October financial wrap up
Article by Ben Tosi
There’s under two months to Christmas and boy can we tell. Headlining this month’s financial news was a couple of big credit card launches as the banks make a play for your business before the festive season, a host of banking innovations to keep the tech heads happy and of course, energy news as we head into our warmest months.
Strap yourselves in, Mozo’s October financial wrap up is here.
Credit card crunch time
At the forefront of this month’s credit card news, Myer became the first Aussie retailer to launch a store-branded rewards card featuring both Android and Apple Pay services. The Visa Card comes with a low annual fee that is waived in the first year and gives Aussie retail lovers access to the lucrative MYER one rewards program.
It isn’t the only new piece of plastic on the block, however. Commonwealth Bank stole Myer’s thunder just a day later by announcing the imminent arrival of a new 9.90% low rate credit card. The card boasts a cheap $60 annual fee, the most competitive purchase rate on offer from a big four bank and will hit the market in early 2018.
Wrapping up a bumper month in credit card land with some news of our own, Mozo’s coveted Experts Choice Awards were back in October with the annual credit card edition. We crunched the data on a staggering 190 products from 60 different providers with American Express taking out the title of ‘Provider of the Year’. You can check out the full list of winners and their categories, here.
New personal banking powers
October saw big strides in the personal banking space with a host of providers looking to woo customers with new technologies. First up, ING announced a new round up tool that sweeps your digital loose change from transactions into a linked Savings Maximiser account where it will be accruing a higher interest rate, designed to help you save.
NAB also grabbed the spotlight this month, becoming the first Aussie bank to launch its very own Google Assistant app named ‘Talk to NAB’. Available on Android and iOS, users can now get the answers to a range of banking-related questions without making a phone call.
Payment innovations were at the forefront of discussion this month with the ABC reporting that the New Payments Platform system, allowing instant fund transfers between banks could be up and running as early as the coming January. ANZ followed up this news by announcing a partnership with Apple Pay to make eftpos payments a reality for those with an iPhone. Not to be outdone though, Westpac finished the month by announcing a completely new way to pay - via your watch. The technology, known as PayWear, involves a microchip and wristband that is easily attached to your existing watch or fitness tracker. It works in the same way as a debit card would for contactless payments and will be available in December.
Finally, we were encouraged to invest in Australia’s first neobank, Xinja. The prospective bank opened a round of crowdfunding that is designed not only to bring in revenue but to gain input in what the everyday Aussie wants out of a 21st century bank.
Summer energy plans
How are we going to survive another sweltering Aussie summer? Smart meters look to be the answer with a massive rollout expected over the coming months. While Victorian residents are required to have a smart meter installed by December 1, it is anticipated that New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and Tasmanian households will also have them installed to help monitor and reduce energy consumption over our hottest months.
To manage the energy demand, Queenslanders have been asked to cap the air con at 26 degrees and will be rewarded with a $400 cashback offer if they opt for a SmartPeak air conditioner. If you’re not a Queenslander but would still like to cut energy costs, EnergyAustralia’s Secure Saver plan might be perfect for you. The scheme will allow customers to lock in their energy costs for two years and is designed to combat future price hikes.
Finally, while energy prices are higher than they were this time last year, Mozo crunched the data and Aussies can make greater savings if they switch to the cheapest energy plan on the market in their state. Make sure your energy bill doesn’t skyrocket this summer by checking out our state-by-state breakdown of the energy schemes available and to compare a range of providers head to our freshly re-launched Energy comparison tool.
What you need to know as an Aussie homeowner
No, we didn’t forget you and to kick things off, you should definitely get haggling on your home loan. According to Mozo’s annual mystery shop, Aussies could save as much as $45,000 over the life of their home loan simply by negotiating a better rate.
Before doing so, however, it might be a good idea to brush up on your home loan terminology, using Mozo’s Home Loans Explained guide. Gateway Credit Union’s Mortgage Holder Sentiment Report revealed that 40% of us don’t know what a “split loan” is and 32% of us don’t know the difference between interest and comparison rates.
Once you’ve done your homework and haggled your way to a better interest rate, your attention should turn to your home and content insurance. This month, Juniper Research reported that savings in excess of $200 were to be made by customers willing to embrace insurance technologies. On the contents insurance front, Experts Choice winners SGIO and SGIC recently launched single-item contents insurance for your most prized possessions, known as Insurance4That. This type of insurance can cover your laptop, desktop, mobile, tablet, camera, home entertainment system, gaming consoles, appliances, instruments, medical devices and furniture and you can find out more about it here.