Are you looking to find the best credit card* for your needs?
Listed below are some of the best credit cards* on offer in Australia. Each of these cards offer leading features and the best credit card* choice will depend on your needs and uses for the particular card. The comparison table features balance transfer cards, low rate, no annual fee and rewards options.
Best Credit Card Comparison
Rates last updated November 21st, 2014
* The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms ‘Best’ and ‘Top’ are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing products.
Credit Cards for Christmas Shopping
Your guide to the best credit cards* for Christmas shopping (as seen on A Current Affair (ACA))
Credit card spending research:
Christmas is one of the biggest times for spending in the year for many Australians, and a lot of that spending is done on credit cards. In 2013, we estimated that about $25 billion was spent in December alone on credit cards.
Out of the survey respondents, 56% put at least half of their Christmas purchases on their credit cards, including 29% who put all their Christmas purchases on their cards.
Men were more generous in the 2013 giving season compared to women, with over a quarter (28%) spending in excess of $1,000 over Christmas. That compares to less than one in four (23%) women who spent that same amount.
Baby Boomers were the most prolific credit card users with over a third (34%) putting all their holiday shopping on their plastic. Gen X were the least reliant on their credit cards, with two in five (40%) putting less than 50% of their Christmas shopping on credit.
There’s no reason why shoppers need to rack up huge debts and pay high interest this peak shopping season. Use the table above to compare our best credit cards to save shoppers money!
No interest on purchases
A credit card with zero percent interest on purchases means that you can shop now and pay no interest on anything you buy during the introductory period.
You’ll have to make minimum monthly repayments and factor in an annual fee, but it means shoppers can enjoy Christmas now and not have to pay for any of it until later.
No currency conversion fees
Online shopping is a great opportunity to buy Christmas gifts in the comfort of your own home without having to brave the seasonal rush in stores. Unfortunately, many online retailers are situated overseas – most banks will charge Australian shoppers currency conversion fees to buy from these foreign retailers. Here are a few cards that won’t:
Top credit cards for online shopping with overseas merchants:
Currency Conversion Fee
‘top’ determined by cards with no currency conversion fees and then by annual fee
PayPal and like services will charge a currency conversion fee but this may be cheaper than your credit or debit card’s fee. Check with your bank and compare it to PayPal’s to see which option you should use at checkout.
Visa and MasterCard have their own PayPal alternatives called V.me and MasterPass, respectively. If you’re concerned about giving out your credit card details on the internet, these services are a secure buffer between you and your details.
Cards with high point-earning rates
As Christmas is the season Australians spend the most money, which means it represents the time of year where the most reward points can be earned. Using a high point-earning card now could mean the difference between economy and business class tickets down the track.
Top credit cards for earning reward points:
Points per dollar
‘best’ determined by most points earned per dollar spent domestically and annual fee
Most of the cards which will earn you the most points are American Express cards which come as a dual-card with your account – there are a number of dual cards which offer an AMEX in conjunction with a Visa or Mastercard. While you’ll earn more points, many merchants will charge higher surcharges to use these cards which may leave you worse off.
* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards Credit Card Finder has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. The use of terms ‘Best’ and ‘Top’ are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.
Tips for Comparing Credit Cards
In Australia, the options for credit cards have grown exponentially. There are many types to choose from so it is important to look closely at all that is available to you so that you are certain you are making a choice for a credit card that best fits your needs.
The best credit card* deal is always the one that suits your own spending patterns, your disposable income amounts and your credit needs. Before you jump at that great offer for a really low rate, ask yourself if that card is right for you first.
Make a priority list. Half the battle on choosing the right card is to be informed about your options. Since the market is always changing, it’s imperative that you keep updated on the releases as much as possible.
If you’re the type of person who only ever uses credit cards for emergencies, then you might find the best credit card* deal is one where there is a very low or no annual fee, along with a competitive interest rate.
If you’re the type of customer who regularly repays the outstanding credit card balance down to zero each month before the statement date, then the interest rate you’re charged won’t matter. What will matter is that you have access to interest free days so you can benefit from not paying any interest at all.
If you use your credit card very regularly and frequently repay the balance down to zero, then you could benefit from finding the best reward program along with some interest free days. You can accrue reward points each time you spend on your card and reap the benefits.
High Debt Levels
If you tend to carry a lot of outstanding debt on your credit card, then perhaps the best credit card* deal for you would be a balance transfer card. You can benefit from reduced interest rates to help you get your debt levels back under control.
Comparing Credit Card Deals
Once you understand what kind of credit card user you are, it’s much easier to compare types of credit cards that suit your specific situation and financial needs.
There are plenty of websites online that make it very easy to compare credit card offers, so be sure you choose one that is going to be right for your needs.
It also helps to monitor the cards you are interested in the most. Only you will know what is most important to you. Ask yourself these questions. Do you want to pay down some debt? Do you want a great Rewards program? Is having a low interest rate necessary?
The list can also include such things as:
- Your optimum introductory interest rate
- The maximum you are willing to consider for an interest rate.
- Your desired rate for balance transfer
- The maximum you are willing to pay for an annual fee
- Your desired interest rate for a cash advance
- International surcharges – Are you willing to pay for them?
- Extra insurances – Do you want them included or are you willing to pay extra for them?
- Protection policies – Are they included?
- Rewards program – Are they rewards that are of interest to you?
This list is in random order but you may want to organise them in order of importance to you.
List of Popular Australian Credit Cards
Low Rate Card – Westpac Low Rate Credit Card*
The Westpac Low Rate credit card gives you the convenience of a credit card with the benefit of a lower interest rate of 0% p.a. for 14 months on balances transfers. Plus you’ll enjoy a low ongoing rate of just 12.49% p.a. on any future purchases.
No Annual Fee Card – HSBC No Annual Fee Credit Card*
The HSBC No Annual Fee Credit Card features a $0 annual fee for life. This card is the ultimate credit card for those who want a credit card that is straightforward and has no annual fee.
Frequent Flyer Credit Card – American Express Qantas Discovery Card*
Special Offer: American Express Qantas Discovery Card offers $0 annual fee, plus earn 1.000 Qantas Point per $1 Spend.Take advantage of this great rewards credit card, with uncapped earning ability.
0% Credit Card – Citi Simplicity Card*
In the current economic climate, banks are becoming more hesitant to offer 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers. Citibank are one of the few remaining banks to offer an attractive 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer rate, and a special rate of 0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 19.99% p.a.) on purchases. Transfer your credit cards, personal loan and car loan balances into one single balance you can repay off at 19.99% p.a. at Citi Simplicity Card.
Long Term Balance Transfer Card – ANZ Low Rate Credit Card *
ANZ Low Rate credit card offers 0% p.a. for 16 months on balance transfers. The card also offers a generous balance transfer period and a low purchase rate of 13.49% p.a.
Low Interest Credit Card – Bankwest Breeze MasterCard*
The Bankwest Breeze MasterCard Credit Card gives you a low interest rate of 12.24% p.a. and a low 0% p.a. for 4 months on balance transfers, with a low annual fee and generous credit limits. Bankwest has always treated their customers as a top priority and have continued to offer a great selection of products to keep their customers happy.
Velocity Rewards Credit Card – Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card*
Earn 1.000 Velocity Point per $1 spent up to 1,500 per month, then 0.50 Velocity Point for every $1. Buy a seat on Virgin Australia with the new Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card and receive 50% off, up to 4 times a year.
Rewards Program Credit Card – American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card*
Special Offer: Receive 5,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you spend $500 on your Card in the first 2 months of your Card membership, Plus earn up to 1.000 Reward points on per $1 spend. Also earn a low rate balance transfer offer 0.99% p.a. for 6 months when you apply for NAB Premium Credit Card is offering a 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 15 months – Apply by 18 January 2015. The card also comes with travel insurance and your choice of Visa or Mastercard.
International Travel Provider/Card – HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card*
Get a competitive balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 6 months with the HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card and earn Qantas Points on an earn rate of 1.000 points on every dollar. You’ll also get 20,000 Qantas Points when you apply and make an eligible spend within the first 3 months.
Student and Easy Approval Card – Commonwealth Bank Low Fee Student credit card*
Generally student credit cards offer advantages such as fee waivers and lower minimum credit limits. The CBA Low Rate Student Credit Card is an example which offers a fee waiver whilst you are studying, as long as you have a linked CBA student bank account.
Now that your spreadsheet has been created, you are ready to now fill in all of the information and mark off the companies that provide the types of features that are most appealing to you. After you have completed these steps, you will be able to find the best Australian credit card for your needs.
Useful Hints to Help Find the Best Credit Card* Offers
Australia has an extremely competitive credit card market with all the banks wanting a piece of the pie, and they will do anything to have you as a client. This competition means good things for you, as the client, as the banks are extremely competitive an innovative offering anything that they can to persuade you to move over to their particular credit card. As great as this is, it can be confusing so, here are a few points that you can bear in mind to help you get a better understanding of what you need before you even look at the credit card options.
Before you compare any credit card or make decision, ask yourself all these questions and be sure to make note of the answers.
- How good is your credit score?
- How much do you earn?
- Will you use your credit card for business or private use?
- Do you currently own a credit card or credit cards?
If the answer is “yes” then the following questions should be answered:
- Do you want to pay the credit card balances off as soon as possible?
- Do you want to continue making purchases through your credit card?
- How much credit do you currently owe the banks?
- What interest rate is your current credit card accruing?
- What are your credit card fees costing you annually?
- What added benefits does your current credit card afford you?
By knowing the answers to all the above questions, you are far more empowered to make a decision and opt for the best credit card*. Knowing your current situation will afford you a great basis for comparison, and then using those comparative figures, plan what you want to accomplish. Use this information, and the best credit card* matching your particular needs and financial circumstances should be easy to find.
The Main Categories of Credit Cards
Before looking at the different credit card types in more detail, we will do a quick summary of the main credit cards categories. These are:
- Balance Transfer: Designed for moving from a current credit card supplier to a new one.
- Business Credit Cards: Designed to be used mainly for business related expenses.
- Reward Credit cards: Credit cards that reward you for spending
- Credit Card alternatives and low income / student credit cards: Cards such as debit cards that can be used instead of a credit card.
We will now further discuss sub categories or very specific credit card types, each of which is mainly a combination of one or more of the above categories. Many categories also have sub categories e.g. balance transfer credit cards can be split into short term, long term or for life balance transfer.
The Best Transfer of Balance Credit Cards
For those who have existing credit cards and especially a large amount of credit card debt owing to the banks, the best place to start is to look at a balance transfer credit card.
Balance transfer credit cards offer you massive savings on the interest rate of your current credit card debt in return for taking a new credit card. These zero to low interest rates are usually for a limited promotional period only, and usually the longer the period, the higher the interest rate charged.
Shorter vs. Longer promotional periods
Should you choose a shorter period with a lower interest rate (0% is sometimes offered) or often a little higher interest rate for a longer period?
Answer the initial questions under ‘Useful Hints’ and it will help identify your financial needs in a credit card.
- If your credit payable is high, and you want to pay it off over a year or two, then a longer time period is definitely better for you.
- If you know you can pay off your balance quickly, then a low interest rate with a shorter period is ideal.
- If you do not have existing credit cards, then you do not need to choose a balance transfer credit card and should be looking at other options.
When looking at balance transfer credit cards, be sure to highlight what the interest rate will be at the end of the introductory or promotional period, as well as what purchases over and above the balance transfer will be charged at. Credit card companies are very good at highlighting the fantastic points regarding their product while hoping the unpleasant points will be over looked or forgotten.
Business Credit Cards
Having a credit card can be essential for a business as it adds a way to manage and increase cash flow, as well as simplify and consolidate transactions easily.
As the old saying goes “a penny saved is a penny earned” is quite pertinent and with a credit card, businesses can have thorough record keeping of all transactions. Things to look for in the perfect business card is one with a high enough credit limit to cover all monthly expenses, and hopefully a little more for the unexpected. With a business card fees are extremely important as they can add up to a material amount if not properly considered. Business credit cards often also have a rewards card options which are very enticing, as they can add up to considerable rewards.
A business usually has far more expenditure than an individual credit card user, and the business usually pays this money back in a very short period of time making the rewards gained virtually free. Choosing the right rewards program will also make the rewards more valuable. The service levels that the issuer offers are also very important for a business, even more so than for an individual.
Rewards Credit Cards
A great way to get the best out of a credit card is to look for one that offers rewards for owning the credit card.
Some rewards, such as insurance rewards, are automatically linked to the credit card regardless of the amount spent. Purchased based rewards, such as frequent flyer points, on the other hand, are the most common rewards programs available. For purchased based rewards it is extremely important to make sure that the outstanding balance on the credit card is settled as early as possible, or the interest payable will far outweigh the rewards gained. Let’s look at all the 7 types of rewards credit cards in more detail. These include:
If used correctly, cash back rewards can be very lucrative for the right person with the right spending and repayment patterns. A great place to start when considering a cash back credit card is to know exactly what cash back reward programs generally are offered. This could include flat rate, tiered and those types linked to cash back at specific retailers. The flat rate is the easiest to calculate as each payment has the same cash back rate. Tiered payments are based on the size of each purchase or the total monthly purchases. The one that is becoming more common is retailer specific cash back rewards as they usually offer a far higher cash back percentage for the selected stores, making it look really enticing. Make sure that if you choose this option, the stores are actually stores that you regularly frequent. Cash back credit cards usually have a spending cap that is eligible for rewards, and other terms and conditions that need to be understood, to avoid disappointment. So, the perfect cash back credit card is one that has low interest and a high spending cap. Also, if you do not pay the outstanding balance in time you may forfeit the cash back rewards so always manage your credit card effectively.
Individuals that fly regularly, a card that offers frequent flyer benefits could be a very useful reward. Before accepting such a credit card, however, be sure to consider some of the following points.
- Is the airline attached to the reward program one that you enjoy travelling with?
- Does the airline travel to destinations that you would travel to?
Most frequent flyer benefits incorporate other benefits over and above flights. Therefore by taking these added rewards into account you will only enhance your choices. Once you have looked at the rewards offered and agree that they are of a great benefit to you, it is important to fully understand the terms and conditions and fine print. Often these rewards come with limitations such as number of flights, the types of flights available and expiry dates. If a card comes with bonus introductory points or a special rate, be sure that this will continue, or if it does not, continue to check if the adjusted rates will be worthwhile after the introductory specials. A very important aspect is the expiry date of miles earned as most credit cards with frequent flyer benefits do expire. Therefore, ensure the expiry date is sufficient for you to fully use the miles earned.
Credit card companies have found that less and less people are attracted by credit cards offering frequent flyer rewards. This is due to many people not seeing a huge everyday benefit to air rewards miles or points as they do not travel very much. The new trend has been a point’s based system where every dollar equals a certain number of points. These points are redeemable at online stores managed by the credit card or partner stores in varying industries. Another popular option has been to combine the points and the frequent flyer benefits, and that way increasing the choice to the client and enhancing the benefit. As these points are based on the dollar value that is spent every month, it is ideal for someone that spends large amounts every month, but pays them off very quickly. Look for rewards programs that do not have a monthly or yearly fee, and make sure the small print easily understandable. Also, the best rewards programs will not charge a sign-up fee.
All the previous rewards credit cards discussed had purchased based rewards that were only really beneficial if you spent a considerable amount on your credit card. There are, however, rewards that are complimentary with the credit card, and not limited to how you spend the card. The most common of these is free travel insurance. For those who travel often, travel insurance could be one of the best purchases you could make, but is often overlooked. Having a travel insurance credit card will mean that you have automatic travel insurance (usually only if the ticket was purchased with the credit card). The best travel insurance is obviously the insurance with cover for death, disability and other unforeseen travel events such as lost luggage, cancelled flights etc. So, be sure to understand exactly what travel insurance you will get with your credit card. Also know exactly who is covered as some travel insurance only covers the credit card holder, whereas other travel insurance is for all immediate family travelling with the main credit card holder. The one negative about having a credit card with travel insurance, is that people take it for granted that they have sufficient travel cover. Often this is not the case as credit card companies usually add basic travel insurance, and not a comprehensive one. Therefore, be sure that you understand the implications of a worst case scenario travel event, and be sure that you are properly insured before travelling.
For years credit card companies have been using prestige to entice credit card holders to open an account. The original gold card was the first of such programs which was quickly adopted by all the banks, and was a huge status symbol. The problem, however, is that over the years the barriers to entry have reduced significantly, and many more people have become eligible for gold cards making them far less exclusive. This has meant that banks needed to use other rewards and incentives to keep their gold cards competitive. As gold cards were becoming less exclusive, banks started promoting platinum credit cards as the must have executive high income credit card, but even platinum cards are easier to qualify for than ever. There are other prestige credit cards that are offered by banks that try and separate them, and make them ultra exclusive, but prestige credit cards are still a big draw card with gold and platinum cards still being the most popular.
The main selling point with gold cards is still exclusivity and prestige, even though this is far less effective than it once was. Often, gold credit cards come with personal services and exclusive benefits and rewards built-in. Gold cards, however, usually have a far higher card fee as they are only offered to higher income earners (Inflation has meant that far more people are eligible). Gold cards also usually have high credit limits due to the higher income and usually good credit record of the card holder. The rewards for card loyalty that is linked to gold cards include a combination of the previously discussed rewards programs. So, for anyone in the correct income band with a good credit record, a gold card may be the best credit card* for you. Do not, however, take it for granted as there may be other less prestigious credit cards that offer better benefits.
Platinum credit cards are very similar to Gold credit cards, with the same rules applying high income and a good credit record. The primary difference is that Platinum cards are designed to be even more exclusive, and therefore the income limits are usually far higher and offer greater rewards on purchases. These increased rewards and increased exclusivity do come at a higher annual fee, and therefore all the terms and conditions should be thoroughly scrutinised.
Credit Cards That Offer Added Services or Lower Fees as an Incentive
Credit card issuers have used fee reduction as an incentive to attract new clients. Although this looks great, it often comes at the cost of one of the other benefits. The fee reductions are either for the annual card fee or often a reduction on the interest rate. Another incentive that is becoming popular is instant approval credit cards which appeals to the instant gratification need of modern society. It is important to note though that with advances in modern technology, most credit cards offer approval within a very short time. Let us look at the 3 credit card options in more detail.
Having a credit card with a low interest rate should be the ultimate goal of any credit card holder. Low interest credit cards are very popular because the benefit is long lasting and immediate. The best credit cards* that offer a low interest benefit will offer balance transfers, cash advances, have low annual fees and charges. The interest rate, however, should not be subject to time constraints or special conditions because often this hides the true interest rate. Although many credit cards will make a big deal about 0% interest or extremely low single figure interest, this is usually only limited to a short time. This short term does allow for a great opportunity to pay off your credit card quickly and cheaply. With the limited promotional period, keeping track of the subsequent interest rate and the impact it will have is very important. Cards with an ongoing low interest are the best for long-term planning, and even though the interest rate is higher than the short term, special rate cards it is worth have and provide peace of mind for an extended period.
If you are looking for a credit card that is not used regularly, but only kept for emergencies, a no annual free credit card is perfect. It is also ideal for those who use their credit cards as a debit card by paying their monthly balance in full, and do not want the other rewards or extra features. The fact that there is no annual fee will usually mean that the credit card has very few benefits other than the basics, and can have higher interest. Also, the terms and conditions can be a little sneaky and should be understood in full before deciding that a no annual fee credit card is perfect for you.
This is the fastest way for you to get a decision on your application as answers are usually given within a minute of properly completing the application form. These credit cards are based on factors such as credit score and income, and are usually for lower balance credit cards. It is important to compare approval times to your average credit card to see if this benefit is really offering anything superior. Many credit cards have a very short approval time that is often in the same day or within 24 hours, which makes an instant credit card really not that great of a benefit but is an option that is available. Most of the other credit card types such as Gold, Platinum, rewards cards etc. are offering instant approvals.
Platinum Credit Card with Balance Transfer Offer
If your financial circumstances have changed since you first applied for your credit card you may be eligible for a platinum credit card now. If you currently have an outstanding debt on your card you could transfer the balance across to a platinum card and enjoy access to a lower rate of interest and a increased benefits. Cards such as the NAB Premium Card feature a 0% p.a. for 15 month offer.
Low Income Credit Cards and Credit Card Alternatives
Many individuals are looking for the same cashless payment system as a credit card offers without the worry of getting in to debt. Alternatively, there are those who would like a credit card in order to obtain a credit history and get a credit score, but don’t have a high income or are studying. If you fall into any of these categories there definitely are options available to meet these needs. Your two choices are:
For those studying or those who do not earn a high income, student credit cards and low income credit cards are available. For a student and a low income employee, a credit card can be a great benefit not only to better manage finances and consolidate payments, but also to create a credit history. A credit history will be very valuable later on in life when looking for car or home finance, and can save you large a mounts of extra income. Low income / Student credit cards offering a small minimum balance require far acceptance criteria than standard credit cards. Finding a low interest income credit card with a zero annual fee would be a clear advantage, but also look out for high interest rates as a student or low income earner offer a higher risk to the bank. Manage this first credit card wisely, make payments on time, and never use the entire credit balance as this will be give your credit score a great kick start.
For those only looking for the convenience of payment that is offered by a credit card, and are not looking to get into debt, a debit card or prepaid card may be the perfect solution. With online Internet payments and the worldwide acceptance of credit cards, it is understandable that many people do not want credit, but want a credit card. Debit cards and prepaid credit cards are a great way to get this and only spend your own money. Debit cards will usually have higher fees as the bank does not make any money on interest, but other than that can be used identically. It is advisable to have your debit card attached to a transaction or savings account as you are enable to access features such as online and telephonic banking.
In Conclusion – What Is The Best Credit Card*?
The best credit card* for your personal situation is out there, and with a little bit of research and planning, you will find it. The most important thing to remember is to read and understand exactly what you are getting, and if you do, you should never go wrong.