Earn points as you spend and redeem them for flights, merchandise and more with a rewards credit card. Find out how these programs work and compare rewards credit cards here.
Rewards credit cards are designed to give you something extra for paying with plastic. These cards have the potential to add a huge amount of value to your account but often come with higher interest rates and annual fees.
If you’re considering a rewards credit card, it’s important to compare your options to make sure the benefits outweigh these costs. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about rewards credit cards, including how they work, the different programs available and how to compare them.
Rewards Credit Card Offer
Earn Reward Points with the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card and enjoy a complimentary domestic flight each year until the card is cancelled.
- Receive complimentary domestic return flight with Virgin Australia each year and enjoy two single entry Virgin Australia lounge passes each year until the card is cancelled when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.
- Earn 2 Reward Points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases using the ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures American Express® card and 1 Reward Point per $1 spent on eligible purchases using ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Visa card.
- $0 international transaction fee on purchases
- Offer available to new and approved applicants
Compare the Best Rewards Credit Cards*
How do credit card rewards programs work?
Rewards credit cards usually earn you points for every $1 spent on eligible transactions. When you have enough points, you can redeem them for a wide range of rewards including flights, travel upgrades, gift cards, cash back and merchandise.
Credit card companies often invest a lot of time and money into rewards programs, which is why rewards credit cards typically have higher standard interest rates and annual fees than other options. But you can make sure the benefits of a reward credit card are worth more than what you pay for it by comparing the potential costs against the value of the rewards program.
What is an “eligible transaction”?
The definition of an “eligible transaction” can vary depending on the credit card and rewards program, but it generally covers everyday transactions including spending at retail stores, supermarkets and petrol stations. Common exclusions are government payments (including those to the ATO), BPAY transactions, cash advances, balance transfers and account fees and charges. Check the rewards program terms and conditions for a full list of exclusions so you know when you will and won’t earn rewards.
What rewards can I get with a credit card?
How you can redeem your credit card rewards points points will vary depending on the card and the rewards program. Some of the most popular reward redemption categories include:
- Flight upgrades
- Gift cards
- Cash back
- Fuel vouchers
- Instant shopping discounts
- Fashion items
- Tickets to concerts and other events
How do I redeem credit card rewards?
The steps required to use your points to redeem rewards varies depending on the credit card and the rewards program. But there are a few key factors to remember:
- Account login. You must log in to your credit card account or rewards program account to make redemptions. Once you’re logged in, it’s usually a simple process of going to the “Rewards” section, then selecting “Use points” and following the prompts.
- Required points. Every reward option available for redemption has a specific point value (e.g. 12,000 points for a $50 gift card). This means you need to have earned at least this amount of points to redeem your chosen reward.
- Points-plus-pay. Some programs, such as CommBank Awards or Qantas Frequent Flyer, allow you to use a combination of points and money to redeem your chosen rewards. This gives you more flexibility if you haven’t earned enough points when you want to make redemptions.
Types of credit card rewards programs in Australia
There are a variety of different rewards credit cards available in Australia depending on the benefits you want. These can be separated into four key reward program options, which we’ve outlined below.
Frequent flyer programs
Frequent flyer programs are traditionally designed to earn you points and other benefits when you travel with a particular airline, such as Qantas or Virgin Australia. There are two main ways you can earn frequent flyer points with a rewards credit card in Australia:
- Direct earn frequent flyer credit cards. These cards are linked with a specific frequent flyer program and rewards are added directly to your airline loyalty account. The frequent flyer programs that are linked to direct earn credit cards in Australia include Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer and Emirates Skywards.
- Indirect earn frequent flyer credit cards. These rewards credit cards let you transfer the points you earn to many different frequent flyer programs from all around the world, giving you more flexibility if you fly with a range of airlines. Credit card reward programs that indirectly earn frequent flyer points in this way include American Express Membership Rewards, ANZ Rewards and CommBank Awards.
Credit card brand rewards programs
Many credit card companies in Australia now have their own branded rewards programs for customers. These options allow you to redeem points for a variety of rewards, including frequent flyer points travel, merchandise, gift cards and even credit on your account. Credit card companies that offer their own rewards program include:
Many of these rewards programs also give offer auto-redemptions that are automatically processed when your points balance reaches a certain amount, and others offer instant redemptions with certain retailers. If you have a CommBank Awards credit card, for example, you can redeem your points in-store at Myer or Flight Centre. ANZ also allows cardholders to opt into auto redemption with Virgin Australia’s Velocity program, meaning that all ANZ rewards points earned are automatically transferred into their Velocity account.
Supermarket and retail reward programs
Some rewards credit cards also earn points and other benefits at supermarkets and major retailers. We’ve outlined the most popular options in the table below.
|David Jones||David Jones Storecard||Designed to be used exclusively in David Jones department stores|
Choose between earning points for gift cards or Qantas pointsExclusive in-store benefits
|David Jones American Express||Earn Membership Rewards or Qantas Points for purchases in David Jones and everywhere else|
Exclusive in-store benefits at David Jones
|Coles||Coles No Annual Fee MasterCard||Earn flybuys points per $1 spentFree Coles Online delivery when you spend $100 or more with an eligible Coles MasterCard|
|NAB flybuys Rewards Card||Earn flybuys points per $1 spent|
|Myer||Myer Visa credit card||Earn MyerOne points per $1 spentAutomatic point redemption for Myer Gift Cards|
Exclusive VIP events and in-store offers
|Woolworths||Woolworths Money Everyday Platinum Credit Card||Earn Woolworths Money points per $1 spent|
Automatic redemption of points for Woolworths Money Gift Cards every 4 months
Cashback credit cards
These types of rewards add credit or “cash” to your account when you meet certain spending requirements. Most current cashback credit cards offer a percentage of your total spend as cash back, or provide a one-off cash back sum as an introductory offer when you apply and are approved for a specific credit card.
You can also get cash back through most of the frequent flyer, credit card and supermarket or retail rewards programs outlined above. Just choose the “cash” or “gift cards” category of your rewards program to see what options are available.
How to compare reward credit cards in Australia
Comparing credit cards helps you find the features that suit your lifestyle while also keeping costs affordable. Below, you’ll find a checklist of things to consider when you are comparing reward credit cards.
- Points per dollar. The more points you earn per dollar spent, the greater the potential value. A good rule of thumb is to look for a card that offers at least 1 point per $1 for most transactions, although it does depend on the reward program.
- Point expiry and caps. Some credit card reward points expire after a certain amount of time, and some accounts have a limit on how many points you can earn in a month or year. Both of these features can limit the potential value of the rewards, so it’s important to take them into account before you choose a card.
- Bonus point offers. Reward credit cards often have sign up deals that give you hundreds or thousands of bonus points. Usually these offers require you to spend a certain amount of money on the card in the first few months you have it. As these offers only last for a limited time, they should only be considered after you have a clear idea of the type of card you want so that you can get the most value out of the deal and the rewards card you choose.
- Points values. To work out the value of your rewards, consider how many points it would take to redeem. For example, if you need 12,000 points to get a $50 gift card and your credit card has an earn rate of 1 point per $1 spent, you would have to spend $12,000 make a redemption. Breaking down the rewards like this can help you determine whether it’s worth your time and money.
- Rewards partners. Rewards programs often partner with retailers and businesses to provide you with a wider range of redemption options. You may also have the opportunity to earn bonus points when you shop with partner stores. Choose a credit card rewards program who has partnerships with your favourite brands and products so you can take advantage of these options.
- Redemption limitations. Some reward programs have blackout periods when you may not be able to make redemptions. Check the fine print for this information and consider the impact it could have on you.
Rates and fees
- Annual fees. Most rewards credit cards charge an annual fee. Ideally, the value of the rewards you earn should be equal to or more than the annual fee of a credit card. For instance, if you hardly ever use a credit card and pay a $300 annual fee, you’ll end up losing more money than you gain. On the other hand, a premium reward option with a high annual fee could be worth it if you use your credit card for most purchases you make.
- Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards apply a charge for transactions made overseas or with an international retailer online, usually worth 2% to 3.5% of the total transaction. Make sure you consider this fee before choosing a card – especially for any rewards card that offers more points for foreign transactions. You can compare cards with no foreign transaction fees with this guide.
- Purchase rates. Rewards credit cards often have high standard interest rates. If you think you’ll carry a balance, consider how much interest your purchases will accrue and whether the rewards you’ll receive outweigh the costs you’ll be forking out for repayments.
- Balance transfer rates. Some balance transfer credit cards also come with rewards program.These cards allow you to move an existing debt to the new card and pay a low introductory interest rate on the balance. Remember that any new purchases will be charged interest at the purchase rate from the time the transaction is made. If you have credit card debt, it may be better to focus on paying it off completely before considering a rewards card.
- Cash advance rate. If you use a rewards credit card for a cash advance transaction, such as getting money from an ATM, you will be charged interest at the cash advance rate, which could be as high as 22% p.a.
- Other fees. Rewards credit cards may come with a range of other fees, such as late payment and overlimit charges. Make sure you check these costs and factor them into your comparison so that you can choose a card that is affordable for you.
Rewards credit cards often come with a variety of complimentary extras that can add value to the account you choose. Popular perks include:
- International travel insurance
- Airport lounge access
- Complimentary flights
- Hotel stays
- Purchase protection insurance
- Extended warranty coverage
- Price match guarantees
- Concierge services
Will a rewards credit card work for me?
The value of a rewards credit card depends as much on the cardholder as the actual card you choose. So rather than making a definitive statement about whether or not reward credit cards are valuable or expensive, let’s take a look at the key factors that make them likely or unlikely to work for you.
A reward credit card could be ideal if you:
- Pay off your credit card balance in full every month
- Currently use a credit card on a regular basis
- Have a clear idea of the type of points you want to earn
- Are part of an existing reward program that could be complemented by a credit card (i.e. a frequent flyer program or shopping reward program)
- Earn enough to pay a high annual fee
- Can regularly make use of the rewards or complimentary extras on the card, such as insurance
A reward credit card might not be right if you:
- Have a lot of credit card debt
- Often carry a balance on your credit card
- Rarely use a credit card
- Won’t be able to regularly use complimentary extras on the card
- Can’t afford a higher annual fee
It’s worth noting that there are some exceptions to the guidelines above. If you can’t afford a high annual fee, for example, you might still get a lot of value out of a reward credit card with no annual fee. On the other hand, if you regularly use a credit card but also have a lot of debt, it might be better to switch to a balance transfer or low interest rate credit card so that you get value out of paying less interest.
While rewards credit cards can be a useful way to get something back for your purchases, it’s important to remember that you have to repay everything (plus interest). There are also annual fees and other costs to consider. But by factoring in both benefits and costs when you compare reward credit cards, you can find an option that really suits your needs.
Frequently asked questions
How can I view and manage my points?
Most rewards programs allow cardholders or members to view their points through an online account centre. Usually you’ll need a membership number or username and password to log in. Once you’ve logged in, you should be able to view your points and redeem them for the desired rewards.
Can I convert my points to points with another airline or issuer?
Some credit card brand reward programs allow you to transfer points to frequent flyer programs, such as American Express Membership Rewards. Other reward programs, such as Qantas Frequently Flyer, Virgin Velocity or Coles flybuys, allow cardholders to earn and redeem points with partnered airlines and organisations. Read the terms and conditions or contact your rewards program directly to confirm where else you can earn and use your points.
How many points will I need for a particular item or flight?
The number of points you need depends on your credit card and the reward/s you want to redeem. For flights, most frequent flyer programs have a points calculator available on their website. If you enter your preferred route and ticket status, the calculator can determine how many points you’ll need to cover the flight.
In regards to other types of rewards, most programs have an online catalogue that allows you to browse the rewards on offer and see how many points you need to redeem them.
I've redeemed a reward with my points, but now I've changed my mind. Can I refund my points?
This will depend on the credit card, but generally you can’t refund rewards or points once the transaction has been made.
How do I know which rewards program or rewards credit card is for me?
As a financial comparison service, we don’t recommend any specific products. Instead, we provide you with the information you need to make an informed comparison and decision. When comparing rewards credit cards, consider your spending habits to determine whether the rewards you’ll receive will outweigh the costs of the card.