Rewards credit cards

Use a rewards credit card so you can earn rewards points as you spend.

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Updated 30th October 2020

Comparing rewards credit cards

American Express Platinum Card

On American Express' website

American Express Platinum Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards

Points per $1 spent

2 points

Sign up bonus

80,000 points

Annual fee

$1,250.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you are approved and spend $1,500 within the first 3 months. Available to new Card Members only.
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible domestic and overseas purchases.
  • Receive a $200 travel credit each year.
American Express Airpoints Platinum Credit Card

On American Express' website

Apply by 2 November 2020

American Express Airpoints Platinum Credit Card

Rewards program

Airpoints Dollars

Points per $1 spent

0.017 points

Sign up bonus

400 points

Annual fee

$195.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 1 Airpoints Dollar every $59 you spend on eligible domestic and overseas purchases. Every $250 spend earns 1 Status Point..
  • $195 p.a. annual fee.
  • Complimentary Smart Phone Screen Insurance, Domestic and International Travel Insurance.

Bank promo

  • Be rewarded with 400 bonus Airpoints Dollars when you apply online by 2 November 2020, are approved, and spend $1,500 on your new Card within the first 3 months. This offer is available to new Card Members only.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card

Rewards program

Membership Rewards

Points per $1 spent

1 point

Sign up bonus

20,000 points

Annual fee

$149.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you are approved and spend $750 within the first 3 months. Available to new Card Members only.
  • Earn up to 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible domestic and overseas purchases.
  • Enjoy 2.99% p.a. on purchases for the first 6 months reverting to 19.95% p.a. thereafter.
American Express Airpoints Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express Airpoints Credit Card

Rewards program

Airpoints Dollars

Points per $1 spent

0.01 points

Sign up bonus

50 points

Annual fee

$0.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 50 bonus Airpoints Dollars when you are approved and spend $750 within the first 3 months. Available to new Card Members only.
  • Take advantage of 0% p.a. on purchases for the first 6 months.
  • No annual card fee.
ANZ Airpoints Visa Credit Card

ANZ Airpoints Visa Credit Card

Rewards program

Airpoints Dollars

Points per $1 spent

0.008 points

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$65.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $120 you spend on eligible purchases.
  • $65 p.a. annual fee.
  • Up to 44 days interest free on purchases.
ANZ Airpoints Visa Platinum Credit Card

ANZ Airpoints Visa Platinum Credit Card

Rewards program

Airpoints Dollars

Points per $1 spent

0.013 points

Sign up bonus

N/A

Annual fee

$150.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $75 spent on eligible purchases.
  • $150 p.a. annual fee (with $75 charged every six months).
  • Comes with complimentary overseas travel insurance.

Overview

Credit card rewards are an incentive to get shoppers to use their card regularly. Cardholders can earn rewards points by spending on eligible purchases. All rewards credit cards adhere to a different structure in the way that users earn and redeem points, but they will usually work to your financial benefit as long as you use the card to spend at least $5,000 a year and avoid paying interest charges.

If you’re a frequent traveller or simply want to be rewarded for your everyday purchases, credit card rewards are the way to go.

Types of credit card rewards

Most credit card rewards fall under two categories – general rewards points (e.g. Amex Membership Rewards, ASB True Rewards Dollars, Warehouse Purple Dollars, Westpac hotpoints, Flybuys) and frequent flyer rewards (e.g. Airpoints credit cards). Depending on the credit card, users have lots of points redemption options, including:

  • Offsetting the cost of flights and seat upgrades
  • Converting points to airline frequent flyer points
  • Merchandise from an online catalogue
  • Retail gift cards
  • Travel and accommodation
  • Using points as dollars to spend at a bank's partner retailers

There is also a third category of rewards cards – cashback cards – which will be mentioned here but are also discussed in more detail on the cashback credit cards page.

Sign up bonus points

Some card issuers might offer a sign up bonus for new cardholders who spend a target amount using the card within the first few months of account approval (e.g. 20,000 points or 50 Airpoints dollars for spending $750 in the first three months). This is a great way to get your points account off to a flying start.

Points value varies

Cards with a higher annual fee will normally earn points at a faster rate than less expensive cards. But the value of credit card rewards points can vary depending on the card provider. It's easy to understand the value of points expressed in dollar terms, like Airpoints Dollars and ASB True Rewards Dollars, where each dollar or 100 points earned can be spent as one New Zealand dollar. But it's more difficult to compare the value of points like Amex Membership Rewards, Flybuys and Westpac hotpoints, where points may be exchanged for frequent flyer points, merchandise, travel and retail gift cards.

Comparing rewards credit cards

Other than the rewards points structure, there are other factors to consider when comparing rewards credit cards.

Annual fee

Not every rewards credit card will charge an annual fee. Where they do, an annual fee will typically range between $40 and $400 depending on how lucrative a credit card's rewards and complimentary benefits are, and it's possible to pay as much as $1,250 for a truly elite card. To determine whether an annual fee is worth paying, work out how much you're likely to spend on credit card purchases per year and what the value of the rewards you earn will be. Ideally, aim to recover at least a little more than the annual fee in rewards value, although you may also want to take into account the value to you of any other complimentary benefits attached to the card. It's unusual for a rewards credit card to have no annual fee.

Complimentary benefits

Many rewards cards come with free extras in addition to rewards points. These may include travel insurance, airport lounge access, purchase and price protection cover, extended warranty, a concierge service, and other useful benefits.

Sign up bonus

Also referred to as a welcome offer, a sign up bonus will reward you with extra points for meeting a specific spend requirement within a given period. The more valuable the bonus, the more you'll have to spend to earn it.

Points caps

Some cards may limit the number of points you can earn in a month or a year. If you think you're likely to hit a card's points cap regularly you may want to opt for a different one with a higher cap, or no cap at all. But you'll probably have to pay a higher annual fee.

Introductory APR period

If you're using a rewards credit card to facilitate a balance transfer, you may be able to get your hands on a 0% introductory APR or low interest rate for the first 6-12 months, or even the life of the transferred balance. If a rewards credit card offers a lower interest rate than your current credit card, a balance transfer offers an appropriate solution.

Some cards also have an introductory zero or low interest rate on purchases balances, typically for six months. In this case you can get away with making only the minimum monthly repayments during the promotional period, without paying high interest on your balance. But be aware of high revert interest rates payable if you still carry either a transferred balance or a purchases balance once the promotional period expires.

Foreign transaction fees

Most rewards cards charge a fee on overseas transactions, usually between 1.5% and 2.5% of the amount spent after conversion to New Zealand dollars. You'll pay this fee on purchases from any merchant whose processing centre is located outside New Zealand, even if you paid in New Zealand dollars, so this may cover many online purchases. If you use your card a lot when travelling overseas or shopping online at overseas websites, you may want to look for a card with low foreign transaction fees.

Tiered vs fixed rate rewards

Tiered systems might offer more points per dollar for a specific category, such as supermarket shopping or petrol purchases. Fixed-rate setups, on the other hand, will pay the same level of points regardless of what you spend your money on. You may want to choose a card that offers the best rate for where you spend most of your money, or one that has a simple flat rate that's easy to understand and manage.

Double dip and earn points twice

You can easily increase the rate at which you earn rewards points by double dipping. All this means is that you access your favourite online shopping sites via a loyalty portal, such as the Airpoints Mall. Once you've signed up, you can click on links to partner retailers' websites (brands such as The Iconic, EziBuy, eBay, and dozens more). Your spending will be tracked and you'll earn Airpoints Dollars on all your purchases, on top of any Airpoints Dollars or other rewards points you're earning from your card provider.

You can also earn extra points by paying at the supermarket with your rewards credit card while also swiping the supermarket chain's loyalty card before you pay.

Alternatives to rewards credit cards

A rewards credit card may not be the right choice for you if you spend less than $5,000 per year using a credit card, or if you usually carry an interest-bearing balance on your card account. You may also find the idea of collecting points just too much of a hassle. Here are some other options to consider.

Cashback credit card

A cashback credit card is ideal for shoppers who prefer flexibility combined with simplicity. You'll usually get 0.5% or 1% cashback on all your card spending, credited once a year to your card account. This means that you can use the cash however you wish without having to use the card issuer's online rewards store. There may, however, be an earning cap or a tiered earning system to watch out for.

Low interest credit card

If you regularly carry over a balance on your credit card to the next month, you're going to be paying interest, making a rewards credit card not worth your while. Choose a low interest credit card instead.

Balance transfer credit card

Another option for anyone carrying an interest-bearing balance on their card is a balance transfer credit card with a promotional interest rate on the transferred balance – a rate sometimes as low as 0% – for 6-12 months, or in some cases for as long as it takes you to repay the balance.

No annual fee credit card

More interested in sticking to a tight budget than earning points? Opt for a no annual fee credit card.

Learn about rewards credit cards

Confused about how rewards programs work? Get the answers to your questions here.

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

  • FAQs

Be rewarded for doing your normal spending

There's no need to spend more than normal to earn rewards. As long as you put all your everyday purchases and bill payments – supermarket, petrol station, transport costs, utility bills, eating out, clothing – through a rewards card, you should end up spending more than enough to come out well ahead after recovering the cost of any annual fee. But it only works if you pay off your full balance every month, otherwise the interest costs wipe out the rewards benefit.

Don't expect low interest rates

It's very unusual to see rewards points paired with a low interest rate on purchases, except as an introductory offer which usually expires after six months.

High annual fee on some cards

For higher-tier rewards, some credit cards require spenders to meet a hefty yearly fee of $250 or more.

Interest charges can wipe out rewards points benefit

It's not a good idea to have a rewards card if you expect to be paying interest on a balance carried from month. The cost of the interest payments will be far higher than the value of any rewards you could earn.

Save money on travel and shopping

If you're using an Airpoints card, you can save money on your travel by redeeming points against airline tickets, and American Express Membership Rewards points can be converted into other airline points and hotel partner points, or used for accommodation bookings. Other types of points can save you money on shopping at supermarkets or your favourite retailer.

Score additional benefits

Many rewards cards come with complimentary benefits attached. These may be travel-related, such as travel insurance, and access to an airport lounge, or shopping-related, such as purchase and price protection cover and extended warranty.

Some rewards cards have fewer fees

Not every rewards credit card will charge an annual fee. In some cases, a rewards credit card won't even charge foreign transaction fees or have a higher interest rate.

Add a supplementary cardholder to earn points faster

If you add a supplementary cardholder – such as your spouse – to your card account, they can help you earn points faster. Points on their spending will be added to your points account, but only you, as primary cardholder, can operate the points account.

Check in at the Airpoints Mall

If it's time for a shopping trip, consult the Airpoints Mall before heading out the door. If you find what you're looking for there, you can save yourself a trip to the bricks-and-mortar mall, and get rewarded for it with extra points. 

Choose a credit card according to how much you spend

Opt for a low cost rewards card, or one with no annual fee at all, if you're only a moderate spender likely to have credit card purchases of less than $5,000 per year. Bigger spenders should consider the more expensive premium cards, since the rewards they are likely to earn and the benefits they'll qualify for should be greater in value than the annual fee cost.

Know where you spend the most

If you're a frequent flyer, compare credit cards with rewards for travel, such as an Airpoints credit card. If you consider yourself more of an everyday spender, apply for a credit card that offers a high earning rate on petrol or groceries.

Leverage the sign-up bonus

If your card offers a sign up bonus, don't fall victim to making extra purchases just to meet the required spend if you will end up spending more than you can afford to repay. Instead, apply for a card with an attainable sign up bonus spending target you know you can meet by the end of the limited time allowed.

Can you send points to a family member or friend?

It depends. Some points programmes allow point sharing, others don't. Airpoints Dollars, for example, cannot be transferred, but you can earn points jointly with friends and family in a Shairpoints group, or use your Airpoints to buy a flight ticket as a gift for someone else. Read your card's terms and condition to check for details about points transfer. If transferring is not allowed, you can treat a loved one with a gift card bought with points instead.

Do credit card rewards expire?

Some rewards points are non-expiring so long as cardholders keep their card account open, but unused points may expire after between 10 and 90 days if you close your card account. Some points – such as Westpac hotpoints, expire three years after they were earned, if still unused. Air New Zealand Airpoints generally expire if they are unused after four years, with a few exceptions for Gold and Elite tier members, and holders of some Airpoints branded credit cards. Check each card's terms and conditions for exact details.

Do rewards credit cards have an annual fee?

Yes, in most cases, although there are a few rewards cards with no annual fee. Usually, the higher the fee, the higher the earn rate will be, or the attached complimentary benefits will be more worthwhile.

How can I stop points from expiring?

Firstly, don't close a rewards credit card account until you have used all your points. Secondly, read the terms and conditions of your card to check for rules about points expiry, and redeem points for a retail gift card or cashback if they are about to expire and you need to make a quick decision.

Is a credit card with rewards points worth it?

How worthwhile a rewards credit card is for you will depend on how much you're willing to strategise your spending. If you spend more than $10,000 on a credit card every year, paying off your account balance each month, you're probably missing out on significant savings from rewards points, whether by discounting your air travel, obtaining retail gift cards, or simply getting cashback in your account. Aim for a card with maximum rewards points for where you do your spending, and the best value redemptions that suit your lifestyle.

What does it mean to 'double-dip' a rewards card?

Double-dipping refers to collecting two different rewards on a single spend. If you're an Airpoints member, for instance, shopping at the Airpoints Mall to link to popular retailers can earn you extra Airpoints Dollars from the purchase transaction, on top of any Airpoints or other rewards points you may earn from your card issuer.

What's the best way to use rewards points?

You'll normally get a better rate of return by redeeming points for travel (where permitted) than for gift cards, while redeeming points for merchandise from an online catalogue is generally the least cost-effective way to use points. Points which are effectively earned as dollars equivalent in value to the New Zealand Dollar (e.g. Airpoints, ASB True Rewards Dollars) have the same value however they are used.

Which rewards credit card is the best?

The best card for you is the one that delivers the highest number of points value for your annual credit card spending, at the lowest cost. For example, don't choose an expensive, premium rewards card if you won't spend enough to recover the cost of the annual fee in rewards value. Conversely, don't opt for a low-cost card if you're a relatively big spender, because you could be missing out on the higher points earning rate you deserve.