Free flights cashback deals and gift cards lure credit card customers in time for christmas

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ENTICING credit card deals designed to bait customers with bonuses including free flights, cash back and gift cards are flooding onto the market ahead of the nation’s giant Christmas spend-up.

Financial comparison site Mozo has seen a surge in new card offerings with lenders including the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Citibank all rolling out cashback deals of up to $250 and airline Jetstar handing over free domestic flights for new Mastercard customers.

Mozo has predicted shoppers will splash about $28.2 billion on plastic this Christmas, an average of $3752 per cardholder.

But Mozo spokeswoman Kirsty Lamont warns card customers not to rush in and sign up to a deal just to snare these latest incentives.

The credit card peak marketing season is ramping up as we get closer to Christmas and card providers are working really hard to sign up new credit card customers,’ she says.

There are some generous-looking sign up perks on the market at the moment but credit card interest rates are at a record high and annual fees are well over $100.

Consumers need to be careful to look beyond the perks.

Mozos analysis shows 23 of the 29 cards offering sign-up perks have interest rates above the average rate of 17.41 per cent, which means if card customers fail to pay off their plastic in full they could end up paying more than they need to in interest charges.

Some cards have interest rates as low as 7.99 per cent.

Cardholders are already revelling in debt Reserve Bank of Australia figures show the nation owes $51.3 billion on plastic and more than $32 billion is accruing interest.

The big four banks are all offering tens of thousands of bonus Qantas Frequent Flyer points on their Qantas-points earning cards when members sign up to a new deal.

But a Qantas spokeswoman warns consumers that all cards come with different features and customers needs to work out what suits them.

As with all credit opportunities, members need to weigh up a range of considerations and decide on the right product for them before they apply,’ she says.
Lamont says some of these deals can be good value for money if customers carefully analyse the fees and charges before signing up and ensure they pay their card balance off in full each month.

@sophieelsworth