What is the best low rate credit card in Australia?

In late 2019, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released figures the showed the average household credit card debt is $3357. In fact, Australians had wiped $2.45 billion off Australia’s credit debt bottom line.

Credit card use was down. The economy was thriving. And then … the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

According to data analytics company JD Power the trend has now reversed.

“While 42 per cent of cardholders say they are spending less on their credit card, 26 per cent indicate using their card for more household necessities. More than one-quarter (26 per cent) are making more online purchases and 22 per cent are using their card more often to pay household bills,” JD Power said. 

The concerns worsen with the potential rollback of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper and JobSeeker programmes, with many concerned they will be in a worse financial situation with mounting debt. 

So what can be done?

An ASIC report on credit card lending illustrated potential debt traps and how easy it is to fall into them, especially when promotional periods are factored in. 

The 2018 report found:

  • most people don't cancel their old card after transferring a balance
  • many continue to use one or both cards 
  • one in three people who do a single balance transfer end up with at least 10% more credit card debt by the time the promotional interest period finishes 
  • one in six people’s debt grows by more than 50%
  • People fail to factor that at the end of the promotional period the big four banks will generally charge interest rates of more than 20%.

If you are one of these statistics, or you are worried about spiralling debt, it could be worth changing to a low interest credit card. 

You can now get credit cards with interest rates below nine per cent on new purchases, so switching from a rate of 20 per cent to nine per cent could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Before you go hunting, give your current provider a call and see if they are willing to swap your credit card for one with a reduced rate.

Failing that, start comparing. 

The big four banks do have options, as does American Express and there are probably lenders you have never even heard of.

The things you need to consider when comparing low rate credit cards are cash advance rates, where the interest applied is far greater than your average rate. For instance BankWest’s New Breeze is a great low rate credit card with an ongoing purchase rate of 12.99 per cent and an introductory purchase interest rate of 0 per cent for 15 months. It has an introductory balance transfer rate for 9 months of 2.99 per cent. However, its cash advance rate rises to 21.99 per cent. The ANZ low-rate card charges 21.74% interest on cash advances. CUA which has a good purchase rate of 11.99 per cent, has a cash advance rate of 21.74 per cent. Bottom line, try to avoid cash advances.

You should also consider balance transfer rates and interest free purchase periods. If considering a balance transfer, you need to pay off the balance before the promotional period expires. Also avoid high fees. Late payment fees can also be punitive. Avoid credit cards with high late payment fees.

What providers offer the lowest fees?

InfoChoice compares over 154 low rate credit cards.

Here are the top 7 low fee cards:

Note, all of these cards have an interest rate below nine per cent.

The top card is the G&C Mutual Low Rate Visa Credit Card, with a purchase rate of 7.49 per cent. This is an excellent card that will help to keep costs low. There is a $50 annual fee, however given the low interest rate, the low minimum payment of greater of 3% or $20.00 and a low late payment fee of $15, this makes for a good, cheap card that could help to keep down your expenses.

The top seven cards by low interest rate compared by InfoChoice are all quite similar, with some of the higher interest rates charging larger fees. 

As for the big four, ANZ offers the lowest rate with its ANZ Low Rate Visa. The card features 0 per cent p.a. for the first 22 months on a balance transfer with 1.5 per cent balance transfer fee applied. This card reverts to standard balance transfer rate of 20.24 per cent p.a.

If you are looking for a big four card, NAB may be a better option. It has a higher purchase rate than ANZ of 13.99 per cent (compared to 12.49 per cent), 0 per cent balance transfer for just six months and 55 days interest free period. Its fees and charges are also very low.

There are plenty of cards to choose from, however if you are looking for a low rate, you may as well choose the lowest rate and that is the 7.49 per cent attached to the G&C Mutual Low Rate Visa Credit Card.

This update is not financial advice. This article is general news and information.

Home Loans: The comparison rates are based on a secured loan amount of $150,000 and a term of 25 years.

Personal Loans: The comparison rates in this table are based on a loan of $30,000 and a term of 5 years unless otherwise indicated in the product name with^, in which case, the comparison rate is based on a loan of $10,000 and a term of 3 years. The comparison rates are for unsecured personal loans only for the relevant amounts and terms. The comparison rates for car loans and secured personal loans are for secured loans unless indicated otherwise.

WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. Comparison rates are not calculated for revolving credit products.

The products compared in this article are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market and influenced by a range of factors including interest rates, product costs and commercial and sponsorship arrangements

InfoChoice compares financial products from 145 banks, credit unions and other financial institutions in Australia. InfoChoice does not compare every product in the market. Some institutions may have a commercial partnership with InfoChoice. Rates are provided by partners and taken from financial institutions websites. We believe all information to be accurate on the date published. InfoChoice strives to update and keep information as accurate as possible.

The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. Do not interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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