We all know the not-so-clever ways to use a credit card (been there, done that?). However, when used strategically, your credit card can be a convenient financial tool and may even earn you some great rewards.
Here are 4 simple credit card hacks to help you become financially savvy and make the most of what your credit card has to offer.
1. Choose the right credit card
The first step in leveraging your credit card to the best of its ability is to make sure you choose the right card for your situation. Take some time to assess your personal needs and consider what your spending habits are, what your long term goals are and what features are important to you to ensure you are making the best credit card decision.
How you plan to use your credit card has a big impact on this. For example, if you plan to use a credit card for everything, consider a rewards card that will effectively earn you points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. Alternatively, if you plan to use a credit card online only, then a low annual fee credit card may be better for you.
Want to see what we have to offer? Find the right card for you now.
2. Make the most of your interest-free period.
Many credit cards offer an interest-free period on purchases. By making a note of when your interest-free period expires, and paying your outstanding balance in full before that date, you can avoid being hit with unwanted interest charges, which can save you hundreds in the long run.
If you have an existing credit card balance then you may consider transferring it to a credit card that offers an interest-free period on balance transfers. This can be a great way to regain control of debt and get a short-term break from paying interest.
Credit card tips:
Paying your balance on time is just as important as paying your balance in full. Take advantage of any mobile banking features such as credit card repayment alerts, to avoid missing a payment.
3. Pay more than the minimum repayment
Even with the very best planning, there may be times when your balance will roll over from one month to the next. It happens.
Many cardholders will automatically only repay the minimum amount due each month, which in general is 2% of the closing balance (rounded to the nearest dollar) or $10, whichever is greater. It’s an understandable default, but making minimum payments, when there is applicable interest, may not get you on the front foot with any lingering debt.
When you make a minimum payment on your outstanding credit card balance (that has applicable interest), most of what you’re paying is interest, not principal (the money you have spent). Continuing to only pay the minimum repayment when your card is incurring interest will make it difficult for you to get ahead of the debt. If your goal is to reduce your balance as quickly possible then paying above the minimum will help you to reduce your debt faster.
4. Choose a rewards card
Did you know that you could be earning points every time you use your credit card to make eligible purchases?
It all comes down to choosing a credit card with a rewards program that suits you. Here at Westpac we offer three rewards programs for you to choose from.
Westpac Altitude Rewards allows you to collect points which can then be redeemed for a huge range of products including shopping vouchers, homewares, electronics, food and travel. Redeeming points is easy, simply visit the altitude store to see where your points could take you.
The Westpac Velocity rewards card allows you to earn and redeem your Velocity Points for flights and upgrades, fuel, car hire or hotel stays, or a choice of rewards at the Velocity Rewards store.
The Westpac Qantas rewards card allows you to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points which can be used towards flights on Qantas, Jetstar and a range of partner airlines. You can also gain access to upgraded Qantas flights where available.
Credit card tips
In general a rewards card carries a higher interest rate than a low rate card, so being disciplined with your repayments can go a long way in helping to stave off excess interest charges.
Credit cards can be a great financial tool when used responsibly, all it takes are a few good habits to work the system in your favour and earn some seriously great rewards while you’re at it.
Things you should know
Be credit savvy: Before applying, consider a realistic credit limit and check all conditions, interest rates, fees and charges on your selected card.
Credit criteria, fees and charges apply. Offers are not available in conjunction with any special offers that are not listed on www.westpac.com.au. Switches, upgrades or Westpac group staff are ineligible on Westpac issued cards. Offer may be withdrawn or extended at any time. Terms and conditions available on request.
6. Rewards Points: The earning and redemption of Altitude Points, Qantas Points and Velocity Points is subject to the Altitude Terms and Conditions. Purchases that are not eligible to earn Rewards Points are set out in the Altitude Terms and Conditions. For example: payments to the Australian Taxation Office, cash advances, BPAY and BPAY equivalent transactions do not earn Reward Points. You do not receive points if your card account is in arrears for 2 consecutive statement cycles and in other circumstances.
Altitude Rewards: You must be a member of the relevant frequent flyer program to redeem Altitude Points for frequent flyer points. The Altitude Rewards Terms and Conditions and the terms and conditions of the relevant frequent flyer program apply. A joining fee may apply. Availability of Reward flights may be limited. For more information on the Altitude Rewards program, visit altituderewards.com.au.
Altitude Velocity: In order to earn and redeem points, you must be a member of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program. An annual $50 Velocity Rewards fee applies for customers who choose to earn Velocity Points through the Altitude Velocity rewards program.
Altitude Qantas: In order to earn and redeem points, you must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. An annual $50 Qantas Rewards fee applies for customers who choose to earn Qantas Points through Altitude Qantas rewards program.
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Westpac is the credit provider and credit licensee under National Consumer Credit Laws.