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.
Here’s 3 easy ways to get the most value out of your credit card awards program.
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:
- Cost of the annual fee
- The number of interest-free days
- The interest rate charged on purchases after the interest-free days end
- The number of points awarded per $1 spent
- Where the points can be redeemed
- How the points can be redeemed
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.
- For example, if you spend $200 per week on groceries, that’s $10,400 per year. 3 days of child-care or pre-school each week for the year? At least $7,000. Quarterly electricity bills at $600 a pop? Another $2,400. That’s $19,800 just for those three things (gulp! Where’s that bottle of wine?!).
- If your credit card pays 1.5 points per $1 spent, then by the end of the year you would have accrued 29,700 points.
- Those points could then be redeemed for gift cards that can be spent on snazzy new shoes, a new nappy bag without milk and chocolate stains on the lining, some brand spanking cosmetics, or a set of matching lingerie – whatever’s your poison. Or, you could do as we do, and put the points toward Christmas gifts, which can take the sting out of what can be a very expensive time of the year.
It’s pretty straightforward.
BUT! To make sure you get the most value, keep in mind the following 3 tips:
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
TO ENTER VIA TWITTER
Copy the URL of your favourite item under $300 from Myer.com.au,
include the reason why you chose it,
and share like this:
TO ENTER VIA INSTAGRAM
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:
- The prize is a $300 gift card redeemable at Myer.
- The promotion period is from 5th of December to midnight EST on the 19th of December, 2012.
- You can enter as many times as you like via the methods outlined in Step 2.
- The peeps at Commonwealth Bank and Myer will be getting together on December 20th to choose their favourite answer HINT: They’ll be looking for something fun, so get creative!
- Contest is open to subscribers of the Fox in Flats newsletter only. If you’re not already a subscriber, sign up here. Be sure to check the newsletter to see if you’ve won!
- The winner’s name will be published in the Fox in Flats newsletter on Sunday 23rd of December. You’ll have till midnight on Friday December 28th to claim your prize. If the prize is not claimed, it will be awarded to another entrant of our choosing, and no correspondence will be entered into.
- Entrant must abide by the contest entry conditions listed above.
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?