Rewards credit cards not so rewarding

CHOICE has seen a number of reports lately detailing the declining value of rewards credit cards. In general, cards appear to be earning less points than they did previously without any adjustment in annual fees to offset the loss. Have you noticed your rewards card losing value?


I certainly have, there’s a thread here: ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum VISA card 500% account fee increase
regarding ANZ’s new fee and rewards structure


It is not just fees and fewer points, it also takes more points to get most rewards, and that has been going on for yonks.


It has been going on for a long time, but it seems so obvious and extreme now. The amount you need to purchase to actually get a reward is amazing.

Consider that, against the way we willingly tie our purchases together in an incredibly rewarding way for the corporates who run these cards (credit and loyalty) and freely give away more personal data and most people can imagine in our quest for the points. It works so well, for their back end planning of inventory, staffing, etc and for front end targeted advertising and push marketing that its downright isidious … but it’s “so helpful” and we can “save money”, we’ve taken the bait so well they can now charge us for the privilege. Does anyone else feel a serious dose of Weltschmerz?


I’ve had a rewards credit card since 1997 and have definitely found that the value has been steadily dropping over the years. I’m still ahead though, my Citibank VISA which I’ve held since 1997 is fee free, so it doesn’t cost me anything to earn the ever dwindling rewards points. Over the years I’ve never paid any interest and have earnt my fair share of points.

My AMEX gets a good workout and the annual fee is always more than offset by the cashsback promotions that they run every year.

So far the AMEX is still earning the same points, but only time will tell.

I just received a notice from the Commonwealth Bank yesterday that the rewards points earned on the AMEX card will from from 3 points per dollar spent, to 0.5 points per dollar spent except for purchases from certain vendors and overseas purchases. They are dropping the foreign transaction surcharge from the card though.

The decline has happened progressively. It really started once Qantas stopped allowing points to be transferred from cards unless they were exclusively linked to the frequent flyer scheme. Then the number of points per dollar dropped for frequent flyer schemes, then they increased the number of points per dollar earnt on their rewards programs but reduced the value of the points, and then they introduced caps on the number of points which could be earnt.


My wife and I dumped our bank’s credit card a few years ago, after doing some figures, and went with the local supermarket card. There was a free option, or a card with an annual fee that accumulated points much more quickly. Calculations told us to pay the annual fee, and we have been laughing all the way to the ban- I mean, supermarket ever since!

On average, we get $10 off a shop at least once a fortnight, along with various other benefits including free grocery delivery on orders over $100. There are other ‘rewards’ we could choose, but none of them are decent value-for-money; they seem based upon the most expensive price that could be found for the item under offer.

I think the annual fee has gone up once - by $10 - but other than that we’re happy.