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In the world of credit cards, ‘low rate’ is a relative term. Credit card interest rates are never going to be as low as bank personal loan or overdraft rates. After all, how many personal loans offer up to 55 days free credit every month? So, although the ongoing purchase interest rate on the Westpac Low Rate Credit Card is not low in absolute terms, and is certainly not as low as that of some of its competitors, it’s still low enough for the infrequent user of credit beyond the normal interest-free days. Bundled into a package from one of the Big Four, offering zero-interest balance transfer and low-interest purchase periods, a high level of card security and access to over 1,400 branches and 3,850 ATMs nationwide, this card begins to look like a realistically competitive proposition.
13.49% p.a. if you need it, 0% p.a. if you don’t
Look at it this way. If you’re going to need regular, long-term credit to smooth out the bumps and troughs in your financial highway, a credit card is not the way to do it. Instead, talk to your bank manager about a loan or overdraft facility. (In the short term, however, a zero-interest balance transfer may help – see below.)
Meanwhile, extract every last bit of value from your credit card by never paying a cent in interest if you can possibly avoid it. Exploit to the full the ‘Up to 55 days on purchases’ facility that comes with this card every month, by timing your regular credit card purchases and bill payments to occur at the very beginning of the statement cycle wherever possible. When the card’s payment due date arrives, a generous Up to 55 days on purchases, pay off your account balance in full and on time, and let the bank look elsewhere for its profit.
The 13.49% p.a. should be your temporary fallback position, a last resort when other finance sources are inaccessible. Lock in this lower rate because, if you miss a payment, or even if you’re a little short or a few days late, you’ll end up paying credit card interest on your purchases from the date of each transaction for the next two months. This is what most, if not all, credit cards do, and in this situation you don’t want to be paying 20% p.a. or more. But there’s no need to go shopping for an even lower rate. Just plan to spend only what you can afford, pay on time, and be charged 0%.
0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers
For those who have temporary financial problems and need time to sort them out, a zero-interest balance transfer can be a godsend. Exorbitant interest rates on existing card balances can be avoided by transferring them to this card, and 16 months of breathing space should be long enough for a short-term debt situation to be turned around.
Unlike some cards, there’s no balance transfer fee to pay, and you would save $1,454 in interest cost when compared with leaving the balance on a card where the interest rate was 20% p.a.
If it’s likely to take more than 12 months to sort out, it’s a long-term problem, and once again credit card debt is not the solution but just something that will make a bad situation worse. The penalty for not clearing your debt after 12 months is the revert interest rate of 13.49% p.a.. Fortunately, this is the ongoing purchase interest rate, not the cash advance rate (21.49% p.a. in this case) which some cards apply to uncleared balance transfers.
Don’t ignore the balance transfer offer, even if you don’t actually need it
Perhaps your financial affairs are well under control. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make use of an interest-free balance transfer. The major purchase that you have been planning for some time now – maybe new furniture or the latest technology – could be made on your existing card just before you transfer the balance. This will give you 12 months to squirrel away the repayments in a savings account (thus earning a little interest) so that you can clear the balance before it starts to accrue interest charges.
The major downside to having an unpaid balance transfer is that you will sacrifice the normal Up to 55 days on purchases as long as it sits in your credit card account. However, there’s also a low-interest introductory offer on purchases, providing an initial 12-month window when you can still benefit from using the card for purchases.
0% p.a. for 6 months on purchases
Make the most of this year-long low-interest period. Even if you make a balance transfer, you can still use your card for purchases during this time and come out ahead. Plan your purchases to occur towards the end of the statement cycle if possible, to minimise the interest charges which will apply from the purchase transaction date, not the payment due date. By leaving your cash in the bank instead of making repayments, you will earn enough savings account interest to more than cover your credit card interest costs.
If you don’t have a balance transfer, you’re in an even better situation, because in this case interest charges are only applied from the payment due date. However, avoid spending more than you can afford to repay, because the 0% p.a. introductory rate will be replaced by the 13.49% p.a. ongoing rate at the end of 6 months. Make a diary note of the offer’s expiry date in order to avoid the higher rate.
Not tried Uber yet? Here’s your free opportunity.
Westpac has taken a shine to Uber. In a media release, it compared its new digitally-adept, self-service ‘Branch of the future’ concept with Uber’s disruption of the taxi market. Westpac employees are now authorised to use Uber for business travel. And Westpac customers, including credit card customers, can now get $25 off their first ride with Uber. You’ll need to create a new Uber account and download the app to your mobile device, and then your first ride, up to the value of $25, is on Westpac.
Cutting-edge protection and digital capability
The card’s functionality and security does not begin and end with the piece of plastic in your wallet. Here are just some of the ways in which Westpac is employing the latest technology to keep you safe and informed when using your card account:
Annual fee $59 p.a.
Although $59 p.a. is not a particularly high fee (and there’s no additional charge for a supplementary card), you may wonder why you are paying any fee at all for a card with no rewards points or complimentary insurance.
What you are paying for is the backing of a Big Four bank, with branches and ATMs almost everywhere you go, and the confidence that the card is protected by state-of the-art security as well as powered by the latest technology. It’s comforting to know that when the technology advances, so will your card’s features.
Reasons to choose the Westpac Low Rate Credit Card
If you’re looking for a low-rate, secure and technologically-proficient credit card backed by a financial giant, with possibly the best combination of introductory interest rates and ongoing purchase interest rate, you’ve found it.
I took out this credit card when I was struggling and it helped me get on top of my bills and I was able to increase my limit very easily via online banking.
The card has low fees and it is a very stress-free option for people looking to get a credit card.
The customer service team were very helpful in the original set-up of the card and helping me with any questions during the process.
This card has good rates and fees, but most do. I’ve always felt secure with MasterCard, and all things being equal it’s a great option.
The thing that let me down was the service and lack of incentive to remain a customer. I would still recommend the card simply for no-nonsense functionality and clear rates, fees and terms.
i got this card after becoming an aged pensioner to save on the annual fee, which is zero. But regretfully, the customer service has been downright terrible, as, in my opinion, as soon as customer service gets the card’s number the call is always allocated to a junior with inadequate knowledge and training. Thus, the outcome has been unsatisfactory.
i don’t trust that customer service can make sure that all amounts which were lost by unauthorised use of my card can be refunded, as was the case on 21st January 2016 when that happened to me. That is, two amounts were not authorised by me but only the larger one was refunded, based on the implausible reason that I did not submit separate requests for each one, even though i did claim on one form for both at first as they were from the same organisation on the same date. i did, however, make two separate claims, after I was asked to do that. But Westpac claimed that only the first one was received, despite the fact that I mailed both in the same reply paid envelope, enclosed in the bank’s letter to me.
Appallingly, after four phone calls, three letters from the bank and three forms, filled correctly and posted in the bank’s reply paid envelope by me, about an event taking place on the same date, but for two different amounts immediately one after another and debited from my account by the same organisation, to add insult to injury Westpac sent me two more letters. The first letter informed me that my request for the refund of the second amount was rejected. The second letter informed me that my request form for that refund was not received by the due date, even though it was posted before the due date in their reply paid envelope by me, and I also informed them by phone that same day. i was advised that though I posted it before the due date, that particular section received and opened it after the due date.
I’m keeping all relevant information (i.e Westpac’s letters and mine as well) as the record of the saga, from 21st January 2016 up to the present date, as per the entries in my diary. I’m in the process of changing my credit card type and its provider, informing all the aged pensioners from our local senior citizens club as well as informing others via the Senior Citizens Card NSW, so that they don’t subject themselves to the above credit card service’s appalling treatment, as I did.
It is very suitable for everyday usage and has low fees.
I have had good customer service also, and being able to be with Westpac is a great benefit.
I recommend using it for day-to-day purposes. Only, it is not that rewarding and I wish it had more rewards.
This card is a basic no-frills card. It has no reward program but it does have a reasonable annual fee and the same low interest rate for purchases and cash advances.
It’s a decent card for use overseas, with an option to notify Westpac when travelling overseas so that the card is not blocked as a security measure.
This is a good card with no frills, and the customer service is also great with Westpac. If you have any issues they resolve them quickly at onshore call centres.
The lower interest rate is a bonus. Westpac give special offers from time to time by reducing the interest rate even lower. If you are not looking for rewards this is a good option.
The original name of this card was 'Ignite’.
Fake telemarketers tried to get into my bank account. Westpac stopped it ASAP and rang to tell me. It’s happened a few times and now we have sorted it out, and it’s been reported. Customer service was so helpful, and I was so pleased to have an excellent and trustworthy company to protect my money for my four babies.
The low interest rate is good, but only if you can pay off the amount quickly. Otherwise you are just paying off the interest and it’s hard to catch up.
Overall it’s a good card and Westpac are fantastic to deal with. They always provide great customer service. I recommend this card.
Good low-rate credit card with good interest-free days. No rewards attached however, but this is the only downside.
Someone took my details recently and fraudulently started spending. Westpac contacted me within a couple of hours to advise me this had happened, and put a block on the card. Great service.
I am very satisfied with all components of my card. The rates aren’t too high and are pretty competitive on the market. The customer service is excellent and any questions or problems that I have are resolved almost immediately. I would definitely recommend this card to anyone, and do on a daily basis.
|Interest rate||Period||Fee||Limit||Revert rate|
|Balance transfers||0% p.a.||12 months||N/A||95% of credit limit||13.49% p.a.|
You can't balance transfer to the Westpac Low Rate Credit Card at the promotional balance transfer rate from:
|Interest rate||Period||Fee||Limit||Revert rate|
|Balance transfers||0% p.a.||12 months||N/A||95% of credit limit||13.49% p.a.|
|Purchases||0% p.a.||6 months||N/A||N/A||13.49% p.a.|
|Cash advances||1.79%||21.49% p.a.|