'Complex' airfare reward schemes make it harder to compare credit cards

Credit card airfare reward schemes can be confusing and often encourage people to spend more on their cards than they otherwise would, it has been suggested.

Clifford Reichlin, founder of Australian Frequent Flyer, told News Limited that card holders can be drawn to spend money just to earn frequent flyer points, causing debt problems that outweigh the benefit of airfare rewards.

He argued that both the Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Blue Velocity program are "complex by design’’, making it harder for Australians to compare credit cards in search of the best offers.

"In general, the Qantas program has more options, the Qantas program has more partners, and more credit cards are linked to Qantas so it’s probably a more comprehensive offering,’’ he said. "That said, historically, the Virgin program was more generous."

Differing status credits, rewards tiers, credit card fees and interest rates are some of the things which make it harder to compare cards, Mr Reichlin added.

Among the offers at major banks, Commonwealth’s Awards American Express currently grants 0.75 Qantas Frequent Flyer points for every $1 spent at 19.99 per cent interest.

National Australia Bank’s Velocity Standard American Express meanwhile, offers 1.5 frequent flyer points for every $2 spent at 19.49 per cent interest.

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