The Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa may be an ideal package for anyone looking for a first credit card, or wanting to switch to a fuss-free, money-saving option. You don’t need to be a customer of the bank or a Victorian to apply, as long as you are a resident of Australia.
The card’s most outstanding feature is the 13.99% p.a. charged on purchase balances not repaid by the due date. For a credit card this is a low rate, so if you have run out of other options and need to use a credit card as a temporary source of finance, this card should be at or near the top of your list.
The low rate does not extend to cash advances, however. You’ll pay 21.49% p.a. on cash advances, charged from the day you take the advance until the day you repay it.
If you already have some debt on up to three other cards (outside the Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, St. George stable) you can consolidate your debt (up to 80% of your approved credit limit) via a balance transfer onto this one card and enjoy an interest holiday on the combined balance for 30 months – plenty of time to get your finances sorted out.
You could save around $2,370 on a $5,000 balance during a 30-month period if you are paying 20% p.a. and only making minimum repayments on your current card. Unlike many other cards, there’s no balance transfer fee to pay upfront.
Do be aware, though, that if you are unable to repay the balance at the end of 30 months, the high revert interest rate of 21.49% p.a. (the cash advance rate) will then be applied to any remaining debt.
With no rewards program or ‘free’ insurance policies to pay for, the annual fee for this card is a very manageable $55. You can also have a fee-free supplementary card for your partner or another family member.
But there’s an added sweetener. You won’t be charged the annual fee in the first year, so you can try out the card for free.
You may start to think 55 is your lucky number, because that’s also how many interest-free days on purchases you’ll get each month, not the more restrictive 44 days associated with many low-rate, low-fee cards. This means that you won’t need to pay for your purchases until 24 or 25 days after your monthly statement cut-off date. If you made a purchase right at the beginning of the statement cycle, you won’t need to come up with the cash until 55 days later.
Now that extra 11 days credit (when compared with 44 days) may not sound like much, but if you multiply it by 12 months it means that you can delay your monthly payments by an extra 132 days each year. If, like a quarter of Australian credit card users, you are putting $2,000 or more on your card each month, leaving that $2,000 in your mortgage offset account for an extra 132 days will help to reduce your mortgage interest charges.
You will only continue to receive this benefit if you pay off your Monthly Payment Balance in full on the due date each month.
If you do get behind with your repayments, or make a large purchase (e.g. a new fridge or computer) that you can’t afford to pay for all at one, there is a way to repay by instalments without losing your interest-free days. Simply commit to a Plan&Pay instalment plan in either of two ways:
The Bank of Melbourne has come up with some constructive ideas for helping you to manage your credit card account. In addition to the usual internet banking and phone apps, you can set up email alerts to tell you when you have reached your credit limit. No more red faces at the checkout.
You can also set up an automated repayment plan, so that you don’t have to remember payment due dates. This will help you avoid unnecessary interest charges if you forget to pay.
The bank’s mobile banking app lets you put a block on your card for up to 15 days (if you’ve misplaced it, for example, but don’t want to cancel it outright in case it turns up).
Falcon Fraud Monitoring keeps an eye on your account for suspicious purchases, and you can access an extra level of security when shopping online by signing up for ‘Verified by Visa’ one-time password authentication via your mobile phone. The bank would also like you to advise them if you plan to travel overseas, so that the unexpected appearance of purchases made in a foreign country doesn’t trigger an alert suggesting that your card details have been stolen.
You’ll also get the convenience of Visa PayWave for purchases under $100, saving you time because you don’t need to insert or swipe your card or enter a PIN.
So, what type of card user should give serious consideration to the Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa?
Anyone looking for their first credit card should be opting for a moderate annual fee and a low purchase interest rate in case they accidentally overlook the monthly repayment, and this card certainly fits the bill. You can also request a credit limit as low as $500, to limit any temptations to overspend.
The card is not cluttered with a rewards points program or complimentary insurance policies, both of which inevitably lead to a higher annual fee. These are extras which only benefit big spenders, and they can wait until you have found your feet in the credit card world. And you might just decide that this fuss-free card will suit you for many years to come.
If a low purchase interest rate coupled with a moderate card fee is important to you, take a look at other cards with similar features before you take the plunge.
The NAB Low Rate Card, Westpac Low Rate Credit Card and Bankwest Breeze Mastercard are also very similar, so it’s worth checking their features on our credit card comparison page before you make your final decision.
Reviewed by Yvonne Taylor
Lead Product Analyst