Your credit card is about to change

Banks, credit unions and other credit card issuers are making big changes to credit cards in response to new rules being introduced in 2017. From 1 July 2017, new credit card interchange benchmark caps mean credit card issuers are winding back rewards deals, points earning rates and increasing the number of points required to earn rewards, like free flights.

American Express companion cards are often the most lucrative rewards cards in the market with higher earn rates than their Visa and Mastercard companion credit cards, are being particularly impacted by the new rules. American Express cards will now be subject to the same rules as those that apply to the MasterCard and Visa credit card systems.

Visa Australia’s Rob Walls, told Banking Day that: “The biggest flow-on effect of the regulation is expected to be a dilution of reward programs.”

Walls said banks and credit unions are already making changes like imposing new caps on the number of points that can be earned in a given period and changing the redemption rates on their credit card reward points. Many credit card issuers are substituting traditional rewards like free flights for rewards like discounts from retailers and discounts on other banking products.

Australians don’t like the new credit card changes

Visa commissioned a study into consumer reactions to the changes happening now in the rewards credit card market. Sixty-two per cent of Aussies surveyed said discounts on other banking products are not a fair replacement for the reward points they currently earn. 63 per cent said retail discounts are not a fair replacement for their current rewards system.

And it’s not because Aussies demand financially high value rewards.

“Value does not have to be financial,” said Rob Walls, “Customers recognise value in greater control and information as well.”

In other countries, credit card issuers have been replacing rewards with great non-financial features for users like mobile apps, GPS, usage control, activity alerts, spending reports, digital receipts and cardless cash said Rob Walls.

Some credit card features are improving

Mr Walls said some credit cards in Australia will soon offer some of these new innovations. Already in Australia, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac offer cardless cash withdrawals. Citibank has introduced a fixed payment option allowing credit card customers to convert part of their revolving balance to a personal loan-like arrangement at a lower interest rate.

American Express has also added another payment option for large purchases. Large purchases made on an American Express card can be repaid in monthly instalments at zero interest.

If you don’t like what is happening to your rewards credit card deal, take control and find a card better suited to your needs. You can compare rewards credit cards from all of Australia’s major banks, credit unions and credit card issuers here.

You can compare all types of credit cards with InfoChoice today.


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