Australians Losing Billions Through Hidden Credit Card Fees

Australians are losing billions of dollars by sticking with their current credit card providers.

The average credit card holder carrying a balance could save more than $200 by making the switch, with potential nationwide savings estimated at $1.3 billion.

New research by comparison website Finder shows that of the more than 13 million credit cards in circulation in Australia, nearly half are accruing interest.

A growing number of Australians are turning to credit cards to navigate the challenges posed by escalating living costs, new research shows. Credit: Supplied.
A growing number of Australians are turning to credit cards to navigate the challenges posed by escalating living costs, new research shows. Credit: Supplied.

With an average interest rate of 14.2%, those carrying a balance have approximately $1,345 accruing interest, according to the latest Reserve Bank of Australia figures.

It comes as a growing number of Australians are turning to credit cards to navigate the challenges posed by escalating living costs.

At least 15% of Australians, equivalent to 3 million people, have resorted to obtaining a credit card in the past 12 months.

By taking advantage of a 0% balance transfer, the average debtor could save up to $222 over 32 months.

Amy Bradney-George, credit card expert at Finder, said many Australians might be missing out on better deals.

“Credit cards are often one of those things we ‘set and forget’ – and it’s costing us,” she said.

Bradney-George highlighted the range of interest rates (8% to 27%) and urged people to be mindful of additional charges.

While credit cards offer advantages such as rewards and building credit history, Bradney-George emphasised the importance of responsible use to avoid falling into a debt spiral.

To help Australians make informed decisions, Finder has announced the winners of its Credit Card Awards 2024.

After analysing 270 cards from 82 banks and brands, the experts recognised outstanding performers in various categories.

The Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card secured the title of Best Balance Transfer Credit Card for its consistently competitive offer, featuring a 0% balance transfer interest rate for 24 months with no balance transfer fee and no annual fee in the first year (then $129 per year).

Other notable winners include ANZ’s Frequent Flyer Black card for Best Frequent Flyer Credit Card – Qantas, Virgin Australia’s Velocity High Flyer Card for Best Frequent Flyer Credit Card – Velocity, Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard for Best Travel Credit Card, and ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card for Best Rewards Credit Card.

American Express dominated in three categories, with its Low Rate Credit Card winning Best No Annual Fee, the Essential Credit Card clinching Best No Annual Fee Rewards Credit Card, and the Platinum Business Card securing Best Business Charge Card.

Illawarra Credit Union was recognised as the Best Low Rate Credit Card provider.

Bradney-George encouraged consumers to leverage these findings as benchmarks when considering a new credit card, and emphasised the value of shopping around for the best options available.

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