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Many airlines now have branded credit cards that can be used for credit and to gain frequent flyer points by spending money. These airline partnership programs are mutually beneficial – you can be rewarded for using your credit card, and the airline benefits from having you as a loyal customer.

If you prefer to travel with Emirates, using an Emirates credit card can help you earn points (known as Emirates Skyward Miles) that can be redeemed for flights, upgrades and other purchases.

Some credit cards with Emirates points also offer benefits such as travel insurance, introductory bonus points and airport lounge access.

What are credit card rewards?

Credit card rewards are perks or benefits that credit card companies offer to give back to their customers and incentivise people to choose them as a provider.

The different credit card rewards types include:

  • Travel rewards – Frequent flyer miles such as Emirates points, flight upgrades, airport lounge access, travel insurance, accommodation or transport.
  • General rewards – Items such as electronics, appliances and event tickets.
  • Cashback – Credit put onto your card as a percentage of your spending. Cashback rewards can include earning a percentage of your retail purchase back, supermarket vouchers and more.

The pros and cons of credit card rewards

When researching credit cards with Emirates points or other frequent flyer rewards programs, it’s worth knowing the pros and cons that come with rewards cards.

Pros

  • Earn from your purchases – If you plan on making most of your purchases on your credit cards, choosing the right card to suit your needs can be an easy way to access valuable rewards.
  • Get discounts and cashback - Reward credit cards often give cashback with each purchase you make, which can bring down the price of future purchases or go towards you credit card balance.
  • Travel for free – With enough mileage points earned, you might be able to book flights and accommodation without having to pay.
  • Enjoy additional privileges – Many rewards cards offer other useful features such as travel insurance, car rental insurance and purchase insurance.

Cons 

  • High annual fee – Rewards cards can have an expensive annual fee relative to other cards on the market, so compare frequent flyer rewards cards to see what’s available.
  • High interest rate – Many rewards credit cards come with a variable interest rate, meaning the rate you pay initially can rise steeply over time. Watch out for reward credit cards that offer a low introductory rate that rises significantly once the introductory period expires.
  • Reward limitations – There are often limitations and caps to earning and collecting rewards on credit cards. Read the fine print to make sure you know the terms of your card.

What are Emirates Skywards Miles?

Emirates Skywards is the frequent flyer program of Emirates Airline. Skywards Miles are the frequent flyer points you can earn as an Emirates Skyward member.

Like many other frequent flyer programs, Emirates Skywards is a great way to take advantage of perks such as reduced flight fares and upgrades. Earning Emirates Skywards Miles isn’t difficult to do if you frequently travel with Emirates or have an Emirates credit card.

How do you earn Emirates points?

You can earn Emirate Skywards Miles in three ways:

  • Flying with Emirates or partner airlines Air Mauritius, Alaska Airlines, easyJet, flydubai, GOL, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Jetstar, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, S7 Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal and Virgin America.
  • Making purchases with non-flight partners including InterContinental Hotels, Hertz, Citibank and others.
  • Making purchases using an Emirates credit card.

For every dollar you spend with an Emirates credit card, you can earn a certain number of Skywards Miles, which can vary depending on the offer or any promotions running at that time.

How do you spend Emirates points?

As we’ve briefly touched upon, Emirates Skywards Miles can be used to redeem a variety of rewards.

In line with other frequent flyer programs, you can spend points on flights with Emirates or partner airlines. Depending on the number of points you have, you may be able to fly for free or upgrade your ticket at no extra cost.

Emirates Skywards also offers Cash+Miles, which means you can pay for flights using a combination of accrued points and cash. You can choose how many points to put towards the cost of your ticket, starting from 2,000 points.

Along with flight rewards, you can also spend Emirates Skywards Miles on other purchases like hotel accommodation, event tickets or even donate to charity.

How long do Emirates Skywards Miles last?

Once you’ve accrued Emirates Skywards Miles by making purchases on your credit card or otherwise, your points will be valid for three years. Within the calendar year that your points are due to expire, they will be removed from your account at the end of your birthday month.

Many other airlines also set an expiry date for customers’ frequent flyer points or conditions for keeping them. Qantas Points, for example, don’t expire but you need to earn or use them at least once every 18 months to keep them.

Can Emirates points be transferred?

Skywards Miles can be transferred online to another Emirates Skywards account for a fee. This means if you earn points on your Emirates credit card, you can transfer them to another person so they can spend them on flight rewards and other purchases.

Where does Emirates fly to?

If you’re weighing up whether to choose a credit card with Emirates points over another airline partner card, you might be wondering if Emirates flies to destinations you’d like to travel to.

The good news is that Emirates flies to more than 100 destinations in Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Australia. That means if you’re shopping around for credit cards with Emirates points, you can be fairly confident that your earned Emirates Skyward Miles will get you where you want to go.

And don’t forget that you can use your Emirates points to go towards flights with their partner airlines as well. So even if Emirates doesn’t fly to a destination you’re planning to travel to, one of their partner airlines may do so.

Other airlines with credit card partnerships

Alongside Emirates, there are a number of other airlines with branded credit cards that offer you the chance to earn frequent flyer points for spending:

  • Qantas – Most major providers in Australia offer credit cards that allow you to earn Qantas Points
  • Virgin – Most major providers in Australia offer credit cards that allow you to earn Virgin Velocity points, and there are several dedicated Virgin Money Velocity credit cards
  • Jetstar – Branded credit cards are available that can be used to earn Jetstar miles or Qantas Points
  • Air New Zealand – Several partner credit cards are available from providers like American Express, ANZ, NAB and Westpac
  • Malaysia Airlines – Several partner credit cards are available from providers like American Express, Citibank, HSBC, Westpac and St George
  • Singapore Airlines – Providers like American Express, ANZ and Citibank offer credit cards that allow you to earn KrisFlyer points

As well as dedicated airline credit cards, there are also several other credit cards on the market through which you can earn frequent flyer miles with programs, like flybuys.

^To find the best credit card for you, it's important to think about your personal financial goals and consider which credit card options will likely help you to meet those goals. Remember that the best credit card for you may not be the best credit card for somebody else in differnt circumstances. If you're having trouble with the fine print, or otherwise aren't sure which is the best credit card for you, a qualified financial adviser may be able to help.

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.

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 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 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 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 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 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.

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

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

What happens if I have a bad credit score?

If you have a bad credit score, you might encounter two main problems. First, the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to be rejected when you apply for a loan or any other credit product. Second, if your application is accepted, the less likely you are to qualify for the lowest interest rates.