Buy-now-pay-later industry code to raise standards for services

Buy-now-pay-later industry code to raise standards for services

The buy-now-pay-later sector has developed a draft code of practice which could see sweeping changes to the industry, including late fee caps and a tougher customer vetting process.

BNPL players which participated in forming the code include Afterpay, Zip Co, Brighte, flexigroup, Latitude, Openpay, and Payright – representing more than 95 per cent of the market. The voluntary code applies only to firms signing up to it.

It is a world-first for the evolving BNPL sector, which serves about 30 per cent of Australian adults, according to the Australian Financial Industry Association, which consulted the sector on the code.

The code is a direct response to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s review of the BNPL sector in November 2018, as well as a Senate Economics Reference Committee inquiry in February 2019, which recommended the BNPL sector to develop a code of practice.

At the time, ASIC concluded that using BNPL services can “cause some consumers to be financially overcommitted and liable to paying late fees”.

The Commission also found that one in six users had either become overdrawn, delayed repayments or borrowed more money than they otherwise would because they were using BNPL.

As BNPL companies charge “late fees” instead of interest, they are not classified as credit providers and so are not regulated by the National Credit Act. Institutions under this Act are legally obliged to run credit checks to make sure a customer can pay back what they have borrowed.

AFIA’s chief executive officer Diane Tate said while BNPL providers are “not unregulated” and already comply with consumer laws, the draft code “goes above and beyond existing laws”.

The code, which is under public consultation, could be implemented as early as July 2020.

Some of the safeguards the code could provide to consumers, if implemented, include:

  • screening customers before providing BNPL services to them, and only doing business with customers who are assessed to be capable of repaying over time.
  • capped and “fair” late fees.
  • a two-month notice period before changing fees.
  • limit BNPL services to people aged 18 years and over.
  • send repayment reminders and notifications before charging late fees.
  • never filing bankruptcy proceedings against a customer and providing support to customers in financial difficulties.
  • stop sending promotional material to customers behind on repayments and customers in financial hardship.
  • making key information, such as terms and conditions and details on how to close an account, clear and easy to understand.
  • free access to Australian Financial Complaints Authority’s (AFCA) external dispute resolution scheme.

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Learn more about credit cards

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 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 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 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 credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

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 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 I transfer money from a credit card to a bank account with HSBC?

With HSBC’s cash transfer function, you can transfer money from a credit card to a bank account. Customers who wish to make cash transfers have to apply through HSBC and are charged interest on the transactions, but no other fees. Under the program, customers can:

  • Borrow between $500 and $15,000, so long at least 20 per cent of the credit limit is still available after the transfer
  • Transfer to any nominated bank account quickly. 


Registered HSBC online banking users can log in to their accounts and select credit cards online from the My Banking tab. They can then complete the form from the Cash Transfer option. On approval, the requested amount is transferred to the nominated bank account within three days.

Customers can also register for the cash transfer program via the Mobile Banking app. Don’t forget to check the interest rate you’ll be charged, both before and after any promotional period.

How does the ANZ credit card instalment plan work?

While you usually need to settle all or part of your credit card dues at the end of your statement period, some credit cards afford you the option of setting up instalment plans. This allows you to settle your credit card debt at a pace that's more convenient for you, paying a fixed amount over a fixed period, thus making it easier to budget your repayments every month.

With the ANZ credit card instalment plan, you can set up a structured repayment schedule for part or all of your balance, or even for specific purchases over a certain value.

Some of the benefits of instalment repayment include: 

  • Structured repayments: You’ll have a fixed sum to pay each month.
  • Easier to budget: A fixed repayment sum makes it easier to make your monthly budget.
  • Account benefits: You might also get benefits such as discounted interest rates or debt-tracking tools.

There are disadvantages of opting for instalment repayment, however, and they include:

  • Less flexibility: You will not be able to pay a smaller amount once you set an instalment plan.
  • Different interest charges: In case the instalment plan only covers part of the balance, different interest charges could apply, making it challenging to budget.
  • Additional fees: You might have to pay fees or penalty charges in case of missed payments.

How can I increase my Coles credit card limit?

You can apply to increase the credit limit on your Coles Mastercard at any time after you have received and started using it. You may need to provide details of your financial situation at the time of applying for a credit increase. This is done to give the lender confidence you have the capacity to pay off your credit card. 

To find out more about how to increase your Coles credit card limit, simply call 1300 306 397 and make the request to change your spending limit.

How does the Citibank credit card instalment plan work?

The Citibank credit card instalment plan is designed to help you make repayments on purchases over a predetermined period of time.It is similar to buy now, pay later services, and you can choose a plan that suits your financial situation.

You can set up a fixed payment option for up to five recent purchases each worth at least $500. Alternatively, there’s a cash-out option, where the issuer pays you between $500 and the maximum credit limit via a cheque, which can then be repaid in fixed instalments over your chosen duration.

Current Annual Fees

These are the current annual fees on your existing credit card.

How do I transfer money from my Commonwealth bank credit card to my bank account?

Your Commonwealth bank credit card may include a cash advance benefit, but you won't be able to transfer money to your bank account. 

You can, however, withdraw cash from your credit card at an ATM. You should remember that you have to pay a fee for such transactions, and you’ll be charged interest from the day you withdraw the cash. 

Unlike other credit card transactions, you don’t get an interest-free repayment period for cash advances. Also, you may not be able to access your full credit card limit for a cash advance.

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.