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 October 22nd, 2017
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Interest Free Period Annual fee Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Product Description
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. Plus, use of the Westpac mobile banking app.
St.George Vertigo Platinum
12.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Offers complimentary travel insurance, complimentary purchase insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
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.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa Credit Card
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$55 p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and the protection of Verified by Visa online purchases.
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
Add additional cardholders for $0 and pay using Apple Pay. Also enjoy exclusive offers with the home&Away Privilege Program.
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 up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and free worldwide emergency card replacement.
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.
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
Enjoy the protection of 7 complimentary insurances including overseas travel and purchase protection insurance.
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.
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.
Westpac Lite Card
9.90% p.a.
Up to 45 days on purchases
$108 p.a.
Keep credit card costs low with a maximum credit limit of $4,000 and no foreign transaction fees.
St.George Vertigo Visa
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$55 p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive a low annual fee and the ability to make contactless payments with Visa payWave technology.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
12.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Get a range of complimentary insurance covers, access to a 24/7 concierge and the convenience of Visa payWave contactless technology.
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 31 October 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
Receive a $50 credit when you apply online, are approved and spend $750 on your new card within the first 3 months of card membership.
ANZ Low Rate Platinum
11.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
Enjoy platinum benefits with exclusive discounts, complimentary travel and purchase insurances and a 24/7 personal concierge.
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
Offers a low $500 minimum credit limit, special offers from Visa Entertainment and Tap and Pay capabilities.
BankSA Vertigo Visa
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$55 p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
A no-frills Visa with the protection of a zero liability policy and a 24/7 fraud monitoring service.
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

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated October 22nd, 2017
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC) Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Westpac Altitude Black - Altitude Qantas 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
0.625
1.25
20.24% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 20,000 points on approval and an additional 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement. Ends 26 October 2017.
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 - 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.
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)
Receive 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $2,500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
50,000 bonus points
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter)
Get 50,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $2,500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months.
Westpac Altitude Black - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
1.25
2.5
20.24% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 20,000 points on approval and an additional 80,000 bonus Altitude Points when you meet the spend requirement. Ends 26 October 2017.
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.
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.
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, plus the protection of complimentary travel and purchase insurance.
St.George Amplify Platinum - Amplify Qantas
40,000 bonus points
0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas points on your eligible spending and receive complimentary travel and purchase protection insurance.
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.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum
40,000 bonus points
1
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn 1 Amplify Rewards Point per $1 spent and receive complimentary travel insurance and purchase protection.
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.
Receive a $50 credit when you apply online, are approved and spend $750 on your new card within the first 3 months of card membership.
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.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum - Qantas Rewards
40,000 bonus points
0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Take advantage of a 24/7 concierge service and complimentary travel, purchase protection and extended warranty insurance.
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.
Bendigo Bank Platinum Rewards Mastercard
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.
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.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
90,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive complimentary insurance, a 24/7 concierge service and a promotional balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 6 months.
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.
NAB Rewards Signature Card
90,000 bonus points
1.25
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a.
Offers an introductory rate on balance transfers of 0% p.a. for 6 months with no BT fee.
St.George Amplify Platinum
40,000 bonus points
1
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn up to 1 Amplify Rewards Point per $1 spent and receive complimentary overseas 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
0
19.99% p.a.
$99 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.
St.George Amplify Signature - Amplify Qantas
60,000 bonus points
0.75
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Amplify Qantas members receive two complimentary Qantas Club Lounge invitations per year, plus bonus points on travel spending.
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.
ANZ Rewards Platinum
50,000 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.
St.George Amplify Signature
60,000 bonus points
1.5
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Designed for travellers, this card offers a personalised call centre service, bonus points on travel spending, targeted luxury travel offers and more.
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
0.5
1
19.99% p.a.
$150 p.a.
Offers up to 1 Velocity point per $1 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.
BankSA Amplify Signature
60,000 bonus points
1.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Earn 1.5 Amplify Rewards Points per $1 spent, receive complimentary travel insurance and access to the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection.
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.
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 1,000 VIP lounges.
NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card
25,000 bonus points
0.5
1
19.99% p.a.
$250 p.a.
A dual Amex and Visa card that earns up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on eligible purchases, plus a 24/7 personal concierge.
NAB Velocity Rewards Card
0.5
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
This dual AMEX and Visa card offers up to 0.75 Velocity Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and special Visa Entertainment offers.
NAB Qantas Rewards Card
0.5
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
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.
NAB flybuys Rewards Card
1
19.99% p.a.
$95 p.a.
Earn 1 flybuys point per $1 spent on everyday purchases and receive 7 complimentary insurance covers.
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.
NAB Rewards Business Signature Card
75,000 bonus points
1.25
18.50% p.a.
$175 p.a.
Earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on everyday business purchases in the first 60 days of account opening.
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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