Let your spending habits pay you back in valuable reward points that fit your wants and needs
The rewards credit card has come a long way since the days when only frequent flyers benefited. Miles are still around if travelling is your goal, but you can also receive other perks just for using your card. From cash back rewards to discounts on your favourite products, there is a rewards card out there for everyone. Families can now pool their points under one account to enhance their point-earning potential.
Credit card companies are partnering up with all types of companies these days, making it even easier to earn and get rewarded. Once you know where to shop to get the most points, you’ll become a pro at racking up those rewards. The most common rewards offered by credit cards include:
- Frequent flyer or air travel rewards
- Merchandise and vouchers
- Cash back
Once you have decided which rewards program makes sense for you and your family, the next thing you should do is compare the ones that are available through a number of different banks. You are going to want to look at their partners in order to maximise your point potential with merchants and stores that you already frequent. Make sure that you focus on those that are offering the most points for the least amount of money spent.
Credit card companies have begun to really go out of their way to make sure that there is a rewards program to entice any lifestyle. If you are not sure what type of credit card rewards program meets your family’s needs, take a look at what each one has to offer.
The frequent flyers
Do you belong to a family of regular travellers? Frequent flyer miles have changed dramatically over the years, with some credit card companies now removing the restrictions that used to make them so hard to use. Instead of months full of black-out dates, you will find that it is easier to travel where you want, when you want, once you’ve earned enough points.
Whether you travel around the world for business, or like the yearly holiday abroad with the family, a frequent flyer rewards credit card is worth thinking about for a number of reasons:
- Free flights. Even getting one ticket for free when having to buy for a family of four can be go a long way in helping a family save on their travel expenses.
- Lounge privileges. As an added bonus, many of these frequent flyer rewards cards allow you use of the airlines exclusive lounge area while waiting for your flight.
- Traveller’s insurance. A family can save big on the complimentary insurance that is a part of the perks with many frequent flyer rewards cards.
- Traveller’s discounts. Check the cards partners as you could also get exclusive deals on hotels and car rentals when you use your credit card.
The transient family
Like many families in Australia, Celia and her husband live with their two young kids in Sydney while Celia's extended family lives in Brisbane – meaning many trips back home!
Knowing that they fly to Brisbane at least two to three times a year, it suited Celia to sign up to the Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card and use the free flights to take the sting out of buying so many airfares for her family of four. She also elected to put the credit card in her name as only the cardholder is entitled to the free flight and she can fly up with the kids to see her family if her husband has to work.
The grocery grabbers
Are you constantly whipping out your credit card to pay for family groceries? Discounts and gift cards on items you normally purchase makes good sense when you are counting your pennies. Australian families on a tight budget will benefit from a rewards card that pays you back for spending with discounts on groceries, clothes and those other necessities that chip away at your monthly income.
If you choose merchandise as your rewards goal, you’ll have access to a tonne of freebies and deals such as:
- Grocery store loyalty cards. Many of the grocers you frequent the most will pay you for your loyalty. Cardholders will receive instant discounts on select merchandise, while still earning points towards rewards.
- Gift cards. Receiving a gift card as a reward for shopping can go a long way. Some programs, like Woolworths Everyday Platinum credit card. It offers "hassle-free money back rewards" by automatically converting your points into a gift card at the end of a four-month period. You must earn at least 4,000 points to receive the minimum reward of a $20 gift card, after that any extra points are converted in $5 increments.
This credit card allows you to earn points anywhere you spend, however extra points will be rewarded if you buy Woolworths Select or Mobile products (3 points per $1) or buy other items in Woolworths and partner stores (2 points per $1). For bills and other eligible credit card purchases you get 1 point per $1.
Casey's grocery bonus
Casey is a mum of four so she is often budgeting to fit in the usual expenses of running a household. When shopping around for a credit card she knew that she had a preference for shopping at Woolworths, so she thought she would use the Everyday Money credit card to get something back for what she was already doing.
On average Casey will spend $200 a week on groceries ($80 of which is on Woolworths Select products) and has monthly bills that total $400. So at a minimum Casey knows she can earn at least 9280 points over a 16-week period. This rewards her with gift cards worth approximately $45.
The luxury lovers
Do you and your family prefer the finer things in life? Does the bulk of your family budget is used on your family’s everyday necessities, leaving little room for luxuries? This can change if you opt for a rewards card that swaps points for products. Visit the rewards program online store and you will find it stocked with tons of items you dream of owning, but never have the spare money to indulge in.
With this type of rewards program you can, just for making your necessary purchases by using your credit card. Some of the perks you can look forward to include:
- Convenience. Almost all of the major rewards credit card programs have an online store where you can see how many points you need to get the items you want.
- Bonus points. Find a rewards program that offers bonus points and reach your luxury goal sooner. Some give extra points just for signing on, while with others you can get double or even triple points per dollar by making your purchases through their partners.
- Wide selection. At the online store for your rewards card you should find a wide selection of goods to suit any family’s desires. From big screen TVs to video game consoles and more, you will find the item that makes your family feel as if they are living in the lap of luxury.
A budget-friendly credit card that links to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program is the Qantas American Express Discovery Card. It matches 1 point for every dollar spent. However, the real kicker is that it doesn't have an annual fee!
Every parent deserves the occasional treat, and they can get one through the right credit card rewards program. By using the card to rack up points, you and your better half can indulge in parent only rewards such as:
- Movie tickets for a well deserved date night
- Champagne, wine and other spirits for an adult only party, or just a romantic dinner for two
- Fine jewelry for an unexpected anniversary gift
- Cosmetics that keep mom looking fresh and beautiful no matter what
- Watches so that dad never misses a practice
- And many more
With these types of rewards available, parents never need to feel guilty about dipping into the family budget to give themselves a special gift.
Genna is a stay-at-home mum busy raising her twin daughters, so at the moment her budget is tight. The Qantas American Express Discovery Card was perfect for Genna's family because she's diligent in paying off her monthly credit card total and the zero-dollar annual fee made it one less expense to worry about.
Genna and her husband use their cards (her husband took a free supplementary card) for almost all of their monthly expenses. However, one luxury that the couple really missed was freely spending on tasty bottles of wine. With this in mind Genna set about making sure they collected as many points as they could and when she reached 40,000 points she swapped it at the Qantas Frequent Flyer Store for a mixed dozen pack of wines that came with three bonus reds and three bonus whites. This stocked their wine rack and allowed them to have a guilt-free reward that they enjoyed together without disrupting the tight family budget.
How do I know which rewards program is right for my family?
Before you even begin to compare the various rewards programs available, you should consider the needs of your family. Start with the way you use your card and your family’s spending habits, looking for cards that give more points when used at certain retailers. Then consider whether you will benefit the most from travel discounts, everyday purchase perks, or luxury items that enhance your lifestyle. Credit card rewards programs are a wonderful incentive, but only if you are rewarded in a way that matters to you.
Things I should take into consideration
While making your comparisons of the different rewards cards available, take the following points into consideration:
- Rates and fees. If the interest rate and fees on your rewards card are significantly higher than most, your rewards potential will lose some value.
- Earn rate. Ideally, you should be earning a point for each dollar spent, but there are also rewards card that will give you more points when your purchases meet certain conditions.
- Type of rewards. Of course to maximise the benefit of a rewards card for your family, you should choose one that gives you rewards you can appreciate.
- Other features. Many of these cards are also loaded with other features, such as balance transfer offers, complimentary insurance on travelling and purchases and concierge service.
- Flexibility. While some cards will have a list of partners that will maximise your reward earning, others may only reward you for shopping in their store, or when purchasing their licensed products.
Knowledge is point earning power when it comes to choosing the right rewards credit card for your family. Compare the cards carefully, and pick the rewards program that allows you to maximise on the benefits for your entire family.
Frequently asked questions
Is the eligibility criteria different for a rewards credit card?
No, although some that offer high balance limits may only accept applications from individuals who fall into a high salary bracket.
Will my rewards points expire if I try and save to get more than one ticket at a time for my family?
That depends on the terms of your credit card, but you can find rewards programs where the points can be carried over from year to year.
Will I be limited to how many points I can earn in a year?
There are some cards which have a point cap in place which could hinder your point earning if your family typically spends more than what is allowed.
If my spouse has an additional card, will her purchases go towards our rewards program?
Yes, rewards cards are actually measuring the activity on the entire account, not just on one card.
Is it hard to cash in points for rewards?
Shoppers rewards are usually given instantaneously, or automatically making them very easy to cash in on. Frequent flyer points can be cashed in when you are making your travel plans, and if you chose a merchandise rewards program you will go to their online store through your account, pick your item and have the points automatically deducted.
Will I be able to track my points?
In most cases you are going to have a special online rewards account where you can keep track of your points earned.