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Credit card introductory offers, providing purchases and balance transfers at zero interest for a short while, are great for getting your relationship with your card off to a good start. But what happens when the initial gloss wears off, and you need to settle down to a long term commitment? That’s when a card like the ME frank Credit Card comes into its own. It may lack those introductory offers, but instead of luring you with temporary flash and sizzle, its $0 p.a. annual fee and low, low interest rates promise lasting economy and permanent savings.
Who are ME?
Recently rebranded, ME was previously ‘ME Bank’, and before that ‘Members Equity Bank’. Owned by 30 Australian industry super funds, it has a retail banking licence and is based in Melbourne but operates Australia-wide.
No annual fee
A card like this which costs you absolutely nothing to keep in your wallet is perfect for both regular users of credit and for those who like to have a card in reserve for emergencies.
ME are so confident that you will want to share the good fortune around, they will allow you to have up to 8 supplementary cardholders on your account – still without paying a single dollar in fees.
One low interest rate for everything
Whether you’re expecting to pay interest on purchases, cash advances or a balance transfer, there’s only one very low interest rate (low, that is, for a credit card) to remember: 11.99% p.a. This is one of the lowest credit card interest rates currently available in Australia, and may help to prevent a short-term debt spiralling into a long-term problem.
The low interest rate will suit anyone who thinks they may not be able to pay off their purchase balance in full every month. It will also come to your aid when you need a quick cash advance from an ATM, but be aware that you will pay a cash advance fee, “(whatever is greater) $4 or 2%”. This means that if you take a cash advance of $100 you’ll need to repay $104. Interest at 11.99% p.a. will be charged from the day you take the cash advance, but 11.99% p.a. is far less painful than the 20% p.a. or more charged by some other credit cards.
Probably not the best card for a short-term balance transfer
If you need to transfer balances from your existing cards for a short time, either because you are experiencing purely temporary liquidity problems or because you want to suspend repayments and put the cash on deposit to earn interest, then the ME frank Credit Card may not be your best option. It has no 0% interest balance transfer as an introductory offer, so if you do choose to transfer a balance to this card you’ll immediately start paying interest on it at –
However, all zero interest balance transfer offers expire eventually, and if you cannot pay off the balance when the offer expires, on other cards you may find yourself paying interest at the revert rate (often the higher cash advance interest rate), which could be over 20% p.a. Contrast this with the ME frank Credit Card, which charges interest at a much lower rate. So consider your options carefully if you think you may need to carry a balance for much longer than any of the zero interest offers allow for.
Up to 55 days on purchases
Some low-rate, low-fee cards recoup a portion of their costs by skimping on the interest-free days on purchases, but this one doesn’t. If you pay off your balance in full every month, on or before the due date, you’ll get the more generous “Up to 55 days on purchases”, courtesy of the 30-day billing cycle plus the 25 extra days before payment is due.
If your average monthly expenditure on the card is $2,000, those extra 11 days of interest-free credit granted every month (when compared with a 44-day card) are worth $29 a year if you leave your spare cash in a 5% mortgage offset account.
Low foreign currency exchange fee
Even if overseas travel is not a part of your lifestyle, you may still find yourself making online purchases from overseas suppliers at some time or another. If you think you’ve scored a bargain it can come as a nasty surprise to discover that your credit card charges you a foreign currency exchange or transaction fee on top of the direct conversion into Australian dollars. Some cards charge as much as 3.4% in addition to the face value of the transaction, but this ME card has a combined foreign exchange and overseas transaction fee of just 2.5%.
While you’re doing your online shopping, secure in the knowledge that your foreign currency conversion fees will be low, it’s always good to be able to rely on another type of security. With this card you are protected by the MasterCard Zero Liability policy for unauthorised transactions, whether online, by phone or in-store. You have a duty to protect your card from loss or theft, and you must advise ME immediately if the card is lost or stolen, but as long as you do this you are 100% covered against fraud.
For an additional level of online security, you can register for an optional MasterCard SecureCode, which will require you to enter a code known only to you as an extra step after you enter your credit card details.
The ME frank Credit Card is equipped with MasterCard PayPass Tap & Go technology, allowing you to make quick and easy contactless and PIN-free purchases for amounts under $100. Purchases over $100 are also contactless, but you will need to authorise them with your PIN. And you’re still covered by the MasterCard Zero Liability policy for all PayPass Tap & Go transactions.
High overseas card replacement fee
If you do take your ME card with you when travelling overseas, make sure that you keep it in a very safe place and don’t lose it. You can put a temporary block on your card to get you out of trouble, and get an emergency replacement card, but it will cost you $100. If you have the same problem in Australia there’s a much lower $20 fee.
Manageable credit limits
While the $25,000 minimum income requirement is fairly high for a basic, low-rate card like this, the minimum credit limit is a low $1000. This means that if necessary you can choose a limit that is high enough to suit your spending pattern but still low enough to let you stay in control. You can apply for a higher limit later if you need it.
Choice of colours
You still want more? OK. You can have a choice of card colours, although it’s not much more than the Model T Ford option: you can choose white details on a black background or black details on a white background.
Competing low cost cards
How you view the competition depends on whether you are looking for a zero annual fee, or a low interest rate, or both.
Good luck finding another Australian bank-issued credit card with a zero annual fee accompanied by interest rates this low. The no-fee Qantas American Express Discovery Credit Card lets you earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points, but its purchase interest rate is 20.74% p.a. The St. George No Annual Fee Credit Card has no interest on purchases for the first three months, but then it’s back to reality with 20.49% p.a. when the introductory offer expires.
On the flipside, low-interest cards often come with a hefty annual fee. The NAB Low Rate Card (0% p.a. for 18 months, then 13.99% p.a.) has a $59 p.a. annual fee. The Coles Low Rate MasterCard beats the ME frank Card’s interest rate by offering 12.99% p.a. on purchases and the opportunity to earn flybuys points, but it will cost you $49 p.a. per year.
A card for the financially shrewd
The ME frank Credit Card appears to be aimed at the younger cardholder, given the quirky style of its website, but it will in fact suit anyone, in any age group, who wants an uncomplicated card that will cost them nothing if they plan to pay on time, and as little as possible if they need extended credit. If you don’t need balance transfers, rewards points, insurance and other convoluted benefits, there’s no point in paying for perks that someone else is going to profit from. The ME frank Credit Card is for astute cardholders who have done their homework and recognise a good deal when they see it.
It’s easy to apply. They keep in contact with you throughout the process. There’s convenient online comprehensive access and a very low interest rate. I’m very impressed. The team are more than happy to explain the process and are understanding regarding your questions.
I would recommend it both to any first-time users and to experienced credit card users. Other banks also recommend doing balance transfers to their accounts, but keep using ME frank as it has a lower interest rate than their own.
I find ME very good to deal with. Excellent customer service and quick response to any issues. The card has no fees when used at Westpac and overall think it would be hard to find a better deal. I checked out other cards at the time, but found ME a lot better than the major banks. Would recommend them to anyone thinking of a change.
I love my Frank Credit card. The fees and interest rates are some of the lowest, if not the lowest on a credit card. I don’t really care about rewards programs: most are a scam to get you to spend more. This is an honest card with no frills. The customer service is outstanding. I think the call centre is located in Australia as well, which is a huge plus.
This is the only credit card I would have and have recommended it numerous times to many many people. I mention it so often that it almost sounds like I work for them!
This card has the lowest rate I could find. Every time I’ve called to ask them questions they’ve been friendly, helpful, and easy to understand. This has been great as I’ve never had a credit card before.
Unfortunately, there are no rewards, but I suppose you’re paying for the rewards program when you have to pay an annual fee and higher interest rates with other cards.
The 55 day interest free period is great and helps just that little bit, not that it’s too critical though! 9.99%—can’t really find anything better. Happy customer.
I applied for this card and was rejected for the first time in my life. I liked the idea of no annual fee as opposed to paying for my current CBA card.
I own 2 houses with a combined value of well over $1m and have no mortgage. My current credit card has no balance and I always paid by direct debit automatically to avoid any interest payments. I am over 50 years old with an income of around $100,000 per year and phoned them to discuss their decision, but they said they will not discuss the reasons as to why they have rejected my application. I smell a rat.
This card is the one I use everyday. It’s issued by ME Bank, which is a very reputable private bank I started using about thirty years ago (Super Member Home Loans). It’s a distinctive card dressed in basic black, and has a name, “frank”! I haven’t come across any problems as yet, it has internet banking options, and you can access your statements electronically or have them sent to you in the post. The internet banking system is easy to use and there are smart phone apps for even greater convenience.
|Cash advances||1.00%||11.99% p.a.|