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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.
What is a dual credit card?
A dual credit card generally refers to when supplementary credit cards are provided to one cardholder to allow additional cardholders to use them. This is typically done in an effort to gain additional reward points by combining the spending of both cards to the one account.
There is not equal liability in the case of supplementary credit cards. For example, a primary card holder may decide to get their spouse a supplementary card in the spouse’s name and keep it attached to the primary card account. Anything the spouse buys, or any credit card bills they don’t pay, the primary cardholder is responsible for.
A dual credit card may also refer to when you bundle more than one type of card, such as Mastercard and AMEX, with the one card account, to potentially earn a range of different benefits and rewards from both. We will explore this concept further in this page.
The approach of using dual credit cards for whatever reason can offer greater rewards but still be fraught with risk. It is crucial you do your research and understand these potential benefits and downsides before applying.
What a dual credit card can do
A supplementary cardholder will have access to pretty much all of the same features of a credit card, including:
- Making purchases
- Earning rewards points
- Earning frequent flyer points
- Own personal identification number (PIN) separate to the primary cardholder
- Access to the credit card balance
- Access to the credit card transaction history
- Making payments
- Cancelling the card
In terms of credit card perks and protections, be aware that some insurances are generally reserved for the primary cardholder. Some credit cards do extend these protections across all cardholders, so check the terms and conditions for more information before you apply.
Keep in mind that purchases made by the additional cardholder are the responsibility of the primary cardholder, as are meeting repayments on time and avoiding falling into debt.
Using dual credit cards to earn bonus rewards points
Supplementary credit cards are provided to the card holder (potentially at a cost) so that a friend, partner or family member can use it to help you earn rewards points. After all, the more people making eligible purchases on a rewards credit card, the higher number of points per dollar spent to be earned.
The best way to use dual credit cards to earn more rewards points is to make a clear list of what qualifies as an eligible purchase and find what the points-per-dollar earn rate is. This information should be available in the Product Disclosure Statement of your credit card, typically on the card provider’s website.
Next you’ll need to make an assessment of the supplementary cardholder’s budget, the credit limit and which eligible stores the supplementary cardholder is likely to frequent.
- They won’t break their budget spending on purchases to try and earn enough rewards points for whatever your rewards program goals are; and
- Already visit those eligible stores;
You may find you earn a much larger amount of rewards points, without negatively impacting anyone’s finances.
What are the risks of dual credit cards?
There are a few risks to consider before applying for supplementary credit cards.
- Hurting relationships
First and foremost, mixing money with friends, family or partners can result in strained relationships and additional financial stress. Always keep that in mind before you proceed with a supplementary card. Consider talking to the potential cardholder first and working out exactly how they plan on meeting credit card repayments each month. If just that conversation feels impossible, then it may be a sign it’s not worth risking inviting them on to your credit card account.
- Supplementary card costs
Not all supplementary cards are free. In fact, a typical supplementary card fee can cost between $9 - $100. If you aren’t expecting the potential cost, it may come to some shock. Further, the card will come with the same purchase interest rate and cash advance rate as the primary cardholder’s card. It may be easy for someone to rack up debt under your card account details.
- Liability is with primary cardholder
The biggest risk of using supplementary credit cards is that the risk is on the primary cardholder to manage repayments on time and avoid falling into debt. If you find out the supplementary card holder has maxed out the credit card and is unable to help with repayments, the primary cardholder will be the one with their credit score impaired, and potentially being chased by debt collectors.
Dual Mastercard and AMEX credit cards
Another form of dual credit cards is when card providers allow you to bundle two types of cards with the one account.
For those who aren’t able to decide between Mastercard or American Express, Westpac has created the Black Bundle. Cardholders get access to both Westpac Altitude Black Mastercards and American Express Westpac Altitude Black cards.
Cardholders can choose between:
- Altitude Rewards, to be exchanged within the Westpac Rewards program.
- Altitude Qantas, earning Qantas frequent flyer points for your Qantas account.
This may be a competitive option for Australians wanting the high earn rate of American Express points, as well as the availability of using a more widely accepted Mastercard. Keep in mind that purchase rates, cash advance rates and ongoing fees will still apply, so ensure this card bundle sits within your budget and suits your specific financial situation before applying.
Personal Finance Writer
Alex is a personal finance writer and PR professional at RateCity, and has been writing about finance for over three years. She is passionate about closing the gender pay and superannuation gap, and aims to help young Aussies to overcome their financial apathy and better manage their finances. Alex has been published in numerous print and online outlets, including Money Magazine, Lifehacker Australia, and Business Insider.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Which credit card has the highest annual percentage rate?
The credit card market changes all the time, so the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate is also liable to change.
Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are expressed as a yearly rate, or annual percentage rate (APR). A low APR is generally good but also consider:
- There can be different APR's for each feature of the card (e.g. purchases may have an APR of 14 per cent, while cash advances on same card could have an APR of 17 per cent.
- Credit cards with a variable rate can change throughout the year, affecting your APR, so check the full details.
- If you pay your balance in full every month, having the lowest APR is not as important as the other fees associated with the card. However, if you carry a balance from month to month, then you want the lowest APR possible.
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.
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.