Are you putting more everyday spending on your credit card?

Are you putting more everyday spending on your credit card?

Lockdowns and social distancing have changed the way Australians are spending money, with many of us turning to credit cards to help manage our household budgets. But with our financial situations changing, is your credit card still providing the kind of value for money that it used to?

How have Aussie spending patterns changed?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), nearly half (45 per cent) of over-18s in Australia saw their household finances impacted by COVID-19 between mid-March and mid-April 2020, with 31 per cent reporting that their finances worsened and 14 per cent reporting an improvement.

Around one in thirteen Australians (7.5 per cent) reported that they lacked the money to pay one or more bills on time, while one in ten (10 per cent) reported having to draw on savings to support basic living expenses.

The pandemic also appears to be affecting how we use our credit cards. A recent study from JD Power found that since the pandemic, 42 per cent of Australian credit cardholders say they are spending less on their credit card, but 27 per cent are using their card for more household necessities. Around 27 per cent said they were making more online purchases, while 23 per cent said they were using their card more often to pay household bills. JD Power also found that 19 per cent of credit card holders say that since the pandemic began, they cannot make their minimum credit card payment.

Similarly, research from the Commonwealth Bank has also found that while credit and debit card spending from the fortnight ending 1 May 2020 is down 10 per cent compared to one year ago, online sales have increased sharply, with online retail items being up 110 per cent compared to last year. The CBA research also found Australians to be using their cards to spend more on food from supermarkets, alcohol from bottle shops, and household furnishings, but less on eating and drinking out in restaurants and bars, as well as travel, transport and apparel.

Does your credit card still suit your needs?

While many Australians are using their credit cards to purchase everyday household necessities, not all of these Aussies may have the right credit card for the job. According to JD Power’s study, 27 per cent of credit card holders were found to be planning to acquire a different credit card, either because they need more credit (11 per cent) or their card no longer suits their needs (16 per cent).

While 62 per cent of Aussie credit cardholders were found to be paying an annual credit card fee, only 34 per cent reported the value they receive from their card outweighs the cost of this fee. To put this in perspective, according to RateCity’s database, the average credit card annual fee at the end of April 2020 was $135.40, while more than 30 credit cards charge no annual fee. 

The JD Power study also found that while 14 per cent of credit cards offer airline rewards, 63 per cent of these cardholders have spending and usage habits that don’t align with the card’s offerings.

Why is it important to compare credit cards?

JD Power Australia head of banking and payments intelligence, Bronwyn Gill, said that with people relying on their credit cards, it’s important that they are suitably matched to the right cards for their needs:

“While a strong mismatch was occurring before the pandemic, the change in spending habits is heightening this disconnect, affecting reward accumulation and perceived value. Cardholders are evaluating the existing cards they hold, and issuers need to ensure they are creating value for their customers to weather this storm.”

If you suspect that your credit card may no longer be right for you in your new financial situation, you can consider comparing credit cards to find a better deal. As well as credit cards with low interest rates or no annual fee, you could consider a balance transfer credit card to replace your current card, and pay no interest on the outstanding balance for a limited time, which could help you clear the decks for your household budget.

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Learn more about credit cards

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. 

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 do I apply for a credit card online?

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.

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.

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 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 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 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.

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

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.

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.

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.