EXISTING CARDHOLDERS

Welcome to the Existing Customer Tips & Advice Centre.

Welcome to the Existing Customer Tips & Advice Centre.

We have compiled a wealth of helpful tips, advice and information for making the most of your Citibank Credit Card. Please check this site regularly for new articles and features

You may come across offers from credit card providers offering zero or low interest rates on balances transferred from other credit cards or store cards. You can usually opt to transfer all or part of your balance from your existing card to the new one, depending on the credit limit available on your new card. Not only can this reduce your interest bill, it also lets you manage your card debt more effectively if you have more than one card, by combining your debt and paying it off at a lower rate.

The introductory 'honeymoon' rate is generally very low - even zero, and it lasts for a specific period, usually around six months. After this, the interest rate on the amount transferred reverts to the card's ongoing rate (for Citibank that is the card's cash advance rate).

The amount you will save with one of these offers depends on the rate applicable on the new card compared to your old card. For example, transferring a card balance of $2,500 from a card charging 16% p.a., to a card with a honeymoon rate of 4.5% for the first six months could see you save $141 over the period.

There are some traps with balance transfers though. Here are some tips on what to consider when deciding if a balance transfer is for you.

  • Check the interest rate that applies to ongoing purchases and cash advances on the new card. If it is significantly higher than the rate charged on your existing card your savings could be quickly eaten up by higher interest charges.
  • Be aware that balance transfers don't usually attract reward points.
  • Always check the time period of the balance transfer interest rate as not all offers last the life of the balance.
  • Understand the payment hierarchy. Often any payments made to your account will be made to the lowest Balance Transfer Amount first before any Retail and Cash Purchases.
  • The new card issuer will pay out the balance on your old card (it appears as a cash deposit on the card statement), but only you - the cardholder, can close the account. It's your choice to do this, but arming yourself with more than one credit card could just mean racking up more debt.

It's easy to let debt build up. But paying it off can be hard. The following tips can help you manage your debt.

  • Choose the type of credit that best suits your needs.
  • Never treat credit like cash in your pocket.
  • Shop around for the best credit deal. Don't just compare interest rates - look at fees and charges too.
  • Don't take on more debt than you can comfortably repay.
  • Shop as carefully with credit as you do with cash - set a spending limit and stick to it.
  • Don't build up debt now on the basis of income you expect to earn in the future.
  • Every dollar you pay in interest is money you could be saving. Reduce your interest bill by repaying more than the minimum.
  • Make paying off debt a priority - even set up a direct debit that allows for regular repayments to be drawn from your account to pay off the debt.
  • Don't be flattered into taking on more debt. Make sure that you can meet the repayments before accepting a higher credit limit.
  • Pay with cash whenever you can.

Why budget?

Think of budgeting as laying the foundations of your financial "house". A budget lists out what you earn each month and shows you where your expenses are, so that you can tell how much disposable income you can spare for saving and investing - two vital avenues to growing your money and, ultimately, reaching your financial goals. It's no secret that working out a budget and sticking to it is hard work - that's why so many of us resist doing it or lose interest in it after some time. But don't give up too easily. A budget is an essential tool for healthy finances.

A budget helps you immediately in two ways. It helps you control the impulse to overspend and it helps you start saving. Begin with a simple budget, which will provide enough information to give you a "red alert" if you overspend and run the risk of getting into debt. But set yourself realistic goals. If your goals are unrealistic and you regularly fail to achieve them, you may become frustrated and disheartened.

Completing the budget chart

When your budget chart is ready, it's time to start gathering the figures and filling in the blanks in the chart. You'll find useful information in a variety of places:

  • Credit card and bank statements are an excellent record of your monthly spending, especially if your fixed service bills are charged to your credit card or debited from your bank account.
  • Bills are also a good record of expenditure. For quarterly bills, add up the last four to get an annual figure, then divide by 12 to get a monthly figure. Similarly with annual bills - divide by 12 to arrive at a monthly figure.
  • Cash and smaller expenses can be more difficult to track. At the end of each day, it is useful to jot down what you have spent, and keep receipts from your purchases where possible. You will build up an overall picture of your spending. Your budget should also make allowance for individual items of expenditure which you know will occur.

If you don't have such records of your expenses, now is the time to start. Keep your bills and statements, and make a note of your daily spending. It may take a couple of months before you have enough information to actually draw up a budget. But once you have, make it part of your regular routine. And remember, a budget isn't static, or set in stone. It should be adjusted to reflect changes in your patterns of earning, expenditure and saving, and to take into account changes in your financial goals.

Categorising your income streams

For budgeting purposes, it is useful to categorise the income that you receive every month into three types - guaranteed or fixed, variable and disposable - so that you can see what proportion of your income you can reasonably rely on every month, and how much you should be able to spare for saving and investment.

  • Guaranteed or fixed income refers to money that you earn or receive at regular intervals on a predictable basis, such as your monthly salary, rent from investment properties, monthly returns from bonds or fixed-income investments, or monthly pension funds. The amount that you earn as guaranteed income is fixed for a certain period of time and does not vary within this period.
  • Variable income refers to income that, unlike guaranteed or fixed income, may vary in amount from month to month. Variable income can include dividend payments from stock investments, interest on deposits, and overtime pay. It may be difficult to anticipate how much variable income you should include in your budget since you may not know what the actual amounts will be. One way of overcoming this is to track your variable income over a number of months and then calculate the average monthly sum. This may vary from the actual figure, but it should provide a realistic figure that you can use in your budget.
  • Disposable income refers to funds that you have left after all your essential financial commitments, like mortgage payments and living expenses, have been accounted for. Having disposable income means an ability to generate more cash because you can invest it for profit. Your budget should show you where you can cut back on discretionary spending and thus accumulate a higher level of disposable income, which can then be put into a savings and investment programme. This will help you grow your money.

Categorising your expenses

Just as you may have done with your income streams, categorise your expenses as a starting point to managing them. They generally fall into three broad categories:

  • Fixed expenses, like your mortgage, life insurance and car loans, do not vary from month to month. These are the bills that you should pay off first every month to avoid falling into a debt trap. The money left over from paying your fixed bills usually goes towards flexible and discretionary expenses.
  • Variable or flexible expenses are for necessities such as utilities, groceries, clothing and transportation, and can vary from month to month.
  • Discretionary expenses include paying for vacations, entertainment and club memberships. Excessive discretionary expenditure is often the root of personal indebtedness.

When you start to record your expenses, you will see how much you spend on extras such as eating out and shopping. Discovering how such spending hurts your wallet may motivate you to cut back on things you don't really need, and to start saving more every month. One thing is sure - if you are overspending, you have a problem that will gradually get worse. It won't go away unless you actually do something about it. A budget is an "early warning system" for overspending. It will help you catch the problem early, at a stage when taking remedial action is much easier.

How to stick to your budget

Drawing up a budget is only the beginning. You then have to use it. Keeping within a budget requires self-discipline and, like going on a diet, it's not much fun at first. But don't give up on it - don't let all the time and effort you spent preparing the budget go to waste. Once you get into the habit of budgeting and monitoring your expenditure regularly, the old saying "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves" will start to make more sense. If you monitor individual expenses, your overall financial health will improve.

Small but effective steps

Here are some practical tips that can help you stick to your budget:

  • Have a fixed sum automatically drawn out of your bank account after every payday and put directly into a separate account which is otherwise left untouched.
  • Be creative. For example, aim to have a "zero-day" once a week where you spend as little as possible: take a sandwich to work, drink water instead of cappuccinos, do without that magazine. You will be surprised by how, over time, seemingly insignificant savings can add up to a sizeable amount, and quite quickly too.
  • Once you have drawn up your budget, keep track of your progress to see whether your actual spending is in line with what you have budgeted. If you find that you really can't avoid overspending in one area, you may have to adjust the amount you had projected for that area. In that case, you will have to trim from another area in order to compensate. If this isn't possible, you may have to make a more drastic adjustment. You may have to consider some larger, perhaps uncomfortable decisions - for example, selling one car if you have two in your family.

Allow for those little extras

  • Set up a holiday account. Work out in advance how much you will need for your trip, then put aside a small amount each week or month. When the time comes, the money is in the bank, and there will be no need for credit cards.
  • Don't spend in anticipation of a pay-rise, promotion or bonus. It is much better to put away incremental income into savings.
  • Set up an emergency fund for unexpected expenses such as car repairs.

Not all of us have savings - but we all need to spend, and shopping is one area where it's possible to make big savings.

1. Don't treat shopping as a leisure activity.

Visiting the shops less often will trim your spending. Or shop over the internet. You may pay delivery charges but you could save on petrol, and it's harder to impulse buy.

2. Shop smarter at the Supermarket.

Retailers invest a lot of time and money into store layout to entice you to spend more. Here are some insights into how they do it - and how to avoid the trap of overspending:

  • Everyday items, like milk, are often located at the back of the store. You need to pass through aisles of other items (hopefully adding these to your shopping basket) before you reach them. To avoid impulse buying, head straight to what you want and move on to the check out.
  • 'Complementation' is when complementary items like coffee and biscuits are located together. To avoid buying more, prepare a shopping list and stick to it.
  • The end-of-aisle racks in supermarkets often give the impression of offering bargains. This is not always the case. The cheapest goods are often found on the top or bottom shelves.
  • 'Generic' or house brands are usually cheaper than named brands. For regular household items, like sugar and flour, there is often little difference in quality, and the savings can be substantial.
  • Watch price scanners at the checkout and check your receipt. If you are overcharged on the shelf price, you are entitled to a refund.

3. Big Ticket Items.

A good rule of thumb when buying big-ticket items, like furniture, is never to pay full price. Either wait until there is a sale, or ask if you can buy the floor stock. There are other ways to save too:

  • Always shop around for the best deal. It may take time, but it could mean big savings.
  • Consider liquidators' auctions. The goods being auctioned are often discontinued lines and the savings can be substantial. It is a case of 'buyer beware' though - you may have no recourse if the goods are faulty.
  • Tell retailers you are comparing prices. You may be offered a discount or some other sweetener.
  • Think about using lay-by - it will keep your debt levels manageable.
  • Read the fine print on any purchase contract you enter into. Once you sign a contract you are bound by the conditions contained in it, and not all contracts are standard.

4. Around the home.

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to make savings.

  • Plan your family's meals for the week to avoid last minute rushes to costly corner stores.
  • Reduce your energy bill. Look for the energy rating label on new appliances - the more stars, the more efficient it is.
  • Trim your water bill - it's good for your budget and you'll be doing the environment a favour. Reducing showers from 15 to five minutes and installing AAA-rated shower heads can see you save around 1,040 litres a day or around $380 annually.
  • Organise a baby sitting pool with neighbours to save on child-minding and babysitting costs. To further cut back on entertainment costs, organise a picnic at a park instead of dining out.
  • Hobbies are good fun, but they can also be a way to increase your income. You may be able to make things and sell them, or even hold classes for others to learn your hobby.
  • Gifts are an area where people often over-spend. Buy discounted presents during the year, and store them until needed.
  • 'Luxuries' have a way of becoming 'necessities'. Giving up a daily cappuccino, for example, could see you save over $700 a year - more if your partner has one too.
  • Not every purchase you make has to be for a new item. Huge savings can be made by purchasing near-new articles advertised for sale in newspapers, on the internet or at garage sales.
  • Form a buying pool with friends to get bulk discounts.

5. Christmas Spending.

  • Before you hit the shops, make a list of what you will need for your food menus, as well as a list of gifts for each person with a suggested price range.
  • Credit cards are convenient for shopping over the internet, particularly if you want to avoid the Christmas crowds. Always shop at secure sites and keep a record of your transactions.
  • Allow plenty of time to do your Christmas shopping to avoid last minute purchases at expensive 'open-all-hours' stores.
  • Not all gifts have to be store bought. Home made gifts like potted plants can be an inexpensive alternative.
  • Chase shopping opportunities. Purchase discounted gift items throughout the year and store them until Christmas. Or take advantage of lay-by specials where the retailer holds the goods for you until Christmas Eve.

Citibank knows that from time to time you may experience a sudden change in your life which causes unplanned financial hardship and an urgent call for our help. That's why we provide you with short term financial relief and longer-term support.

We are here to understand your situation and tailor our financial solutions to best suit your individual needs. Depending on your circumstances, these include temporary relief on your loan or credit card repayments, loan extensions or a variation of your contract.

The first step is for you to provide us with detailed information about your situation so we can see if you qualify and what kind of support you need. You can do this by filling out this form (PFS form) and sending it with supporting documentation to us at this address

Shared Services
Citibank Australia
PO Box 3453
Sydney, NSW, 2001
AUSTRALIA

We will contact you to discuss the next steps to support.

Alternatively, you can call us during business hours on 1800 722 879 (Citibank and Cuscal). We will explain how the PFS form works and how to take the next steps. The sooner we have your completed PFS form the sooner we can assess your needs.

Please ensure you include supporting documents along with the PFS form to enable Citi to assess your situation properly. Examples of required supporting documents are:

  • Financial difficulty due to medical conditions (illness, injury, temporary or permanent disability) please provide medical certificates, hospital reports or work cover certificate.
  • Financial difficulty due to unemployment please provide separation certificate from employer, proof of previous income (payslips/tax returns), maternity leave letter, New Start Allowance benefit.
  • Financial difficulty due to reduction in income please provide proof of previous income (payslips/tax returns), accountant letter, BAS statements
  • Financial difficulty due to over commitment please provide proof of debt with other creditors and savings statement.
  • Financial difficulty due to divorce/separation please provide legal documentation, Family Court Order if assets are frozen.
  • Financial difficulty due to settlement property/pending funds please provide copy of sales contract, agency agreement, other proof of funds source
  • Financial difficulty due to consolidation/refinance please provide existing mortgage statement and refinance approval.
  • Financial difficulty due to unexpected expenses such as rent rise please provide new tenancy agreement/real estate letter

Please provide any other additional documentation you feel supports your application for financial assistance

So whether your situation is caused by unemployment, injury or illness, divorce, a natural disaster or an unexpected reduction in your income, we are here to help you get back on track. Contact us now Hardship Assistance

Phone: 1800 722 879 (Citibank and Cuscal)
Fax: 1800 020 861.
Mail: PO BOX 3453 Sydney NSW 2001

To get the most from credit, it's important to manage it wisely - restricting your use of credit rather than overspending, keeping track of how much you owe and maintaining a good repayment record.

Some of the ideas below will help you manage your debt:

  • Have your financial goals in mind when you use credit. Burdening yourself with large debts can make it hard to achieve your goals.
  • Use a budget. Without one, it's easy to spend more than you earn. Include debt repayments in your budget, allowing for more than the minimum repayments. Put money aside for savings too.
  • Value your good credit bureau file. The time may come when you need to borrow money for a worthwhile purpose. A poor repayment history may mean you miss out on these opportunities.
  • Aim to pay for most things with cash. This isn't always practical for major purchases, like a car, but if you stick to it as much as possible, it's easier to manage your money and stay out of debt.
  • Choose the type of credit best suited to your needs. For costly items that will take time to pay off, a personal loan may be better than, say, a credit card.
  • Shop around for the best credit deal. Weigh up all the costs involved including fee and charges. Consider other factors too, including the ability to make extra repayments, which will reduce the overall interest cost.
  • Make saving a priority. Having a buffer of cash means you won't have to use credit to cope with unexpected bills.
  • Limit yourself to one credit card. People experiencing serious debt problems often have multiple credit cards.
  • Always look for the 'comparison' rate when comparing loans. This rate includes ongoing fees and charges, giving you a more realistic idea of how much a loan cost and how it rates compared to other loans.
  • Debit cards give you the security and convenience of a credit card, but because the money is drawn from your bank account you won't be charged interest.
  • Merchants can charge extra if you pay by credit card. Always enquire about this beforehand, as the additional fee can really bump up the price of a big-ticket item.
  • Be aware of your credit card repayment dates as a late payment can prove to be expensive.
  • Note sure about a purchase entry on your credit card statement? Contact your card provider's help line. Interest charges should be suspended while an investigation is made. However, if it turns out that you did indeed make the purchase, you could be charged an investigation fee.

• BPAY

BPAY® is one of the best ways to manage your bills. It's fast, easy and convenient. It is today's way of paying bills to over 14,000 billers throughout Australia.

What are the advantages of using BPAY?

BPAY provides you with a one-stop solution to bill payment. No more queuing, no more envelopes and stamps, no more dealing with many different companies to pay individual bills. In short, no more hassle. You just need to make one call to CitiPhone Banking or log into Citibank Online any time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can pay bills for over 14,000 billers from your Citibank accounts. Look for the BPAY logo on your bill. Depending on the type of bill, you can choose to pay from your savings account, loan account or credit card. Using your Citibank credit card to pay bills is a great way of earning Rewards points - these can be redeemed for vouchers, gifts or Qantas Frequent Flyer points!

BPAY is also an efficient way of making your repayments on your Citibank accounts. You can control how much you pay each month and when. Forget the routine of standing in queues at Australia Post each month, BPAY is fast, flexible and convenient. You can pay multiple bills on the one phone call, or one Citibank Online banking session - 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

For more information on B-Pay click here

• Direct Debits

Simply set up your Direct Debit payments, then sit back and relax knowing your bills are paid on time, every time.

Set up your Direct Debit payments today, by following these 3 simple steps:

  • CONTACT your service providers.
  • PROVIDE your Citibank Credit Card or Citibank Visa Debit card details to your biller and let them know this is your preferred method of payment.
  • Sit back and relax without worrying about your bills.

To save you more time simply click here for a list of common service providers and their contact numbers.

• Easi-Pay

How do I set up a direct debit to automatically pay my account?

Easi-Pay is Citibank's convenient Direct Debit facility which enables you to make regular payments to your Citibank account automatically debited from your nominated bank account held within Australia.

To apply, simply download and complete the Easi-Pay application form below and return the original to Citibank for the facility to be set up on your account.

Credit Card Easi-Pay Application form (Adobe PDF 205KB)

Please Note: If you make any manual payments between due dates, then Easi-Pay will only draw the difference between the amount of the manual payments and the Easi-Pay amount.

  • Car Insurance. Save up to 10% online*. *Conditions Apply