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How do you recognise a very basic credit card which will nevertheless be functional, easy to manage, and will cost you little or even nothing? When a card like the Westpac 55 Day Credit Card is so short of fancy (and often overpriced) features that it becomes necessary to promote it with a reminder about the 55 days of credit allowed every month.
However, Westpac could just as accurately have called it the ‘Balance Transfer Credit Card’ (because there’s a useful and lengthy zero-interest offer), the ‘Introductory Low Purchase Rate Credit Card’ (referring to the option to defer purchase repayments for 6 months and pay only 0% p.a.), or the ‘No Annual Fee Option Credit Card’ (since it’s relatively easy to avoid paying an annual fee, year after year).
What’s so special about ‘Up to 55 days on purchases’?
The monthly interest-free days attached to a credit card are the number of days that are allowed to elapse between a purchase transaction and the date a cardholder has to pay for the purchase in order to avoid incurring interest charges. In this case, purchases made on the first day of the statement cycle won’t be due for payment until ‘Up to 55 days on purchases’ later, while purchases made on the last day of the cycle will start incurring interest around 25 days later, unless full payment of the account closing balance is made.
All credit cards have a number of regular, interest-free days, otherwise they would be not a credit card but a debit card. But before you dismiss these Up to 55 days on purchases as nothing more than you would expect, take a look at the reality. Not every card comes with this many interest-free days. Many cards come with only 44 interest-free days, and while a very few have more than 55 (Coles cards, for example, with up to 62 days), 55 is near the top of the scale.
Don’t discount the value of the extra 11 days
The 11 extra days of credit each month (when compared with a 44-day card) add up to a sizeable 132 days each year. If your average monthly closing purchase balance is, say, $2,000, that’s an extra 132 days that your $2,000 can stay in the bank, earning interest or reducing your mortgage balance in an offset account. The earning or saving doesn’t amount to much in a low-interest environment (about $22 in a 3% p.a. savings account or $36 in a 5% p.a. mortgage offset account) but it’s still better in your pocket than the bank’s, and interest rates will inevitably rise one day.
Higher-fee cards often have fewer interest-free days
Many much more expensive credit cards, including Westpac’s own prestige cards (the Altitude range, with annual fees ranging from $100 to $395) actually come with a lower number of interest-free days. Westpac Altitude cards have ‘up to 45 days’ interest free. So Westpac is probably justified in putting the 55 interest-free days at the forefront of this low-fee (or no-fee) card’s features.
0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for 12 months
If you still think the Up to 55 days on purchases are a big yawn, how about a balance transfer where the interest rate sits at 0% p.a. for 12 months? There are serious savings to be made here, particularly if you have a large balance you are struggling to clear from one or more existing high-interest cards.
Suppose you have a $5,000 balance on a card where you are paying 20% p.a. in interest, and you can currently only afford the 2% minimum monthly repayments. At the end of the first month your repayment amount will be $102, but this will hardly reduce your balance because you will have been charged $83 in interest, leaving only $19 to be applied to reducing the balance owing. Although the balance will decline slightly each month, at the end of 12 months you will still owe $4,715, and you will have paid $1,297 in interest.
Contrast this with the situation where you instead transfer your $5,000 balance to the Westpac 55 Day Credit Card. Your first minimum monthly repayment will be $100, and every cent of it will be applied to reducing the balance because there is no interest charge (and, importantly, no upfront balance transfer fee either). If you maintain that $100 monthly repayment, you will reduce your debt to $3,400 after 12 months. Sticking to just the minimum 2% repayment would see the debt decline to $3,619 in the same period. Either way, you save $1,297 and you’re much closer to your goal of being debt-free.
Don’t choose this card for the ongoing interest rates
If you possibly can, strive to repay the transferred balance in full during this interest-free period, because the revert rate is a seriously unpleasant 19.84% p.a.. This is the ongoing purchase interest rate, and the cash advance rate is, as usual, even higher – 21.29% p.a.. Although these are not unusual rates in the world of credit cards, there are cards available which have much lower rates.
Choosing a credit card for its low interest rates is in fact a bad idea. The best way to use a credit card is to take full advantage of the interest-free days each month, pay off the full balance at each due date, and never pay a cent in interest. But if you think it’s likely that you will fail to do this on a regular basis, don’t choose this card. Pick one with a lower purchase interest rate, like its stablemate the Westpac Low Rate Credit Card (13.49% p.a.).
You can still use the card for purchases if you make a balance transfer
Normally, taking up a 0% p.a. -interest balance transfer option means that you can’t use the card for purchases until the balance is paid off. This is not because purchases are blocked, but because you’ll forfeit the monthly interest-free days as a result of having an unpaid balance transfer.
But in this case the lack of monthly interest-free days doesn’t matter all that much, at least not for the first 6 months. That’s because there’s an optional introductory interest rate of 0% p.a. on purchases that lasts for a year. Without this offer, any purchases made while there was an unpaid balance transfer would have interest of 19.84% p.a. applied to them, from the purchase date until the day you made a repayment to clear them. However, with this offer in place, a rate of only 1% p.a. is applied to purchases whenever there is an unpaid balance transfer or overdue purchase balance. You could leave your cash in the bank and earn slightly more interest than you would pay on your credit card.
Take note of the fact that the low purchase interest rate expires four months earlier than the zero balance transfer rate. A rate of 19.84% p.a. will apply to any purchases made from the beginning of month 13 to the end of month 16, if you still have an unpaid balance transfer. During this period, use another card for purchases, or use cash, to avoid paying interest of 19.84% p.a. applied from each purchase transaction date.
Westpac will pay for your first Uber ride
You can try out Uber for free – Westpac’s treat. Create a new Uber account, enter the promo code ‘westpac25’, download the Uber app, and get up to $25 off your first ride.
Low annual fee – or no fee at all
While the ongoing annual fee for this card is $30 p.a. (with no extra charge for a supplementary card), there’s no reason why you should ever have to pay it.
The fee is automatically waived in the first year, which makes the card very attractive if you want to try it for size. You’ll also pay no fee in any subsequent year in which you make $5,000 of purchases with the card. Given that you’ll need a minimum income of $15,000 to qualify for the card, and that the minimum credit limit is $500, it shouldn’t be too hard to spend an average of $416 per month in order to avoid the annual fee.
No stinting on technology
Although this is a basic, low-fee card, the inbuilt technology is just as up-to-date as it is for Westpac’s expensive prestige cards:
No skimping on security
The card’s state-of-the-art security features, called Cardshield, go way beyond the embedded microchip:
Compare other basic cards
If you’re in the market for a straightforward card like this one, essentially free to keep in your wallet, and unencumbered by expensive rewards points programs or complimentary insurance, there’s plenty of choice. Take a look at these other cards before you decide:
Or, if you’re happy to receive complimentary benefits and loyalty points which will cost you nothing:
However, you might choose the Westpac 55 Day Credit Card because . . .
Does some of this sound like you? It costs nothing to give it a try, and it could suit you for many years to come.
I keep this card for convenience only. It has extremely high interest rates and when I lost it in Bangkok the service to cancel it was appalling — no one seemed to be able to help me and the delay to cancel it was totally unacceptable. I replaced it because I bank with Westpac and my home loan is with them, not because I think it’s a good card.
There are no yearly fees, so that is the main reason I have this card. Everything else is standard, but having no rewards makes it very limiting and I am considering changing cards.
I pay into it online, where payment can be delayed for up to seven days, which in this day and age is unbelievable.
We changed credit card providers so we could take advantage of an 18 months interest-free period, and this has suited our family perfectly. If we need to, we’ll change providers again once the 18 months are up. You might as well take the banks up on these interest-free offers, and as our banking is with Westpac it was a convenient change.
I will probably continue with this credit card as a back-up, but, as I cannot earn points on it, I will probably apply for another where I can.
I like Westpac’s online service that allows me to pay off my credit card through my main account without much fuss. It always feels secure, even travelling overseas, and as long as I notify Westpac I’ll be out of the country, I never have trouble with my credit card being frozen.
Customer service is fine. Fees are a little steep, in my opinion.
I got this card when I was travelling overseas, to use as a backup in case I found myself in the situation where I had no cash. I’m glad I had it.
Repayments aren’t too bad, but the interest does get quite large once that 55-day period is over, and that can be a bit of a pain to pay off.
This was the first credit card I ever had and I have always stuck with it, as I have always banked with Westpac. It has a 55 day interest-free period, which is excellent as long as you can pay off your closing balance in that time frame.
However, the interest rate is not the best — there are definitely other cards out there with better interest rates. This card also has no rewards program, but that doesn’t interest me anyway.
Another benefit is that it only has a $30 annual card fee, which is really quite low. And I feel that Westpac have very good security features, so that is an upside for me.
All in all, it’s a pretty simple card with no real rewards, but I think it’s quite good, especially for people who are strict on paying their closing balance on time.
Westpac are great at helping their customers. Westpac works with your needs. I enjoy using my card and put money back on my card to save for an annual holiday with my family and friends. Westpac has helped me out in many ways. They are great people for all your needs.
After buying my first home, I worked up my credit card bill and had too many expenses. I was conveniently able to balance transfer my then current credit card over to Westpac and have saved thousands in annual interest. There is heaps of market competition with low rates, but Westpac’s ease and service are the winners.
Love it, great card! I have been with a variety of banks and Westpac is definitely my favourite. I have had it for a few years now and have never had any issues.
Interest rates are good and I love how easy it is to use. Thank you Westpac for creating such a great card!
I’m almost positive this card will improve my financial lifestyle in an affordable way. Material things aren’t the most important thing in life I know, but whoever said money can’t buy happiness was wrong. My credit card will mean I don’t need to worry about irregular bills, needed groceries at the end of the pay week and random purchases, since all will be affordable and manageable to repay.
|Interest rate||Period||Fee||Limit||Revert rate|
|Balance transfers||0% p.a.||12 months||0%||95% of credit limit||19.84% p.a.|
You can't balance transfer to the Westpac 55 Day Credit Card at the promotional balance transfer rate from:
|Interest rate||Period||Fee||Limit||Revert rate|
|Balance transfers||0% p.a.||12 months||0%||95% of credit limit||19.84% p.a.|
|Purchases||0% p.a.||6 months||N/A||N/A||19.84% p.a.|
|Cash advances||1.77%||21.29% p.a.|