Credit card changes prompt switches

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY KEANE

BIG changes to credit card re­ward pro­grams this month have prompted con­sumers to ditch their old cards for new points- friendly prod­ucts.

Sev­eral pop­u­lar points pro­grams are be­ing wa­tered down dra­mat­i­cally or even can­celled af­ter Re­serve Bank changes to in­ter­change fees, but re­ward card ex­perts say plenty of good deals re­main.

Steve Hui, the founder of iFLYflat.com.au, said many bank- is­sued cards had changed their pro­grams re­sult­ing in them earn­ing less points per dol­lar spent.

“With some of them, af­ter you spend $ 5000 in a month you earn no more points,” he said. “There are still some good cards out there – Amex- is­sued cards made zero changes.”

Mr Hui said com­pe­ti­tion among card providers had re­sulted in ex­tra ben­e­fits such as air­line lounge passes and free flights, and he said peo­ple should shop around to find a card that suited their life­style and spend­ing habits.

Peo­ple chas­ing points should use re­ward cards for all pos­si­ble pur­chases, as long as they pay the bal­ance off each month to avoid hefty in­ter­est charges.

“Ev­ery point adds up. Some peo­ple think a credit card is for large items only. It’s not, it’s in­stead of cash,” Mr Hui said.

Nic Sha­diac, 30, re­cently swapped cards af­ter hear­ing that his ex­ist­ing ANZ points pro­gram was be­ing can­celled. The points he col­lects en­able him to reg­u­larly fly from Syd­ney to Ade­laide to visit fam­ily and friends.

“I used to use cash a lot, but now I use the card any­where I can,” he said. “It comes with a free flight, and that pays the an­nual fee.

“At the end of the day, if you use cash you are not get­ting any­thing free. If you are us­ing your card you are get­ting points for noth­ing.”

Amer­i­can Ex­press Head of air­line co brand part­ner­ships and loy­alty Kat Drew said the com­pany was “very happy with the num­ber of con­sumers com­ing to us”, and the mar­ket was telling them that peo­ple did not like points caps.

A com­mon com­plaint about Amex has been that its cards are not ac­cepted by as many mer­chants as Visa or MasterCard, but Ms Drew said Amex planned to dou­ble mer­chant num­bers in the next two years and re­cently signed a new part­ner­ship with the Com­mon­wealth Bank that de­liv­ered 100,000 ex­tra mer­chants.

She urged con­sumers to com­pare card op­tions. “There’s a lot of re­ally at­trac­tive bonus of­fers on the ta­ble.”

Con­sumers should also un­der­stand how many points they would earn for each dol­lar spent, and what those points would pay for – their “burn rate”, Ms Drew said.

“Peo­ple could think they are get­ting a great deal but when they go to re­deem, it may not be so great.”

Pic­ture: DY­LAN ROBIN­SON

BONUS: Nic Sha­diac, 30, changed prod­ucts to take ad­van­tage of re­wards that come with cards.

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