Compare credit cards

Compare credit card rewards, rates, and balance transfers from the top banks.

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Updated 27th September 2021

Comparing credit cards

PayPal Rewards Card

On PayPal's website

FeaturedApply by 28 October 2021

PayPal Rewards Card

Balance transfer

20 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

20.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend a minimum of $3,000 in the first 3 months from approval. Apply online by 28 October 2021.
  • No annual fee for the life of the card.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on eligible transactions, uncapped, and spend your points almost anywhere online.

Pros

  • 50,000 bonus points when you meet the minimum spend requirements. That’s $250 to spend at over 750,000 eligible PayPal businesses.
  • $0 annual fee for as long as you have the card.
  • 0% p.a. for 20 months on balance transfers.
  • Get up to 4 additional cardholders at no cost.

Cons

  • The 20.99% p.a. interest on purchases is relatively high.
  • Balance transfer reverts to cash advance rate of 21.74% p.a. after 20 months.
St.George Vertigo Visa

On St.George's website

New offerApply by 30 November 2021

St.George Vertigo Visa

Balance transfer

30 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

13.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% for 30 months on Balance Transfers with a 0% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • Additional cardholder at no extra cost.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. for 30 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • The competitive purchase interest rate of 13.99% p.a.

Cons

  • Balance transfer rate reverts to 21.49% p.a. after 30 months.
  • There are no rewards program for this card.
Westpac Low Rate Credit Card

On Westpac's website

Apply by 30 November 2021

Westpac Low Rate Credit Card

Balance transfer

28 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

13.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. for 28 months on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee. Reverts to variable cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • Low 13.74% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
  • $0 first year annual card fee ($59 p.a. thereafter).

Pros

  • 0% p.a. for up to 28 months on balance transfers.
  • Low 13.74% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
  • $0 first year annual card fee ($59 p.a. thereafter).

Cons

  • Balance transfer reverts to cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a. after 28 months.
American Express Cashback Credit Card

On American Express' website

New offerApply by 19 January 2022

American Express Cashback Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

N/A

Highlights

  • Get 5% Bonus Cashback in the first 3 months, up to $200 Cashback, when you apply online by 19 January 2022 and are approved. No monthly fee will be charged for your first 12 months of Card Membership. New Card Members only.
  • No monthly fee for the first 12 months ($10 monthly fee thereafter).
  • Enjoy Binge Basic subscription, valued at $10 per month.

Pros

  • Earn up to 5% Bonus Cashback in the first 3 months.
  • No monthly fee for the first 12 months.
  • Take advantage of the 12-month complimentary access to the Centr fitness app (valued at $119.99).
  • Complimentary Smartphone Screen Insurance.

Cons

  • Purchase rate is at 20.74% p.a.
MoneyMe Freestyle Virtual Card

On MoneyMe's website

MoneyMe Freestyle Virtual Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

16.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

From $0.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Apply online in minutes with an outcome on the spot.
  • No waiting days for a physical card, it's instantly accessible via your mobile wallet.
  • Tap n Pay in-store using Apple Pay or Google Pay.
  • Shop online using your virtual card details found in the MoneyMe App.
  • Shop now, pay later with up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.

Bank promo

  • Get MoneyMe's lowest advertised rate EVER of 16.99% p.a.
  • Annual fee of $0 to $149 p.a. based on credit limit plus a monthly fee of $5 for balances over $20.
  • Be eligible for deals and credit back offers at over 1,400 participating stores thanks to MoneyMe Perks, powered by Cashrewards. Terms and conditions apply.
NAB Low Rate Card

On NAB's website

NAB Low Rate Card

Balance transfer

32 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 32 months with no balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate of 21.74% p.a. after the promotional period.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($59 p.a. thereafter).
  • Get a response in 60 seconds.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 32 months.
  • The waived annual fee for the first year.
  • Additional credit card is free.

Cons

  • No rewards program for this card.
Westpac Low Rate Cashback Credit Card

On Westpac's website

Apply by 30 November 2021

Westpac Low Rate Cashback Credit Card

Balance transfer

12 months at 6.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

13.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Get $400 back when you apply online by 30 November 2021, are approved and spend $4,000 or more on eligible purchases within 120 days from card approval. Terms and Conditions apply.
  • $0 first year annual card fee ($59 p.a. thereafter).
  • Low 13.74% p.a. interest rate on purchases.

Pros

  • Get $400 cashback when you meet the spend criteria.
  • $0 first year annual card fee ($59 p.a. thereafter).
  • Low 13.74% p.a. interest rate on purchases.

Cons

  • The cash advance rate for this card is 21.49% p.a.
American Express Platinum Card

On American Express' website

American Express Platinum Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

N/A

Annual fee

$1,450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 150,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only. Plus, an additional 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points in Year 2 upon fee renewal.
  • Receive a $450 Platinum Travel Credit each year, which can be redeemed for flights, hotels or car hire.
  • Earn 2.25 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on all purchases, except for spend with government bodies in Australia, where you will earn 1 point per dollar spent. Points earning is uncapped.

Pros

  • Receive up to 200,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points when you meet the criteria.
  • Receive a $450 Platinum Travel Credit each year.
  • Get airport lounge access.

Cons

  • The annual fee of $1,450.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Altitude)

On Westpac's website

Apply by 30 November 2021

Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Altitude)

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

20.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$49.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Receive 130,000 Altitude bonus points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval. Terms and conditions apply.
  • 0% p.a. for 22 months on balance transfers (1 % balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to purchase rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • $49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($150 p.a. annual fee thereafter).

Pros

  • 130,000 bonus Altitude Points when you spend $3,000 in 90 days.
  • 0% p.a. for 22 months on balance transfers.
  • Additional savings with the $49 first-year annual fee ($150 p.a. thereafter).
  • Comes with complimentary travel insurance.

Cons

  • There is a 1% balance transfer fee.
  • Only up to 45 days interest-free on purchases.
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Credit Card

On Bendigo Bank's website

Apply by 31 October 2021

Bendigo Bank Low Rate Credit Card

Balance transfer

12 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$45.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. up to 12 months on purchases (reverts to 11.99% p.a.)
  • 0% p.a. up to 12 months on balance transfers (2% balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to purchase interest rate of 11.99% p.a. thereafter.
  • Save with its low annual fee of $45 p.a. ongoing.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. up to 12 months on purchases.
  • 0% p.a. up to 12 months on balance transfers.
  • Low annual fee of $45 p.a.
  • No fees for additional cardholders.

Cons

  • There is a 2% balance transfer fee.
The Low Rate Credit Card from American Express

On American Express' website

New offerApply by 27 October 2021

The Low Rate Credit Card from American Express

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

8.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get $100 back when you apply online by 27 October 2021, are approved, and spend $1,000 on your new Card by 31 December 2021. Terms and Conditions apply. New Card Members only.
  • Enjoy a low 8.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
  • $0 annual fee for as long as you have the card.

Pros

  • Earn $100 cashback when you meet the criteria.
  • Low 8.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases and $0 annual fee.
  • Comes with Purchase and Refund protection.

Cons

  • There are no rewards program for this card,
St.George Vertigo Visa (Cashback Offer)

On St.George's website

New offerApply by 30 November 2021

St.George Vertigo Visa (Cashback Offer)

Balance transfer

12 months at 6.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

13.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Be eligible for $300 cashback to your account when you open a new Vertigo credit card and spend $4,000 or more on eligible purchases within 120 days from card approval.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • Additional cardholder at no extra cost.

Pros

  • Get $300 cashback when you meet the spend criteria.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • The competitive purchase interest rate of 13.99% p.a.

Cons

  • There is no rewards program for this card.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa (Cashback Offer)

On Bank of Melbourne's website

New offerApply by 30 November 2021

Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa (Cashback Offer)

Balance transfer

12 months at 6.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

13.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Be eligible for $300 cashback to your account when you open a new Vertigo credit card and spend $4,000 or more on eligible purchases within 120 days from card approval.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • Additional cardholder at no extra cost.

Pros

  • Get $300 cashback when you meet the spend criteria.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • The competitive purchase interest rate of 13.99% p.a.

Cons

  • There is no rewards program for this card.
St.George Amplify Signature Credit Card (Qantas)

On St.George's website

New offerApply by 30 November 2021

St.George Amplify Signature Credit Card (Qantas)

Balance transfer

6 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$279.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval. Exclusions apply.
  • 0% p.a. for 15 months on balance transfers with 1% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred.
  • Includes complimentary overseas travel insurance for up to 6 months

Pros

  • The 90,000 bonus Qantas Points.
  • 0% p.a. for 15 months on balance transfers.
  • Includes complimentary overseas travel insurance for up to 6 months

Cons

  • There is a 1% balance transfer fee.
  • The ongoing annual fee is high at $279 p.a.
American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

On American Express' website

New offerApply by 27 October 2021

American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 110,000 bonus Qantas Points plus $200 back when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. Available to new Card Members only
  • Earn 1.25 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on card purchases, except spend at government bodies in Australia where you will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • Save the offer to your eligible Card and get 3 extra Qantas Points per $1 spent, in-store or online at participating Shop Small businesses by 31/03/2022, up to a maximum of 40,000 extra Points. Exclusions apply.

Pros

  • The 110,000 bonus Qantas Points plus $200 back when you meet the criteria.
  • 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations each year.
  • $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year (conditions apply).

Cons

  • The annual fee of $450.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

On NAB's website

Balance transfer

6 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$295.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn up to 110,000 bonus Qantas Points. Receive 90,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 60 days from account approval date and 20,000 bonus points when you keep your card open for over 12 months. Terms and conditions apply.
  • Enjoy 0% on balance transfers for 6 months with 2% Balance Transfer Fee.
  • Reduced annual fee of $295 p.a. instead of $395 p.a. (saving you $100).

Pros

  • Complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership fee valued at $99.50.
  • Six complimentary insurances when you make an eligible purchase.
  • Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $5,000 per statement period then 0.05 pts per $1 spent thereafter (capped at $20,000).

Cons

  • Annual fee of $395 p.a. is quite high.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On Westpac's website

Apply by 30 November 2021

Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

20.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$149.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Receive 60,000 Qantas bonus points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval. Terms and conditions apply.
  • Transfer your balance at 0% p.a. for 18 months (1 % balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to purchase rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • $149 p.a. annual fee for the first year then $200 p.a. annual fee thereafter (inclusive of $50 Qantas Rewards opt-in annual fee).

Pros

  • 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 in 90 days.
  • 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers.
  • Additional savings with the $149 first-year annual fee ($200 p.a. thereafter).
  • Comes with complimentary insurance covers which include overseas medical and purchase security.

Cons

  • There is a 1% balance transfer fee.
  • Only up to 45 days interest-free on purchases.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa

On Bank of Melbourne's website

New offerApply by 30 November 2021

Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa

Balance transfer

30 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

13.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% for 30 months on Balance Transfers with a 0% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • Additional cardholder at no extra cost.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. for 30 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($55 p.a. thereafter).
  • The competitive purchase interest rate of 13.99% p.a.

Cons

  • Balance transfer rate reverts to 21.49% p.a. after 30 months.
  • There are no rewards program for this card.
American Express Explorer Credit Card

On American Express' website

New offerApply by 26 October 2021

American Express Explorer Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$395.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 150,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points when you apply by 26 October 2021, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.
  • Receive a $400 Travel Credit each year towards any flights, hotels and car hire when you book online with this card.
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on purchases except government bodies in Australia where you will earn 1 point per $1 spent (uncapped).

Pros

  • The 150,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points when approved and reach spend requirement within the first 3 months.
  • $400 travel credit every year.
  • Get 2 complimentary airport lounge passes per year.

Cons

  • The $395 p.a. annual fee.

Overview

A credit card is a small, rectangular piece of plastic that confers on its owner the ability to borrow money from a bank (or other lender) to use when paying for goods and services. (Even if you choose to pay with your mobile device, your bank still needs to send you that piece of plastic – for now.)

Repayment

On a due date specified by the bank, the credit card owner can choose whether to repay in full the accumulated balance of their purchases for the month, or make only a minimum repayment (typically 2% or 2.5% of the balance, or a fixed amount such as $5) and pay interest for continuing to borrow the remaining balance.

Payment due date

The due date for repayment usually falls between 14 and 25 days after the end of the monthly billing cycle. For this reason credit cards are often described as having ‘up to 44 days interest free’ or ‘up to 55 interest-free days’.

Interest charges

The money borrowed via the credit card, to make purchases, is free of interest charges from the date of the purchase transaction until the payment due date, provided the card account does not already have any carried-over debt from the previous month (such as an unpaid purchases balance or a balance transferred from another card).

If however, there is a debt carried over from the previous month, interest is charged on every purchase transaction, calculated from the transaction date until the repayment date. This applies unless there is an introductory offer in place which makes the purchases interest-free for a specified number of months, despite the carried-over debt – see ‘0% purchase credit cards’.

Clearly, the best way to use a credit card is to pay off the purchases balance in full every month, using the bank’s money totally free of interest charges for up to eight weeks after a purchase is made.

Interest rates

Credit card interest rates (charged on carried-over debt and also on new purchases where there is existing carried-over debt) are typically higher than the rates for other forms of borrowing, such as home loans and personal loans – in some cases very much higher. Credit card interest rates in Australia mostly fall in the range 10% p.a. to 22% p.a., although there are a few cards with rates lower and higher than this range.

Cash advances

If you use your credit card to make a cash withdrawal from your credit card account (either over-the-counter or via an ATM), this transaction is called a ‘cash advance’ and is never interest free. Interest is charged from the withdrawal date until the repayment date, even if there is no carried-over debt on the account.

Additionally, many cards have a cash advance interest rate that is higher — often by as much as 2% p.a. – than the interest rate charged on purchases debt.

Credit limit

All credit cards come with a credit limit, typically anywhere between $1,000 and $100,000. The card’s limit is based on the cardholder’s annual income and the bank’s assessment of their creditworthiness and ability to repay the amounts borrowed.

Once the card’s credit limit is reached (that is, once the total amount owing on the card is equal to the credit limit, or when the difference between the credit limit and the amount owing is less than the amount of an attempted new purchase), no further purchases can be made with the card until some of the balance owing has been repaid.

If you think your credit limit is too low, you can apply to the bank to increase your credit limit once you have had the card for a while and managed it responsibly, by making at least the minimum repayment on time every month and paying off large parts of the balance on a regular basis.

Annual fee

Many credit cards, especially those awarding rewards points on purchases and/or conferring complimentary benefits (e.g. free travel insurance), charge an annual fee. The fee can be anywhere between $30 and $1,500 or more, depending on the points and benefits attached to the card. However, some cards have no annual fee.

Credit card types

There are credit cards to suit the lifestyle and spending patterns of a wide variety of cardholders. Some of the most common types are:

Alternatives to credit cards

Although credit cards are very popular, and are the preferred payment method for online shopping in particular, they are not the only way to pay. Other ways to pay for purchases include:

  • Cash. Widely accepted, but can be a security risk to carry around, and no good for paying online.
  • Charge card. Similar to a credit card, but without the option to carry over a balance at the end of the month and pay interest on it. American Express offer several of these.
  • Debit card. Looks like a credit card, but linked to your bank transaction account so that you pay with your own money.
  • Prepaid card. A payment card used like a debit card, but preloaded with a fixed amount of cash rather than being linked to a bank account.
  • PayPal. Online payment service that can be linked to a credit card, debit card or bank account. Especially popular as a form of payment on marketplaces such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
  • Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL). Popularised by Afterpay and Zip in Australia, Buy Now Pay Later services offer payment by instalments, with no interest charges but high fees if you miss payments.
  • Personal loan. A good option for major purchases (furniture, appliances, technology, holiday) if you need time to pay, because the interest rate for a personal loan is usually lower than that of a credit card.

Credit cards vs debit cards

Both credit cards and debit cards have their advantages and disadvantages.

The benefits of a credit card are the possibility of using the bank’s money free of interest charges for 44 or 55 days (the length of time varies depending on the card), provided you always repay your account balance in full each month. Many credit cards also come with attached additional benefits, like rewards and frequent flyer points, free insurance, travel discounts and privileges, and other perks. Responsible use of a credit card can help improve your credit score. But credit card interest charges, if incurred, are mostly very high, and in the wrong hands a credit card is a temptation to overspend and end up in long-term debt.

Conversely, debit card users are far less likely to get into debt, simply because their spending is limited to the amount of money they have already earned and deposited in a bank account. They are not borrowing a bank’s money when they use their debit card (unless the debit card is attached to an overdraft account), but simply accessing their own funds in a bank account linked to the card. At the end of the month there is no bill to pay, and no interest charges to avoid. However, the vast majority of debit card users miss out on rewards points and other credit card benefits, and will not improve their credit score by using their card.

Learn about credit cards

If you've got questions about credit cards, we've got all the tips you'll need to make a better choice.

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

  • FAQs

  • Glossary

  • Guides

Borrow money for free

A credit card is a way of using the bank’s money for free, potentially for up to eight weeks, provided you repay your balance in full by the payment due date.

Build your credit score

Using a credit card responsibly is a way of building up your credit score so that you can get a better deal for other financial products, such as a home loan. Alternatively, if you don’t use your credit card responsibly you risk damaging your credit score.

Convenient way to track your spending

If you use your credit card for every possible purchase and bill payment, your credit card statements become a great way to track your expenditure for budgeting purposes.

Easy to use

A credit card is a fast and convenient way of making payments.

Improper use can lead to deeper debt

If you don’t pay off your purchases balance every month, you risk becoming trapped in a debt spiral, especially if you make only the minimum repayments and the card has a high interest rate.

It may be more eniticing to to spend

For some people, having a credit card in their pocket is a temptation to spend money they don’t actually have on things they don’t really need.

Rewards for using your card

Many credit cards come with valuable extra benefits, like rewards points, frequent flyer points, free insurance, airport lounge access, free flights, cashback and more.

Safer to carry than cash

Paying with a credit card is more secure than carrying cash, provided you take normal precautions.

Your spending should pay for the annual fee

Credit cards with a high annual fee can work out to be expensive if you don’t earn enough rewards points and/or make enough use of complimentary benefits to offset the annual fee.

How to make the best use of a credit card

Plan to pay off your purchases balance in full every month, on or before the due date, and avoid taking cash advances. This means that you’ll never pay any interest charges. Setting up a direct debit from your bank transaction account, so that you never miss a payment, is a good idea.

If you can’t pay off all of your balance, always pay off as much as you can afford.

Choose a credit card to suit your spending pattern, income and lifestyle

Compare card features to get the best deal to suit the way you spend your money. E.g.

  • You travel interstate or overseas regularly? Choose a frequent flyer or rewards card.
  • You won’t be paying off your purchases balance in full every month? Choose a low interest card.
  • You have a large balance on your existing card and/or need to consolidate your debts? Choose a balance transfer card.
  • You’re planning a major purchase? Spread out the cost over several months with a 0% purchase card.
  • You’re on a tight budget? Choose a low annual fee card.

Take note of all the benefits attached to your premium card

To make the most of a premium card, make sure you’re aware of all its complimentary benefits, such free travel insurance, free flights, travel booking credits, free airport lounge access, extended warranty cover, purchase and price protection, rental vehicle excess waiver, reserved or early access seating for sports and entertainment, smartphone screen replacement and personal concierge service. Being aware of your card’s benefits, and using them, can save you heaps of money. But don’t forget to read the small print (available in online Product Disclosure Statements) to make sure that you know how to qualify for the benefits and what the limitations are.

Things to be aware of when using your card overseas

  • Some cards have high foreign currency transaction fees – a surcharge of as much as 3.5% of the transaction amount in some cases – so if you travel overseas frequently you might want to consider a ‘No Foreign Transaction Fee’ credit card.
  • If you don’t travel overseas regularly but then take an overseas trip, you might trigger a suspicious transaction alert and card suspension when your bank spots a rash of overseas purchases. Tell your bank about your travel plans in advance.
  • If your card comes with complimentary overseas travel insurance, plan to use it to save money, but read the small print first to make sure that it’s suitable for your needs and that you meet the activation conditions.
  • Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion. That is, if an overseas merchant offers to let you pay with your credit card in Australian dollars, politely decline the offer and ask for the credit card charge to be made in local currency instead. That’s because the exchange rates used for Dynamic Currency Conversion are highly unfavourable for the cardholder.
  • Make a note of the emergency contact details – by phone or online – for your credit card provider (in case your card is lost or stolen) and any complimentary insurance cover.

Don’t apply for multiple cards at once

Every time you make an application for a new credit card, a note is made in your credit history file, and your credit score will go down slightly. So if you make a lot of applications at the same time, you not only risk losing quite a few credit score points, you may also trigger some suspicion among card issuers: ‘Is this person in a difficult financial situation, and therefore a risk?’.

So do your homework before you apply (comparing cards online has absolutely no impact on your credit score) and only apply for one card at a time.

Take precautions against fraud

Credit card providers have robust systems for preventing fraud, and monitor transactions to look for anything suspicious. They also offer varying levels of ‘no liability’ fraud protection to cardholders. This means that your liability is either zero or very low (e.g. $50) if you do become a victim of credit card fraud, provided that you have not contributed to the fraud in any way. In practice this means that you should:

  • Keep your card in a safe place.
  • Notify the bank immediately if it is lost or stolen. (Some online banking systems and mobile apps have an option to put a temporary hold on the card if you misplace it, but don’t wait too long before alerting the bank if it doesn’t turn up.)
  • Never give your card’s PIN to anyone else.
  • Memorise your PIN, or, if you must record it, don’t keep the record in a place that could be lost or stolen along with the card.
  • Check your statements regularly to make sure that there are no transactions you didn’t authorise.

What does APR mean?

APR’ means Annual Percentage Rate. Interest on carried-over credit card balances, and on new purchases if you already have a carried-over balance, is actually calculated daily and charged monthly. The APR is the equivalent rate expressed as an annual figure.

Will the interest rate on my credit card always stay the same?

No. Credit card interest rates are variable and can change at any time. And special introductory interest rates on balance transfers and purchases always have an expiry date, at which point the revert rate (the standard rate for purchases or cash advances) comes into play.

What’s the best way to compare credit cards?

First of all, decide which type of credit card would work best in your current circumstances, based on your income, lifestyle and spending pattern. For example, if you don’t expect to regularly pay off your purchases balance in full, it wouldn’t make sense to choose an expensive rewards card with a high interest rate, because the annual fee and interest costs will be far higher than the value of any rewards you could earn. But if you travel a lot and intend to clear your balance every month, a frequent flyer points card with free travel insurance and airport lounge passes might work well for you.

So narrow your choices down by deciding on which card features are most important for you. Your ideal card may have one or more of the following features:

  • 0% purchase introductory offer period
  • Balance transfer introductory offer period
  • Rewards points
  • Frequent flyer points
  • Sign-up or first purchase bonus points
  • Ongoing low interest rate
  • No or low annual fee
  • No foregn transaction fees
  • Complimentary benefits for travellers and/or shoppers
  • Available with Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay

Once you’ve narrowed your choice by deciding which type, or types, of card will suit you best, you can compare their interest rates, annual fee, points earning rates (if any) and complimentary benefits (if any), to see which one is offering the best deal.

What if I have a low credit score, or no credit score?

If you have a low credit score, or no score because you’re a recent arrival in Australia, or a student, or someone starting their first job, you’re not going to qualify for the best credit card deals. Your choice may be limited, and you may be offered a low credit limit and a high interest rate. But there are credit cards specially designed for beginners and low credit scores.

By using one of these ‘starter’ cards responsibly (i.e. always repaying your purchases balance in full and trying to avoid maxing out your credit limit), you will build up your credit score over time and become eligible for better deals.

Are there any penalties for missing a repayment, or paying late?

Yes. If you fail to make at least the minimum repayment (usually a small percentage of the balance owing, or a small fixed amount) on or before the payment due date, you may be hit with a penalty fee of between $5 and $35 per event. You could also risk having a promotional deal, such as an introductory interest rate, cancelled. Avoid this by setting up a direct debit for an amount that will at least cover the minimum repayment.

How can I apply for a credit card?

You can apply in person at a branch of the credit card provider (e.g. at a bank), by mail or by telephone. But the easiest and quickest way to apply is online, which you can do right here by clicking the ‘Application’ button next to your chosen card.

Annual fee

The amount charged once every 12 months, on the card anniversary, as an account-keeping fee.

APR

Annual Percentage Rate. The interest rate applied to carried-over credit card balances, or to new purchases where there is an existing balance, or to cash advances, expressed as an annual rate (although it is calculated daily and charged monthly).

Balance transfer

An amount of debt transferred from an existing credit card or store card to another card held by the same cardholder.

Balance transfer fee

A fee charged by a card provider when transferring a balance from a card issued by another card provider onto a card it has itself issued. This fee is sometimes waived.

Cash advance

Withdrawal of cash from a credit card account, either over-the-counter or at an ATM. Buying foreign currency or traveller’s cheques, and in some cases gambling transactions, will be considered a cash advance.

Charge card

A payment card that works like a credit card in many ways, except that there is no fixed credit limit and no option to carry a balance from month to month – it must be repaid in full every month.

Credit score

A numerical expression of a person’s credit history, based on the information in a credit report collected by a credit bureau. The higher the number, the better the score.

First purchase bonus points

A large number of rewards points or frequent flyer points granted as an incentive to a new cardholder in return for meeting a spending target within a specified period (e.g. $5,000 in the first 90 days of holding the card).

Frequent flyer points

Air miles or points earned on credit card purchases if the card is eligible for the airline loyalty program. Points can be exchanged principally for flights and seat upgrades, but also for, for example, merchandise from an online catalogue, gift cards, cashback, travel and accommodation, movie tickets and other entertainment experiences.

Interest-free days

The days that elapse between the date of a purchase transaction and the date on which repayment must be made before interest charges are levied, where the card account is not carrying an unpaid balance from the previous month.

Introductory interest rate

A low or zero interest rate on balance transfers or purchases, offered for a specified number of months as an incentive to new cardholders.

Minimum payment or Minimum repayment

The lowest amount accepted by the card provider each month as a repayment, usually expressed as a percentage of the balance (e.g. 2%) or a fixed amount (e.g. $5), or both (i.e. whichever is greater).

Penalty fee

An amount charged by the credit card provider in the case of a missed payment, or a late payment, or a transaction which causes the cardholder to exceed their credit limit.

Rewards points

Loyalty points earned on credit card purchases if the card is eligible for the rewards program. Points can be exchanged for, for example, merchandise from an online catalogue, gift cards, cashback, frequent flyer points, travel and accommodation, movie tickets and other entertainment experiences. Some rewards points come directly in the form of frequent flyer points.

Sign-up bonus points

A large number of rewards points or frequent flyer points granted as an incentive to a new cardholder in return for making an approved card application.