Monday, April 11, 2011

Temps and banks

It’s 13° room temperature here at the moment, CPU is sitting at 36° with the fan running so low it’s setting off RPM alarms in the hardware monitor.  I’ve seen the ambient higher than that before.


I’ve spent the last 2 weeks off and on changing over all of our bank accounts and financial details.  As part of our mortgage, we got a slightly complicated account package:


- a Mastercard

- an Amex card, which despite being totally separate, runs off the same credit account as the Mastercard.  (??)

- an offset savings account.


This initially made no sense to me, so investigation was in order.  The outcome was that yes, the two credit cards are totally separate, and run by separate companies, but Westpac provides the credit facility that both run off.  It doesn’t matter which piece of plastic you flash, it ends up in the same bucket.  So why the two cards?  Because we get double frequent flyer points on the Amex.  So the shot is to use the Amex if at all possible, unless the retailer wants to slug us an additional merchant fee for doing so.  Quite a few do, as Amex themselves charge about twice what everyone else in the industry does.


Anything in the offset savings account counts against the amount of the loan – it’s as good as having made an additional payment.  So the idea is to have everything paid into that account, let the loan payments come out of there, but use credit cards for *everything* and only pay the card off at the last minute.  Think of it like a slush fund meets a very quick redraw facility.


Simple enough, right.  Now begins the fun part – changing every single automatic payment detail on file everywhere.  If it was paid via credit card, we’ve got new card numbers.  If it was direct debit – we’ve got a new savings account.  Aargh.  I’ve spent the last two weeks mucking about with this and I think I have finally gotten everything…


Oh yeah, one more piece of weirdness.  Both the credit cards are Westpac branded cards, even the Amex.  Both are linked to the offset savings account, so if I want some cash both will work in an ATM.  But the Amex – despite being Westpac branded – is regarded as a “foreign” card and incurs the usual $2-for-nothing-ripoff fee if you use it.  Not going to even try to understand that one.

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