In our monthly Ratehacker round-up, Jeremy Cabral from finance comparison site Finder.com.au highlights the credit cards with the lowest fees for using overseas currencies (useful for travellers and online shoppers), plus the best transaction accounts and home loans.
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After last month's Ratehacker column there were a lot of reader queries about credit cards, especially cards that don't charge for foreign currency conversion, so in this month's edition we've highlighted the offers in market which are designed to reduce fees for overseas purchases. It's worth noting that there are benefits to using a $0 foreign currency conversion even when you are not travelling as you'll still get slugged around 3 per cent for foreign currency conversion when making online overseas purchases. For a list of banks and their charges check out our guide to foreign exchange fees and charges.
If you shop regularly online or hate paying foreign currency conversion fees when travelling, there aren't that many options available, but here are some notable offers to consider right now:
Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard: $0 foreign transaction fees, $0 annual fee: 2012 saw a change to the Platinum range of Bankwest credit cards all of which now no foreign transaction fees for online purchases, complimentary travel insurance for and your family members and up to 12 months extended manufacturers warranty. If you're interested in this card there is an exclusive online only offer at the moment — 0 per cent per annum on balance transfers and purchases for 6 months.
28 Degrees MasterCard: $0 foreign transaction fees, $0 annual fee, no overseas cash withdrawal fees: The 28 Degrees MasterCard is the ultimate fee free international credit card. The fee-free international ATM cash withdrawals separate it from the pack, which works well if you load additional funds on to your credit card to avoid the cash advance charges associated with using credit. It does lack the complimentary insurances found some of its Platinum competitors.
Aussie Platinum Low Rate Credit Card: $0 foreign transaction fees, low purchase rate: The Aussie Platinum Low Rate Credit Card does have the downside of a $99 annual fee, but it offers a low purchase rate of 13.29 per cent per annum. It differentiating feature is the inclusion of purchase security insurance, as well as complimentary international travel insurance and extended warranty insurance.
Fees on transaction accounts can really add up. Unless you are interested in the additional features offered with some transaction accounts that have a monthly fee, it is well worth considering a fee-free transaction account with no monthly fees or ATM withdrawal fees. Here are two offers to include in your comparison:
Citibank Plus Transaction Account - $0 monthly fee, free ATM withdrawals: The Citibank Plus Transaction Account is the first in Australia to offer no account fees with no minimum account balance requirement. It also features free ATM withdrawals at Citibank, Westpac, St.George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne ATM machines and no point of sale fees when using your account abroad. You can also benefit from the Citibank Dining rewards program with a free bottle of wine at any of their 300 participating partner restaurants.
Bankwest Zero Transaction Account: $0 monthly fee, free ATM withdrawals: When you deposit $2000 per month (for example, your salary) in to a Bankwest Zero Transaction account you can benefit from a $0 monthly account keeping fee. As well, you can have free access to all Bankwest, CBA, Westpac, NAB and ANZ branded ATMs Australia wide. It's important to note that you will still be charged overseas ATM fees.
Home loan application fees are becoming more uncommon and with exit fees being abolished since 1 July 2011, it's really all about the interest rates on offer.
It has been reported that banks funding costs have dropped meaning there are many lenders passing on lower rates to borrowers, but your lender may not be one of the lucky few. If your lender hasn't moved their rates, here are three offers from lenders which are worth considering:
Loans.com.au Blackboard Special: 5.11 per cent per annum comparison rate: Loans.com.au is the online brand for wholesale lender Firstmac allowing them to over lower rates than most lenders. The super low 5.11 per cent per annum comparison rate still leaves this loan ahead of the rest for this month.
eMoney Pro Pack 75 - 3 Year Fixed Rate: 5.00 per cent per annum 3 year fixed rate: eMoney offers those considering fixing in their interest rates a 5.00 per cent per annum3 year fixed rate and a 5.51 per cent per annumcomparison rate.
UBank UHomeLoan (Refinance Only): 5.12 per cent per annum comparison rate: UBank is backed by NAB. If you're an existing home owner with a mortgage the UBank refinancing offer is a very competitive offer. There is a good reason to switch right now with an upfront discount of 0.25 per cent per annum for applications made by the 14th March 2013.
Make sure to come back on April 2 for our next round-up of the latest personal finance offers.
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.