Key credit card terms you should know
Comparing credit cards is easier when you fully understand the different terms and features on offer. At first it might seem like providers are speaking a different language, but it doesn’t take long to become familiar with the common terms.
We’ve put together this glossary to explain any terms you may not already know.
With some credit cards you can have an additional cardholder, which means you could get an extra card for your partner or a relative to use. You will still be responsible for all credit card bills as the card is in your name. Additional cards are generally free, but some cards may charge a small fee, such as $10.
An annual fee is an administrative cost that you pay each year for using your card. The amount varies from card to card, and can range from $0 to $700.
Annual percentage rate
The annual percentage rate is the interest rate shown as a figure for the whole year rather than monthly amounts.
A balance transfer is where you transfer a debt from another lender to a new credit card. This is typically done to take advantage of lower interest rates or an introductory interest-free period.
A cash advance is cash you withdraw from your credit card. Credit card providers typically charge a transaction fee for cash advances, as well as a higher interest rate than for purchases. There is often no interest-free period for cash advances.
The official cash rate is determined by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and is the interest rate of the overnight money markets. That is, the amount of interest a commercial bank must pay on a loan it takes out with the RBA. The official cash rate may affect the interest rate on your credit card, depending on your provider and whether your card’s rate is fixed or variable.
This is the set amount of credit available on your card.
Concierge services on a credit card are not dissimilar to those of a hotel. You can call them for help with things such as flight and hotel information, purchasing and delivering tickets to events, booking hair and make-up appointments, restaurant reservations, referrals for goods and services, and much more.
Foreign transaction fee
Some cards charge a foreign transaction fee when you make a purchase that is processed overseas, whether it’s an online transaction or while you’re travelling. The percentage of this fee will vary depending on the card and provider.
Gold and platinum cards
Gold and platinum cards can offer additional features, such as rewards programs, concierge services, complimentary travel insurance, frequent flyer program links and cashback offers.
A credit card’s ‘interest-free days’ refers to the maximum period of time you won’t be charged interest on a purchase if you pay the closing balance by the due date. The interest-free period starts from the beginning date of your statement period, and will vary for each purchase, depending on when it was made.
Some credit cards offer a special introductory interest rate. This usually means low interest for a period of time (for example, six months or a year), after which the rate will increase.
Late payment fee
A late payment fee is charged to your account if you don’t make your minimum payment by the due date. The amount will vary depending on the provider and can be found in the cardholder agreement.
The minimum repayment on your credit card statement is often calculated as a percentage of your overall balance, and is the lowest amount you can pay back in order to avoid a late payment fee. However, you will start to accrue interest charges on the remaining amount.
The purchase rate is the rate at which interest is charged on purchases made using the card. It is often compared with the cash rate.
If you’re across all of these terms, you’re on your way to finding the credit card that works best for you. Use the InfoChoice credit card comparison table to help narrow down your choices, and get a full run-down of the fees and charges on each card’s comprehensive information page.