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Bank First named Money's Credit Card Issuer of the Year

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A credit card with low interest rates, plus flexible features, can help keep debt under control

In a category that saw three major institutions collect the top honours in 2019, there's been a huge swing to customer-owned banks in 2020. In challenging economic times it's no wonder that customer-owned banks and credit unions have come to the fore to give their customers credit card offerings that are well priced and stacked with features.

Michael Lawrence, chief executive of the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), says shopping around for the best credit cards is the best antidote to high interest rates.

"Cardholders can always start the process by considering a number of key questions: Has my spending behaviour changed? Do I have visibility of all card costs? When was the last time I assessed payments?"

"Clear awareness of your current and future needs will help you make an informed decision when faced with a variety of products."

Winner of the Credit Card Issuer of the Year for 2020 is Bank First. It was recognised for its sharp rates for both its Visa Classic and Visa Platinum credit cards, the latter with interest rates from 9.59%. Both cards currently have zero annual fees and 0% interest for the first six months as an introductory offer.

Adam Alsbury, chief strategy and marketing officer, says Bank First is thrilled with the award and always aims to provide a better banking experience to all its customers through better rates, lower fees and outstanding customer service.

"Our credit cards offer all of these features, as well as easy repayment options, up to 55 days interest free and range of exclusive perks on our platinum card," says Alsbury.

He says credit card issuers face increased competition from buy now, pay later services and consumers are increasingly shopping around to find low-rate cards that meet their needs - "and our cards do just that".

Alsbury says being customer owned also means the bank has a compassionate approach to credit control. During Covid-19 it has been "assisting our customers through this tough time with the ability to reduce or defer their repayments".

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe told a recent senate inquiry that the financial system has "some very well-priced products for consumers, and one of the problems we have is that people don't take them up. So I encourage people to shop around."

APRA chair Wayne Byres told the same inquiry he is puzzled why more people don't take up these better offers.

In second place, Community First Credit Union has some cheaper rates than Bank First - both of its low-rate/basic credit cards go from 8.99%pa. And all three of its low-rate credit card offerings scored inside the top 10 in the basic category. Also of note are the low fees on overseas transactions.

Third-placed Teachers Mutual Bank scored 14th for its lowest-cost basic credit card with an interest rate of 11.5% and zero annual fees.

The top three institutions scored the highest average in product rankings across the categories of low-rate cards, premium cards, transactor cards, transfer balance cards and cards that offer rewards programs.

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