Current Interest Rate
Your credit card will be charged interest when you don’t pay off the balance on your credit card. Your card provider or bank charges you the individual interest rate that is associated with your card, which is usually between 10 and 20 per cent.
The interest will be added onto your bill each month or billing period if you don’t pay off the balance, unless you are in an interest-free period.
You will be charged interest on anything that hasn’t been paid for inside the interest-free period. Usually you will receive a notice on your bill or statement saying you will be charged interest so you have some form of notice before you’re charged.
Generally, when we talk about credit card interest, we mean the purchase interest rate, which is the interest charged on purchases you make with your credit card.
If you don’t pay your full balance each month (or even if you pay the minimum amount), you are charged interest on all the outstanding transactions and the remaining balance. However, interest is also charged on cash advances, balance transfers, special rate offers and, in some cases, even the fees charged by the company.
The interest rate can vary, depending on the credit card. Some have an interest-free period, otherwise you start paying interest from the day you make a purchase or from the day your monthly statement is issued. So avoid interest by paying the full amount promptly.
Pensioners can get credit cards with certain banks – if they can convince the bank they’re credit-worthy. Here are some points to consider if you are a pensioner looking for a credit card:
Annual income: Look for a credit card for which you easily fall within the minimum annual income requirements. This can be from the pension, superannuation or any other sources.
Annual fees: If high fees are a concern for you, opt for a card with a low or $0 annual fee. You want to make it as easy as possible to fit a credit card into your current lifestyle and spending habits.
Interest rate: Make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises on your credit card bill. Choose a card with a low interest rate to minimise risk (to both yourself and the bank – and this will help your application).
Credit card interest can quickly turn a manageable balance into unmoveable debt. So being able to understand how interest rates translate into dollars is an important skill to acquire.
The common mistake people make is focusing on the credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR), which often sits between 15 and 20 per cent. While the APR does provide a rough idea of how much interest you’ll pay, it’s not entirely accurate.
This is because you actually accrue interest on your balance daily, not annually. So, you need to work out your daily periodic rate (DPR). To do this, divide your card’s APR by the number of days in a year (e.g. 16.9 per cent divided by 365, or 0.05 per cent). You can then apply this figure to the daily balance on your credit card.
The credit card market changes all the time, so the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate is also liable to change.
One thing to remember is 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 APRs 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
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