Some Banks Want To Consign Credit Card Interest To History
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,516,817 (-0.06%)       Melbourne $971,359 (-1.00%)       Brisbane $819,969 (+2.77%)       Adelaide $731,547 (+1.72%)       Perth $621,459 (+0.34%)       Hobart $751,359 (-0.46%)       Darwin $633,554 (-4.02%)       Canberra $1,005,229 (+2.77%)       National $966,406 (+0.40%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $700,089 (-0.30%)       Melbourne $470,277 (-0.26%)       Brisbane $404,718 (+2.58%)       Adelaide $332,602 (+1.44%)       Perth $348,181 (-0.09%)       Hobart $551,005 (+2.68%)       Darwin $355,689 (-3.55%)       Canberra $477,440 (+4.12%)       National $484,891 (+0.89%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,451 (-507)       Melbourne 12,654 (-279)       Brisbane 9,158 (+847)       Adelaide 2,765 (-40)       Perth 9,974 (+39)       Hobart 595 (+36)       Darwin 247 (-1)       Canberra 666 (-49)       National 44,510 (+46)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,895 (+164)       Melbourne 8,149 (-24)       Brisbane 2,260 (+33)       Adelaide 649 (+5)       Perth 2,489 (-21)       Hobart 101 (-3)           Canberra 430 (+13)       National 23,351 (+167)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $630 $0       Melbourne $470 $0       Brisbane $460 ($0)       Adelaide $495 (+$5)       Perth $500 ($0)       Hobart $550 $0       Darwin $600 ($0)       Canberra $700 ($0)       National $562 (+$)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $540 (+$10)       Melbourne $410 (+$2)       Brisbane $460 (+$10)       Adelaide $380 $0       Perth $440 (-$10)       Hobart $450 $0       Darwin $500 ($0)       Canberra $550 $0       National $473 (+$2)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,470 (-50)       Melbourne 7,404 (-70)       Brisbane 1,986 (-122)       Adelaide 875 (-29)       Perth 1,838 (-38)       Hobart 254 (+18)       Darwin 70 (-3)       Canberra 388 (+17)       National 18,285 (-277)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,652 (+58)       Melbourne 9,001 (-180)       Brisbane 1,567Brisbane 1,679 (-62)       Adelaide 403 (+4)       Perth 1,050 (-21)       Hobart 87 (+1)       Darwin 131 (-10)       Canberra 453 (+43)       National 23,344 (-167)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.16% (↑)      Melbourne 2.52% (↑)        Brisbane 2.92% (↓)       Adelaide 3.52% (↓)       Perth 4.18% (↓)     Hobart 3.81% (↑)      Darwin 4.92% (↑)        Canberra 3.62% (↓)       National 3.03% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 4.01% (↑)      Melbourne 4.53% (↑)        Brisbane 5.91% (↓)       Adelaide 5.94% (↓)       Perth 6.57% (↓)       Hobart 4.25% (↓)     Darwin 7.31% (↑)        Canberra 5.99% (↓)       National 5.07% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 1.5% (↓)       Melbourne 1.9% (↓)       Brisbane 0.6% (↓)       Adelaide 0.5% (↓)       Perth 1.0% (↓)     Hobart 0.8% (↑)        Darwin 0.9% (↓)       Canberra 0.6% (↓)     National 1.2%        National 1.2% (↓)            UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 2.3%ey 2.4% (↓)       Melbourne 3.0% (↓)       Brisbane 1.3% (↓)       Adelaide 0.7% (↓)     Perth 1.3% (↑)        Hobart 1.2% (↓)     Darwin 1.1% (↑)        Canberra 1.6% (↓)     National 2.1%       National 2.1% (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 31.2 (↓)       Melbourne 30.9 (↓)       Brisbane 35.7 (↓)       Adelaide 27.6 (↓)       Perth 40.5 (↓)       Hobart 30.2 (↓)       Darwin 27.1 (↓)     Canberra 28.1 (↑)        National 31.4 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 33.7 (↓)       Melbourne 32.6 (↓)       Brisbane 34.8 (↓)       Adelaide 29.5 (↓)       Perth 46.6 (↓)       Hobart 27.4 (↓)       Darwin 38.2 (↓)       Canberra 30.2 (↓)       National 34.1 (↓)           
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Some Banks Want To Consign Credit Card Interest To History

Australian lenders hope no-interest cards can arrest a decline in usage and attract younger customers.

By ALICE URIBE
Tue, Jan 12, 2021Grey Clock 4 min

Interest charges have been one of the defining features of credit cards for decades and so when an employee at a big Australian bank suggested getting rid of them, he was taking a risk.

“He said, ‘Well, what about a no-interest credit card?’ ” said Rachel Slade, personal banking group executive at National Australia Bank Ltd., recalling a feedback session at one of the lender’s Melbourne offices. “And everyone’s like, ‘What? That’s not how a credit card works.’ ”

Worried about dwindling credit-card usage during the coronavirus pandemic and the rapid rise of startups like Australia’s Afterpay Ltd. and Sweden’s Klarna Bank AB that allow consumers to pay for goods in instalments, some banks are rethinking what has been one of their most lucrative businesses.

National Australia Bank, known locally as NAB, launched a no-interest credit card in September. Users get a fixed line of credit and the bank levies a monthly fee, which is refunded if the customer maintains a zero balance and doesn’t use the card. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest lender by market value, also unveiled a no-interest card last year.

The experiment isn’t being replicated in the U.S. where most credit-card issuers charge interest when cardholders carry balances. But if they prove to be successful, Australian banks’ no-interest cards could drive change in other markets.

Fees on the cards offered by NAB and CBA vary according to credit limits. For example, a balance of $1000 Australian dollars on CBA’s no-interest card could accrue nearly $484 in fees over 40 months if there is an outstanding balance each month. The same balance on the NAB card repaid at that product’s minimum rate would cost about $292 over 29 months.

In both cases, that is more than the interest accrued by a customer making the same repayments on a regular card with a 16.6% annual percentage rate, the typical rate in Australia. And like with other cards, customers are required to make minimum monthly repayments on any outstanding balances.

Still, the banks are betting that consumers will like the products for their simplicity. No-interest cards are designed to give customers more control over their spending via a product that is easy to understand, said Angus Sullivan, CBA’s group executive of retail banking services.

According to Australia’s central bank, the country’s credit and charge card balances fell by almost 34% in the two years through October to the equivalent of $21.17 billion. More than 60% of the decline came in March and October last year as the pandemic pushed Australia’s economy into recession.

Over the same period, debit-card transactions locally grew by 4.7% in number and by 5.6% in value, to hit more than the equivalent of nearly $33 billion.

Some analysts view the no-interest cards as a salvo in an intensifying battle for share of the payments market between banks with large credit-card businesses and buy now, pay later providers like Afterpay and Zip Co.

In Australia, buy-now-pay-later services don’t need to verify income or check existing debts held by users, which makes it easier for consumers to gain access to those products than a traditional credit card.

According to their most recent half-yearly filings, Afterpay and Zip respectively count 14% and 9% of Australia and New Zealand’s combined adult populations as customers. The average age of the 3.3 million Australians and New Zealanders using Afterpay at the end of June was 35 and 33, respectively.

Ms Slade said NAB’s no-interest card aims to attract younger customers who don’t necessarily have strong ties to the bank, illustrating a broad concern among traditional lenders that they are losing out in the battle for millennials.

In the three months since launch, the StraightUp card was among NAB’s three most popular credit cards among new applicants. Demand was strongest among customers under 40 years old, the bank said.

Tom Beadle, an analyst at UBS Group AG, said it is unlikely that no-interest credit cards in Australia will be a material threat to the buy now, pay later sector. This is because the consumer still needs to pay for the cards through upfront fees of up to $22 a month.

In contrast, buy now, pay later services often charge no interest and are generally free to users who make payments on time. A survey published by UBS in October found that most buy now, pay later users valued the payment method because it helped them to budget and they considered it convenient.

“The whole beauty of Afterpay is that it’s just really simple: It’s free,” Mr Beadle said. “People just want simplicity, and Afterpay have absolutely nailed that.”

Afterpay and Zip have made no secret that they intend to challenge credit-card providers. In August, Zip said the credit card industry was fundamentally broken, citing high revolving interest, confusing terms, a lack of trust and an absence of brand loyalty that had accelerated a structural decline in usage.

Four years after its debut on Australia’s stock market with a market value of $149 million, Afterpay is now worth US$32.7 billion. Afterpay and Zip are also expanding in the U.S., recording a combined A$7.4 billion Australian dollars in transactions on their networks in the six months through June.

Still, the UBS survey, based on 1,000 respondents, found a “not insignificant proportion” of users appear to regard buy now, pay later as a line of credit. Some 25% of users said they couldn’t afford a product with their existing savings, while 12% said they couldn’t get approval for a credit card.

Australia’s experience could offer lessons to the U.S., where lenders are also seeing a decline in credit-card usage and growth in debit-card usage, although it will take time before banks can be sure no-interest cards are popular.

Credit reporting firm Experian PLC said that U.S. consumer credit card debt in 2020 contracted for the first time in eight years. After hitting a record high of US$829 billion in 2019, balances decreased by 9% in the past year.

At Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc., U.S. debit-card dollar payment and purchase volume collectively rose 23% year-over-year in the quarter ended in September, more than double the pre-Covid-19 growth rate; the same measure for credit cards was down 8%.

Some American credit-card issuers are seeking to slow the buy now, pay later industry’s growth in other ways. Late last year, Capital One Financial Corp. stopped their cards from being used to make Afterpay purchases and payments, the Australian company said.

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Private club memberships and luxury cars are some of freebies on the table.

By SHIVANI VORA
Mon, Aug 15, 2022 6 min

When Ryan Wolitzer was looking to buy an apartment in Miami Beach late last year, several beachfront properties caught his eye. All were two-bedroom homes in high-end buildings with amenities aplenty and featured glass walls, high ceilings and an abundance of natural light. But only The Continuum, in the city’s South of Fifth district, came with a gift: a membership to Residence Yacht Club, a private club that offers excursions on luxury yachts ranging from a day in south Florida to a month around the Caribbean. Residents receive heavily discounted charters on upscale boats that have premier finishes and are stocked with top shelf spirits and wine. Mr. Wolitzer, 25, who works for a sports agency, was sold.

“The access to high-end yachts swayed my decision to buy at The Continuum and is an incentive that I take full advantage of,” Mr. Wolitzer said. “It’s huge, especially in my business when I am dealing with high-profile sports players, to be able to give them access to these incredible boats where they experience great service. I know that they’ll be well taken care of.”

Freebies and perks for homeowners such as a private club membership are a mainstay in the world of luxury real estate and intended to entice prospective buyers to sign on the dotted line.

According to Jonathan Miller, the president and chief executive of the real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel, they’re primarily a domestic phenomenon.

In the U.S. residential real estate market, gifts are offered by both developers who want to move apartments in their swanky buildings and individuals selling their homes. They range from modest to over-the-top, Mr. Miller said, and are more prevalent when the market is soft.

“When sales lag, freebies increase in a bid to incentivize buyers,” he said. “These days, sales are slowing, and inventory is rising after two years of being the opposite, which suggests that we may see more of them going forward.”

Many of these extras are especially present in South Florida, Mr. Miller said, where the market is normalizing after the unprecedented boom it saw during the pandemic. “The frenzy in South Florida was intense compared with the rest of the country because it became a place where people wanted to live full time,” he said. “Now that the numbers are inching toward pre-pandemic levels, freebies could push wavering buyers over the finish line.”

Kelly Killoren Bensimon, a real estate salesperson for Douglas Elliman in Miami and New York, said that the gifts that she has encountered in her business include everything from yacht access and use of a summer house to magnums of pricey wine. “One person I know of who was selling a US$5 million house in the Hamptons even threw in a free Mercedes 280SL,” she said. “They didn’t want to lower the price but were happy to sweeten the deal.”

A car, an Aston Martin to be exact, is also a lure at Aston Martin Residences in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Buyers who bought  one of the building’s 01 line apartments—a collection of 47 ocean-facing residences ranging in size from 325 to 362sqm and US$8.3 million to US$9 million in price—had their choice of the DBX Miami Riverwalk Special Edition or the DB11 Miami Riverwalk Special Edition. The DBX is Aston Martin’s first SUV and retails for around US$200,000. It may have helped propel sales given that all the apartments are sold out.

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An Aston Martin came with the sale for some buyers at Aston Martin Residences in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Aston Martin Residences

The US$59 million triplex penthouse, meanwhile, is still up for grabs, and the buyer will receive a US$3.2 million Aston Martin Vulcan track-only sports car, one of only 24 ever made.

“We want to give homeowners the chance to live the full Aston Martin lifestyle, and owning a beautiful Aston Martin is definitely a highlight of that,” said Alejandro Aljanti, the chief marketing officer for G&G Business Developments, the building’s developer.  “We wanted to include the cars as part of the package for our more exclusive units.”

The US$800,000 furniture budget for buyers of the North Tower condominiums at The Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles, Florida, is another recent head-turning perk. The 94 residences sold out last year, according to president of sales Michael Goldstein, and had a starting price of US$6.3 million. “You can pick the furniture ahead of time, and when buyers move in later this year, all they’ll need is a toothbrush,” he said.

Then there’s the US$2 million art collection that was included in the sale of the penthouse residence at the Four Seasons Residences in Miami’s Brickell neighbourhood. The property recently sold for $15.9 million and spans 817sqm feet. Designed by the renowned firm ODP Architects, it features contemporary paintings and sculpture pieces from notable names such as the American conceptual artist Bill Beckley and the sculptor Tom Brewitz.

But it’s hard to top the millions of dollars of extras that were attached to the asking price in 2019 of the US$85 million 1393sqm  duplex at the Atelier, in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood. The list included two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a Lamborghini Aventador, a US$1 million yacht with five years of docking fees, a summer stay at a Hamptons mansion, weekly dinners for two at lavish French restaurant Daniel and a live-in butler and private chef for a year. And the most outrageous of all: a flight for two to space.

It turned out that the so-called duplex was actually a collection of several apartments and a listing that went unsold. It did, however, generate plenty of buzz among the press and in real estate circles and was a marketing success, according to Mr. Miller.

“A listing like this that almost seems unbelievable with all the gifts will get plenty of eyeballs but is unlikely to push sales,” he said. “Empirically, it’s not an effective tactic.”

On the other hand, Mr. Miller said that more reasonable but still generous freebies, such as the membership to a yacht club, have the potential to push undecided buyers to go for the sale. “A nice but not too lavish gift won’t be the singular thing toward their decision but can be a big factor,” he said. “It’s a feel-good incentive that buyers think they’re getting without an extra cost.”

Examples of these bonuses include a membership to the 1 Hotel South Beach private beach club that buyers receive with the purchase of a residence at Baccarat Residences Brickell, or the one-year membership to the Grand Bay Beach Club in Key Biscayne for those who spring for a home at Casa Bella Residences by B&B Italia, located in downtown Miami and a residential project from the namesake renowned Italian furniture brand. The price of a membership at the Grand Bay Beach Club is usually a US$19,500 initiation fee and US$415 in monthly dues.


The Grand Salon at at Baccarat Residences Brickell in Miami.
Baccarat Residences

Still enticing but less expensive perks include the two-hour cruise around New York on a wooden Hemmingway boat, valued at US$1,900, for buyers at Quay Tower, at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. The building’s developer, Robert Levine, said that he started offering the boat trip in July to help sell the remaining units. “We’re close to 70% sold, but, of course, I want everything to go,” he said.

There’s also the US$1,635 Avalon throw blanket from Hermes for those who close on a unit at Ten30 South Beach, a 33-unit boutique condominium; in Manhattan’s Financial District, a custom piece of art from the acclaimed artist James Perkins is gifted to buyers at Jolie, a 42-story building on Greenwich Street. Perkins said the value of the piece depends on the home purchase price, but the minimum is US$4,000. “The higher end homes get a more sizable work,” he said.

When gifts are part of a total real estate package, the sale can become emotional and personal, according to Chad Carroll, a real estate agent with Compass in South Florida and the founder of The Carroll Group. “If the freebie appeals to the buyer, the transaction takes on a different dynamic,” he said. “A gift becomes the kicker that they love the idea of having.”

Speaking from his own experience, Mr. Carroll said that sellers can also have an emotional connection to the exchange. “I was selling my house in Golden Isles last year for US$5.4 million and included my jet ski and paddle boards,” he said. “The buyers were a family with young kids and absolutely loved the water toys.” Mr. Carroll could have held out for a higher bidder, he said, but decided to accept their offer. “I liked them and wanted them to create the same happy memories in the home that I did,” he said.

The family moved in a few months later.