Kiwibank's low rate card puts pressure on other banks

Big banks with stubbornly high credit card interest rates are being accused of ripping off New Zealanders. 

Kiwibank has slashed its rates on three cards, putting pressure on other banks to follow suit. 

Suitably named "The Low Rate Card", it's a bit of plastic that won't sting kiwi consumers quite as hard. 

"Typically around 12-13 percent have been the lower rate cards previously," Kiwibank chief marketing officer Mark Wilkshire says. "So getting below 10 percent - I don't think it's been done before."

Its low-interest card has gone from 13.45 percent to 9.95 percent per annum, a historic low.

With the Official Cash Rate and mortgage rates also at record lows, Kiwibank says it was the right thing to do. 

"I think it's time that credit cards came down across the board, so we are kicking that off and it'll be interesting to see how others follow," Wilkshire says. 

ANZ's lowest credit card rate is 13.90 percent. Westpac is slightly better at 13.45 percent, and BNZ's low rate card is also 13.45 percent.  

New Zealand banks make $60 million a month in credit card interest. Consumer New Zealand says it's high time all banks made adjustments. 

"They are reaping the rewards of very high-interest rates," CEO Sue Chetwin says. 

So do any of the major banks intend to follow Kiwibank's masterful PR move and cut their credit card rates? 

ANZ said: "We don't currently plan to but we are always monitoring market conditions."

Westpac simply said: "We regularly review our products and rates."

BNZ did not respond to Newshub's request for comment. 

"I think Kiwis are being ripped off," Chetwin says. "It's the one area where banks haven't really competed, and if you don't pay your credit card off judicially every month then you will be socked for a very high-interest rate."

She says there's no way for Kiwis to negotiate credit card rates - so the key to avoiding financial ruin is to pay it off swiftly.