Making the most of your rewards card

Making the most of your rewards card

It’s easy to see why people are enticed by a credit card with a rewards program. The idea of getting ‘free’ flights, giftcards or even new products for your home can be hard to resist.

However, RateCity research has revealed there are a number of traps consumers fall into in the search for the right card.

Firstly, not all rewards programs are equal.  If you were a young professional in the market for a new car, you wouldn’t buy the family wagon. And the same is true for credit card rewards.  There is no point signing up to a Qantas frequent flyer scheme if you never fly anywhere.

HOW TO SEARCH FOR A REWARDS CARD ON RATECITY

To compare rewards cards click here.

Use the filters to help narrow down rewards cards that may suit your preferences.  You can use some or all of the filters depending on what you are looking for.

You could start by choosing the type of rewards program, e.g. Qantas Frequent Flyer. Then consider, what sort of rewards you are likely to redeem.  For example, you can choose from domestic or international flights.

If you would like to narrow down cards from a particular credit card company you can search by company name, e.g. American Express.

Or you may want to compare cards based on the annual fees.

Getting started 

Start your research for a new card by thinking about what you are going to use it for and the type of program that would best suit your personal needs.  It’s easy to be enticed by clever, glossy marketing, but step away and consider whether the perks on offer are in line with your lifestyle.

Consider how much you spend 

Next, realistically think about how much you are going to spend on the card. Rewards programs are built on a spend more receive more basis, so if you only use your card occasionally, it is unlikely you will ever accumulate the points required to redeem you dream reward.

Also, if you don’t pay your credit card off in full each month, you may void your rewards points altogether.

Weight up the cost of the annual fee 

Now consider the annual fee on the card. If the value of the rewards you are likely to get in any given year is less than the annual fee, we have a problem. No fancy toaster is worth paying an annual fee of $400. You may be surprised to learn there are a handful of rewards cards on the market with no annual fee whatsoever, such as the American Express Essentials card and Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard.

Check earn and burn rates and points caps 

One of the ways people get caught out signing up to the wrong rewards card is by forgetting to check ‘earn’ and ‘burn’ rates and points caps. This is where it gets a bit tricky and using a comparison site can sometimes help with some of the homework.

Consider how much you are likely to spend in any given month on the card and work out the maximum number of points you can earn.  Then compare your results with the company’s product table or points required to fly to your dream destination.  If your card falls short of expectations, it’s probably not the right card for you.

Watch out for complicated fine print 

When trawling through potential rewards cards, also check the eligibility requirements required to redeem points.  There’s nothing the credit card company lawyers enjoy more than writing fine print.  And let’s be honest, we could all think of better things to do than spending an evening reading terms and conditions, but if you have the stomach for it, it’s worth seeing how your card stacks up.  

Some cards have strict requirements on where you can earn points, e.g. specific supermarkets, petrol stations and restaurants. There’s no point signing up for a Woolies card if you do the majority of your shopping at Coles.

And finally, if you have a rewards card with points, make sure you use them.  There’s no point having these perks if you never get around to redeeming them.

REWARDS CARDS

COMPANY  PRODUCT  RATE  ANNUAL FEE  INTEREST FREE DAYS
American Express Essential Credit Card 14.99% $0 55
Coles  No Annual Fee Mastercard 19.99% $0 55
Myer Myer Visa Card 20.69% $69 55
HSBC Platinum credit card 19.99% $129 55
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer card 20.74% $129 44
Jetstar Platinum Mastercard (Jetstar Dollars Program) 19.99% $169 55

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Learn more about credit cards

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

Increase your credit card limit with Westpac

A credit card can be a useful tool to access extra cash when you need it. Sometimes you may wish to increase your credit card limit for greater financial flexibility. For example, to realize your immediate goals faster, such as planning for an international holiday or making a big purchase.

You can apply to increase your credit limit at any time, and most credit card providers have made it really easy to do so. You can use your online banking portal, the credit card provider’s mobile app, or even the telephone. 

Applying online to increase your credit limit with Westpac is the easiest option if you’ve already activated Westpac Live Online Banking. All you need to do is fill in the required information and then hit ‘submit’ to apply for an increase in your credit card limit.

Most banks will ask for details of your financial situation at the time of applying for a credit increase. This is done to ensure your new limit meets the lender’s criteria. 

You can apply for increasing your credit limit in any of the following ways:

  1. Visiting your nearest Westpac branch
  2. Calling Westpac on 1300 651 089
  3. Logging in on Westpac Live Online Banking

How do I apply for a BOQ credit card limit increase?

If you’re an existing BOQ customer, you can request a BOQ credit card limit increase over a phone call. However, you should remember that owning and using a credit card is a matter of financial responsibility, so it might be worth thinking this decision through. 

When requesting a credit card limit increase, you’ll need to be just as responsible in terms of how much you earn and can set aside to repay the outstanding card balance. A credit card company may approve a credit limit increase only if you can show that you have either the income or the disposable income, which is the amount you have left after all expenses have been paid out.

For this purpose, you may need to submit your latest income documents and bank statements for an increase. You may want to estimate how much you usually have left after deducting your expenses, and then use this amount to try and convince the credit card company. Also, you may prefer to pay off the card balance in full each month and thus avoid paying interest on the card, helping you back up any claims of financial responsibility, as well. 

Remember that you may not be able to apply for a credit card limit increase beyond any limitations on the type of card you own. For instance, if you own a card whose ceiling is $10,000, and your current limit is $5,000, you won't likely be able to apply for a $10,000 credit card limit increase.

How can I increase my Bankwest credit card limit?

When you apply for a Bankwest credit card, you get assigned a pre-set credit limit, which will end up being the most that you can spend on your credit card before having to pay it off. Your credit limit is chosen for you and your current financial situation, and you should remember not to overspend, irrespective of the limit, in order to avoid racking up a massive bill.

However, banks and lenders understand that your needs will change, and have made it possible for you to increase your credit card limit, allowing you to get extra cash when you need it most. Moreover, with a higher spending limit, you may be able to get access to certain perks and benefits with your Bankwest credit card.

To increase your Bankwest credit card limit, you can visit any of the bank’s branches or call 13 17 19 and follow the steps outlined.

How to increase the NAB credit card limit?

If you use your NAB credit card regularly, you could consider requesting a higher credit limit. The good news is that it's fairly easy to do so using either the NAB app or NAB internet banking. 

NAB app: 

Step 1: Download the latest version of the NAB app.

Step 2: Select the ‘My Cards’ menu. 

Step 3: Select the card you want to increase the credit limit for. 

Step 4: Select ‘Usage Controls’ and then click on ‘Change Credit Limit’.

NAB internet banking: 

Step 1: Log into your account. 

Step 2: Choose the ‘My Cards’ menu. 

Step 3: Choose the card for which you want to increase the limit. 

Step 4: Choose ‘Change My Credit Card Limit’.  

If you don’t have the NAB app or cannot access NAB internet banking, you can even visit your local branch or call their contact center. 

Once you’ve applied to increase your NAB credit card limit, you’re likely to be asked for your

  • current employment details  
  • total income, before and after-tax deductions  
  • assets, liabilities, and expenses information

NAB will then assess this information to determine if your current financial situation suits the increased credit limit request, and your application will either be accepted or denied.

However, this process will only work if you’re attempting to increase your personal NAB credit card limit. For a business credit card, you can contact the NAB Corporate & Business Servicing team or speak to your NAB relationship manager. 

How do I apply for a credit card online?

What does ANZ credit card insurance cover?

ANZ offers complimentary insurance on some of its credit cards, which can provide some protection against unforeseeable incidents, like the theft of your card. Depending on the type of credit card you own, you may be eligible for different insurances. For instance, most ANZ credit card customers may qualify for Purchase Protection Insurance and Extended Warranty Insurance. Customers who own premium credit cards may also be eligible for Guaranteed Pricing, Rental Vehicle Excess, International Travel, and so on.

Consider checking your ANZ credit card insurance features listed in the Insurance Policy Information booklet to know which items are covered. Also, while ANZ issued the credit card, they are not the insurer. For this reason, you may need to send your insurance claims - and get your ANZ credit card insurance refund - to the insurance provider.

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 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 does ANZ increase my credit card limit?

If you’re the primary cardholder on an ANZ credit card, you can increase your credit limit by logging into your credit card account and choosing the “Increase your credit limit” option. You can also submit an ANZ credit card limit increase application form by visiting any ANZ branch or by mail or fax. When completing the form, it's important to remember to specify how much you want the limit increased. You can estimate this by first calculating the amount of credit card debt you can afford to repay based on your income and expenses, and then declaring that in your application. 

Irrespective of whether you’re completing your ANZ credit card limit increase application online or in print, you’ll need to provide updated employment information, income, and expenses, which the company will have to verify. You'll also need to authorise ANZ’s access to your credit history, as your current credit score and recent credit history tell the company about your financial responsibility, and whether or not you'll be able to repay the additional debt you’re applying for. 

In some cases, ANZ may ask you for additional information, or the agent processing the application may reach out to you after your application is received. After verifying your credit score as well as your personal and financial information, however, ANZ may approve a credit card limit increase proportionate to your repaying ability, though it may not be the same as the increase you requested.

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.