Thursday, December 02, 2004

Virgin credit card

I start this rant by declaring that I absolutely positively have no affiliation to Virgin or any of its associated entities. I just think this is a damned good product and I want to help other people with my knowledge of it. Honest. I know it won't seem so, but please believe me...

The Virgin credit card has a 4.9% introductory interest rate, a low 12.9% ongoing interest rate and no annual fee. If you have a credit card debt, you'd be crazy not to transfer your balance now. Even if you can do something cool like redraw on a home loan to borrow money, 4.9% is way lower than any home loan rate. Maybe transfer the debt to the home loan after six months.

Not that I am in any way encouraging anyone to increase or even maintain their credit card debt. I have too many friends who went through great pain when they were in the extremely-bad-credit cycle as students.

Seriously, they should teach a class in school about debt and how crippling it is and how to manage cash. It's a basic life skill that so many clever people are extremely bad at. One of my friends was on the front page of the paper because of the crazy debt she got into just because she chose the wrong mobile phone plan.

Still, if you're the sort of person who isn't able to pay off your entire balance every month, you need a low-interest credit card. Virgin isn't the lowest (ANZ, for instance, has a 10.99% card), but it's the lowest (widely available Australian card) that doesn't have an annual fee. Also, it has a 55 day interest free period that generously starts from the statement date, not the date of the purchase. All this is according to Infochoice, whose website you should check out to compare credit cards, home loans and a bunch of other stuff.

Virgin also doesn't have a stupid reward points system where you have to pay for membership to the rewards club, and spend a zillion dollars to earn enough points to get a dust buster, and then find that you have to pay shipping and handling anyway. No. Instead of reward points they have discount partners. Use your card to get a discount at certain places. That's it. And some of the discounts are really good. Like up to 40% off rack rates at Choice Hotels (previously known as
Flag); two free weekly rentals with any new release at Video Ezy; decent discounts at shops like Table Eight, Lush and Kathmandu; cinema discounts; and lots of other stuff. They've even got a dining club where you get a 20% discount at 1,500 restaurants in the country. It appears to be free too.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser and I take absolutely no responsibility for the information above. Don't be a dickhead - check it out for yourself.