Sponsored by Commonwealth Bank
“By whacking most of my purchases on the credit card during the year, come December, loads of our Christmas gifts are already paid for.” Am. Not. Kidding.
If you’re rolling your eyes at this statement, you’re not the only one. When I made the same statement to my husband the other day his eyes rolled back into his head, all through the veiny grey bits of his brain, and back around again. And I’m pretty sure he mumbled something about ‘warped logic’.
But after a bit of explaining, even he now gets what I’m talking about. And you don’t have to be a number crunching genius to do it either. It’s all about figuring out how to make a credit card award program work to your favour, AND knowing the traps that can be easy to fall into.
Work out (roughly) how much money you spent over the last 12 months on things like groceries, bills, clothing, makeup, nappies, child-care, birthday gifts, etc. (you might want to have a glass of wine handy to calm you down in case you freak out).
Check out the Award Points system with your current bank – you know, the ones where they give you points in return for an annual fee. Things to look out for include:
Note: it’s worth checking out banks that you’re not already with to compare offerings. Here’s a rundown on how they do it at the Commonwealth Bank.
Do a quick calculation, to see how many points you’d have accrued if you’d paid for all that annual expenditure (from Step 1) using a credit card.
It’s pretty straightforward.
Tip 1: Pay your credit card balance before the interest-free days expire.
If you’re getting charged interest for your purchases, it’s negating the benefits of accruing the points.
So either transfer the money into your credit card account straight away to pay for your purchases, or set up automated monthly direct debit credit card payments to occur at least a few working days before the regular due date. That way, you’ll never forget a due date, and having the ‘buffer days’ built in will mean you won’t be charged interest if your bill is due on a weekend.
Tip 2: Check the approximate value of the points you’d be likely to accrue vs the annual fee the banks will charge.
Will you come out ahead? If not, don’t join, it won’t be worth it.
Using my example above, 29,700 points would give you about $150 to spend at Myer. If you’ve signed up for an Awards Credit Card at the Commonwealth Bank the annual fee is $89. That’s $61 worth of value to spend. Tick! And if you spend more on your card you’ll be even further ahead.
Tip 3: Make sure it’s easy to redeem your points.
I’ve been in reward programs before when I’ve had to fill in bunches of forms, post them via snail mail, and wait about 6 weeks for the gift cards to arrive. While it’s always fab when they land in my post box, I’ve inevitably forgotten all about them, as well as whatever it was I wanted to use them for. Then I’m stuck lugging gift cards around in my purse, often rushing to spend them before they expire. Or worse, I lose them. Kinda defeats the purpose.
Happily, banks are recognising what a hassle claiming can be, and are looking for ways to make it easier for us to redeem our points:
“Commonwealth Bank has just teamed up with Myer in an Australian retail-first to allow customers to redeem credit card awards instantly at Myer stores.”
This’ll fast-track getting the benefits of a reward program as the Award Points can now be credited right at the cash register, toward full or part payments on any product in the store. Check it out here.
WIN $300 to go shopping in Myer and a free personal styling session in-store!
Sorry, this promotion is now closed.
Here’s how to enter:
Simply hop over Myer.com.au and select an item that you’d spend your $300 gift card on if you won.
Share your selection with us, along with a fun, foxy reason why you chose it, on either Twitter or Instagram, being sure to use @FoxinFlats #thisgivesmeinstantfulfilment
Copy the URL of your favourite item under $300 from Myer.com.au,
include the reason why you chose it,
and share like this:
Copy a screen shot of your favourite item under $300 from Myer.com.au,
include the reason you chose it,
and share like this:
The legal stuff:
How do you use your accrued reward points? And what are your tips for ensuring you max out the value of your Credit Card Award program?