What are the pros and cons of credit cards?

What are the pros and cons of credit cards?

Credit cards can be your best friend if you use them wisely but your worst enemy if you use them irresponsibly.

If you’re disciplined, you can actually make money from credit cards – provided you get a card with no monthly or annual fees, pay off you balance each month and don’t buy anything you wouldn’t otherwise get if you had to pay cash.

But if you struggle with self-control, credit cards can turn you into a reckless spender and leave you mired in debt.

Credit cards, then, are neither inherently good nor bad. So depending on each individual’s behaviour, the five credit card characteristics listed below could be either pros or cons.

Credit cards are an easy way to borrow money

Pro: Assuming you pay off your balance each month, credit cards can make you money. Let’s say you use your card to make a $100 purchase at the start of the month and then repay the loan at the end of the month. That means you’ve taken out a 0 per cent loan, which has allowed you to leave that $100 in your bank account to accrue interest over the month.

Con: If you don’t pay off your balance each month, you’ll be charged interest, which will probably be higher than 10 per cent and might even be as high as 25 per cent. And if you don’t pay off that interest promptly, you’ll be charged interest on your interest. The result could be a debt trap that you struggle to escape.

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Credit cards give you rewards points

Pro: Assuming your credit card doesn’t charge monthly or annual fees, rewards points are free money.

Con: Rewards points could actually drain your wallet if your credit card company charges you a fee for the privilege or if the lure of rewards compels you to buy things you wouldn’t ordinarily buy.

 

Pros
  • 0 per cent loans
  • Free rewards
  • Less risk of losing cash
  • Overseas cash
  • Helps your credit score
Cons
  • High-interest loans
  • Costly rewards
  • More risk of spending
  • Overseas fees
  • Harms your credit score

Credit cards save you from having to carry cash

Pro: Thanks to credit cards, we no longer have to carry wallet-loads of money that could be lost or stolen.

Con: Credit cards can promote reckless spending, because they remove the restraining impulse that comes from giving someone your money and seeing it disappear from your control.

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Credit cards make it easy to spend money overseas

Pro: Credit cards can give you immediate access to foreign currencies when travelling.

Con: Using credit cards overseas can be very expensive, thanks to international transaction fees and currency conversion fees. If you were to travel for one month and use your card regularly, you could conceivably rack up several hundred dollars’ worth of fees.

Credit card activity counts towards your credit history

Pro: Your credit score will benefit if you establish a record of consistently repaying your balance in full each month.

Con: Your credit score will suffer if struggle to pay your credit card bills or you make failed applications for credit cards.

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Learn more about credit cards

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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. 

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.

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 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.

What can I do about my Commonwealth Bank expired credit card?

You’ll typically receive your replacement Commonwealth Bank credit card before your current one expires. 

Once you receive the replacement card, you may need to update the new card with all the direct debits that you had set up on your expired Commonwealth Bank credit card. These could include insurance payments, electricity or gas bills, and monthly entertainment subscriptions.

To see a list of all your regular payments in NetBank, follow these steps:

  1. Log on to NetBank
  2. Click on ‘settings’
  3. Go to ‘product requests’, and select ‘credit card regular payments’. 

If you don’t use NetBank, you can see the list of your regular payments on your most recent credit card statement. Keep in mind, this list may not be complete and you should also check your past statements or your transaction history. 

If you haven’t received your replacement card before your current card expires, call 13 22 21 and the bank will send a new card to you. 

It is important that you safely discard your expired credit card. This often means cutting it up with scissors and throwing it out. 

How do I increase my Suncorp credit card limit?

You can ask Suncorp to increase your credit card limit  by contacting  131 155 or by visiting your nearest branch. You’ll have to meet Suncorp’s credit criteria and general terms. For example, you may not receive an increase in your limit if you have successfully applied for one or in the past nine months. Similarly, the bank will look at whether you’ve applied for other credit products recently. 

When assessing your application for a credit increase, banks look at a range of criteria, such as your income and your spending and repayment history. Usually you’ll hear back within a couple of weeks. 

Can I transfer money from a credit card to a bank account with HSBC?

With HSBC’s cash transfer function, you can transfer money from a credit card to a bank account. Customers who wish to make cash transfers have to apply through HSBC and are charged interest on the transactions, but no other fees. Under the program, customers can:

  • Borrow between $500 and $15,000, so long at least 20 per cent of the credit limit is still available after the transfer
  • Transfer to any nominated bank account quickly. 


Registered HSBC online banking users can log in to their accounts and select credit cards online from the My Banking tab. They can then complete the form from the Cash Transfer option. On approval, the requested amount is transferred to the nominated bank account within three days.

Customers can also register for the cash transfer program via the Mobile Banking app. Don’t forget to check the interest rate you’ll be charged, both before and after any promotional period.