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When it comes to credit cards, everyone is looking for the best deal. Credit cards with low interest on purchases for at least six months can be an attractive option for many customers.

But it’s important to be aware of the restrictions. We’re going to look at credit cards with temporary low interest rates so you understand their benefits and shortcomings before signing up.

What is credit card interest?

Credit card interest is the extra amount of money you pay a credit card provider to cover the cost of borrowing the funds.

As a credit card holder, you’re may have to pay interest on the money you owe, and the quicker you pay it off, the cheaper it is.

You can choose credit cards with low interest rates or credit cards with high interest rates, and there are advantages and disadvantages with both.

For instance, a credit card with a low interest rate would theoretically be easier to pay off, but a credit card with a high interest rate might offer attractive perks and bonuses.

What are the different types of credit card interest?

Anyone who is in the market for a new credit card needs to be aware of the different types of credit card interest, and have a sense of the charges these may incur:

  • Purchase interest – This is interest charged on purchases you make with your credit card, which may exclude cash withdrawals and similar transactions.
  • Balance transfer interest – This is the interest rate added onto any outstanding amount if you’re transferring your balance from an old credit card to a new credit card.
  • Cash advance interest – This is the interest rate that applies to any cash withdrawals with your cards. It may include ATM withdrawals, gambling transactions and bill payments, although this depends on the agreement between the biller and the bank.

How do credit cards with low interest on purchases work?

Many credit card providers have introductory offers, designed to attract customers and make their cards stand out from the competition. An example of this is credit cards with low interest on purchases for at least six months. These cards offer lower interest rates during the introductory period, before ramping back up to the standard rate. While this can seem like an enticing deal, it’s important to be wary of the level the rates will rise to, once the honeymoon period is over.

What happens once the low interest promotion has expired?

Once the credit card low interest promotion has finished, you’re required to cover any outstanding balance at the standard interest rate, which is generally much higher than the one advertised in the promotion. If this amount is not paid quickly, it can quickly snowball into a high level of debt.

What are the pros and cons of credit cards with temporary low interest?

When you’re comparing credit cards with low interest on purchases, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of these financial products before signing the dotted line.

Pros

  • Potentially a cheaper way to borrow money – Credit cards with low interest on purchases can be a good way to purchase major items like appliances, furniture and electronics if you don’t have the cash to pay up front.
  • Allows you to pay down balances faster – Credit cards with temporary low interest rates give you the potential to pay off a balance faster.

Cons

  • It’s a temporary offer – Perhaps the biggest sticking point about credit cards with low interest on purchase for at least six months is the fact that this rate is temporary. Once this rate has expired, you will have to pay off interest at the standard level.
  • The offer could be forfeited – If you’re looking to take advantage of a credit card with a temporary low rate, it’s important to remember that the offer could be forfeited if you make late repayments. To get full value of the low-interest-rate credit card, it’s important that you are able make all your credit card repayments in a timely manner.
  • Other fees to be aware of – Just because you’ve got a temporary low interest rate, it doesn’t mean you’re not getting slugged fees somewhere else. When signing up to a low-interest-rate credit card, make sure you are aware of any annual fees, monthly maintenance fees, balance transfer fees and past due payment fees, as these can add up over time.

Frequently asked questions

How does credit card interest work?

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.

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 is credit card interest charged?

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.

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 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 to calculate credit card interest

Credit card interest can quickly turn a manageable balance into unmovable 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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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 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.

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.

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 pay off credit cards?

The best way to pay off a credit card bill is to set a realistic spending budget and stick to it. Each month, you’ll get a credit card statement detailing how much you owe and how long it will take to pay off the balance by making minimum repayments. If you only make the minimum repayments, it will take you years to pay off your outstanding balance and add extra costs in interest charges. To avoid any extra charges, you should pay the entire bill. 

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.

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 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 can I get a Woolworths store card credit limit increase?

If you are looking to increase the credit limit on your Woolworths card, you can call 1300 101 234 to make an application. You will need to have held your Woolworths credit card account for at least six months before asking to increase your limit. 

As with most credit limit increase applications, your financial situation and spending history will be reviewed in order to assess whether your new requested credit limit is appropriate. After the assessment, Woolworths will let you know whether or not you’ve been approved. 

 

How do I file a Virgin Money credit card insurance claim?

To make a claim, you can either call Allianz Global Assist at 1800 072 791 or visit their claims page. If you’re making a claim related to any travel-related complimentary insurance, such as international travel or transit accident insurance, you may need to visit their travel claims website. Again, for filing a claim while travelling overseas, you can call Allianz at +61 7 3305 7499.

Before filing your claim, consider checking which complimentary insurances are available with your Virgin Money credit card. Customers who own a ‘no annual fee’ or ‘low rate’ credit card don’t get these benefits, while some other credit cards only come with guaranteed pricing and transit accident insurance.

Remember that you’ll need to submit proof that your credit card offers the complimentary insurance benefit which you are claiming. You can read the credit card complimentary insurance terms and conditions for details regarding the benefits available on your credit card.