Ratehacker: February's Best Credit Card, Bank And Home Loan Deals

Thinking of switching credit card providers, finding a better online savings account or taking out a loan? Jeremy Cabral from finance comparison site Finder.com.au highlights the best deals available right now.

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We'll be running monthly Ratehacker updates at the beginning of each month collating the latest information on savings accounts, home loans and credit cards.

Credit Cards

The banks are copping a lot of slack for not moving their credit card interest rates in line with RBA cash rate changes. If your bank isn't moving its interest rate, there's nothing stopping you from switching to a new bank with a better rate.

If you have a bit of post-Christmas debt, a balance transfer is one way you can get some temporary relief from interest charges. Here's some notable offers to consider right now:

Bankwest Breeze MasterCard: 0 per cent per annum for 6 months. The Bankwest Breeze has always been a great card option. It has Australia's lowest ongoing MasterCard purchase rate of 11.99 per cent

HSBC Credit Card: 0 per cent per annum for 6 months. This is a competitive balance transfer offer not only for the 0 per cent balance transfer, but also for the fact it has a $0 annual fee. Be aware though, this card does revert to a high interest rate of 17.99 per cent per annum after the 8 month balance transfer period so it's critical you repay your debt in full within the balance transfer period or consider a second balance transfer.

St. George Vertigo: 0 per cent per annum for 8 months If you are unable to repay your balance within the 8 month period, this card reverts to a low purchase rate of 13.24 per cent per annum.

Savings Accounts

It really pays to switch online savings accounts every four months. High interest online savings accounts often have a special rate of interest for new customers who sign up and it's typically for a period of four to six months.

It doesn't cost you anything to set up a new account with a new provider and transfer your savings over, so it's worth considering some of these offers right now if you have exceeded the intro period on your high interest savings account:

ME Bank Savings Plus Bundle: 5.10 per cent per annum for 12 months. If you open an ME Bank Online Savings Account and link it to an EveryDay Transaction Account you will receive a 1.60 per cent per annum bonus rate for 12 months on your Online Savings Account. This is the longest term variable rate bonus we've seen.

Bankwest Telenet Saver: 4.80 per cent per annum for 6 months. This product doesn't offer the highest rate in market. However, Bankwest has some great no-fee transaction accounts so if you're looking for convenient transfers between your accounts this is a good option.

RAMS Online Saver: 4.82 per cent per annum (with $200 monthly deposit and no withdrawals) The RAMS Online Saver doesn't have the highest introductory rate in market currently, but if you deposit $200 monthly and make no withdrawals you can earn a bonus 0.80 per cent per annum on your savings. If you use the account in this way it does mean you won't have to switch as often to get a competitive interest rate.

Bonus tip: if you apply for a high interest savings account with a different lender to your current transaction account, you'll be less tempted to spend your savings because you're not seeing it each time you login to your interest banking.

Home Loans

The banks aren't passing on the RBA cash rate cuts in full so it's important you take matters in to your own hands. Consider these two scenarios. Scenario 1 is a typical standard variable rate loan; scenario 2 is the same package but with a 1 per cent lower rate.

  Scenario 1 Scenario 2
Interest Rate 6.45 per cent p.a. 5.45 per cent p.a.
Interest Paid $631,810.05 $516,380.63
Total Payments $1,131,810.05 $1,016,380.63

By switching to a loan with a 1 per cent per annum lower interest rate you could save $115,429.42 over the life of the loan.

Remember, it can significantly reduce the amount of interest you pay and the repayment period for your home loan if you make extra repayments into an offset account, so it's really worth choosing a home loan that has this feature.

There are some good deals available from online lenders. If you're looking to switch, add these offers into your consideration set:

Loans.com.au Blackboard Special: 5.11 per cent per annum comparison rate With a comparison rate of 5.11 per cent per annum this is a really competitive offer. It's a fully featured home loan with a 100 per cent redraw offset facility.

UBank UHomeLoan (Refinance Only): 5.12 per cent per annum comparison rate UBank (backed by NAB if you like brand names) currently has an upfront discount of 0.25 per cent per annum if you apply by 14 March 2013. This home loan is only available with an existing home loan looking to refinance. Read the full review

Bankwest Online Home Loan: 5.39 per cent per annum comparison rate This offer has no application fee (normally $695) for a limited time That deal is only available.

Jeremy Cabral is the Personal Finance Publisher at Finder.com.au which includes popular comparison sites CreditCardFinder.com.au and SavingsAccountFinder.com.au, helping over 4.8 million Australians compare financial products every year. Connect with Jeremy on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Comments

    "Best Credit Card" should be split into two categories; one for those who pay off the entirety of the card every month, and a list like the one above. My card has a very high rate (21% or so) but this point is moot when the card is constantly paid off, and the rewards from the card are pretty good. With the right card paid off every month, you can make the card work for you.

      Thank you so much for the comment and feedback. That is a great suggestion - I'll make sure I break it out like that for the next piece

    Anyone got any recommendations for a card that doesn't charge extra for foreign currency purchases?
    Doesn't have to be a credit card specifically - the old NAB Gold card fit this bill until August last year and I haven't found anything else that's good for online purchases since.

      28 Degrees (formerly Wizard) Mastercard doesn't charge any fees, nor anything extra for international purchases. Just make sure you pay your bills on time and don't withdraw cash with it and it's a pretty much perfect credit card.

      http://www.28degreescard.com.au

      28 Degree Mastercard...?

      Bankwest platinum mastercard.

      Thanks for the comment and question!

      Molokov and Greg are bank on the money with their suggestions

      Here in Australia, there aren't a huge amount of options. Here's a shortlist:
      - 28 Degrees MasterCard
      - Aussie Platinum MasterCard
      - Bankwest Platinum range inc. Zero, Breeze, Qantas and More

    I use a BankWest Zero Platinum for that.

    In regards to the bonus tip for savings account, having the associated transaction account with a separate bank can help prevent impulse spending as it normally takes overnight to complete a transfer between banks even for linked accounts (or at least it did for me when I had this setup with 2 banks, some banks may do it instantly between linked accounts.)

      awesome tip and used by myself and many of our users. Thanks for sharing

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