Rewards Credit Cards
By David Boyd on 4th June, 2009, last updated on Saturday 18th MayTweet
Credit card companies offer a variety of rewards programs, with something for everyone regardless of spending habits or lifestyle.
A rewards credit card gives users something extra for spending money they would have spent anyway. Competition among banks means there are many such cards to choose from. Of course, for something extra, the banks also expect something in return.
The types of rewards include points per dollar spent that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, merchandise, gift cards and cash back. The cards vary in what they offer, and you should consider your habits when deciding on the right one. If you don’t travel often, for example, there is little point in getting a card that awards points toward miles on a particular airline. In addition, the value of award points can be deceiving: even if you do get 2 points per $1 spent on a certain credit card, you may need three times as many points for, say, a flight, than on a card that only awards one-for-one. The best way to understand what you get is through maths: calculate the worth of each point in dollar terms. And keep in mind that plenty of reward programs, particularly the ones that sound too good to be true, are actually betting that consumers will not redeem the rewards at all because of cumbersome restrictions they impose on redemption. Then there’s the fine print – on some cards, points will expire due to inactivity, for example.
Banks do consider rewards programs an added feature, so the annual fee and the purchase rate on a rewards card could both be higher than on a standard card. But with the variety of rewards programs and constant competition, there is probably a card that will suit you. Many cards listed in this table also offer sign-up bonus points, some offer programs that can be redeemed on any airline, and a few have added benefits for travellers, such as complimentary travel insurance. If there is something you are looking for in particular, the Smart Search tool can help you winnow your choices down.
|Credit Card Offer||Rewards Program||Reward Points||Purchase Rate||Annual Fee |
|Credit Card Offer||Rewards Program||Reward Points||Purchase Rate||Annual Fee |
|HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card|
Scoop up 20,000 QFF points (condition apply). Earn up to 2 Qantas Frequent Flyer points per $1. 2 x complimentary invitations to the Qantas Club lounge every year at no extra cost. Apply by 30 June 2014.
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||$1 = 2 QFF points||19.99%||$199|
|Westpac 55 Day Platinum Credit Card|
Free personal concierge service. Complimentary international travel Insurance. VISA PayWave. Apply by 31 March 2014.
|ANZ Platinum Frequent Flyer Credit Card|
Exclusive online offer: 0% p.a. for first 12 months then 19.99% p.a. ongoing on balance transfers. Earn uncapped Qantas points at 1.5 QFF points per $1 using the Amex card. Complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership, save $82.50. Offer ends 15th April 2014.
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||$1.5 = 1 QFF point (Amex)||19.99%||$295|
|NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Credit Card|
0% p.a. balance transfer rate for up to 15 months. 20,000 Qantas points. Earn uncapped Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Complimentary QFF membership. Apply by 30 April 2014.
|Qantas Frequent Flyer, entre Program||$1 = 1.5 QFF points||19.99%||$250|
|Westpac Earth Platinum Credit Card|
0% p.a. balance transfer rate for 14 months. Bonus 10,000 Qantas points after first eligible purchase. Complimentary travel insurances. Two cards (1 Amex, 1 MasterCard). Contactless technology for faster checkouts. Apply by 31 March 2014.
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||$1 = 1 QFF point (Up to)||19.99%||$125|
|Qantas American Express Discovery Credit Card|
0.99% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers and 7,500 QFF points. Earn 1 QFF point per $1 spent. No annual fee card. Complimentary purchase and refund protection. Apply before 30 April 2014.
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||-||20.74%||$0|
|Westpac Earth Credit Card|
0% p.a. for 14 months on balance transfers. Bonus 5,000 Qantas points after first eligible purchase. Get complimentary QFF membership. MasterCard PayPass. Apply by 31 March 2014.
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||$1 = 1 QFF point (Amex)||19.99%||$75|
|Citibank Rewards Credit Card – Platinum|
0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers. 3% balance transfer fee applies. Free wine every time you dine with the Citibank Dining Program. Earn $1 = 1.25 Citibank Rewards points. Get a 60 second response to your application. Offers ends 31 May 2014.
|Citibank Rewards||$1 = 1.25 Citibank Rewards points||20.99%||$199|
|Coles No Annual Fee MasterCard|
Pay $0 p.a. annual fee. Earn 1 flybuys point for every $2 spent on the card. Up to 62 days on purchases. Pay with MasterCard PayPass. Apply and get a response in 60 seconds.
|flybuys Points||$2 = 1 flybuys point||17.99%||$0|
|American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card|
0.99% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers with a 1% fee. 10,000 Membership Rewards points for new Cardmembers only. Complimentary Virgin Australia domestic return flight every year. Free overseas medical and travel insurance for you and your family. Apply by 28 February 2014.
|Membership Rewards||$1 = 3 Membership Rewards points (Up to)||20.74%||$195|
Specific Types of Rewards Cards
The broader category can be broken down more specifically into rewards for:
- Car rental
- Hotel bookings
- Petrol purchases
- Signing up – compare cards that give you bonus rewards points when you sign up or make your first purchase
- Store loyalty – compare the cards linked with department store and supermarket rewards programs
- Travel insurance – cards with complimentary travel insurance
Rewards Credit Cards: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is this the right card for me? A: If you travel a lot, for business or pleasure, you’ll be spending enough on flights and hotels and other things to earn good points toward more flights and hotel stays. Keep in mind that not all reward points programs give you the option of redeeming points for travel, but most do. On the other hand, if you’re spending more than, say, $2,000 per month, you’ll be able to earn good points whether you travel or not. If you don’t use a credit card often, you won’t be earning many points unless you’re happy to change your lifestyle and use your credit card for everything, making sure you pay back the balance on time each month of course.
Q: Am I eligible? A: To qualify, you’ll need to be over 18 and an Australian resident. If you have a poor credit rating, or your income is very low, you might have trouble getting approval for a new rewards credit card and the rejection could damage your credit rating, so be careful.
Q: What types of rewards are available? A: There are a host of programs with which you can redeem your points for flights. Make sure you check whether they’re just redeemable with specific airlines, like Qantas or Virgin, or whether you can choose between a good selection of reputable airlines.
Other cards allow you to redeem points for things like hotel stays. Sometimes you have to book through certain partner travel agencies or with certain hotel brands, so check to see how much freedom you actually have. If you’re a traveller, you might also want to check if you get complimentary travel insurance included in the features of the card.
If travel isn’t your thing, you’ll be looking for other ways to redeem points. Many programs have online stores where you can purchase a range of products and merchandise – everything from watches, to technical gadgets, to cologne. Have a look at the store before you sign up and make sure they sell things you’d actually want or need and that items are a good deal.
Fourthly, you can redeem points for gift cards or cash back. Sometimes it is more efficient to do one rather than the other so you want to read the fine print.
Q: How can you tell a good rewards program from a bad one? A: There are several factors to consider:
Points are not equal across programs: You usually earn 1 point per $1 spent, but sometimes this goes as high as 3 points. But a point with one program is not equivalent to a point with another program – it depends on what those points actually buy.
Points capping, points expiration: Most programs limit the amount of points you can earn in, say, a year. For the big spender particularly, this can be limiting and frustrating. Secondly, some points expire. This is a frustration for the lower spender who might take a while to build up enough points to get anything of real value. Both capping and expiry information will be found in the small print of the program.
- Annual fees and interest rates – You should see whether there are annual or start up fees involved in signing up for the reward program and for the credit card. In addition, rewards points credit cards often come with both higher fees and interest rates.
- Flexibility – Some cards only allow points for flights on one airline; others allow users to exchange them for flights on several airlines, or redeem them for cash back, merchandise or gift certificates.
- Ease of points redemption – Unfortunately, some companies make it quite difficult to redeem points in the hope that people won’t bother. You might have to squint through the depths of the fine print to find out how on earth to get something back for your points. Look for a rewards points program that makes redemption simple and straight forward. Some even offer automated redemption, where cash back goes straight into your account at the end of the month based on the points you’ve earned.
- Bonus points – As an introductory offer, many reward credit cards will offer you the opportunity to earn bonus points. Sometimes to get them you have to spend a lot of money or shop in a particular store.
Q: Do balance transfers and cash advances earn reward points? A: They do not. And, in fact, a rewards credit card may have higher interest rates on these transactions than a regular card.
Today’s Credit Card Stats
- 315credit cards are ready for comparison on this website
- 16.79%is the average interest rate on purchases
- $93is the average annual fee you can expect to pay
- 1.58%is the average balance transfer rate available