Talking rewards value, blasting debt and more: Mozo Experts Choice best credit cards of 2018

Kelly Emmerton

Monday 12 November 2018

Mozo was live on Facebook on 23 October talking about the best credit cards of 2018 with Mozo Experts Choice Judge and Data Manager Peter Marshall.

Mozo reveals the best credit cards of 2018 We're talking about the best credit cards of 2018! Our experts analysed 199 credit cards from 67 providers in our recent Mozo Experts Choice Awards.

Tom: Hi guys and thanks for joining us in our latest edition of our Mozo Facebook, Twitter and Facebook Live event, my name is Tom and joining me on the couch today is Mozo Data manager and Mozo’s Experts Choice Judge, Peter Marshall. Peter thanks for joining us.

Peter: Hey Tom, great to be with you once again.

Tom: Yeah, ditto. So, we recently revealed the 2018 Mozo Experts Choice Credit Card Awards, with our expert judges, like Peter, analysing 199 different credit cards from 67 different providers in order to work out which options offered Aussies like you guys, the best value. And in recognition of those awards what we thought we’d do today is to get you, Peter, to tell us a little bit more about the Awards, some of the winners and how we found the best credit cards of 2018.

And as always, this is a live event, so if you have any questions about credit cards, please feel free to comment below and we’ll try to answer as many as we can at the end.

So, first question Peter - let’s start off with a question about the Mozo Experts Choice Awards themselves. Can you tell us a little bit about what they are, what they are designed to do and how they achieve it.

Peter: Yeah sure Tom. Mozo recognises that people don't want to be paying any more than they need to for everyday services, particularly when there are hundreds of options out there and for most of those services it can be really hard to figure out what’s the best for your situation.

Mozo’s Awards are designed to highlight the products that offer the best value for different types of people, for different everyday consumer services - that includes things like banking, energy and insurance. Throughout the year, we go through and we work out which products in those categories offer the best value.

So if you see a credit card advertisement that’s got a Mozo’s Expert Choice badge on it, you know that it’s been through a rigorous assessment - it’s not just the provider saying this is a great product, we’ve looked at it, we’ve assessed it against its peers and chosen it as one of the best.

Tom: Okay, pretty straight forward then. How about some of the nitty gritty about credit cards themselves, ’cause this is about credit card awards.

According to ASIC research released early this year, a third of people who use balance transfer credit cards actually end up in more debt then they were in before. As part of the Mozo Experts Choice Awards we handed out awards for balance transfer credit cards - so how do you think choosing the right balance transfer credit card can fix this problem?

Peter: Sure, so balance transfers are when you take your debt from an existing card and transfer it to a new card and you get a special rate for a certain period of time. Now those rates can be anywhere from 0% to up around 5% and it can be applied for anywhere from 6 months usually up to 36 months. Sometimes those cards even have a one off handling fee, which is usually a percentage of the amount transferred.

So there’s a lot of different moving parts, so what we did for this Award is we used a fairly typical balance transfer scenario, using the average credit debt and worked out how long it would take to pay off that debt. And we also took into account the interest rate that applies after the balance transfer period, so if you’ve only got a 6 month period and you haven’t quite finished clearing that debt, you’re going to be paying most likely the interest rate on the card for the rest of the time. So we wrapped all that into one calculation and we picked the cards that came out best on that assessment.

Tom: So it’s - obviously it's good for people to be aware of the transfer period before they get hit by a higher revert rate?

Peter: Yeah, for sure, you should always be aware of what the term is that’s available for the discounted rate period and trying to get the debt cleared within that period. Otherwise, it will cost you quite a bit more.

Tom: Yeah. Okay, I think it’s fair to say that Aussies love reward points. I mean, my girlfriend loves rewards points, she probably checks her reward points balance more than she does her actual bank balance! I guess, what she and probably a lot of people at home want to know is how they can get the most bang for their buck when it comes to rewards. So can you maybe explain to us how you as a judge, and the rest of the judges, analyse the value of different reward cards and how you made sure you were comparing them on an even footing, because I guess there are a whole heap of different factors.

Peter: Yeah, it’s kind of like with balance transfers, there’s a number of things you have to take into account. That includes the earn rate on the card - so how many points you earn per dollar - any caps on the amount of points that you can earn each month, any expiry date that could apply to those points and then also the value of those points when you redeem them. So some points might be worth a dollar, some might only be worth 50 cents. So we took all that into account and calculated what the rewards value was for a certain amount of spend and then we also looked at the annual fee you need to pay to hold the card.

So we look at what you get, plus what it costs you to have the card and worked out which cards deliver the best net value overall. We did that for someone spending about the average annual spend, which is about $20,000 at the moment, but we also did it for higher spenders, so a $60,000 spend. So if you put a lot more through your credit card, there’s a premium cards category that will show which cards will give you the best value for you.

Tom: And if people at home want to check out just how rewarding their own card is, or a different card is, we actually have a tool on the Mozo website to help them, don’t we?

Peter: Yeah we do. We ‘ve got the Mozo Rewards Revealer and it goes through and says, “how much do you spend on your card every year” and it works out for you what the net value delivered by each card is at that spend level. So it makes it really easy to figure out which card is going to do the best for you.

Tom: Awesome. Speaking of rewarding, American Express has taken out Credit Card Provider of The Year for a second time running, which is no mean feat to say the least. Can you maybe talk to us little bit about what made American Express such as stand out performer this year?

Peter: Look, in the past I think American Express was mostly considered a fairly niche card provider, you know, targeting people that spend a lot of money on their credit cards, like to stack up reward points - so very higher spender and business oriented.

But over the recent years they’ve been really working on expanding their card range and that’s reflected by the wins that they got this year, not only in the rewards categories but also low rate, no annual fee and balance transfer. So, you know, they’ve got cards that can deliver value for a whole range of people now. When we looked at the results across all the categories that we judge for these Awards, there was no other single provider that came even close to nabbing such a wide range of Awards this year.

Tom: Oh, wow. So right across the spectrum.

Peter: Yeah, yeah, it’s really impressive.

Tom: Okay, so another really interesting Award, well for me, as bit of a fintech junkie was for credit innovation. What exactly does that mean for the Mozo judges and how did you end up picking a winner in that category?

Peter: Yeah it’s a really fun category to research, you get to dig around in all the details and look at the latest developments. So what we did was we looked at any new technologies, offers, credit cards or just card features that were introduced over the last 12 months.

We looked at how unique they were, what practical utility they offered to consumers and how they might point toward future trends. So the Qantas Money app really stood out as being the first app offered by a financial institution where you can aggregate details from your other banks’ accounts. So if you got accounts with one of the big banks for example, and you’ve got a Qantas credit, you can link your bank account to that credit card via their app, so you can see all your financial information in the one place. And the app will help you to analyse your spending across all those different accounts.

Previously, this kind of functionality was really only available via third party apps, so it's great to see a financial institution stepping into that space and really pushing what their app can do.

Tom: And do they have many banks and other providers on board so far?

Peter: They have quite a range already, but they don’t have every bank yet - they have been working on expanding the range. So if you’re thinking about getting the card so you can use their app, just check that your bank is included on the list.

Tom: Final question from me, then we’ll move on to some audience questions if we have any. So, Peter, this one is for you - if you could give one piece of stand out advice about choosing a credit card, what would it be?

Peter: Look, I think that when you’re considering what kind of credit card to get, particularly if it's your first credit card, the most most important thing to consider is whether you’re going to clear your balance every month or whether your going to carry your balance and you've got to be realistic about that. If you’re going to carry your balance on your card, the most important consideration is going to be the interest rate.

Now, interest rates can be as high as 20% and to give an example of what that really means, if you’re carrying a balance of even just $2,000 on your card, if you’ve got a 20% interest rate, that’s about $33 for every month that you carry that balance. So you know, over a year that adds up to about $400 - it’s quite a bit of money.

If you’re going to clear your balance every month, get a no annual fee card, you don’t have to worry about the interest rate and you can end up paying virtually nothing for your credit card.

Tom: So it’s really about, I guess, finding the right match for your own situation and being aware of what that is.

Peter: Yeah, and not kidding yourself about whether you’re going to pay a balance off or not.

Tom: And I guess a great place to start if you’re looking for a card for yourself, is to check out all the Mozo Experts Choice Awards Winners at mozo.com.au/expertschoice. Or if you’re looking out for a greater range of cards, head over to our homepage at mozo.com.au and then navigate to the credit card section.

So, I think it’s time for some audience questions if we have any.

Monika: We had about 4 come in, the first comes from Roisin: Hi there Tom and Peter. Peter, what card would you recommend to get the most frequent flyer points?

Peter: For the Experts Choice Awards for credit cards this year we actually did some dedicated frequent flyer categories. That’s both Qantas and Velocity, they have their own Frequent Flyer programs.

Tom: That’s Virgin, isn’t it?

Peter: Yeah Velocity, is Virgin.

So for those categories, we not only looked at the net value you can get from the rewards program and took into account the annual fee, we also took into account the value of things like Lounge Passes and flight discounts or free flights that a lot of these dedicated cards offer.

Tom: Okay, well that’s probably a pretty popular option for a lot of people out there. Any other questions?

Monika: Yep, we have 3 more, the next one is from Elizabeth: are rewards cards really worth it? The annual fees are so high.

Tom: Would you like me to take that one Peter? No, I’m joking, you can definitely take that one!

Peter: Look, rewards cards can be worth it, but you’ve just got to make sure that the amount of money you spend on your card each year is going allow you to get sufficient rewards out of it, to make up for the annual fee that you’ll be paying. There are a few rewards cards out there that have no annual fee and a couple of those did really well in the Experts Choice Awards this year - unsurprisingly - now it’s all benefit. Just make sure the value equation is going to stack up and having a look at some of the rewards winners on our site this year, is a great place to start.

Tom: I guess our Rewards Revealer, which we’ve already talked about, is a great tool to use in that respect.

Peter: Absolutely yep, that can guide you through all the complex calculations and make it really easy to work out which card is going to work for you.

Tom: 2 more questions, is that right?

Monika: Correct, next is from Sarah, she says: I’ve never had a credit card before, what would be a good place to start in regards to getting one?

Peter: So with getting a credit card, it’s a pretty big commitment, you’ve got to make sure that you’re aware of the cost involved in it, but it can also be a great way to start building up a credit history. Getting a card where you can get a fairly low credit limit to start off with is a good idea. Just so that if you’re out on bit of a shopping spree, you don’t splurge too much and get into a bit more debt than you can handle, but they can be a really useful tool.

A lot of cards these days have what’s called an interest free period. So it’s a number of days from the statement date, in which new purchases won’t get charged interest. There is a bit of a catch there: to qualify for those free days you do have to make sure that you’ve paid the card off in full by the next statement, otherwise interest will be charged from the original date of the purchase. But just make sure that, I think particularly for a first card holder, that’s a great feature to have.

Tom: Sounds good. Do we have time for one more question, then we’ll let you go.

Peter: Sure.

Monika: The last is from Lucas and he says: Hi, I’m planning on going overseas later this year. Can I take my normal credit, or will I end up paying too many fees?

Tom: Ahh, that’s a question I had last year, so I wish we’d been here then!

Peter: Look, a credit card is really convenient way to spend while you’re overseas, it’s accepted everywhere, nearly everyone’s got one in their pocket already, so it’s a fantastic tool for travel.

But, you need to aware that there can be a foreign exchange margin charged on transactions, and that can be up to anywhere around 3%, is pretty common. But there are some cards that don’t charge any foreign exchange margin at all. So depending on how much you’re planning to spend on the card, while you’re overseas, it can makes sense to hunt down one of those cards that doesn’t charge a foreign exchange margin and get one of those just for your trip.

But of course you’ve just got to make sure you’ve got an exit strategy at the end and you don’t end up with 2 credit cards with massive debts. Have a plan to pay down the holiday card as quickly as you can, because there will be interest charged on purchases.

Tom: So don’t go too overboard is a good rule for anytime when you’re using a credit card, I guess.  

Peter: Yeah, blanket rule, be careful.

Tom: Alright, awesome, I think that is the last of our questions, so thank you guys so much for submitting them and thank you so much for joining us again Peter, it’s been a pleasure having you on the couch.

Peter: Great Tom, thanks for the chat.

Tom: Thanks to everyone who tuned in and sent us questions as I said. Just remember, you can head over to mozo.com.au/expertschoice if you’d like to check out all the winners from our Experts Choice Awards. Otherwise please like us on Facebook or Twitter if you haven’t already for more updates on Mozo Experts Choice Awards and all things credit cards, new guides, everything like that, we post them on there.

So until next time, thank you so much for joining us.

Check out the Mozo Experts Choice Credit Card Award winners of 2018 or search our credit card database for your plastic match.

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