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Compare some of the best credit cards in Australia

The best credit card is the one that suits your needs. Learn how to find your best credit card, and compare your options from credit card issuers, big and small. There is no single best credit card as everyone’s needs are different. Use filters to improve your results.

60+ credit card providers in RateCity’s database

180+ credit card products in RateCity’s database

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Which is the best credit card in Australia?

There is no one “best” credit card in Australia, as there is such a large variety of credit card types and uses in the market.

To find your best credit card, you may want to look at your income, expenses, and the type of cardholder you are. Then, think about exactly what you want to use the credit card for to help narrow down your best credit card search. 

Habitual spenders 

You use your credit card like a debit card and are constantly racking up interest on your outstanding balance.

Suggested cards - Low rate credit card, low fee credit card

Occasional/emergency spenders 

You use your credit card as a helpful financial tool and don't rely on it for everyday spending. You're only bringing it out for large purchases you otherwise couldn't afford in one go, in emergencies, or just when travelling/shopping online on overseas websites, and pay back this debt over time.

Suggested cards - Low rate credit card, low fee credit card, travel credit card

Everyday spender 

You use your credit card every day for purchases like groceries or to pay bills. You may do so to maximise the amount of rewards points you could earn. Compared to the habitual spender, you ensure your credit card balance is always paid in full each statement period. 

Suggested cards - Low rate credit card, low fee credit card, rewards credit card, frequent flyer credit card, travel credit card

Big spender 

You are a higher income earner and put over $5,000 a month on your credit card. You may use your credit card for convenience or to try and earn rewards points and game point hacks. You are strict about paying off your balance in full to avoid interest charges.

Suggested cards - Platinum credit card,rewards credit card, frequent flyer credit card

How do I find the best credit cards?

The best way to find the right credit card for you is to do your research and compare your options carefully. Use comparison tools, such as tables and calculators, to help you in this process.

  1. Check credit card comparison tables: Comparison tables allow you to compare apples with apples. You can filter down and sort from the options shown based on what you're looking for, such as card type, purchase rate, number of interest free days, and annual fees. This will help you to find the best credit card for your needs from RateCity's top pics. You'll also get a clear indication of any features and perks linked to the new credit card.
  2. Make a check list of the cards you're considering: Once you've narrowed down your search, it’s worth making a short list of potential cards and carefully looking at each card's PDS, key fact sheet or equivalent document.
  3. Check the eligibility criteria: Once you've settled on a choice, triple check the eligibility criteria set by the credit card provider before you begin your card application. If you don't meet the card issuer's criteria, you may not get card approval and be rejected. This can seriously hurt your credit score and will be noted in your credit history.

Credit cards can be a helpful financial tool but when misused can result in you accruing debt. Maxing out your credit limit and having too much credit card debt will also hurt your credit score.

What different types of credit cards are available?

Visa, Mastercard or AMEX

Credit cards in Australia will either be a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card. Each card type has its own advantages and disadvantages, as well as individual rewards offered to customers.

Low rate credit cards

As the name suggests, these are credit cards offering lower than average purchase rates, generally around 10% or lower. Low rate cards may be ideal for those who find themselves struggling to manage their debt.

Low fee credit cards 

Ongoing credit card fees can add up over the years. Low fee credit cards either will typically not charge you ongoing fees, like annual fees. 

Rewards credit cards

Rewards credit cards allow eligible customers access to a card issuer’s extensive rewards program. Earn rewards points on eligible purchases or at sign up, and exchange them for goods like appliances and electronics, as well as travel rewards like flight upgrades. You may also enjoy perks like cash back, complimentary travel insurances, concierge services and airport lounge access.

Frequent flyer credit cards

Frequent flyer credit cards allow eligible customers to earn frequent flyer points through the issuer’s affiliated airline, such as Qantas or Virgin. Earn points on eligible purchases or at sign up, which may be exchanged for travel rewards like plane tickets, flight upgrades and hotel accommodation. You may also enjoy perks like complimentary travel insurance and rental car insurance.

Travel credit cards

Ideal for avid adventurers, travel credit cards typically suit those planning overseas travel or those who shop online on international websites. They may not charge any foreign transaction fees, and may come with complimentary travel insurance and other perks, like airport lounge access. 

Balance transfer credit cards

When cardholders have an outstanding balance they're struggling to pay off, they can transfer this balance to a new card that has an interest-free period. The balance transfer offer may be a few months, or even years. You may be charged a balance transfer fee/balance transfer rate upon opening the new card account, which is generally a small percentage (1-3 per cent) of your balance. 

Platinum credit cards

Designed for big spenders, platinum credit cards are a type of premium card that carries all the bells and whistles of rewards cards, along with higher credit limits, additional perks and protections like purchase protection. You typically will need to meet a harder eligibility criteria, such as having a higher income than the average Australian. Platinum credit cards may also come with higher annual fees and purchase rates, but it's assumed the cardholders can afford these costs. 

Business credit cards

Ideal for business owners, business credit cards are issued to a company with an Australian Business Number (ABN). They easily allow for the ordering of new cards and approving additional cardholders for various staff members.

alert-tip

RateCity tips for new cardholders

Be aware of the interest-free period. Remember that the interest-free period is for a limited time only. You may only have a window of no interest for the first year of the card. If you still have an unpaid balance on your credit card when the offer ends, you will be charged interest on the amount you owe. It’s best to pay off the debt before the interest-free period expires.

Avoiding credit card fees and charges

When deciding on the best credit card for your budget, a general rule of thumb is to aim for one that keeps fees and charges down. These costs can add a lot to your bill, and may result in you accumulating debt. Some common charges include:

  • Annual fees
  • Late payments fees
  • Cash advance rate
  • Fees for exceeding your credit limit
  • Foreign transaction fees

However, not all credit card fees are considered bad. In fact, if you opt for a credit card with a rewards program, it's generally accepted that you will pay a little more in annual fees or interest rates for the benefit. These costs help to pay for the rewards, and may be unavoidable for this type of card.

For a full breakdown of any potential fees, read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and terms and conditions linked to your credit card. It's crucial that you’re aware of these charges so that you can budget accordingly. The PDS will also have a breakdown of the earn rate on rewards programs.

What are the pros and cons of having a credit card?

Credit cards can be a handy asset when you don’t have the cash reserves to make a big purchase, when you're travelling overseas; and when you want to earn bonus points for your everyday spending. But that convenience can also come with a cost. This is why it’s crucial you understand the pros and cons of credit cards before you sign on the dotted line.

Benefits

  • Rewards and perks
  • Access to credit
  • Boost your credit score

Drawbacks

  • Easy to accrue debt
  • Fees and charges
  • Can hurt your credit history if mismanaged

Learn more about credit cards

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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^Words such as "top", "best", "cheapest" or "lowest" are not a recommendation or rating of products. This page compares a range of products from selected providers and not all products or providers are included in the comparison. There is no such thing as a 'one- size-fits-all' financial product. The best loan, credit card, superannuation account or bank account for you might not be the best choice for someone else. Before selecting any financial product you should read the fine print carefully, including the product disclosure statement, target market determination fact sheet or terms and conditions document and obtain professional financial advice on whether a product is right for you and your finances.