

“Savvy savers are always on the hunt to find the lowest prices. These global shoppers believe they get the best prices online (60 percent), and they find deals that are better than those offered in the store (54 percent),” Nielsen stated.

Checking out at customs

If you’re purchasing items from overseas retailers, you need to carefully consider how much your purchase is really setting you back.

You’re obliged to pay duties, charges and taxes on goods worth over $1000, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service explained. If you engage in an e-commerce spending spree beyond this figure, you’ll need to complete an Import Declaration form. The specific duties, charges and taxes depend on how much the items are worth. 

You might think you’re safer purchasing items online directly from Australian retailers — but beware! If these items are shipped directly from overseas to your home address, you may incur the aforementioned charges. If you’re unsure where your goods are coming from — and accordingly, which taxes apply — contact the retailer directly.

Band together to beat shipping costs

Of course, you can still make the most of online shopping — and protect your savings account in turn.

Provided you purchase items below the $1000 limit, it pays to bulk order clothing and other items with friends and relatives. Often, online retailers will have set shipping costs for purchases up to a certain amount. Alternatively, they may offer free shipping if you spend a minimum amount.

In such cases, it’s a good idea to buy a number of items in a single purchase and spread the shipping cost amongst the buyers.

Secure sign-up deals

Many e-commerce retailers offer a discount on your first purchase when you sign up to their e-newsletter or join an online loyalty club.

Plus, there are numerous online comparison sites that can help you get a great deal. Such sites are well worth using when you’ve got your sights set on purchasing a particular item, such as a mobile phone or laptop.

Shop around for these kind of deals in order to maximise your savings!

Protect your privacy

While online shopping is the ultimate convenience, it’s important to still remain vigilant to protect your privacy and avoid nasty online scams. There are a few key points to be aware of when shopping online;

  • Check the websites credentials
  • Don’t post personal information onto social media
  • Be careful how much of your private information you share
  • Lock your smartphones, desktops and laptops
  • Always use official banking apps – if you are unsure, go to the site directly and follow the links to download their app there
  • Make sure you have all the latest anti-virus software installed on all your applicable devices
  • Always use a secured wireless network

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Learn more about credit cards

Monthly repayment

This is how much you can afford to pay on a monthly basis off your credit card. You can enter any amount you wish; but to make the balance transfer worthwhile the default is $200.

Current Annual Fees

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

Current Interest Rate

This is the current interest rate on your existing credit card.

How do I apply for a credit card online?

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.

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 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 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 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 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 long does it take to get a credit card?

There are a few stages you need to go through to get a credit card; each one takes a different length of time.

Applying for the card online, over the phone or in person is the fastest step. This usually takes around 15 minutes, provided you have all of your documents handy.

After submitting your application, it usually takes between one to 10 business days for the lender to assess your eligibility. Some lenders offer instant approval, although you will need to send supporting documents before it is official.

Once your application has been approved, expect to wait between one to 14 days to receive your card in the mail. Keep in mind that delays can happen during busy periods, such as if the lender has launched a special deal.

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.

Why should I check my credit rating?

There are two reasons you should check your credit rating: so you have a better understanding of your financial position, and so you can take action (if necessary) to improve your credit rating.

Lenders use credit ratings or credit scores to assess loan applications. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged lower interest rates and lower fees. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged higher interest rates and higher fees.

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.