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CBA credit card changes – what to look for if you’re turning to the plastic

Eden Radford avatar
Eden Radford
- 6 min read
CBA credit card changes – what to look for if you’re turning to the plastic

Australia’s largest bank, CBA, has today increased the fees and rates on select credit cards.

The bank is increasing the rate on its Low Rate card by 0.75 percentage points to 13.99 per cent, with an annual fee increase of $13 a year.

It has also stopped offering Qantas points on its Awards credit card for new customers, however, this option is available on its Smart Awards and Ultimate cards.

The changes are, in many cases, relatively minor. However, they serve as an important reminder to give your credit card a health check – preferably once a year before the annual fee is due.

While credit cards typically do not rise and fall with the cash rate, the RateCity database shows nine lenders have increased at least one credit card rate in the last six months.

Changes to CBA’s credit card fees and rates, effective 25 August

CardChange
Low Rate cardRate: +0.75% pts to 13.99%
Fee: increasing from $59 p.a. to $6 p.m. (+$13/yr)
Cash advance: +0.75% pts to 21.99%
Low Fee cardFee: increasing from $29 p.a. (waived if you spend $1K p.a.) to $3 p.m. (waived if you spend $300 p.m.). Increase of +$7 p.a.

Cash advance: +0.75% pts to 21.99%

Awards card

(CBA or Qantas points)

Fees: increasing from $59 p.a. plus $30 p.a. for those on the Qantas program, to $8 p.m. plus $60 p.a. for the Qantas program. Total increase of up to $67 p.a.

Points: The annual cap of up to 50,000 points will be removed, however, the value of points (currently 1 pt per $ for CBA Awards and 0.4 points per $ for Qantas) will halve after the first $2,000 spent each month.

Option to earn Qantas points will not be available for new customers.

Additional cardholder fee has been dropped.

Ultimate cardFees: No change to the monthly fee of $35, however, the spend waiver to avoid this fee will increase from $2,500 to $4,000, while the Qantas program fee will increase by $30 to $60 p.a (only applicable to Qantas points customers).

How to test if your credit card is giving you financial heart burn

1) Check the fine print on your current card. This includes the interest rate, fees and perks, if there are any.

2) Download a list of the last year’s transactions and add up the fees and interest charges. Try and estimate any extra surcharges you might have paid as a result using credit.

3) Calculate how many rewards points you have collected in the last 12 months, but also the value of the perks you have redeemed in this time.

4) Are you ahead or in the red as a result of your card? If it’s the latter, it’s probably time to switch. Even if you’re ahead, check to see whether there’s a better option out there.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said: “CBA might be lifting the points cap on its Awards card, but the fact new customers can no longer earn coveted Qantas frequent flyer points is likely to push some towards a different card.”

“While these changes from CBA aren’t seismic, they serve as a good reminder to do a health check on your credit card to make sure it’s not burning a hole in your back pocket,” she said.

“Look at how much you’re shelling out in fees and interest charges versus how much you’ve redeemed in rewards over the last 12 months. Even if this sum puts you ahead, take an extra 15 minutes to check to see if there are better options out there.

“Finding the right credit card often comes down to what you need the card for, but also how much you spend, where you shop, and in some cases, whether you fly Qantas.

“If your card is putting you in the red, it’s time to come up with a plan B. This could mean switching to a lower cost card, but if you’re up to your eyeballs in credit card debt, you may need to turn your back on the plastic altogether.

“People looking for a low-rate option should know there are a handful of lenders offering credit cards with interest rates below 10 per cent.

“Five lenders also offer ‘0 per cent’ cards which don’t charge interest, even if you have money owing, although most of these options will sting you with fees as soon as you use the card.

“Credit cards can serve a purpose, but if all it’s doing is lining the pockets of your bank, then you need to hit the eject button,” she said.

Lowest rate credit cards on RateCity.com.au database
(excludes 0% interest cards)

Card Purchase rateAnnual feePerks
G&C Mutual Bank Low Rate7.49%$50
Easy Street Easy Low Rate8.99%$400% balance transfers for 6 months
MOVE Bank Low Rate8.99%$0 for first 12 months then $590% balance transfers for 6 months
Community First Bank Low Rate8.99%$400% balance transfers for 6 months.

Get $100 credit when you make an eligible transaction within 30 days of approval.
Defence Bank Foundation Visa3.99% for 6 months then 8.99%$45Introductory offer on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances

Source: RateCity.com.au. Credit scores apply.

0% credit cards

Card Interest rateFeesPerks
CBA Neo0%$12-$22 p.m.
No fee if $0 balance, and card not used that month.
No foreign exchange fees.
Westpac Flex0%$10 p.m.
No fee if $0 balance.
No late payment fees.
Fraud protection.
Access to Westpac Extras and Rewards.
NAB Straight Up0%$10-$20 p.m.
No fee if $0 balance, and card not used that month.
No fees on international purchases.
Community First n0w0%$9-$19 p.m
No fee if $0 balance, and card not used that month.
No late payment fees.
Transport Mutual Credit Union Clement0%$0

Source: RateCity.com.au

Rewards credit cards with the highest sign up points 

CardSign up pointsInterest RateFeesPerks
Citi Prestige275,000 points21.49%$700 p.aOngoing rewards points,

lounge access, Uber cashback, 4th night free at select hotels.

ANZ Rewards Black180,000 points20.24%$375Ongoing rewards points $150 cashback, uncapped points on purchases, complimentary insurances.
Qantas Money Titanium150,000 Qantas points19.99%$1,200Ongoing Qantas rewards points, lounge access, first class invitations, 10% off two sets of flights and travel insurances
BOQ Platinum Visa150,000 points20.74%$129Ongoing rewards points and insurances.
St.George + Bank of Melbourne + BankSA Amplify Signature150,000 points19.49%$199 for the first 12 months then $295Ongoing rewards points, lounge access and insurances.

Source: RateCity.com.au

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Product database updated 22 Jun, 2024

This article was reviewed by Research Director Sally Tindall before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.