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 November 23rd, 2017
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Interest Free Period Annual fee Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
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 24 months
Platinum card benefits plus 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee) and $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$79 p.a.
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive 0% interest offers on purchases & balance transfers, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and free emergency card replacement.
St.George Vertigo Visa - Online Offer
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 18 months
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee). Plus, $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
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
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee when you apply online by 31 January 2018.
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
Receive a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
McGrath Pink Visa
4.99% p.a. for 8 months (reverts to 8.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$40 p.a.
4.99% p.a. for 8 months
A basic, no-frills credit card with up to 55 days interest-free that donates half of the card's annual fee to the McGrath Foundation.
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Mastercard
11.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$45 p.a.
A no-frills card with a competitive annual fee and a low variable interest rate of 11.99% p.a. on purchases.
bcu Classic Credit Card
11.80% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$45 p.a.
Enjoy a competitive interest rate of 11.8% p.a. on purchases, plus up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
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
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, extended warranty cover and 0% foreign transaction fees.
Greater Bank Visa Credit Card
11.95% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$40 p.a.
Same low 11.95% p.a. interest rate on purchases and cash advances, plus, up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
NAB Low Rate Platinum Card
0% p.a. for 9 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$100 p.a.
4.99% p.a. for 6 months
A platinum card that offers 0% p.a. for 9 months on purchases. Plus 4.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$58 p.a.
With a low minimum credit limit of $1,000, this no frills card allows you to add up to 3 additional cardholders for $0 and has Mastercard PayPass.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
Up to 44 days on purchases
$129 p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Until 30 November 2017, save with 0% p.a. on purchases for 12 months. Plus, up to 0.66 Velocity Points per $1 spent.
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 3% balance transfer fee
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with your Essential Credit Card.
ANZ Low Rate Platinum
11.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
Get $250 back to your new ANZ Low Rate Platinum when you spend $500 on eligible purchases within the first 60 days from card approval.
CUA Low Rate Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 13 months
Offer a low minimum credit limit of $500, the ability to use Apple Pay and Android Pay and a discounted annual fee for the first year.
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Platinum Mastercard
11.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$89 p.a.
A low rate platinum card with premium features such as mobile phone and tablet insurance and purchase protections
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
4.99% p.a. for 6 months
This card offers a low introductory rate of 0% p.a. for 6 months on purchases. Plus 4.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months.
Australian Military Bank Low Rate Visa Credit Card
10.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$49 p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
Enjoy up to 55 interest-free days on purchases, add an additional cardholder for $0 and enjoy the convenience of Visa payWave.
Bankwest Low Rate Business Mastercard
0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 11.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
Offers an introductory 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases for 12 months. Plus, add up to 3 additional cardholders for $0.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated November 23rd, 2017
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC) Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
100,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Earn Qantas Points for your spending combined with overseas travel insurance and a balance transfer rate of 4.99% p.a. for 6 months.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
60,000 bonus points
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Qantas Premier Platinum
75,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Fly faster with up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent, receive 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations, plus, included travel insurance.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, take advantage of a long-term balance transfer offer and receive complimentary travel insurance.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
0.66
0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$129 p.a.
Save with 0% p.a. on purchases for 12 months. Plus, a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher every year you hold the card.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
65,000 bonus points
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter)
Get 65,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $2,500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Offers complimentary membership to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program and international travel insurance included.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
75,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 75 Bonus Status Credits when you apply by 24 January 2018, and buy and fly return with Qantas by 31 May 2018.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn Qantas points that can be redeemed for a one way, return or multi-destination Classic Flight Reward on over 50 partner airlines.
NAB Rewards Signature Card
100,000 bonus points
1.25
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a.
Receive 100,000 bonus NAB Rewards points when you spend $3,000 on everyday purchases in the first 60 days of account opening.
bcu Rewards credit card
12.80% p.a.
$89 p.a.
Enjoy a low ongoing purchase rate, get 0.66% cashback for every dollar spent, plus take advantage of up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Consolidate your debt with a low balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 24 months and get a host of platinum privileges.
Bendigo Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard
100,000 bonus points
1.5
19.99% p.a.
$89 p.a.
Get rewarded for every $1 spent on eligible purchases and balance transfers. Plus, enjoy a range of premium benefits.
ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card
75,000 bonus points
2
18.79% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($375 p.a. thereafter)
Offers unlimited access to participating Véloce airport lounges outside of Australia and a personal 24/7 concierge service.
Qantas American Express Premium Card
30,000 bonus points
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$249 p.a.
Enjoy two complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year and the protection of complimentary travel insurance.
CUA Platinum Credit Card
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Collect 1 CUA Rich Life Rewards point per $1 spent, plus receive complimentary travel and purchase protection insurances.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive a $400 Travel Credit every year and up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 3 bonus Velocity Points per $1 for the first 3 months, a first year annual fee refund and a yearly $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher.
American Express Essential Credit Card
1
14.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with your Essential Credit Card.
NAB Rewards Platinum Card
60,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$195 p.a.
Take advantage of 60,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirements. Plus, seven complimentary insurances.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
55,000 bonus points
1.5
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Receive a complimentary Qantas domestic return economy flight and 2 American Express Airport Lounge entries each calendar year.
Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card - 80k Bonus Points offer
80,000 bonus points
1
20.74% p.a.
$289 p.a.
Take off sooner with up to 1 Velocity Point per $1 spent and earn up to 80,000 bonus Velocity Points. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
Caltex StarCard
1
$35.40 p.a.
Minimise your monthly fuel expenses and collect Qantas Points on eligible business purchases.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
1
19.99% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Transfer existing debt at 0% p.a. for 22 months with a one-time 2% BT fee, plus, receive a complimentary insurance package.
ANZ Rewards Platinum
65,000 bonus points
1.5
18.79% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($95 p.a. thereafter)
This card comes with complimentary insurance including travel and medical insurance, purchase security insurance and extended warranties.
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$99 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Exclusive to finder, receive a long-term, no fee balance transfer and earn up to 1.25 Suncorp Rewards Points per $1 spent.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
50,000 bonus points
1.5
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
Receive a complimentary Virgin Australia return Economy domestic flight each anniversary year and complimentary travel insurance.
NAB Velocity Rewards Premium Card
0.66
19.99% p.a.
$150 p.a.
Offers up to 0.66 Velocity Points per $1 spent on purchases, combined with complimentary insurance covers and a concierge service.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
40,000 bonus points
1.5
20.24% p.a.
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
75,000 bonus points
2
19.99% p.a.
$160 p.a.
Introductory 75,000 bonus points offer and a low interest rate on balance transfers.
Citi Qantas Signature Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
0.5
20.99% p.a.
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn from 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on selected purchases and get 2 airport lounge visits per year.
American Express Platinum Business Card
120,000 bonus points
0
1
$1,500 p.a.
Enjoy a platinum business concierge, complimentary Virgin Lounge access, worldwide travel insurance and luxury hotel benefits.
American Express Gold Business Card
10,000 bonus points
0
1
$169 p.a.
Take advantage of no pre-set spending limit, data that feeds to MYOB accounting software and up to 51 days interest-free on purchases.
Commonwealth Bank Business Awards Credit Card
1
0.5
20.74% p.a.
$100 p.a.
Earn up to 1.5 Awards points per $1 spent, easily integrate your online accounting software, plus complimentary Transit Accident Insurance.
American Express Business Explorer Credit Card
100,000 bonus points
2
16.99% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you meet the requirement and 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent.
American Express Platinum Card
80,000 bonus points
1
$1,200 p.a.
Receive an annual $300 Platinum Travel Credit, membership to an elite tier of partner programs and access to more than 1,100 VIP lounges.
NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card
25,000 bonus points
0.66
19.99% p.a.
$250 p.a.
A premium card that offers 25,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirements. Plus a 24/7 personal concierge.
Commonwealth Bank Business Awards Platinum Credit Card
1
0.5
20.74% p.a.
$300 p.a.
Earn up to 3 Awards points per $1 spent and receive complimentary travel and unauthorised transaction insurances.
NAB Velocity Rewards Card
0.5
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
This Visa card offers 0.5 Velocity Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and special Visa Entertainment offers.
NAB Qantas Rewards Card
0.5
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
A Visa card that rewards you with 0.5 Qantas points per $1 spent, plus complimentary purchase protection insurance.
Citi Signature Credit Card
120,000 bonus points
1
20.99% p.a.
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn from 1 Point per $1 spent on selected purchases and receive a complimentary Priority Pass membership with two airport lounge visits per year.
Citi Prestige Card
150,000 bonus points
3
20.99% p.a.
$700 p.a.
Earn from 1 Point per $1 spent on selected purchases and enjoy unlimited airport lounge access with a complimentary Priority Pass.
David Jones American Express
20,000 bonus points
1
20.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive benefits through David Jones including complimentary standard delivery, gift wrapping and invites to exclusive fashion events.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you apply by 31 January 2018 and make an eligible purchase by 28 February 2018.
David Jones American Express Platinum Card - Qantas Frequent Flyer
30,000 bonus points
0.75
20.74% p.a.
$295 p.a.
Fly faster with up to 3 Qantas Points per $1 spent and receive complimentary travel insurance when travel is booked on your card.
Commonwealth Bank Business Gold Awards Credit Card
1
0.5
20.74% p.a.
$150 p.a.
Earn up to 2 Awards points per $1 spent, receive an unsecured credit limit of up to $50,000 and up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card
100,000 bonus points
1.25
$450 p.a.
Earn up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and enjoy up to 51 days interest-free on purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

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