Australians spend big on travel and leisure, despite rising inflation

woman takes selfie in front of eiffel tower on a holiday in paris pad for with credit card rewards points

The first third of 2022 has been difficult, seeing unprecedented weather, a geopolitical crisis leading to global inflation and the residual impacts of the pandemic. Despite the real financial impacts of these troubles, Citi Australia’s debit and credit card spending data shows that Aussie consumers are looking to return to the pre-pandemic normal.

“A holiday has been at the top of the to do list for many Australians, after a long two-years of lockdowns, and this spend trend shows us consumers now have the confidence to plan longer-term travel, like international and domestic getaways and cruises,” Citi Australia’s Head of Cards and Loans, Choong-Yu Lum said.

“It’s pleasing to see strong spend in travel and leisure categories, including airlines, cruise lines, hotels and resorts, dining and retail, with February seeing significant spend increase in the travel category, with flights up by 69% and travel more broadly up by 34% compared to the previous month.”

Looking at the distribution of overall spend, there is little change in the top half of the top ten categories - consisting mostly of supermarkets, household goods, business services, insurance, health and medical. The bottom half of the table saw an increase in retail, restaurants, and travel categories, indicating a rebound in consumer confidence and strong sentiment for the travel and tourism industries.

JanuaryFebruaryMarch
6. Restaurants (5%)
6. Legal & tax services (5.8%)6. Health & medical (5.6%)
7. Retail goods (4.7%)7. Restaurants (4.7%)7. Restaurants (4.98%)
8. Sports & hobby good (4.5%)8. Sports & hobby goods (4.2%)8. Sports & hobby goods (3.99%)
9. Legal & tax services (3.7%)9. Retail goods (4.1%)9. Retail goods (3.97%)
10. Hotels, resorts & spas (3.7)10. Petrol & service stations (3.4%)10. Petrol & service stations (3.57%)

Impacted by inflation and globally volatility, from February petrol was a top spend category for Australians. “We expect this to continue into the coming quarter as the war in Ukraine continues, and global inflation rises,” Choong-Yu Lum said.

With the announcement of the federal budget, a coming federal election, looming interest rate changes, and global instability and inflation, there will likely be some changes in spending for the remainder of 2022.

More positively, as borders open and Aussies rediscover their wanderlust, Citi data suggests that travel and leisure spending will continue to grow. “Cardholders will be maximising travel related rewards, like discounts, insurance and the like,” concluded Choong-Yu Lum.

If you have big travel plans for 2022, now may be a good time to look into getting a rewards credit card that accumulates frequent flyer points as you spend. To compare see below for some top rewards cards options or check out the best credit cards in Australia this month for Mozo Experts Choice Award winners and editor’s picks.

Top frequent flyer rewards credit cards - last updated 2 July 2022

Search promoted rewards credit cards below or do a full Mozo database search . Advertiser disclosure
  • Qantas Ultimate Card
    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $450
    100,000
    1.25 points uncapped

    Earn up to 100,000 bonus Qantas Points (75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online by 23 August 2022, are approved, and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months, plus an additional 25,000 Qantas Points in your second year upon fee renewal). T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.

    Details
  • Apply By 31 Dec 2022
    Altitude Platinum
    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $200 $99 in the first year
    70,000
    0.5 points up to $100,000/year

    Earn up to 75,000 bonus Qantas Points ($4k min. spend in the first 90 days on eligible purchases). 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers requested at card application. 1% BT fee applies. $49 First Year Annual fee and Rewards fee. New cards only. T&C's and exclusions apply.

    Details
  • Apply By 13 Jul 2022
    American Express Card
    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $99
    No current offer
    0.5 points uncapped

    Enjoy $200 back when you apply online by 13 July 2022, are approved and spend $1,500 outside David Jones on your new Card within the first 3 months. Available to new David Jones American Express Card Members only.

    Details
  • Qantas Premium Card
    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $249
    30,000
    1 point uncapped

    Receive 30,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Amex Card Members only. Credit Card Provider of the Year in the Mozo Experts Choice Awards 2021^.

    Details
  • Qantas Rewards Premium Card
    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $250
    65,000
    0.66 points up to $3,000/month, then
    0.33 points up to $6,000/month

    65,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 within 60 days (T&Cs apply).

    Details

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Credit Card Awards

Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

While we pride ourselves on covering a wide range of products, we don't cover every product in the market. If you decide to apply for a product through our website, you will be dealing directly with the provider of that product and not with Mozo.