Credit Cards

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We couldn't survive without them, but a third of all credit card revenue, $415 million, comes from penalty fees, fees for late payment and exceeding the card limit.

“Well I've got about $11,000 left owing on it but its very hard to find a credit card company at the moment to sort of take over a large amount like that for a credit card” said Suzanne Grange.

Suzanne was slugged penalty interest for not spending enough, with no sympathy from her card provider Citibank. “….and they said I have to use $3000 worth of my credit every month on purchases or cash advances to qualify to get the low interest rate.”

“Financial products aren't a static thing you really need to keep on top of them constantly”, said Cannex Canstar Financial analyst Peter Arnold.

Everyday spenders are usually Mums and Dad's who pay their groceries and bills week to week on the card, who would also benefit from a rewards program, but with a few less bells and whistles. Like the Coastline Credit Union Rewarder Visa, a Credit Union Gold or Silver Mastercard, the GE Money Myer Visa Card, the Qantas Staff Credit Union Lifestyle Plus card and the Woolworths Everyday money card.

“They might get a shopping voucher for the rewards each month which will just help with a few extra things” says Peter.

The key for both everyday and big spenders is to make sure the entire card balance is paid off every month -- if you don't you're what's called a habitual spender. “This is a situation a lot of people can slip into they put some money on their card but they don't actually end up paying it off they'll keep spending maybe only pay just the bare minimum or just cover what they're spending.”

For habitual users it’s all about interest rates and fees -- the lower the better. “About a quarter of the cards on offer are under 13% and that's what people should be on if they're paying interest on a credit card debt.”

So if you have spiralling debt try these -- the Bankwest Lite Mastercard, Bendigo Bank Basic Black card, Members Equity Mastercard, St George Bank SA Vertigo credit card and Suncorp Clear Options Standard Card. So if you have card debt and you're not with these, get out fast.

For anyone who thinks a credit card is a necessary evil for internet purchases, look for cards with low or no fees at all like the Heritage Building Society Visa Classic No Frills, the M-E-C-U Visa, the New South Wales Teachers Credit Union Teachers credit card, the Statewide Credit Union credit card and the Victoria Teachers Credit union card. “If you find yourself struggling with any financial debt, approach a financial institution and discuss further options there are option.”

The key according to Peter is to reassess your spending every six months and reassess your card as banks are always changing their products. The wrong card could cost you thousands and the right one could save you thousands -- which is what Suzanne should be doing.

“Well I've got about $11,000 left owing on it … its very hard to find a credit card company at the moment to sort of take over a large amount like that for a credit card” says Suzanne.

“Don't pay too much interest on a revolving credit card debt. If you find yourself with a debt, look for a low rate card or a debt consolidation loan” advises Peter.

For more information visit www.canstarcannex.com.au

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