Commonwealth Bank cuts Awards points for credit card tax payments

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Commonwealth Bank personal cardholders can no longer earn Awards points when using their credit card to pay tax bills

14 September 2015: The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has announced that it will prohibit personal cardholders from earning Awards points when using a credit card to pay the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as of November 2 2015. What was once a savvy way for frequent flyers to earn points, CBA personal cardholders will no longer earn points when making HECS debt repayments to the ATO or settling any end-of-year tax payments. CommBank is the latest of several banks to have made the switch.

Who can and can’t earn points?

If you own a personal CBA credit card (including a standard, Gold, Platinum or Diamond Awards card), you’ll no longer earn points on ATO payments regardless of whether they’re made using a VisaMasterCard or American Express card. Luckily for business cardholders, these changes will only be applied to personal credit cards. So if you’re a business credit card user, you’ll continue earning points on ATO payments which will come in handy when making business activity statement and “pay as you go” tax instalments.

What else is excluded from earning points?

According to the updated CBA Awards terms and conditions, the following transactions will be excluded from earning points as of November 2 2015:

  • Payments to the Australian Taxation Office (unless made using a Business Awards card)
  • Balance transfers
  • Cash advances
  • Purchases of foreign exchange
  • Credit card insurance premiums
  • Travellers cheques
  • Interest charges
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Direct fees
  • Bank fees
  • Card account payments
  • Transactions deemed by the bank to be for business purposes (unless made on Business Awards, Business Gold Awards and Business Platinum Awards cards)
  • Any other transaction which may from time to time be excluded by the bank

CBA is not the only bank to head down this road, with NAB nullifying the ATO earning rate on its credit cards in May 2015. Westpac also cut the number of points cardholders can earn on ATO American Express payments by half in November 2014. While most bank providers exclude government payments from earning points, it is sometimes unclear as to whether this includes ATO payments. If you’re unsure whether your credit card can earn points for tax repayments, contact your provider to be sure. Learn how to earn rewards points when paying your tax bill

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Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is a journalist at finder.com.au who is a credit cards and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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