For years people have wondered if there would ever be a rewards debit card and in 2014, Bankwest has brought an answer.
The Bankwest Qantas Transaction account is the first of its kind in Australia, not to mention one of the only everyday accounts in the world that is linked to a popular frequent flyer program. It earns Qantas points for both the purchases you make and the the amount of money you have in the account at the following rates:
- 5 Qantas points per eligible purchase made with the debit MasterCard,
- 12 Qantas points per month for every $100 of the account balance; and
- Bonus points for signing up to the account.
This reward debit card account has no monthly account fees when you deposit at least $2000 (ie your salary) per month. Otherwise it is a $6 fee per month, but there are very few other fees to worry about.
Honour and dishonour fees for overdrawn accounts are $10 and international transactions attract a 2.95% fee that is slightly lower than average for debit cards and credit cards. Depending on your banking needs, Bankwest may also charge other fees for the services you use, as outlined in the bank’s general Guide to Banking Fees (pdf).
Earning Frequent Flyer Points With A Debit Card
The ongoing rewards of the Bankwest Qantas debit MasterCard will boost anyone’s Qantas Frequent Flyer points balance from month to month.
As an example, let’s say you use your debit card an average of 15 times per week. That would work out to an extra 75 Frequent Flyer points in the same timeframe, or around 300 points per month. Add to that the bonus 12 points per $100 of your monthly account balance, and you could accumulate thousands more points throughout the year.
While these two ways to earn points are standard (and apply for both new and existing customers), there are also bonus point offers that will vary depending on when you apply for this debit card account.
When the Bankwest Qantas debit card first launched, for example, new customers were offered a bonus of 10,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points if they applied before 31st May 2014 and deposited at least $2000 per month for three consecutive months.
Although some debit card accounts have taken to offering signup bonuses in the form of extra cash, such as the ING Direct Orange Everyday, none have previously offered points for an existing rewards account.
What’s The Catch With Debit Card Rewards?
Frequent flyer credit cards often have huge annual fees attached to them, as well as higher interest rates, so it makes sense that debit cards would have similar drawbacks.
In the case of the Bankwest Qantas debit MasterCard, it looks as though the benefits for the bank (and Qantas) are not directly financial ones.
Rather than charging us more money to get this rewards debit card, the value could be in the form of the electronic data it provides them. Debit cards have the ability to record and transmit purchase details and, while this is essential for our banking statements, the data can also be a hugely valuable branding and marketing tool for businesses.
Will There Be More Rewards Debit Cards?
The signup bonus, and the ongoing rewards with this account are new to Australian debit cards, giving Bankwest a huge edge over competitors.
While there are currently no other everyday debit card accounts like this, both Qantas and Virgin now have prepaid debit cards that earn rewards for their respective frequent flyer programs.
These cards do not charge loading fees, cost nothing to use for everyday transactions and have the added benefit of multiple currency loading so that they can be used overseas without attracting international transaction fees.
Both Qantas and Virgin launched their prepaid debit cards in 2013 – just months before Bankwest came out with its Qantas transaction account. All three of these options are new to the Australian debit card market, and they mark a significant change in the way issuers interact with us.
As the popularity of frequent flyer accounts continues, and more and more cards offer ways for you to earn points, it is only a matter of time before other banks consider rewards as a way of drawing new customers in (and keeping existing customers happy).
In the meantime, you can consider these three options if you want to earn more frequent flyer rewards. Just as with other debit cards and credit cards, comparing different accounts, terms and conditions will help you find the option that is best suited for your individual circumstances so that you can get the most out of the account and earn more rewards at the same time.
The launch of the Bankwest Qantas transaction account gives you an affordable and convenient way to earn more frequent flyer points everyday. But, more importantly, it also marks a new direction for debit cards that could give us a wider range of debit card options in the future.