Compare credit cards

Find out how to compare credit cards to find the right card for your personal situation here with Savvy.

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, updated on October 23rd, 2023       

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When it comes to managing your finances, choosing the right credit card is a critical decision. In the Australian financial market, numerous credit card options are available, each offering a unique set of benefits and features tailored to different needs and lifestyles. Whether you're a frequent traveller looking for a card with travel rewards, a budget-conscious student seeking low-interest rates, or a rewards enthusiast hunting for cashback deals, comparing credit cards is essential to make an informed choice.  

Here we take a close look at the different types of credit cards available in Australia. We'll explain what the different types of credit cards are useful for, and how to compare different cards to find the right one for your personal financial situation. 

What different types of credit cards are there?

Credit cards in Australia come in various forms, each tailored to cater to specific financial needs and preferences. Understanding the different types of credit cards available can give you a head start when you’re comparing cards, and can help you to narrow down your choices. These are the different types of credit cards available: 

Balance transfer cards 

These cards typically come with attractive introductory offer of low or no interest for a set period of time, allowing cardholders to transfer their credit card balance from another high-interest card to one with a lower interest rate. For example, a balance transfer card may offer 0% interest rate for the first 18 months. They can be a good strategic choice for those who want to consolidate their existing credit card debts. This can be a smart financial move to save money and simplify debt management. However, you should be aware that special offers on balance transfer cards typically only last for between 12 – 24 months, after which the interest rate reverts to a standard interest rate.  

Low-rate cards 

Low-rate credit cards offer a low interest rate on purchases. They are designed to help Australians manage their finances without incurring high interest costs. With lower annual percentage interest rates, these cards are suitable for individuals who often have a balance owing on their card at the end of the billing period. This can be especially helpful if you are trying to avoid high-interest debt accumulation. However, you may still be charged an annual fee to use a low-interest rate card. 

No annual fee cards 

No annual fee credit cards do not charge an annual fee to hold the card. This can be a good option if you are looking for a basic credit card and don’t want to spend money on fees. However, they can come with higher interest rates or fewer features than other types of credit cards which do charge an annual fee. 

Rewards cards 

Rewards credit cards are very popular in Australia, although they may not offer the cheapest option in terms of fees and interest rates charged. They provide an opportunity to earn rewards points (or cashback) for every dollar spent on the card. The rewards on offer can include redeemable points for domestic and international travel, cashback on everyday expenses such as petrol and grocery shopping, and vouchers for popular local retailers. Some rewards cards also offer exclusive benefits like complimentary travel insurance and access to airport lounges, which can be a valuable addition for frequent travellers.  

Frequent flyer cards 

Frequent flyer credit cards are another form of reward card. They are often tied to one particular airline's rewards program, such as the Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer programs. Perks may include free flights, flight upgrades, and access to airport lounges or travel insurance. However, frequent flyer cards typically come with higher annual fees and interest rates compared to low-fee and low-rate cards.  

Cashback credit cards 

Like other rewards credit cards, cashback credit cards allow you to earn points for every dollar you spend. The difference is that with cashback cards, you can redeem your points for cash, instead of vouchers or travel purchases. In other words, cashback credit cards give you a percentage of your spending back in cash. This can be a great way to save money on everyday expenses. 

No foreign transaction fee cards 

Australian travellers and online shoppers who frequently make international purchases appreciate credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. These cards save users money by eliminating additional costs associated with currency exchange, making them a practical choice for people who do a significant amount of overseas travel or who do a lot of online buying from overseas sites. 

Platinum and gold cards 

Platinum and gold credit cards are associated with premium benefits. Cardholders often enjoy increased credit limits and exclusive perks like concierge services, extensive travel insurance coverage, and access to exclusive events and tickets. They can be particularly appealing to high-spending Australians, and those who value luxury and convenience. However, they also tend to come with the highest fees, and some may only be available to customers in a high-income bracket, or may be invitation-only. 

Business credit cards 

Business credit cards are designed for businesses. These cards typically offer features that are beneficial for businesses, such rewards for business-related spending, multiple employee cards, and expense tracking tools.  

How do I compare credit cards?

When comparing credit cards, it's essential to consider various factors to find the right one for your financial needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you when choosing a credit card: 

1. Identify your financial goals

Start by understanding what you want and need from a credit card. Are you looking for rewards, a low interest rate, a balance transfer option, or a card with specific benefits like travel perks or cashback rewards? Knowing your financial goals will help you narrow down your choices. 

2. Understand the different types of credit cards

Next, choose a card type that aligns with your financial goals. Learn about the different types of credit cards available in Australia as described above. These include rewards cards, low-interest cards, balance transfer cards, platinum and gold cards, business cards etc. Understanding the different types of cards available will help you decide which type aligns with your goals and your typical credit card usage.  

3. Compare similar cards

To further narrow down your choice, make sure you’re comparing similar types of cards from different providers. For example, there is no point in comparing a basic low-interest-rate card with a rewards card, as both types of cards are intended for different purposes. Make sure when you compare, that you look at similar cards side-by-side.

What specific aspects of credit cards should I compare?

These are the comparison points to consider when choosing between two similar credit cards: 

Interest rates: 

Compare the annual percentage rates of different credit cards. Low-interest cards are suitable if you plan to carry over a credit balance, while rewards cards often come with higher interest rates. 

Interest-free days: 

Understand the concept of interest-free days, which refers to the number of days where interest won't be charged on purchases. Interest-free days are usually between 30 and 90 days.  

Annual fees: 

Consider the annual fee associated with each card. Some cards have no annual fees, while premium cards may have higher fees but offer significant benefits. 

Rewards programs: 

If you're interested in rewards, evaluate the rewards program on offer. Compare the value of points or cashback, redemption options, and additional perks like travel insurance or airport lounge access. Make sure the rewards on offer will actually get used and will provide a benefit that you will enjoy. 

Introductory offers: 

Many credit cards offer introductory promotions, such as 0% balance transfer rates or bonus reward points. These special offers are designed to attract new customers, but often offer only short-lived benefits. When comparing offers be aware of what the interest rate will revert to after the introductory period ends. 

Fees: 

Be aware of various fees associated with credit cards, including annual or monthly fees, rewards program fees, late payment fees, cash advance fees, and fees for overseas card use. 

Minimum and maximum credit limits: 

Different cards come with varying minimum and maximum credit limits. The minimum credit limit is usually $1,000. The maximum limit will depend on your credit history, your credit score, and the type of card you are considering. Make sure the credit limit you choose aligns with your financial needs and repayment ability. Remember that the limit on your credit card is counted as a personal debt if you wish to apply for a loan or mortgage.  

Additional benefits: 

Premium cards often offer extra advantages such as concierge services, travel insurance, extended warranties, and purchase protection. Choose a card with benefits that suit your normal spending pattern and lifestyle. 

Foreign transaction fees: 

Compare the transaction fee charged for foreign transactions if you travel a lot, or do a lot of online shopping from overseas stores. A foreign transaction fee will be charged for every single transaction you make overseas, so they can add up if you are not careful.   

Minimum repayment amount: 

Be aware of the minimum repayment amount required each month, as paying only the minimum can result in substantial interest charges. 

Late payment fees: 

Understand late payment fees and the consequences of missing repayments. 

More of your frequently asked questions about comparing credit cards

Is my credit score impacted when I apply for a credit card?

Yes, applying for a credit card can impact your credit score. When you submit a credit card application, the issuer conducts a credit inquiry to assess your creditworthiness. This inquiry can have a temporary effect on your credit score. However, responsible credit use and making on-time payments on your new card can help mitigate any potential negative impact and even lead to a long-term improvement in your credit score. 

Can I hold multiple credit cards at once?

Yes, you can hold multiple credit cards simultaneously. Many people find it beneficial to have multiple cards that cater to specific needs, such as a rewards card for everyday spending, and a balance transfer card for managing existing debt. However, managing multiple credit cards requires discipline to avoid overspending and potential credit issues. 

How do I avoid paying late payment fees on my credit card?

Avoiding late payment fees on your credit card is simple with a bit of proactive planning. To ensure on-time payments, you can set up automatic payments, which deduct the minimum required amount or your preferred payment from your bank account on the due date. Additionally, many card issuers offer reminder alerts that notify you of upcoming payment due dates. 

Are there credit cards with specific benefits for travellers?

Absolutely, the Australian credit card market offers an array of travel-focused credit cards. These cards are tailored to meet the unique needs of frequent travellers. They often come with benefits such as complimentary travel insurance, preferential access to airport lounges, no overseas transaction fees, and the ability to earn frequent flyer points. Travel-oriented credit cards are a great choice for those who enjoy exploring Australia and the world while enjoying travel perks and rewards. 

How do I know if I'm eligible for a higher credit limit?

Eligibility for a credit card with a higher credit limit depends on several factors. Credit card issuers typically consider your financial situation, income, and credit history when determining your credit limit. If you have a stable income and a good credit history, you may be more likely to qualify for a higher credit limit. Some premium cards also offer elevated credit limits. 

What are some considerations when comparing credit cards for business use?

When comparing credit cards for business purposes, there are several factors to keep in mind. Firstly, consider features like expense tracking tools, which help businesses monitor and categorise expenditures. Additionally, cards that offer employee card management can simplify expense reporting and ensure transparency within the organisation. Many business credit cards also provide rewards or cashback tailored to common business expenses, such as office supplies or travel. These features can make financial management more efficient for business owners.