How the 2012 credit card reforms have changed the way pay off our credit card bill.
Before 1 July 2012, banks used to allocate credit card repayments to pay off the most recent transactions in the statement. However, the government reforms that were introduced from 1 July 2012 have changed the way our repayments have been allocated ever since. Rather than being attributed to the most recent transaction, our credit card bills now go to paying off the debt that is collecting the highest interest.
Different types of transactions collect varying interest rates. So, while your everyday purchases would usually collect the purchase rate, cash advances (such as ATM withdrawals or gambling transactions) will collect the cash advance rate. Plus, some cards also come with 0% on balance transfers or purchases for a promotional period. So, the transaction that is collecting the highest interest will receive the repayments before transactions with lower rates. For example, cash advances typically collect higher interest rates than purchases, so your repayments are likely to go towards any cash advances before purchases.
How are my credit card repayments allocated?
Let's say you have a credit card that has a 0% promotion on purchases for 12 months (which reverts to a standard rate of 19.84%) and a cash advance rate of 21.29% p.a. You've used the card to make $1,000 worth of purchases but also used the card to make an ATM withdrawal of $250 when you were low on cash.
Each month you're required to pay a minimum repayment of 2% of your total balance, which would be $25 if your balance is $1,250. However, this $25 would automatically go towards your cash advance as it's collecting the highest interest rate. Even after the 0% promotion ends, your repayments will still automatically go to any cash advances first as it's the cash advance rate is higher than the standard purchase rate.
If you're taking advantage of an interest-free promotion, it's important to remember how your repayments are allocated and you may want to pay more than the minimum to ensure you can clear the entire debt before the standard interest rate applies.
By making it compulsory for banks to contribute your credit card repayments to your debt that is collecting the highest interest, the reform aimed to help cardholders avoid collecting excessive interest and falling into debt. If you're not paying your balance in full each month, it's important to understand how your transactions are collecting interest at different rates and how much you need to repay to minimise your interest costs. You can use our credit card repayments guide for more information.Back to top