Use your rewards credit card and shop on international online stores to get great bargains and make the most of your rewards program.
While the uncertainty in international financial markets continues to have an effect on the Australian dollar, it continues to hold its own against the American dollar, the Euro, and the Pound. What helps Australian consumers is that there is no dearth of international retailers offering great discounts through their online shopping portals, and a number of Australian retailers, hoping to get their share of the pudding through the online shopping movement, are following suit.
A number of credit card savvy consumers, are, in a way, making hay while the sun shines, by making purchases and earning reward points, and this does not limit to spending within Australia.
What you have to do is easy. Look for a rewards card that compliments your lifestyle, and make sure you follow basic safety rules in the online marketplace. If you play your cards right, you can even look forward to interest-free shopping.
Reward Program Credit Card Comparison
Rates last updated September 29th, 2016.
- Commonwealth Bank Business Platinum Awards credit card
First year annual fee waiver has been extended until 31 October 2016.
September 2nd, 2016
- Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Balance transfer offer has been extended until 31 October 2016.
September 26th, 2016
- Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card - 30k Bonus Points offer
Balance transfer offer has been extended until 31 October 2016.
September 26th, 2016
How can I choose the right rewards card?
When you’re looking for a rewards credit card, bear in mind you should get one that works with your current spending patterns, and not one that requires you to increase spending just to earn reward points. Keep the following in mind to establish which card suits you:
- Annual fee. Steer clear of cards that charge high annual fees which you feel won’t offset the rewards you earn.
- Spending requirements. Spending enough can ensure that the rewards outweigh the annual fee, so establish how much you might spend each month.
- Sign up fees. Find out if you have to pay any fees to become a member of the rewards program in question. Some cards might waive this membership fee or offer free membership for the first year. While membership to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program requires that you pay a one-time fee, Emirates Skywards and Virgin Velocity programs don’t attract any membership fees.
- Earn rates. While the earn rate is important, the highest earn rate does not have to be the perfect deal for you, especially if you’re not spending enough and paying high fees.
- Currency conversion. If you plan to shop on international websites, establish how much you’ll have to pay as currency conversion fees. This fee is normally around three percent, but some cards waive these fees.
For more information about how to compare rewards cards jump into our guide here.
Tips for practicing safe shopping
The online marketplace, while home to some great deals, also harbours its share of unscrupulous elements, so it’s crucial that you exercise some caution when parting with your credit card details on the internet. As long as you follow these pointers, you should have a safe online shopping experience:
- Fraud liability policies. If you use a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card know that a similar fraud liability policy protects you from unauthorised transactions and fraud. To make sure the card provider does not hold you accountable for any such transaction, you have to meet certain criteria.
- Online auctions. If you’re partaking in on online auction and have the winning bid, make sure you pay only via the auction website, and never agree to send the money to the retailer via any other channel.
- Make sure the page is secure. This is easy to accomplish. All you have to do is look at the address bar of the browser you’re using. The website you’re using is safe if it starts with ‘https’ and shows a locked padlock.
Case study: Corey
Corey stopped eating out some time ago, and since then he’s managed to lose 15 kg. The savings in his bank account have increased owing to his not eating out anymore, and another result of this newfound habit is that he no longer fits into his old, now considerably loose, clothes. He set aside $500 towards his wardrobe makeover, and he narrowed down on a US retailer with a strong online presence. He opts for the HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card, a card that gives him bonus points upon signing up as well as complimentary membership to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.
This card charges an ongoing annual fee of $199. Corey stands to earn one Qantas Point for every dollar he spends on eligible purchases in Australia, and when he uses his card to make overseas purchases (which include purchases on international websites) he stands to earn two Qantas Points for every dollar spent.
In the first month of using his card, Corey spends $700 through international stores, and since he pays for his purchases in American dollars, he earns two reward points for every dollar spent, taking the points earned to 1,400. He receives 60,000 bonus points for signing up, and his $800 average spending in supermarkets earns him 800 more points.
Within a month, Corey’s frequent flyer account has 22,200 points, and if he sticks to the same spending pattern, he’ll have 35,400 points by the end of the year. Since 5,800 of these points come from overseas purchases, he has, in effect, earned 2,900 bonus points by simply shopping on international websites.
Flying Sydney to London on an economy class ticket requires 64,000 points. In three years, Corey would have saved enough to make this trip using no more than his accumulated reward points.
What are my options?
You have a number of options when looking for a suitable rewards credit card and amongst the most popular is the American Express Platinum Card.
The American Express Platinum is a charge card that requires you to pay the account’s outstanding balance in full each month. This card charges a steep annual fee of $1,200, and in return cardholders benefit from no preset spending limit, VIP lounge access at airports, and a range of complimentary insurance covers.
Cardholders earn 2 membership points on every dollar spent overseas, and can earn 3 points per dollar when spending at particular restaurants. You stand to earn 80,000 membership rewards bonus points if you apply by a given date, and make the first eligible purchase in time.
You’ll bag 80,000 bonus points when signing up to the card and make an eligible purchase within three months of activation. Once you want to transfer these points over to Qantas Frequent Flyer you can at a rate of 1 to 1.
What other options are there?
The HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card gives cardholders the ability to earn 1 Qantas Point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases in Australia and overseas. Applying before a given date gives you the ability to earn 60,000 bonus points. This card charges an annual fee of $199.
The Westpac Altitude Black credit card charges an annual fee of $395, and this account provides two cards in one – you get an Altitude Black American Express Card for maximum points, and an Altitude Black World MasterCard for worldwide acceptance.
This hasn’t even scratched the surface of the reward card concept. There are many products out there, each with different pros and cons, so head on to our reward card page where you can read more about petrol cards, supermarket cards and travel cards.
Do you have more expensive tastes?Krizza loves posting pictures on Instagram and has decided she wanted to buy a proper camera to enhance her photography skills. She logs onto Amazon and decides she wants the Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP camera for US$599. Krizza uses her new Westpac Altitude Black MasterCard because she knows the credit card has a high points earning with overseas merchants with 3 points per $1 spent and a relatively low foreign transaction fee of 0.2% of the transaction amount, normally around 3% with standard credit cards. She also knows that she can get her concierge to research the most competitive price available.
Foreign transaction fee = 60 cents
- 0.2% of $599
Points earned = 1797 points
- 3.00 points x 599
Along with the 50,000 bonus points she got on signup (limited time only) she now has enough points to redeem for a Fujifilm Finepix XP50 Waterproof Digital Camera plus a 4gb SD card so now she can take images under water as well.
With the recommended retail price of the FujiFilm Waterproof Camera $179.95, she’s already offset 45% of the annual fee of the Westpac Altitude Black credit card.
Using your credit card to make purchases and earn rewards at the same time is a good idea provided you don’t end up paying high fees that the rewards can’t offset. Given that you’ve got numerous such cards from which to choose, make sure you compare your options well.Back to top
Frequently asked questions
Are there different types of rewards cards?
Yes, there are certain cards that limit where you earn reward points, and examples include retail rewards cards, supermarket rewards cards, and petrol rewards cards.
Is there a limit to the number of points I can earn?
Providers of rewards credit cards can put a cap on the maximum number of reward points cardholders can earn during a given time period, so make sure you check this aspect with your card provider.
Who can benefit the most by using a rewards credit card?
You can benefit considerably if you’re a big spender or if you’re a frequent traveller.
Do rewards cards offer interest-free days on purchases?
Yes, they do, but to make use of these interest free days you have to pay your account’s closing balance completely before the end of each billing cycle.