What is a low rate credit card?
A low rate credit card is a card that charges a low rate of interest on purchases. By choosing a low rate credit card, you can save on interest when you carry a balance. This makes them a great option for cardholders who don’t always manage to clear their balance each month when their statement is due.
This money-saving works in two ways. First up, when you carry a balance, that balance starts to accrue interest. The higher your purchase rate, the more you pay in interest on that balance. As interest starts to stack up, it becomes more and more difficult to pay down your debt, which can make it difficult to keep on top of.
Secondly, carrying a balance means no more interest free days on new purchases. To take advantage of interest free days, you usually have to clear your balance the previous month. If you don’t, any new purchases will attract interest from the day they are made. Again, the higher the purchase rate, the more you pay in interest – and the easier it is to get into trouble.
Low Interest Rate Credit Cards - Frequently Asked Questions
As with any type of credit card, you need to compare low rate credit cards if you want to choose the best one for you. At CreditCard.com.au, we make this process as simple as possible.
Step 1. Compare purchase rates. If you carry a balance, the rate you pay on that balance should the most important factor in your comparison.
Step 2. Compare annual fees. Factor in how much you will pay in annual fees, but keep purchase rate a priority.
Step 3. Compare features. You will usually find low rate cards – especially those that also have a low annual fee – are low on features. However, saving money on interest should be your first priority, so extras can be thought of as an added bonus.
Step 4. Assess compatibility. Make sure you are eligible for the card, and consider how well it will suit your needs. Remember, you may need to put extras such as rewards on the back-burner for now if you really want to focus on saving money.
Just like annual fees, interest rates on credit cards vary according to what the card offers.
Credit cards are a business, and as such, credit card providers are not in the business of giving away stuff for free. That’s why you will usually find cards with higher annual fees and interest tend to offer more in the way of features and extras – while cards with lower annual fees and interest are more basic.
However, you can make this work to your advantage, as long as you know what’s most important to you. Do you want to save money on interest and keep your credit card under control? A low rate credit card could help you do that. Do you always clear your balance and want more from your card? As long as your card offers value, a card with a higher rate could work for you.
Want to avoid making mistakes on your new card? One of the most important things to remember when using a low rate card is the fact that you are still paying interest on your balance. Yes, that interest will be growing at a slower rate than if you had a card with a higher rate, but it is still growing.
If you want to make the most of your low rate card, pay off as much of your balance as you can, as often as you can. Try not to let your focus slip just because you think your lower rate lets you off the hook. The goal is always to pay down your balance, and keep it clear month-to-month. Doing this should also let you take advantage of interest free days on your purchases.
Most credit cards offer a certain number of ‘interest free days’ when you clear your balance the previous month. How does this work?
Say your card offers up to 55 days interest free on purchases. The number of days you get interest-free depends on when the purchase is made with regards to your credit card statement cycle.
If you make a purchase on day 1 of your statement cycle, you will have 55 days before that purchase starts accruing interest. This is because there are 30 days of your statement cycle left, and 25 days until your bill payment is due.
If you make a purchase on day 20 of your statement cycle, you will have 35 days before interest starts accruing on that purchase. Ten days of your statement cycle, and 25 days until your bill payment is due.
In general, low interest credit cards offer a low rate over the long term. However, there are cards that offer a lower rate as an introductory offer. With these cards, you pay a much lower rate over a short period of time, making them a handy option if you want to save on interest over the short term. Find out more about 0% Purchase Offers here.
TIP: To make the most of this type of card, plan your purchases and set a repayment plan to pay them all off before they start accruing interest. Make sure you know what the standard purchase rate is after the intro period ends.