rewards credit card vs low interest credit card

Reward Programs vs Low Interest Cards

How to work out what’s better for you: credit card rewards or a low interest rate?

Rewards and low interest rates are two of the most popular features to look for in a new credit card, but they don’t often go hand-in-hand. Instead it’s more common for a card with low rates to have only basic features, while a card with rewards is more likely to have a high standard variable rate of interest. So if the choice between a low rate and rewards credit card leaves you scratching your head, read this guide to work out which type of credit card is right for you.

How to choose between a rewards credit card and a low interest credit card

Both rewards and low interest credit cards are designed to offer benefits for specific spending habits and needs. To put it simply, rewards credit cards offer the most benefits to people who use their card often and always pay back what they spend, while low rate cards offer some savings to people who frequently carry a balance. If both of these scenarios apply to you, then you can use the following questions to help weigh up rewards programs and low interest rates.

What’s your income?

Your regular salary can help narrow down your credit card comparison by looking at the minimum income requirements for different products. For example, a low rate credit card could be more accessible if you’re a low income earner, with minimum income requirements often starting at $15,000. Rewards credit cards tend to have a higher minimum income requirement than low rate credit cards as they are more premium products with higher credit limits.

How much do you want to pay?

Most credit cards come with an account fee that you have to pay on a yearly basis, which can vary significantly based on the type of card you choose. For example, most reward and frequent flyer cards have annual fees well above $100, while low rate credit cards frequently have fees of less than $100. You’ll want to make sure that the value you get from either the rewards or the savings from low interest outweigh the cost of the card, otherwise it’s not of benefit to you.

What’s your average monthly spend?

A rewards credit card is cost-effective if it gives more value than it takes. Put simply: you must spend enough on the card to recoup the cost of the annual fee in rewards value. So if your annual fee is $100, you would want to earn at least $100 worth of value through the rewards program. As most credit cards offer points per $1 spent, your average monthly spending can help you work out whether or not a card will be worth it for you.A common way to calculate this value is to look at the points required for a gift card, and then work out how much you would have to spend to redeem this reward (and offset the cost of the annual fee).

*For example, a Westpac Altitude Rewards credit card has an annual fee of $100 and requires 19,000 points to redeem a $100 Myer gift card. It offers 1 point per $1 spent on a Visa card linked to the account, and 2 points per $1 spent on an Amex card. That means you would have to spend between $9,500 on the Amex card and $19,000 on the Visa card to balance out the annual fee.

You can use this calculation for any credit card and any reward when working out whether the product is cost-effective for your annual spend.

Your monthly spend is also an important thing to consider with a low rate card. If the card has a 0% purchase rate, it’ll only be in place for a promotional period, so you’ll want to make sure you can pay off the amount you’ve charged to the card by the time the offer ends and the standard rate applies. If it’s a low (not 0%) interest rate, you’ll still need to consider your monthly spend to understand how much interest you could potentially accrue on what you charge. This will also help you determine whether the card is of value to you.

*Rates and figures used for example purposes only

Do you usually pay your balance in full?

When comparing rewards and low rate credit cards, ask yourself whether you’re able to pay off your account balance in full each month. This will help you decide whether a rewards credit card or low rate card is more affordable.

Rewards credit cards usually have high rates of interest, so you’ll accrue a higher amount of interest if you’re unable to pay your balance in full by the end of the month. As your interest charges grow, this will counteract the value you’re getting from your rewards.

If you do struggle to repay your balance each month, a low rate or 0% purchase credit card could be a more suitable option. Not only will you have lower interest costs, but you won’t have the promise of rewards tempting you to overspend.As you can see, there are many considerations to weigh up when deciding between a rewards credit card and a low rate card. Essentially, if you’re a big spender and frequent traveller who always pays their balance in full, a rewards credit card could be a great way to get extra value back from your spending. Otherwise, if you struggle to repay your balance each month and want to keep your card costs low, a low interest rate credit card could be the right option for you.

Low interest rate credit cards vs. rewards credit cards

Rates last updated June 27th, 2017
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Interest Free Period Annual fee Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Product Description
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
13.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Gain access to Visa Global Customer Assistance Services and add an additional cardholder at no cost.
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card
13.25% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$55 p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Enjoy exclusive offers with the home&Away Privilege Program, and the ability to pay with Apple Pay.
St.George Vertigo Platinum
12.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 20 months
Features platinum insurance covers including Extended Warranty, Price Guarantee and Purchase Cover Insurance.
St.George Vertigo Visa
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 14 months
Receive exclusive ticket and lifestyle offers through Visa Entertainment and the security of Falcon Fraud protection.
Bankwest Breeze Mastercard
12.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
0% p.a. for 21 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive up to 55 day interest-free on purchases and free worldwide emergency card replacement.
Westpac Low Rate Card - Online Only Balance Transfer Offer
13.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Offers a long term balance transfer rate of 0% for 24 months and up to $25 off your first Uber ride.
Bendigo Bank Basic Black Credit Card
12.24% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$45 p.a.
A basic low fee, low ongoing rate card that calculates interest from the monthly statement date.
BankSA Vertigo Visa
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 14 months
Add one additional cardholder at no extra cost and enjoy the protection of secure shopping and fraud monitoring.
ANZ Low Rate Platinum
11.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Enjoy platinum benefits with exclusive discounts, complimentary travel insurance and personal concierge.
NAB Low Rate Platinum Card
13.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$100 p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Includes four complimentary travel insurances, concierge service and complimentary purchase insurance covers.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$58 p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Get peace of mind with ANZ Falcon security protection and Mastercard's Zero Liability Guarantee.
Coles Low Rate Mastercard
12.99% p.a.
Up to 62 days on purchases
$49 p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Receive $100 off a single Coles Supermarket shop If you apply, are approved by 30 June 2017 and make a purchase within the first 30 days.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
12.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 20 months
Take advantage of overseas travel insurance, purchase cover insurance, price guarantee cover and extended warranties.
American Express Essential®  Credit Card
14.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
Earn 1.00 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent and receive a $50 credit when you meet the eligibility criteria.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
Choose to get the protection of CreditShield Edge and enjoy the convenience of Visa payWave.
Westpac Low Rate Card
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.49% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
Get an additional cardholder at no extra cost and take advantage of Visa PayWave and Samsung Pay.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated June 27th, 2017
Name Product Product Description Bonus Points Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC) Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee
ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card
Receive complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance, unlimited airport lounge access and a 24/7 personal concierge.
75,000 bonus points
2
18.79% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($375 p.a. thereafter)
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
Receive 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $2,500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.
75,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter)
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
Consolidate your debt with a low balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 24 months and a host of platinum privileges.
1
0
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement and earn up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent.
60,000 bonus points
1
0
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
Receive a complimentary Virgin Australia return Economy domestic flight each anniversary year and complimentary travel insurance.
100,000 bonus points
0
1.5
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
American Express Explorer® Credit Card
Receive a $400 Travel Credit every year and up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport.
50,000 bonus points
2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Enjoy an annual fee refund every year if you meet the spend requirement, plus prestige services including a personal concierge service.
1
0
19.99% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
Earn 2 Velocity Points on top of the standard earn rate per $1 spent in the first 3 months, plus a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
St.George Amplify Signature
Receive up to 60,000 bonus Amplify points on eligible spend and earn up to 3 reward points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
60,000 bonus points
1.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
ANZ Rewards Platinum
Earn up to 50,000 bonus Reward Points when you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months plus $0 in the first year.
50,000 bonus points
1.5
18.79% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($95 p.a. thereafter)
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum - Qantas Rewards
Fly faster with up to 1.000 Qantas Point per $1 spent and receive complimentary overseas travel insurance.
40,000 bonus points
0.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
St.George Amplify Platinum - Amplify Qantas
Fly faster with up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent and receive complimentary overseas travel insurance.
40,000 bonus points
0.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
St.George Amplify Signature - Amplify Qantas
Fly faster with up to 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent and receive 2 complimentary Qantas Lounge Passes.
60,000 bonus points
0.75
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Qantas American Express Premium Card - Exclusive Offer
Enjoy two complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year, plus the protection of complimentary travel and purchase insurance.
50,000 bonus points
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$249 p.a.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature - Amplify Qantas
Fly faster with up to 1.500 Qantas Point per $1 spent and receive 2 complimentary Qantas Lounge Passes.
60,000 bonus points
0.75
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
BankSA Amplify Signature - Amplify Qantas
Fly faster with up to 1.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent and instantly become a Visa Luxury Hotel Collection member.
0.75
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
NAB Rewards Classic Card
Earn 0.75 NAB Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive complimentary purchase protection insurance.
25,000 bonus points
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
BankSA Amplify Platinum - Amplify Qantas
Fly faster with up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent and receive complimentary overseas travel insurance.
0.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Westpac Altitude Black
Earn 80,000 bonus Altitude points when you reach a minimum spend of $5,000 on eligible purchases. Offer ends 28 June 2017.
80,000 bonus points
1.25
3
20.24% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
BankSA Amplify Platinum
Earn up to 2 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent and redeem for a wide range of products including flights.
1
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature
Earn up to 3 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive an additional card at no extra cost.
60,000 bonus points
1.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card - 30k Bonus Points offer
Take off sooner with up to 1 Velocity Point per $1 spent and earn up to 30,000 bonus Velocity Points. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
30,000 bonus points
1
20.74% p.a.
$144 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($289 p.a. thereafter)
St.George Amplify Platinum
Choose between Amplify or Qantas rewards program and enjoy uncapped points earning. Plus, receive up to 40,000 bonus points on eligible spend.
40,000 bonus points
1
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
40,000 bonus points
1.5
20.24% p.a.
$225 p.a.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
A no annual fee frequent flyer credit card which lets you earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent.
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum
Earn up to 2 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent and receive complimentary travel insurance.
40,000 bonus points
1
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
NAB Velocity Rewards Premium Card
Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months and complimentary insurance covers.
0.5
1
19.99% p.a.
$150 p.a.
Citi Qantas Signature Credit Card
Earn from 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on selected purchases and get a 2 airport lounge visits per year.
50,000 bonus points
0.5
20.99% p.a.
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
American Express Platinum Business Card
Enjoy a platinum business concierge, complimentary Virgin Lounge access, worldwide travel insurance and luxury hotel benefits.
100,000 bonus points
0
1
$1,500 p.a.
BankSA Amplify Signature
Earn up to 3 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent, receive complimentary travel insurance and access to the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection.
1.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
American Express Gold Business Card
Take advantage of no pre-set spending limit, data that feeds to MYOB accounting software and up to 51 days interest-free on purchases.
10,000 bonus points
0
1
$169 p.a.
American Express Platinum Card
Receive an annual $300 Platinum Travel Credit, membership to an elite tier of partner programs and access to more than 1,000 VIP lounges.
80,000 bonus points
0
1
$1,200 p.a.
NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card
This card comes with a low balance transfer rate and the ability to earn up to 1 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
0.5
1
19.99% p.a.
$250 p.a.
NAB Velocity Rewards Card
Get two cards and pay one annual fee plus enjoy a low introductory rate on balance transfers. Earn Velocity Reward points on every $1 you spend on eligible purchases.
0.5
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
NAB Qantas Rewards Card
A dual Amex and Visa card that allows you to earn up to 0.75 Qantas Points per $1 spent, plus complimentary purchase protection insurance.
0.5
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
NAB flybuys Rewards Card
Earn flybuys points plus a low interest rate for 6 months on balance transfers.
1
0
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
Citi Rewards Signature Credit Card
Get 75,000 bonus Reward Points on your first eligible purchase. Convert them to Qantas Points.
75,000 bonus points
1
20.99% p.a.
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Citi Prestige Card
Receive 70,000 bonus points on eligible spend. Option to earn opt-in to the Qantas Rewards program and earn Qantas Points.
70,000 bonus points
3
20.99% p.a.
$700 p.a.
David Jones American Express
Receive benefits through David Jones including complimentary standard delivery, gift wrapping and invites to exclusive fashion events.
30,000 bonus points
1
20.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
Receive a $100 eGift Card when you apply by 30 June 2017 and make an eligible purchase by 31 July 2017.
1
0
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)

Compare up to 4 providers

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