Qantas extends COVID flight credits


Qantas extends COVID credits, one in three mortgage borrowers have asked for a rate cut - 70% got one, and first homebuyers turn $35,000 deposit into $82,000 equity. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Qantas scraps use-by date for COVID flight credits

Qantas has removed the expiry date on COVID travel credits that were due to run out at the end of this year.

qantas extends covid credits

It means Qantas customers with COVID credits can request a cash refund, and Jetstar customers can use their COVID vouchers for flights, indefinitely.

However, while Qantas COVID credits can be taken as a cash refund at any time, they can only be converted into travel bookings up to December 31, 2023.

To encourage Australians to reconnect with their credits, from September 4, 2023, Qantas is offering double the standard number of Frequent Flyer Points for any flights booked with a Qantas COVID credit before the end of this year.

To find your travel credits use the 'Find My Credit' tool on the Qantas website. To request a refund call 1300 668 885.

The Qantas about-face on the expiry of COVID credits comes as consumer watchdog - the ACCC, has launched action in the Federal Court, alleging Qantas engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct, by advertising seats for more than 8000 flights that it had already cancelled.

In a fairly damning observation of the airline, the ACCC says it "continues to receive more complaints about Qantas than about any other business".

Last year alone the ACCC received more than 1300 complaints about Qantas cancellations, accounting for half of all complaints about Qantas reported to the ACCC.

One in three mortgage borrowers asked for a rate discount and 70% got it.

You don't ask, you don't get, right?

Despite having to dig deep to fund escalating home loan repayments, Australian mortgage borrowers are reluctant to pick up the phone and ask their lender for a rate discount.

Only one in three home loan customers have tried to negotiate a lower rate with their bank this year, according to Compare the Market.

Among those that did, 70% scored a rate discount.

Simply calling the bank to request a discount may be a smart strategy.

While NAB, Westpac, and the Commonwealth Bank have all lowered their standard home loan stress tests from 3% to 1%, skyrocketing home loan rates have significantly culled the borrowing power of home owners, making it near-impossible for some to refinance to a cheaper loan.

According to Compare the Market, a couple on a combined income of $150,000 has seen their borrowing power shrink by 29.8% since May last year.

A family with two children on combined income of $150,000 annually have had their borrowing capacity slashed by $259,400.

5% deposit first homebuyers turn $35,000 into $82,000

It's been three years since the launch of the Home Guarantee Scheme, which allows first homebuyers to get into the market with 5% deposit and no lenders mortgage insurance.

The scheme has had its share of critics, with many saying a low deposit leaves homebuyers vulnerable to rising rates or falling property values.

However, figures from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which runs the scheme, show that first homebuyers who purchased with a 5% deposit have accumulated average home equity of $82,000.

It's not bad when you consider the average deposit among scheme participants was just $35,200 in 2020 rising to $36,400 in May 2023 - far less than the average deposit of $159,000 across the overall first homebuyer market.

The First Home Guarantee has places available for 35,000 first homebuyers this financial year.

AIA Health launches new Overseas Visitor Health Cover

AIA Health Insurance has launched health insurance for temporary visitors living and working in Australia.

International visitors on an Australian working holiday or working and skilled visa can now sign up for AIA's Overseas Visitor Health Cover, which is compliant with visa requirements and protects them when they are not eligible for Medicare.

Cost-effective hospital cover starts from $63 per month for singles, with cover options available for couples, single parents and families.

Private health insurance is a requirement and condition of entry for many temporary visitors to enter and work in Australia.

Australia does have reciprocal health care arrangements with 11 countries including New Zealand and the UK but these only cover essential medical treatment.

New help hub for small businesses

As small businesses feel the pinch of rising costs, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) has launched a new Financial Assistance Hub.

The Hub is designed to help small enterprises understand how banks can lend a hand if a business is experiencing financial difficulty, and is essentially a step-by-step guide out of financial woes.

If your venture is struggling with debts, it can be worth a call to the Small Business Debt Helpline (1800 413 828) to speak with a small business financial counsellor for free and confidential advice.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.