Are credit cards really evil?

Credit cards often get a bad rap on account of the many pitfalls awaiting those of us who aren’t great at staying in control of debt, but are they really that evil?

Actually, the credit card system can be worked in your favour. If you use your card for all your transactions but ensure you’re able to (and do) pay its full balance every month, you’ll reap the rewards that credit cards can offer while avoiding paying interest or going into debt. Continue reading…

Traps for Young Players: How not to use your credit card

When used wisely, a credit card can be a useful tool for managing your cash flow. However, it can be all too easy to slip into bad habits that lead to over-spending and debt. Falling victim to this is easier than you might think, so we’ve made a list of some traps for young players that will hopefully get you thinking about how you can stay in the black. Continue reading…

The Low Down: How to improve your credit score

Even if you have a spotless record of repaying debt, anyone who’s ever applied for a credit card, home loan, phone plan or hire purchase agreement will know the vaguely anxious feeling that stirs in your chest when you hear the words “I’ll just have to run a credit check.” Continue reading…

Weighing up the balance: Balance transfers and you

If you’re one of the many kiwis giving their credit card a good workout at the moment, receiving your next credit card statement could be a bit of a shock.

Reserve Bank statistics suggest that most New Zealanders run up credit card debt that’s costing them interest each month at an average rate of 18.95% – 20.95% per annum (p.a.).

To counter this, you may notice come banks promoting offers known as ‘balance transfers’ that promise low, or even 0% p.a interest on existing credit card balances.

What is a balance transfer?

A balance transfer is when a person with a credit card debt with one (or multiple) providers (like a bank, or store that offers credit) transfers that debt to another provider. Credit providers usually offer lower rates of interest for a set period of time in exchange for you transferring your debt to them.

For example, BNZ is offering 0% per annum (p.a.) to customers who transfer their credit card balance, which means that if you transfer the balance of your credit card from another bank to BNZ, you’ll pay no interest on that debt for 12 months (provided you comply with the Card terms and conditions, including by paying the minimum repayment each month).

This 0% rate only applies to the balance you transfer to the credit card, and the standard purchase interest rate will be charged on any purchases you make with the credit card.

The set period of time for the low balance transfer rate is particularly important to note. The 0% rate offer is not permanent, so if you do a balance transfer you should also put a plan in place to make the most of it. It gives you a window of opportunity to focus on paying off the balance, instead of paying off the balance plus interest.

A balance transfer can also be good if you have a number of credit cards, because you can consolidate that debt, making payments easier to manage, so you don’t miss them and incur late payment fees.

So, what’s in it for the bank?

Banks use balance transfer offers to attract new customers. If your balance transfer was worth $2000 and your new credit card had a limit of $3000, you would still theoretically have $1000 available to use for purchases. However, purchases made with that $1000 would incur interest at the usual rate for purchases (for example, if you had a card where the usual rate of interest for purchases was 19.95% and you transferred $2000 and then spent the remaining $1000, you would incur interest of 19.95% p.a. on the$1000 worth of purchases, but 0% p.a. interest on the initial $2000 balance that you transferred).

Working toward a zero balance is the best way to be good with credit cards.

Ideally, the best way to manage credit cards is paying the full balance off monthly so you never have to pay a cent in interest, but you can still reap all the benefits of having a card, like rewards, security and convenience.

A 0% p.a. balance transfer for 12 months could be a good way to get stuck into paying off your credit card balance.

BNZ terms and fees apply. 

Visit our calculator to see how much you could save with a balance transfer, and find out how to apply for one here.

Continue reading…

Sustainable saving: Setting goals you’ll stick to

Savings goals that are set in a fit of optimism can often be forgotten or abandoned weeks or months down the track. Luckily, there are a few simple techniques you can use to set goals and stick to them, ultimately creating long-lasting savings habits. The key is to acknowledge the life cycle of a goal, and follow it through – understand where you’re at now, decide what you want to achieve, create a strategy, make it easy on yourself/remove barriers, and review regularly. Continue reading…

Must know tips for managing your money on the go

New Zealanders are well known travellers from the traditional Overseas Experience to getting out and about exploring our beautiful county. But travel can bring new challenges for accessing funds and banking, so we break down the must-know facts for managing your money on the go. Continue reading…

7 money saving tips to help you worry less this Christmas

The holiday season is almost here. Christmas decorations are going up, retailers are getting ready for the ringing of tills and carols are starting to be piped through the malls. This time of year is usually associated with celebration and anticipation for the summer holidays but it can also be a tough time for people with expectations creating stress and strain, particularly on your wallet. Continue reading…

Home equity: What is it? And why should you care?

The term ‘home equity’ has become a bit of a buzz phrase of late, thanks in part to the release of Auckland Council’s 2014 capital valuation (CV) figures.

An average increase in home values of 29% across the region means some Auckland homeowners found themselves in a position where the equity in their properties had significantly increased. Continue reading…