Spend on travel up as consumer confidence bounces back

Spend on travel up as consumer confidence bounces back

Consumer confidence is back, and Aussies are using their plastic again for travel, according to the latest data from Citi.

The latest Citi Australia Monthly Credit Index found that for March 2021, spend increased 23 per cent month-on-month. This increase in spending may be attributed to growing consumer confidence, as the economy continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

In further signs of a more stable economy, Citi research also shows that year-on-year credit card spending is up 2 per cent.

Head of Credit Cards at Citi Australia, Choong Yu Lum said that this rebound post-Covid is a “pleasant surprise that speaks to the return of consumer confidence in the Australian economy.”

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia released its latest credit card figures, which indicated that in February 2021, $18.4 million was added to debt accruing interest. This has lifted the level of Australian credit card debt accruing interest to $20.03 billion.

As the Covid-19 vaccine rollout advances across Australia, and if consumer confidence continues to rise – particularly with thanks to Easter long weekend spending - we may see the rate of debt accruing interest continue to rise for Australian cardholders.

Credit cards unlocking Aussie travel

And speaking of spending, it appears the latest Covid-19 lifted restrictions have put travel back on the agenda for Australian cardholders.

Citi figures show that airline spend has improved 69 per cent, month-on-month. However, year-on-year, the level of spending on travel is still down 44 per cent.

As domestic travel restrictions ease across the country, and households welcome the Easter long weekend and/or school holidays, this increase may reflect our slow return to life pre-pandemic.

And thanks to the announcement of a trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand as of 19 April, we may expect this level of spending to increase over the next month.

Top 10 - Spend By Industry – March 2021

Category Share of spend
Supermarkets 9.34%
Household good retailing 7.40%
Insurance 7.02%
Business Services 6.48%
Health/Medical 5.64%
Legal/Tax Services 5.61%
Restaurants 5.03%
Sports and Hobby Stores 4.27%
Retail Goods 4.10%
Hotels, Resorts and Spas 3.53%

Source: City Australia Credit Card Index, March 2021.

Of these figures, Mr Lum said: “Notably this month, spend at restaurants increased 34%, perhaps reflecting Australians getting out to mark either end of term or Easter holiday celebrations.”

“While airline spend is still lower than usual, ranking 16th as a spend category, spend increased 69% compared to February indicating travel is gaining in popularity,” said Mr Lum.

Find your best travel card

Whether you’re dreaming of a skiing trip in Christchurch or planning a domestic family holiday, credit cards may help you on your journey.

While there is no one best credit card for travel on the market, there’s a range of frequent flyer credit cards on the market that could suit your financial needs and budget.

One of the most popular types of cards are frequent flyer cards, which allow you to earn frequent flyer points per dollar(s) spent on everyday purchases. These have the advantage of offering generous travel perks, such as concierge services, complimentary insurances and waived overseas spending fees.

Most significantly, the points you earn with these credit cards may be put towards flight upgrades, plane tickets and booking or upgrading accommodation. And there are a range of credit cards offering generous frequent flyer points bonuses on sign up right now.

RateCity data shows that there are 23 credit cards on the market offering bonus Qantas frequent flyer points on sign up, and 6 credit cards offering Virgin Velocity frequent flyer points on sign up.

Keep in mind that there is more to a credit card than a sign-up bonus. You’ll ideally want to compare the interest rate, fees, perks and rewards before applying.

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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about credit cards

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.

Does ING increase credit card limits?

You may want to increase your credit card limit for many reasons, such as having access to more spending money. However, if you are using the Orange One credit card issued by ING, you may not be able to do so. 

ING customers can choose a credit limit of their preference when applying for the Orange One credit card. Depending on your financial situation, this limit can be anywhere between $1,000 and $30,000. If you qualify for a Rewards Platinum card, the minimum credit card limit will likely be $6,000. 

Ideally, you should set your credit card limit knowing how much you can afford to repay each month and keep your expenses lower than this level. With most credit cards, you should have the option of requesting a credit card limit increase at a later time, although you will need to qualify for any increase. With an ING credit card, limit increases are out of the question (at the time this was published), which means you may want to apply for a higher credit card limit from the beginning. Remember that you have the option of decreasing your ING credit card limit at a later time.

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 type of complimentary travel insurance is available with Citibank credit cards?

The Citi Prestige, Premier, Rewards, Emirates Citi World MasterCard, and Gold cards provide complimentary travel insurance to customers. These Citibank credit card insurance benefits are managed and issued by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA).

Depending on the type of card, the Citibank credit card insurance coverage may include:

  • Foreign travel insurance
  • A comprehensive insurance policy for foreign travel for up to six months
  • Transit accident insurance
  • Accidental injury or demise while travelling on aeroplanes, buses, trains, or ferries in foreign locations
  • Interstate flight inconvenience insurance
  • Cover for unexpected cancellations, damaged or lost baggage, flight delays, or rental vehicle excess expenses for up to 14 days while travelling within Australia.

To be eligible for the complimentary Citi credit card insurance, you must book tickets using your card or through the Citi Travel Program.

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 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 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 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.

What should I do if my ANZ credit card has expired?

Your ANZ credit card is considered expired only after the last day of the month and year marked on your card. For instance, if your card’s expiry date reads 03/22, it is valid until 31 March 2022 and expires on 1 April 2022. Typically, you should have received a new credit card by that date, and you won’t have to request a new card. 

Once you get the new card, you should remember to switch any automatic payments you have - such as a utility or mobile phone bill - from your expired credit card to your new credit card. Equally, if you are using CardPay Direct to repay your ANZ credit card debt, you may need to update the credit card account details for that service as well. 

In case the new card doesn’t arrive by the expiry date of your current credit card, you can call ANZ on 13 22 73 to find out the reason and if you need to request an expedited card. Please note that if you were planning to close your credit card account or request a credit card upgrade, you may need to call ANZ at least before the 25th of the month your current credit card expires in, as that’s when they may send you the new credit 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. 

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.

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 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.