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While it may not have the big name of a big bank, Australian Unity still has plenty to offer. Like many customer-owned financial providers, Australian Unity is made up of an amalgamation of a number of credit unions and building societies, drawn together over the years to provide great value products to customers today.
Starting out as the BHP Employee Co-operative in 1971, Big Sky later merged with several credit unions – mostly within the resources industry – including Lysaght, BP, GMH and RACV, to then open its doors to the general public. From there, it diversified its offering to provide everything from everyday bank accounts and savings products, to financial planning and credit cards.
Big Sky has united as at October 2018 under Australian Unity a customer-owned financial provider that returns profits to customers through competitive interest rates and great service, and sees itself as a genuine alternative to the big banks. Just like those big banks, Australian Unity operates under the same regulations, sharing the same government guarantees on savings products.
But while big banks have external shareholders to think about, Australian Unity can focus on its customers, delivering them products and services that can help them in everyday life, while also helping them to save a bit of money.
Comparing credit cards, you’ve probably noticed major banks such as the Big Four tend to have a wide selection of credit cards on their books, with everything from simple low rate cards to feature-packed rewards cards on offer. On the other hand, smaller financial providers such as customer-owned banks, building societies and credit unions typically offer far fewer credit cards to customers.
Why is this? The big banks make big money, so they can afford to offer a wide variety of credit cards. These big banks know that their large customer base, huge advertising budgets and sprawling presence within Australia will provide them with all the customers they need to make offering such a varied range of credit cards worthwhile.
Not so with smaller financial providers such as Australian Unity. With a smaller presence and a smaller customer base, these providers focus on the basics, providing credit cards that they know are valuable to their customers. Why choose Australian Unity over the big banks? Simple. If you want an uncomplicated credit card that can save you money, Australian Unity may have just the option for you.
While it’s more enjoyable to look at the features on offer when comparing credit cards, looking at how much each card will cost to keep in your wallet is a better idea. Not quite as glamourous perhaps, but it should help you to weed out cards you can’t afford before you get sucked into applying for them.
If you’re looking for a money-saver, Australian Unity has ‘em. Money-saving is one of the ways in which customer-owned providers really shine, as they tend to offer products that have lower fees and interest rates. By re-investing profits back into the organisation instead of using them to create dividends for external shareholders, these customer-owned institutions can offer great value.
With the Australian Unity Low Rate Visa Card, you can save money on interest and annual fees.
How much a card’s interest rate really matters depends on the way in which you use your card. If you always pay off your balance in full at the end of each statement period, then the interest rate attached to your card is of no consequence. This allows you to choose platinum or rewards cards with higher interest rates, because your cleared balance will not attract interest.
However, if you carry a balance month-to-month, you should pay close attention to the interest rate on your card, as this will affect how much you pay in interest on your balance, and consequently, how long it will take to pay it all off. A low rate card such as the Australian Unity Low Rate Visa Card could be a great option for cardholders who carry a balance and want to save on interest.
Australian Unity Visa Credit Card provide up to 45 days interest free on purchases – as long as you clear your balance at the end of each statement cycle. So, as long as you understand how this feature works, you could use it to buy items on your card, and then enjoy a longer period interest free before you pay it all off.
It’s worth mentioning that low cost cards such as those offered by Australian Unity tend not to be overloaded with features. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t offer any extras at all. For example, Visa payWave. Designed to speed up purchases made in-store, this contactless payment system allows Australian Unity cardholders to ‘tap and go’ on purchases less than $100.
As for risk protection, Australian Unity cards have two important security features on offer. Verified by Visa allows cardholders to set up a password that must be entered when making a purchase online at participating retailers, which can help to ensure their card is not used without their permission.
Another handy security feature offered by Australian Unity is Vigil, a monitoring service that tracks card payments for suspicious activity. If Vigil notices any suspicious payments, it will lock down the card and contact the cardholder for confirmation that the payment was authorised.
Also available on Australian Unity credit cards is the ability to add up to four additional cardholders to the credit card account, at no extra cost. This can be ideal for family members who want to share family spending, making it easier to keep track of payments while sticking to a budget.
Before applying for any credit card, it’s important to check you’re eligible. This means finding out if there is a minimum income requirement, and if the application requires Australian citizenship or permanent residency of the applicant. Australian Unity cards, have a minimum age of 18 for applicants to apply.
It’s also worth taking note of any minimum or maximum credit limits in place. The Australian Unity credit card have a relatively low minimum credit limit, but you may find that platinum cards have a higher minimum credit limit in place, and may also have a higher minimum income requirement.
There are many reasons why you may prefer banking with a big bank over a smaller provider such as Australian Unity. You may feel safer banking with a familiar big bank name you see every day, you may prefer the larger range of products big banks offer, or you may want to stick with the big bank you have been with all your life.
But, that’s not to say there aren’t many other reasons for you to make the change to a smaller, less well-known bank, credit union or building society. You may find these providers offer better service and better value, while offering more back within the community. You may find that although their product range is smaller, there is still something there that suits your needs.
When choosing a customer-owned financial institution such as Australian Unity, you know that your provider has the backing of the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), which is the industry advocate for Australia’s customer-owned banking sector.
You can also rest assured that this is not an insignificant sector within the financial services industry. In fact, the customer-owned banking sector has combined assets of more than $83.9 billion, providing Australians a competitive alternative to banks, and access to a range of savings, investment, loan and insurance products.
Finding a credit card from the multitude of options on offer isn’t easy. So, that’s where we come in. At creditcard.com.au, we feature a wide range of credit cards so you can compare them side by side. And while there may not be one credit card that is ‘best’, there is sure to be a credit card that is best for you.
Is the best credit card for you a Australian Unity credit card? Check out the options on offer from Australian Unity today to find out.
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