Updated 25 February 2020
If you regularly spend in overseas currencies and like to travel, the Flight Centre Mastercard is a market-leading credit card. And, if you routinely pay off your credit card in full every month, it is arguably one of the best credit cards available in New Zealand. With no international transaction fees, travel perks and rewards, there's a lot to like.
To help you decide if the Flight Centre Mastercard is right for you, we've put together a guide to explain the pros, cons, and what you need to know. Our guide covers:
The Flight Centre Mastercard Win a 2020 MoneyHub Editor's Choice Award
Know this first: What are 'international transaction fees'?
- When you purchase something in a foreign currency, (either online or when outside of New Zealand), credit and debit cardholders are charged between 1.80-4.5% on top of the value of the purchase. What percentage you pay depends on what card you have.
- Each bank usually charges two fees; "Currency Conversion Assessment" fee and a Mastercard or Visa "Foreign Currency margin". Both of these fees vary per bank, meaning the total you'll pay for a purchase depends on your bank's fees. For this guide, we call them 'foreign currency fees'.
- FlexiGroup offers the Flight Centre Mastercard, which has a 0% foreign currency conversion fee and for this reason alone, is arguably one of the most attractive options currently available.
- A typical example, per the image below, shows international transaction fees on a Kiwibank credit card statement.
- Here we see the exchange rate (0.726), the conversion fee (NZ$12.78) and the transaction fee ($10.86).
- With a Flight Centre Mastercard, you would only pay the NZ$1,277.53 and save around NZ$24 in fees.
Beyond the free foreign exchange fees, there are some important benefits and fees to know about, which we explain below
- A $50 annual fee (charged as $25 every 6 months).
- Establishment Fee: A fee charged when you make your first purchase using Long Term Finance.
- Advance Fee: A fee charged every time you make a Long Term Finance Purchase, except where it is your first Long Term Finance Purchase (where an Establishment Fee will be charged).
- Cash Advance Fee (Domestic): A fee charged when you withdraw cash. $2 from an ATM, or $3 from a domestic teller plus an access fee (if any) charged by the financial institution from where you made the withdrawal.
- Cash Advance Fee (International): A fee charged when you withdraw cash. $3 from an ATM or $6.50 when you withdraw with the help of an international bank teller plus an access fee (if any) charged by the financial institution from where you made the withdrawal.
Benefits and Specs
- No international transactions and currency conversion - you won't pay any FX fees (saving you around 2% to 2.5% compared to most other credit cards).
- Up to 44 days interest free terms by paying your closing balance in full by the due date. Interest will apply to any part of the closing balance on your statement that is not paid by the payment due date. This interest will be calculated from the date the relevant purchases were debited to your account.
- Long term finance deals including interest free terms and extended payment holidays deals available with Flight Centre and many other retailers.
- Straightforward reward system for earning and redeeming - cardholders earn $1 of Flight Centre credit for every NZ$100 spent at any retailer, and $2 of Flight Centre credit for every NZ$100 spent at FlightCentre. And, unlike Air New Zealand credit cards, you can spend rewards on ANY airline, hotel or travel package.
- Redeeming is easy - Flight Centre credit is automatically deducted from any Flight Centre purchase made with the card. Flight Centre reward credit is valid for three years.
- FREE global Wi-Fi access using the popular Boingo network - your card gives you access to over one million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, including 30+ New Zealand locations.
- 22.95% interest rate - most other reward credit cards charge 20% to 25% p.a., so this is in the range.
- Payment options - direct debit and online banking/transfers are the only options available. The minimum payment is either $10 or 3% of the closing balance per the statement.
- Cardholders can add an additional card holder for no extra cost - this allows them to earn rewards on more than one person’s spend.
- Flight Centre Mastercard integrates with Apple Pay.
The offering, in no uncertain terms, is market-leading and is a top contender for anyone looking to make a lot of purchases in foreign currency (online or overseas). We believe:
- For years, New Zealand banks have whacked on 'foreign currency transaction' charges to their customers, taking as much as 3.5% of a purchase value if a transaction is anything other than in NZD.
- While this relatively new credit card, launched in late 2017, its purpose is to eliminate the unnecessary bank fees associated with overseas spending. For example, if you spend 100 Australian dollars, you'll pay an amount in New Zealand dollars using Mastercard's foreign exchange rate. There won't be any of the extra fees the banks usually charge.
- Best of all, Mastercard foreign exchange rates average around 1% better than Visa's (per our comprehensive study), so you're really getting the best exchange rate possible.
- Other perks exist, such as $1 in Flight Centre credit for every NZ$100 spent on the card, free WIFI overseas and long-term finance deals from many retailers.
- However, like the Q Mastercard, cardholders must be careful to avoid racking up long-term debt racking. With an annual interest rate of 22.95%, it is much higher than the number of low-interest credit card deals available.
- Only one other card, the TransferWise debit card, avoids foreign exchange fees, but this is not a credit card and doesn't offer the reward perks and protection that a credit card does.
The Flight Centre Mastercard charges two standard account and administration fees:
Holders of a Flight Centre Mastercard can take advantage of long-term finance deals for qualifying purchases at 30+ retailers, including Flight Centre, JB Hi-Fi, Michael Hill and Specsavers, among others.
Be aware that interest-free can bite later
MoneyHub is a long-time campaigner against unnecessary bank fees. In our Best Foreign Currency Debit & Credit Cards guide, we found that foreign exchange fees add up.