CreditCardFinder Q&A: Published responses to our user’s credit card and travel money questions
We receive a number of interesting – and sometimes challenging – comments from our users every day. In particular, we respond to a lot of questions regarding travel credit cards, rewards, and credit card travel insurance on a daily basis. Rather than leaving our responses in the comment section, we’ve answered some of these questions in a video in hopes that it will enlighten any users with similar questions.
Credit Cards and Travel Money questions answered by Jacob Joseph from Credit Card Finder
Jacob Joseph, one of finder’s credit card experts, answers one of our user’s credit card and travel money queries with a video response. Rather than only answering the user directly, we decided to publish our responses in a video to share with all of our users. To see if Jacob answered any of your credit card or travel money questions, watch the video below.
Click here for video transcript
G’day. My name is Jacob, from Credit Card Finder. I’m just going to take a couple of moments to answer an email that was sent to us the other day from a woman named Colleen. She had about 7 different points that she wanted to hit on, and we thought this would be a good opportunity to share, basically, what we told her with the rest of our users, because it’s something that comes up quite often. Her questions are quite frequent. If you watch this video and you’re interested in credit cards and the travel rewards sphere, you might be able to get some value from it.
To begin with, Colleen wanted to earn points for either the Qantas Frequent Flyer program or the Emirates Frequent Flyer program. We’ve put a link in the description of this video and in the article itself that will take you to a place where you can compare Qantas Frequent Flyer credit cards. There’s only one card that’s linked to the Emirates Frequent Flyer program that we compare, and you could find that through the link there. That card’s offered by Westpac.
Colleen’s second consideration was that she didn’t want to pay high-end fees. Unfortunately with rewards and frequent flyer credit cards, high annual fees are a fact of life. You don’t get anything for free nowadays, and it’s especially true within credit cards. Annual fees can range anywhere, I suppose, from $99 to $1,000; as the same with some American Express cards. You really want to go out there and compare, basically, annual fees and what’s on offer. An important consideration when doing this as well is that the net value of any rewards you get on the credit card must be graded in the credit card’s annual fee. You’ll have to sit down and work out what spend is required there, basically, until you break even on this product. If you’re not spending a lot on rewards credit cards, they simply just aren’t a cost-effective product and you should be looking for a low rate card, basically, that’s going to support your spending habits, and basically, your situation.
Having said that, there are 2 rewards cards on the market that do not have an annual fee. They’re both offered by American Express and they’re in conjunction with either the Velocity Frequent Flyer program or the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. Those cards have no annual fees, so naturally, anything you spend on the cards will be a bonus.
She also wanted to know whether there was a difference between Visa or MasterCard. On face value, these companies are essentially the same. There’s a couple of small differences, in terms of acceptance, although both websites of Visa and MasterCard state that they’re accepted in millions and millions of locations worldwide. In my personal experience when I was travelling around the world, I did not find a place where Visa was accepted and MasterCard wasn’t, and vice versa. The second small difference comes in the interchange fee schedule. Unless you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars per transaction, this really shouldn’t be a consideration, as the interchange fees, which are the backend fees that come with using your credit card; they only differ by a point of a percent, or something like that. American Express, however, is different; you’ll find that merchant acceptance fees and interchange fees are slightly higher with American Express cards. For the sake of what we’re talking about now, Visa and MasterCard are very similar.
This was an important one and we get a lot of questions about this. She was thinking of spending overseas with no currency conversion fee. She wanted a card that did not charge this fee, whether it be a frequent flyer card or not. Once again, if you head to the link CreditCardFinder.com.au/TravelMoney, you’ll be able to see a list there, or a comparison, of what I like to call travel-friendly credit cards; these are credit cards that don’t charge a cross currency conversion fee. This is a fee of 2% or 3% percent that you incur when you make a transaction in a currency that’s other than Australian Dollars. That travel money page has a comparison of those cards there. It also compares travel money cards and debit cards that you can use overseas. There’s only really a handful of them in the market, so your options are quite limited when it comes to avoiding this fee.
Finally, she wanted uncapped frequent flyer points. I understand Colleen is a Westpac Altitude customer. After Westpac introduced a cap on Altitude points, she’s looking to basically get another card on which she can just spend and the points won’t be capped. Again, if you head to the description or the link within the article itself, you’ll see CreditCardFinder.com.au/ FrequentFlyer CreditCards With No Points Capping And No Points Expiring. The cards listed on this page do not have a cap on points, whether it be frequent flyer, Velocity, etc. You can spend away to your heart’s content, and you’ll know that, basically, you’re not going to be prohibited from earning the maximum amount of points that you can.
There were the considerations Colleen had. If you read the article, you’ll be able to see a full transcript of our conversation with Colleen, and basically, what we told her to do. This video serves as a nice little sum up. Most importantly, if you have any other questions about this stuff, please don’t hesitate to email us, call us, or get in touch with us across the live chat. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you like the video. Thanks very much. Bon voyage, Colleen.
Questions, responses and resources
In addition to the video, we’ve also summarised some of the questions and included links to additional resources that might help with your credit card and travel money comparisons.
- Which credit card will help me earn points with Qantas or Emirates?
- I don’t want to pay high-end fees. What are my options?
Rewards and frequent flyer cards often come at the cost of high annual fees. ‘You don’t get something for nothing’ applies here. Fees often range from $100-200 p.a. all the way to $1,000 (and more) p.a.
However, American Express does offer two frequent flyer credit cards that are free of an annual fee. These cards are linked to Virgin and Qantas frequent flyer programs, and can be found in the American Express comparison table.
To calculate whether these cards are a cost-effective option, you will need to ensure that the net value of any rewards are greater than the card’s annual fee. Therefore, the higher the annual fee, the more you have to spend before the card becomes a cost effective product.
- Should I use a credit card with complimentary travel insurance or organise separate travel insurance?
Both complimentary and individual travel insurance pose potential benefits and savings. However, it is your unique financial circumstance that will determine which option is right for you.
As an example, we spoke to Travel Insurance Direct (TID) and compared their policy with the Westpac Complimentary Insurance Policy Document. Looking at the loss and damage to personal property benefit with Westpac and the comparable benefit with TID covered under the personal liability benefit, we made the following comparison:
Max benefit: $20,000 for individuals. $30,000 for families.
Personal liability: $1,000,000
So, in this case, independent insurance has proven more beneficial than complimentary credit card insurance in terms of available cover. However, if you’re going to fork out extra cash to pay for it, you’re probably going to have to pay for your flights on your credit card anyway.
This is just one example though, and there are many other options available. However, you could make your own comparison with similar features, as well as your own individual financial situation, in mind. Regardless, it’s always ideal to read the relevant policy documents and consider a few options before making any decisions.
- What’s the difference between Visa and MasterCard?
There are slight differences between Visa and MasterCard. But, on face value, they’re only marginal. Both providers are widely accepted around the world. If you’re after a companion credit card, Visa or MasterCard are usually partnered with American Express. There are also Visa/MasterCard combos available if you’re after a card that offers a hybrid of both provider’s features.
There are differences in the interchange scheme; however, they’re only small, and unless you’re going to be spending a lot of money, the card acceptance fees are roughly the same (with the exception of American Express).
- I’d like to add an additional cardholder no additional fees.
You can view some of your options on our product review pages. Most cards will allow a number of additional cardholders, some charge and others do not. When you earn rewards, spending on the additional cards will earn points for the primary account and pool the points together.
- I want a credit card that won’t incur currency conversion fees when spending overseas.
There are only a handful of credit cards in the market that are what we call ‘travel-friendly’. You can find a comparison of them on our travel money page.
Some cards are better to use than others when overseas and fees and charges will vary depending on how you use you card.
- ATM purchases. If you’re using your card to withdraw from an overseas ATM, you could incur the cash advance interest rate, cash advance fee, international ATM fee, local ATM fee and cross currency conversion fee. These charges vary depending on the card and the ATM you use.
- Over-the-counter purchases. Making a purchase over the counter overseas is generally a cheaper option as you will only be charged the cross currency conversion fee and the purchase rate of interest.
- I want an uncapped frequent flyer credit card.
Please see this page for a list of uncapped frequent flyer credit cards. http://www.creditcardfinder.com.au/frequent-flyer-credit-cards-no-points-capping-no-points-expiry.html
- I’m going to be overseas for roughly three months. What are my travel insurance options?
Most credit card insurance policies will cover a trip of this duration. Read our travel money guide to begin comparing your options.
Have more questions?
If any of your questions have been left unanswered, feel free to leave a comment and we will do our best to provide you with further information.
- Jacob is a Personal Finance writer for finder.com.au
- A Credit Card expert for Credit Card Finder