My first foray into credit card hacking

So many of the blogs in our online community talk about credit card hacking and all of the benefits that it can bring, but I’ve never really been one to bother with it, mainly because the system seems to work best for American cards rather than cards that are available to us here in the land of Oz. Because this was my view for a long time, I never bothered to actually investigate in more detail, but once I had a detailed look I realised that this thing might actually work for me…

What did I discover in my research?

A comparison of credit card point hacking comparison websites - does that even make sense?

A comparison of credit card point hacking comparison websites – does that even make sense?

A simple google search for “Australian credit card hacking” turned up two main sites that were of use in this exercise, these being:

  • www.pointhacks.com.au
  • www.creditcardfinder.com.au

I preferred the functionality of the www.creditcardfinder.com.au website, simply because lets you filter by the type of card. If you choose “reward credit cards” you get a summary of the cards that you can possibly hack, and if you choose the sub menu of “cashback offers” you can cut the list down to the ones that will actually give you cash.

I personally like the cashback ones the best simply because the other things that you can buy with points (with the exception of vouchers at various stores that you would probably frequent anyway) tend to be pretty crappy value if you convert them out into real world dollars. For example, if you know that 20,000 points buys you a $100 Bunnings voucher, then you could say that 20,000 points = $100 real world value. But if you want to redeem for an actual product (e.g. a set of headphones), then it might cost 100,000 points to buy a set of headphones that has a real world value of $100. So the price of the headphones is five times the real world value! Needless to say, I don’t buy any products with my points, just cashback or actual vouchers.

This is the ANZ Rewards Black deal - it was the only one for Australians that I could see where they waived the annual fee for the first year, making it a simple hacking opportunity.

This is the ANZ Rewards Black deal – it was the only one for Australians that I could see where they waived the annual fee for the first year, making it a simple hacking opportunity.

When I reviewed the offers available, it quickly became apparent that the ANZ Rewards Black card with 75,000 bonus points (after spending $2,500 within three months) and no annual fee in the first year was the pick of the bunch, so I went ahead and applied for the card one night. Within about an hour of applying I had a response back saying that they would want more information, and the next morning they requested two recent payslips, which I duly supplied that day. By that afternoon I received a text advising that my card had been approved, and that it would arrive in the mail in the next five business days. I was a bit shocked at how easy it was to get a new card (with a $15k limit!) and a bit worried at the same time about how dangerous this could be for people that didn’t have any control over their spending!

While the application process was straightforward, that isn’t to say that it was all beer and skittles as there were some negatives about the process as well…

Annoying things about the experience

Dealing with a new financial institution

I bank with Westpac for everything, and the ANZ deal was only available to new ANZ customers. Having to change financial institutions was a pain in the arse, and meant that I had to go into a local branch three time because they can’t get their shit sorted.

I also discovered along the way that ANZ’s Rewards Black card doesn’t supply bank feeds to QuickBooks Online. Apparently bank feeds are a concept that only business people need, but I really do wonder whether they’ve ever heard of things like Personal Capital or Mint. I know those organisations don’t operate in Australia, but it just seems so stupid that they would actually limit this feature to certain clients rather than just make it available to everyone.

ANZ also suck for just being behind the times with some things, which was quite surprising as I thought that they were more technology savvy. To set up an automatic payment for the card they wouldn’t allow you to email it off, so I went into a branch and they used a fax machine (yes, that old thing that they abandoned with the abacus when Noah was disembarking from the ark with all of the animals) to send it off. I told the man that I thought the system was a joke, and he said that there was a feedback email and I should submit any feedback I had via that address. I found it bizarre that they had an email for complaints, but don’t have an email to submit a form. Or equally bizarre that the stupid form couldn’t just be done within their online banking system.

I’m so sick of dealing with ANZ that I can’t be bothered even submitting feedback, but at least I know of the annoying things about them before I do the same hack in my wife’s name.

Needing to spend a minimum amount within three months

This deal requires that I spend at least $2,500 within three months, but because we have automated most of our bills (as detailed in this post) it’s not always easy to find things that we need to buy that I can put on the new credit card. Of course we spend more than $2,500 in three months, but I don’t want to change any of my automatic payments as I’ll just have to update them again later, so that really does narrow down the number of transactions that might do the job in this instance.

Fortunately my wife made me aware of accommodation that we need to book for her sister’s wedding that we need to go to in June/July, and we’ll be putting the $1,100 bill (weddings are ridiculously expensive aren’t they?) on this credit card. We would have spent this money anyway of course, so we might as well put it on this card to go towards the minimum spending amount, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about blowing so much cash on accommodation for a wedding.

Aside from the accommodation I’m fortunately able to pay for random trips to the hardware store for the renovations, and when I add in fuel for my car and some other bits and pieces, the $2,500 limit will be reached inside the three month time frame with a bit of breathing room.

Having more cards in my wallet

I now have two more cards in my wallet, so when I go to pay for something it’s a bit more annoying to think about what I’m going to use to pay for it. I could add these cards into my phone with its mobile payments (ANZ have added this feature recently to catch up with Westpac), but since I don’t plan on keeping the card for very long I didn’t see the point.

I’ll be glad to get rid of the cards once I have the sign on bonus in my pocket if only to simplify my wallet.

So is the whole thing worth the time?

This is something I’ve wondered along the way, as it’s a bit of messing around. Having said that, if you’ve been through it before then it shouldn’t seem like so much work, so I’d say that I’ll do it again with some of the other offers that are out there. And I can probably use each offer twice by using it in my own name first and then following it up in my wife’s name to get the same benefit twice.

So that’s my experience so far with this concept, but if you’ve had any experience with credit card hacking in Australia then I’d love to hear from you.

IA.

5 thoughts on “My first foray into credit card hacking

  1. My wife and I are almost five years into our credit card churning hobby. It is much easier in America. 100k points for a pair of headphones is pretty weak. Even 20k points : $100 voucher seems weak. American cash back cards typically have one point = one cent, so a 20k Chase Freedom card can be turned into $200, or transferred to a travel partner for more lucrative redemptions. Do they let you transfer the points to another program?

    Most banks are easier to deal with than it sounds like ANZ has been, although I have done a few Bank of Hawaii cards and they were strange. No way to contact them through the website. Phone numbers only.

    • Wow, five years into credit card hacking, you’re a veteran then. You’re right that the points in Australia are pretty ordinary and don’t represent great value at all.

      As far as transfers to other programs go, I’m really not sure. I’ve only ever used points on an existing card (that is free with my mortgage package) to redeem for vouchers or a reduction on my annual package fee, and since it’s the main card that I’ve used over the last 6 or so years I’ve never even thought of transferring its points (or why I would even want to). We haven’t really travelled much since we had the kids, which is why I haven’t even investigated travel offerings with these cards, but I’ll have to look into that when we are getting closer to travelling internationally again in a few years.

      ANZ has been painful, and Bank of Hawaii sounds similar. Perhaps they are international partners?

  2. Interesting. I had the same impression that it is easier to earn points in the US. I have a no annual fee card but no rewards program but I don’t use it. You’ve motivated me to work out if it is worthwhile for me – like you every bill can I set up direct debit I do. Sounds like the bonus sign up points and waiving the annual fee is the thing makes it worthwhile.

    • Yeah, the US points are much higher than they are in Australia. It’s almost like our rewards card industry hasn’t seen the need to expand the incentives so far, probably because the history of credit cards in Australia isn’t as long as in the US. Presumably points offers can get better in Australia over time though, although I’m not sure that they’ll ever get to the same level as the US.

      The bonus sign up points and no annual fee in the first year is the only way that it seems to work for Australia, and this seems to be something that is similar to the US from what I have read on various blogs. Good luck with your credit card hacking – it’s a little bit of work, but if you’re organised it needn’t be a burden, especially when you get a few hundred dollars out of it.

  3. Nice review, you went all out by actually getting the card.

    Firstly I think the problem for Australians is that the rewards aren’t as good as our foreign counterparts. Plus the recent change will make them less generous. So that’s not so good.

    Plus all the fees, possible interest, encouraging to spend more (particularly going on holiday – free travel sure, the accommodation, food etc isn’t free).

    We don’t have a credit card (or any debt) and we want to keep it that way. Even if we COULD play the system and get travel points, we’d prefer no credit card.

    Tristan

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