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Just like most financial institutions in Australia, Bank First offers customers a wide range of products to choose from. From credit cards and bank accounts, to loans and insurance, to superannuation and financial planning. They’re all ripe for the picking.
Do you need to live in Victoria to benefit from these services? The simple answer is no. While their focus has long been on educators, while the organisation may have special links with the education community, Bank First is open to anyone.
So, is it worth it? Why should you choose Bank First? In terms of credit cards, Bank First currently has two very tempting cards on the table. To find out if either of those cards would suit you, let’s first delve a little deeper into what it means to bank with a mutual. Then, we can get up close and personal with those cards.
To understand exactly what Bank First has to offer, you first need to look at what it means to be a mutual.
If you are a mutual bank, you are a customer-owned organisation. You are mutually owned by your customers. Any profits made are reinvested back into the organisation to benefit your customers. This allows you to provide better rates, lower fees and superior service.
On the flip-side, if you are a regular bank, you exist to provide profits for your external shareholders. Naturally, shareholders are happiest when profits are high. To keep your shareholders investing in your bank, you need to stay focused on getting those profits. While this can be good for shareholders, it’s not always great for customers.
Worried about the safety of a mutual? Some people see only big banks as truly safe. However, mutuals are regulated in the same way as big banks. Yep, Bank First is an Authorised Deposit-taking Institution regulated by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
Just like the big banks, mutuals can offer a range of credit cards, transaction and savings accounts, loans, and so much more. While you may find big banks offer a bigger selection within each category, you might just discover there are other advantages to choosing a mutual.
With profits being reinvested back into the organisation, mutuals can often offer lower rates on their credit cards. With super low purchase rates, this has to be one of the biggest drawcards on Bank First’s plastic.
Both the Bank First Classic Credit Card and the Bank First Platinum Credit Card have seriously low ongoing purchase rates. The Classic Card not only offers a low purchase rate, it also has the same low cash advance rate and balance transfer rate.
While the Platinum Card has a higher cash advance rate, it offers an even lower purchase rate and balance transfer rate than its Classic cousin.
Why choose low interest cards?
When you use your credit card to buy stuff, you are borrowing money from your credit card provider. If you don’t pay off the amount you borrowed before interest starts accruing, you will notice interest charges being added to your account.
It makes sense that if you have to pay interest on that unpaid balance, you want the interest rate applied to be as small as possible. That’s where low interest rate credit cards come in. While some cards apply interest at a rate of up to 23% p.a., low rate cards can charge as little as 10% p.a. If you have a substantial unpaid balance, that difference in interest will really stack up.
Who chooses low interest cards?
A low interest card can benefit many different types of cardholders. Some cardholders overspend and cannot pay off their balance. Some cardholders don’t understand how much they are paying in interest by retaining a balance. Some cardholders are new to credit cards and need a safety net of low interest rates in case they mess up. Some cardholders just like saving money.
Whatever your reasons behind choosing a low rate credit card, it can be a great choice. It can help you save money on interest, giving you the opportunity to pay off your balance quicker. Now tell me, who doesn’t love saving money?
So, mutuals can offer lower interest rates on their cards. Want more ways to save money? Let’s look at those annual fees then. Annual fees can reach into the hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars. But, you don’t need to spend that much money simply to access credit.
The Bank First Classic Credit Card has no annual fee. Yes, that’s no annual fee for the life of the card. Meanwhile, the Bank First Platinum Credit Card has a very affordable annual fee. Considering the fact that most platinum cards charge much higher annual fees to cover all the features they offer, this is not a bad deal at all.
Why choose low annual fee cards?
There’s no mystery here. Cards with low annual fees help you save money. While you might not think much of paying $100 a year for your credit card, consider what that adds up to over time. Assuming that the annual fee doesn’t go up – and it will – you’ll spend $1000 in ten years on annual fees alone. Seriously, that $1000 could go towards something much more fun than fees.
Opting for a no annual fee card like the Classic Card, or a low annual fee card like the Platinum Card can help you save money. Simple. You can get the features you want, plus access to credit, while paying less than you would with a card with a high annual fee. No brainer, really.
Who chooses low annual fee cards?
A low or no annual fee card works for anyone who wants to save money. Some cardholders keep a credit card for emergencies. They don’t want to pay for a card that they rarely use. Some cardholders simply want to pay less. They don’t see the point in paying annual fees when they don’t have to. Some cardholders don’t need expensive cards with fancy features. They don’t use the features, so they don’t want to pay for them.
Credit cards are big business. You think you want a credit card? The feeling is mutual: credit card providers want your business just as much as you want a card. To entice potential cardholders to apply for their cards, credit card providers can offer a number of incentives. These could include features, rewards programs, or introductory offers.
Introductory offers come in all shapes and sizes. But, they have one thing in common. They are designed to attract new customers. Let’s take a look at the types of introductory offers cards often on offer.
A balance transfer offer provides the cardholder with a much lower interest rate on balances transferred from another card. After the intro period ends, any transferred balance left unpaid will revert to the card’s purchase rate or cash advance rate. This type of offer works well for cardholders looking to pay down their balance while saving money on interest.
A purchase rate offer provides the cardholder with a low rate of interest on purchases for a certain period of time. This type of offer can be helpful to cardholders looking to make a big purchase – as long as they pay it off before the end of the intro period, when interest starts accruing.
A card with an annual fee offer allows the cardholder to pay no annual fee or a lower annual fee. This can last for the life of the card, or for an introductory period. This type of offer is perfect for cardholders looking to save money while taking advantage of everything the card has to offer.
Sound good to you? Check out Bank First cards to see if there are any intro offers available. You never know, there might just be a few offers to entice you.
Credit card features are designed to attract new customers in the same way as introductory offers. However, the features on offer will vary depending on the type of card. It all comes down to money. Yep, you will usually find cards with higher annual fees and purchase rates offer better features.
Rewards cards and gold and platinum cards tend to offer more in the way of features and extras. But, it’s important to think about what you’re paying for those extras – and whether you actually need them. First weigh up what you’re paying out to use the card. Then, balance that against the value of everything you’re getting in return.
Features can include rewards programs and complimentary insurances, personal concierge services and airport lounge access, entertainment and dining extras. There is heaps on offer, so if features are important to you, check out what’s on offer and get comparing.
We’ve covered the big stuff. Now it’s time to get into the details. If you’re thinking about applying for a credit card from Bank First, here’s what you need to know.
This a low interest credit card with no annual fee. That means it’s not too big on features and extras. You can benefit from up to 55 days interest free on purchases, as long as you clear your balance. Apart from that, this is really just a money-saver. So, if you want to save money – this most certainly could be the card for you.
As a platinum card, this has a bit more to offer. That could be something to do with that fact that it charges an annual fee. A low annual fee, but an annual fee nonetheless. So, what does that annual fee get you?
Aside from its awesome low purchase rate, the card also offers attractive extras such as access to the exclusive Visa Platinum 24/7 Concierge Service. Cardholders can also enjoy the many benefits of Visa Platinum Entertainment, with the peace of mind of complimentary travel insurance for overseas trips.
Does it offer as much as other platinum cards? Some platinum cards offer so much more – but cardholders are expected to pay for that. Think about what features you actually need – and how much you’re willing to pay for them.
Starting out life as a credit union called Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank, Bank First was created by educators who wanted to provide better banking for people working in education. Those founding members wanted to provide a strong, secure organisation, fairer banking and superior service. Today, the bank still stands by those values.
How far has the bank come? Back in 1972, the credit union had 48 customers and $480 in start-up capital. Today, Bank First has more than 100,000 customers and $2 billion in assets. It remains the only financial institution in Victoria focusing on people working in education and their families.
With its focus on providing value to its members, Bank First could be the bank for you. You may not be in education. You may not live in Victoria. It’s doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether the credit cards this bank offers are right for you.
Check out what’s on offer from Bank First’s credit cards today. You may just find the perfect piece of plastic that covers all your credit card needs!
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