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The best credit cards to buy you time (and get free flights)

·4-min read
qantas and credit cards
The Qantas Ultimate credit card has the highest annual fee but fetches the most amount of points per spend. (Source: Getty)

Times are getting tougher… and you may well need a month or two of delay-pay breathing space on everything from power to petrol.

But you certainly don’t want a huge annual fee stretching things tighter.

So, I asked comparison website Mozo to scour the credit card market and determine the best cards to buy you time. Without incurring interest – I am certainly not advocating going into long-term debt.

Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

And, because the world has opened up again, below I also reveal the cards that will let you travel for free, fast.

1. Cards with the most interest-free days

Interest-free days are where – for many Aussies right now – it’s at. And if you think you can only get 55 days, think again.

Below are cards offering longer than that, as well as their annual fees.

The cards with the most interest-free days
The cards with the most interest-free days

You can get as many as 110 days’ grace before your bill starts increasing with interest, from Humm90’s Platinum Mastercard. That’s nearly four months from a card that operates differently to standard ones in that you can also opt to pay off purchases of $250 or more in interest-free instalments over a longer period.

Elsewhere, Beyond Bank and People’s Choice offer 62 interest-free days, while the Bank of Us offers 57 days.

Then, most other cards offer 55 days before the interest starts to accrue. Some extend 45 and a few don't allow any at all.

2. Cards with 55 days interest-free and no annual fee

But if the yearly extra expense is an issue, as mentioned earlier, there are dozens of cards offering 55 interest-free days, and no fees.

The table below details these.

The cards with no annual fee and 55 days interest-free
The cards with no annual fee and 55 days interest-free

It’s vital you check the interest rate on these types of cards, especially if there is a possibility you will still hold the debt beyond the interest-free period. (And move heaven and earth to instead pay it off.)

Also bear in mind that the interest-free period usually begins ticking down the day after your previous statement is dated. In other words, if you buy something on day 1 of your statement period with these cards, you will get 55 days interest free. But if you buy it 10 days later, that will have fallen to 45 days

If you want to ‘borrow’ the bank’s money for as long as possible without it costing you anything, perhaps because you need a bigger ticket item for which it will take a few weeks to earn the money, make the purchase the day after your statement date.

Don’t miss either that you need to pay the balance in full by the due date to keep your interest-free days.

This is why that column in the tables only represent the maximum number of days.

But perhaps it’s not delaying the cost that you care about at all but – now that the world has opened up again – getting places for free.

3. Cards that offer the best rewards value

Now, there are a lot of variables here and accurately comparing rewards cards yourself can be extremely difficult. It’s hard to know whether the points accrual rate is worth the (often steep) annual fee.

As Mozo’s head of research Peter Marshall said: “Those with the best points earning tend to have the worst fees, and not all rewards points are worth similar amounts when redeemed.”

So the comparator has developed a ‘net value’ metric that calculates how many points would be earned for a given annual spend amount, then examines the value of flights and gift cards for which they could be redeemed.

“Then we subtract the annual fee from that value to give a net dollar benefit over a year,” Marshall said.

And we at Yahoo Finance asked for the annual card spend to be set at $60,000 or $5,000 a month.

The third table carries the cards that offer the best value for that spend amount, and is led by the Qantas Ultimate Card, so note the high annual fee is worth it.

Then come the Qantas World Mastercard, Macquarie’s Black Card and Qantas Money’s Qantas Premier Platinum.

Of course, don’t ever leave even a dollar owing at the end of the statement period. You’ll pay through the nose.

And even if you cannily work an awards credit card, with the numbers of paying customers going through the roof, just how easy it is to get a seat?

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at www.nicolessmartmoney.com. Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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