This is part one of Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon’s two-part deep dive into the best credit cards on the market. Stay tuned for part two, which will look at the cards with the most interest-free days for purchases. There are some that don’t even charge an annual fee.
Travel is back on the agenda but cost of living pressures still bite, yet with the right credit rewards card and tricks to score bonus points you can realise your savings (and spending) goals much faster.
Here is a run down of the best, and cheapest, credit cards available.
How bonus rewards points work
Bonus points refer to a chunk of rewards given you sign up to a new card as a new customer.
The catch is that you can’t be an existing customer of that credit card provider or have recently held one.
For example, applicants aren’t able to take advantage of an American Express bonus point deal if they have held any American Express cards in the past 18 months.
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When it comes to where and how points can be redeemed, this will vary from issuer to issuer.
For instance, there are the straight-out frequent flyer schemes such as Virgin’s Velocity or Qantas Frequent Flyers.
There are schemes offering their own bespoke awards.
And then there are hybrid schemes where you can choose between the two.
That’s all pretty straightforward, but what you might not know is that there is a magic limit to ‘borrow’ that unlocks peak points.
By borrow I mean spend on the card but pay it off in full each month to avoid interest.
The magic number for maximum sign-up points
When it comes to the number of sign-up points needed to get the best bang for your buck, the tables below, prepared for Yahoo Finance by mozo.com.au, show that the giveaway sweet spot sits at $6,000 and above.
There are 300,000 points doled out if you agree to a $20,000 limit with Citi’s Prestige card (which are currency in the Citi Rewards scheme).
Even a $2,000 limit gets you 150,000 points on this card (Rewards – Bonus Point Offer), but that’s the exception to generous points with a paltry limit.
The next table shows that what else is on offer at those lower levels is far less.
American Express hands out 85,000 points in its own scheme with the Explorer Credit Card.
You can also get 75,000 with Amex’s Velocity Platinum card or 55,000 with its Qantas Ultimate card.
Both have the added benefit of a much smaller $3,000 limit.
And if you’re able to raise that limit to $6,000, your bonus points would leap as high as 150,000… for all sorts of different rewards programs.