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Credit Cards: The pros and cons of owning a credit card

There are many pros and cons to credit card ownership, and having a full understanding of these will allow you to enjoy a healthier relationship with your credit card.

The main pro is the convenience of being able to pay for goods or services without physically handing over cash or organising a bank transfer of some sort. Look for a low interest credit card or a low or $0 annual fee credit card. The main con is the possibility of ending up in financial straits from overspending or not managing your debts wisely. If debt is an issue, perhaps a debit card should be considered.

The pros of credit cards

  • Flexibility. Credit cards allow the customer to avoid having to carry large amounts of cash around. They are perfect for those occasions when an unexpected purchase becomes necessary, and sufficient cash is not available. They also allow for quick and simple phone and internet transactions.
  • Safety. When cash is lost or stolen, there may be no way of recovering it. If your credit card is lost or stolen, the card will be replaced, and your maximum liability for fraudulent use is limited by law to $50. However, Visa, Mastercard and American Express all operate zero-liability policies so that the customer is not liable for even a single cent.
  • Spending power. Credit limits on credit cards often mean that customers can purchase large goods straight away that they would normally have to save up for over many months.
  • Rewards programs. These reward the customer for their spending on a credit card so that they can claim rewards in various areas such as flights, retail rewards, and cashback.
  • Special offers and rates. Credit card providers will often announce special offers with affiliated companies, and regularly allow new or existing customers to make balance transfers at preferential rates.

The cons of credit cards

  • Overspending. When talking about the pros and cons of credit cards, this is the classic downside. Some individuals can get easily carried away with their credit card, creating a debt that is beyond their means to pay off. Credit cards should not be seen as having access to "free money". In fact, once the interest starts kicking in, you will end up paying more than the purchase price of your goods.
  • Multitasking. A credit card should be used for just one task. If it has a good rate for purchases, then it should be reserved for that. If a balance transfer is made to a credit card, then it should be used for nothing else. Problems arise when customers think it's okay to carry out both these transactions on their credit card simultaneously. This creates a conflict of interest - literally. The lower interest debt is always paid off first, which means the higher interest purchases will keep accruing interest untouched by your repayments.
  • False sense of security. Covering everyday purchases on a credit card can lead customers to believe they have more cash available than they really do. Having cash in your pocket must be logically balanced by the level of your credit card debt. If your credit card debt is building, your ready cash should be set aside to cover it at the end of the month.These are the main pros and cons to be aware of with credit card ownership. Remember that owning a credit card means you are involved in a legally-binding contract, so you need to make sure you are playing a straight game.

Compare credit cards

Rates last updated November 16th, 2018
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Interest Free Period Annual fee Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Product Description
NAB Low Fee Platinum Card - Exclusive Offer
19.74% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$90 p.a.
0% p.a. for 25 months
25 Month Balance Transfer Offer
finder Exclusive: Take advantage of 0% p.a. interest for 25 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee.
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
12.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 14 months
Platinum Credit Card with a Low Interest Rate *
Offers a 0% p.a. for 14 months balance transfer and $0 first year annual fee. Plus, insurance covers and Citibank Dining Program perks.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$58 p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months
Long-Term Balance Transfer Offer*
Save with a 0% p.a. introductory rate on balance transfers for 15 months with no BT fee. Plus a low 12.49% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 20.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 13 months
0% p.a. Purchase & Balance Transfer Offers*
finder Exclusive:
Save with 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 13 months (with no BT fee). Plus, a discounted $49 annual fee for the first year.
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit Card - Online Offer
20.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 18 months
Discounted First Year Annual Fee & Balance Transfer Offer*
Save with a 0% balance transfer offer and earn up to 60,000 Bonus Rewards Points. Plus, a discounted first year annual fee when you apply online.
Westpac Low Rate Card
13.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 First Year Annual Fee & Balance Transfer Offer*
Offers a 0% for 24 month balance transfer option, first year annual fee waiver and a competitive purchase rate.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
19.99% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$295 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 6 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Bonus Qantas Points Offer*
Collect 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 60 days of account opening. Plus, a $295 annual fee in the first year.
Citi Simplicity Card
19.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Low Intro Balance Transfer Interest Rate with No Annual Fee
Get 0% p.a. interest for up to 6 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, a $0 annual fee for life.
Qantas Premier Everyday
19.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
4.9% p.a. for 24 months
$0 First Year Annual Fee & Bonus Points Offer
Take advantage of up to 40,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $0 first year annual fee plus complimentary overseas travel insurance.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas - Exclusive Offer
20.24% p.a.
Up to 45 days on purchases
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter)
Reduced First Year Annual Fee and Bonus Points Offer*
finder Exclusive:
Up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria with this dual Visa (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
ME frank Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a.
No Annual Fee Low Rate Credit Card*
Save money with an ongoing $0 annual fee, the same low 11.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases and cash advances, and up to 55 days interest-free.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
20.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$375 p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
50,000 Velocity Points Credit Card*
Receive 50,000 bonus Velocity Points and enjoy complimentary lounge passes, a domestic return flight and insurance covers.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
20.74% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 18 months
Up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points Offer*
Earn up to 60,000 bonus points in the first 3 months and save with a $64 first year annual fee. Plus, a long-term balance transfer offer.
St.George Vertigo Platinum
12.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 26 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Low Rate Platinum Credit Card Offer
Offers a long-term balance transfer, $0 first year annual fee, complimentary travel insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Low Rate Platinum Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees *
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for 13 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
19.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$129 p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Annual Fee Refund & Balance Transfer Offer*
Offers a 0% p.a. for 22 months balance transfer and an annual fee refund each year when you spend $6,000. Plus, 2 airport lounge passes every year.
Citi Platinum Credit Card
20.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 12 months
Bonus Points & Balance Transfer Offer
Earn 10,000 monthly bonus reward Points for 20 months (200,000 total), enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer offer, plus, a $49 first year annual fee.
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Mastercard
11.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($45 p.a. thereafter)
Low Rate Credit Card Offer*
A no-frills card with a low variable purchase interest rate of 11.99% p.a. and a $0 first year annual fee.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
Up to 44 days on purchases
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 6 months
Discounted First Year Annual Fee & Purchase Offer*
finder Exclusive: Save on credit card costs with half the annual fee for the first year and a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases for 14 months.
St.George Amplify Signature - Online Offer
19.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
$0 First Year Annual Fee & Bonus Points Offer*
Enjoy a $0 first year annual fee, 100,000 bonus Amplify Points and 2 complimentary lounge passes per year.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Exclusive Offer
20.24% p.a.
Up to 45 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
$0 First Year Annual Fee and Bonus Points Offer*
finder Exclusive:
$0 first year annual fee & up to 90,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex)
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card - Online Offer
20.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 24 months Balance Transfer Offer*
Earn reward Points per $1 spent, take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 24 month balance transfer offer, plus complimentary international travel insurance.
Qantas Premier Platinum
19.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$299 p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months
60,000 bonus Qantas Points with Balance Transfer Offer
Get 60,000 bonus Qantas Points and a $300 Qantas Flight Voucher when you spend $4,000 within the first 90 days.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$49 p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
Low Purchase Rate & Balance Transfer Offer*
Offers a $49 annual fee, 10% cashback on purchases made in the first 3 months (capped at $100) and 0% p.a. for 14 months on balance transfers.
ANZ First Visa Credit Card
19.74% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$30 p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Low Annual Fee and up to 44 days interest-free
Get up to 18 months interest-free on balance transfers and save with a low $30 annual fee. Plus, up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Citi Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive...

Interest rate

20.99

Annual fee

49*

*$149 p.a. after first year

Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card ...

Interest rate

20.74

Annual fee

64*

*$129 p.a. after first year

American Express Westpac Altitude Pla...

Interest rate

20.24

Annual fee

50*

*$249 p.a. after first year

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