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Purchase Rate

11.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$49

$25

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Purchase Rate

19.74%

Interest Free Days

44

Annual Fee

$30

$15

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Purchase Rate

16.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$55

$20

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Purchase Rate

12.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$99

$30

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Purchase Rate

23.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$79

$30

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Purchase Rate

14.95%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$30

$20

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Purchase Rate

11.95%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$20

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Purchase Rate

14.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$30

More details

Purchase Rate

20.74%

Interest Free Days

44

Annual Fee

$0

$30

More details

Purchase Rate

8.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$30

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Purchase Rate

22.74%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$30

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Purchase Rate

15.95%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$69

$35

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Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$30

$20

More details

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $30

$20

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Purchase Rate

11.99%

Interest Free Days

45

Annual Fee

$49

$10

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Purchase Rate

9.99%

Interest Free Days

57

Annual Fee

$39

$20

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Purchase Rate

9.39%

Interest Free Days

Annual Fee

$59

$15

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Purchase Rate

11.49%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$49

$5

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Purchase Rate

8.99%

for 6 months then 14.00%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$40

$15

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Purchase Rate

11.31%

Interest Free Days

45

Annual Fee

$49

$5

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Purchase Rate

10.76%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $30

$10

More details

Purchase Rate

11.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$8

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Purchase Rate

20.74%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$15

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Purchase Rate

4.99%

for 5 months then 15.85%

Interest Free Days

46

Annual Fee

$0

$0

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Purchase Rate

10.49%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$30

$25

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Purchase Rate

8.00%

for 8 months then 12.24%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$45

$15

More details

Purchase Rate

0.00%

for 7 months then 13.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $55

$15

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Purchase Rate

6.99%

for 6 months then 11.95%

Interest Free Days

44

Annual Fee

$0

$15

More details

Purchase Rate

0.00%

for 7 months then 13.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $55

$15

More details

Purchase Rate

20.74%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$15

More details

Purchase Rate

11.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $49

$0

More details

Purchase Rate

11.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $45

$15

More details

Purchase Rate

7.90%

for 6 months then 11.50%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$10

More details

Purchase Rate

0.00%

for 6 months then 12.54%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$20

More details

Purchase Rate

13.49%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$55

$30

More details

Purchase Rate

9.90%

Interest Free Days

45

Annual Fee

$108

$0

More details

Purchase Rate

13.74%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$59

$15

More details

Purchase Rate

19.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$99

$30

More details

Purchase Rate

19.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$58

$30

More details

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$59

$20

More details

Purchase Rate

8.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$40

$25

More details

Purchase Rate

13.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$55

$15

More details

Purchase Rate

19.74%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $29

$20

More details

Purchase Rate

13.24%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$59

$20

More details

Purchase Rate

11.99%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$0

$12.5

More details

Purchase Rate

8.20%

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

$50

$20

More details
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Whether you’re young and looking to build your credit history, hoping to nab some good rewards or want access to credit for an overseas trip, shopping for your first credit card can be an exciting, yet nerve-wracking experience.

There’s the risk of being rejected or even falling into bad debt habits, but also the benefit of having access to funds when you need it.

So how do you find your first credit card? And how do you try to ensure your application isn’t rejected? This guide will take you through what you need to know to not only pick a card but potentially improve your chances of approval.

The basics: what to know about your first credit card

The very first step you’ll want to take in your credit card journey is to familiarise yourself with the basics – aka the costs and features of a credit card. These include:

Balance The balance on your credit card is another way of saying the amount of money you owe, including fees and interest. The more you have owing, the less credit you have access to.
Interest rates The two main types of interest you may be charged is via the purchase rate and cash advance rate.
  • The purchase rate is the rate at which any outstanding balances not paid in full in a statement period are charged.
  • The cash advance rate is the interest rate charged on any money you withdraw, such as at an ATM. The latter tends to be slightly higher but differs for each card provider.
Annual fee An ongoing fee charged once a year to keep your account open. There are cards that don’t charge this fee, but for those that do, the cost can climb as high as $1,200.
Foreign transaction fee A fee charged on overseas spending (including shopping on international websites), typically a percentage of the transaction (2-3%).
Interest-free period The number of days you have to repay what is owing on your credit card before you are charged interest. The number of days differs on each card but is typically 44-55 days from the start of each month’s billing cycle.
Minimum repayment amount The minimum amount of money you are required to pay each billing cycle. This will either be a percentage of your outstanding balance (around 2-3%) or a dollar figure (around $20-$30).
Credit limit The maximum amount of credit you have access to through your card. This can range from as low as a few hundred or thousand dollars, to a near unlimited amount. It will differ for each credit card and can also depend on your income.
Rewards programs Some cards come with rewards programs that give you something extra for your spending. These can be in the form of standard rewards programs, frequent flyer programs or cashback rewards.
Rewards perks The type of rewards you may find in these programs can include frequent flyer points, appliances, electronics, home goods, gift cards and travel perks such as hotel stays and airport lounge access.
Card protections Some cards may offer more protections than others. These may include fraud protection, domestic or international travel insurance, extended warranty, guaranteed pricing schemes and/or rental car excess insurance.

 

Keep in mind that if you apply for a credit card and are rejected, this can hurt your credit history. It’s crucial that you do your research around what card best suits your budget, and the provider’s eligibility criteria before applying.

The basics: how to choose your first credit card

The next step you’ll want to make is to deepen your knowledge of what types of credit cards there are, and which may suit you best. 

  • Low-rate credit cards

As you may know, credit card interest rates can get fairly high. But if you pay your full card balance in full each statement period then you shouldn’t ever really accrue interest. However, if you think you may be the type of person who won’t always be able to pay their full balance off each time, it may be worth considering if a low-rate card would be a better fit for you.

  • Low-fee credit cards

If you are strict about budgeting and believe you won’t be charged interest on any outstanding card statements, then the biggest cost you may face is your annual credit card fee. Low-fee credit cards typically will not charge you this fee.

  • Platinum/premium credit cards

Designed for cardholders with larger incomes looking for higher credit limits and/or more comprehensive rewards. These cards generally come with higher fees and interest. But it is expected that the cardholder can afford these costs, as they are marketed towards high earners.

  • Rewards credit cards

Earning rewards and chasing points is, for some Australians, what separates a credit card from your basic debit card. As mentioned above, these rewards can come in the form of standard rewards programs, frequent flyer programs or cashback offers. Rewards credit cards are a popular choice for cardholders as you get more bang for your buck through points-per-dollar-spent earnings. But these cards also typically come with higher fees and costs, and stricter eligibility criteria.

  • Travel credit cards

These cards are designed with overseas spending in mind. This may mean anything from charging zero foreign transaction fees to offering complimentary insurance, including domestic and international travel insurance and/or rental car excess insurance.

  • Balance transfer credit cards

If you have an outstanding card debt, you may need a little no-interest breathing room to get on top of it. Balance transfer cards allow you to transfer the debt of one card to another, with the new card charging zero interest for a set period of months.

The basics: how to compare credit cards

Once you know what features and fees are involved with credit cards, as well as what type might best suit your budget and financial situation, you’ll want to narrow down a shortlist of potential cards.

Instead of starting from scratch and googling ‘best credit cards,’ the simplest way to search for and compare credit cards is to use comparison tools, such as tables and calculators. 

Comparison tables, like the one on this page, allow you to enter the details of the card type you want, as well as filter features you want and fees you don’t. You’ll then be able to easily compare apples with apples by seeing a range of potential cards next to each other, and compare them based on their interest rates, number of interest-free days, annual fees and more.

Credit card calculators can also be helpful in showing you what potential card repayments may look like for your budget. If you put down the card limit you may receive as the ‘balance’, and add the interest rate, you may get a good idea of how much you’re looking to repay if you were to max out your credit card.

Application process: do you meet the credit card eligibility?

Now you’ve got a shortlist of potential first credit cards, you’ll want to double check that you meet the eligibility criteria before applying. This can help reduce your risk of being rejected. 

Here are some of the standard eligibility criteria for credit cards in Australia:

  • Be at least 18 years old,
  • Be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or hold a valid visa,
  • Meet the minimum income requirement (can range from $15,000 - $100,000, depending on the card type),
  • Meet the employment requirements (some providers may prefer full-time employees, and look favourably on those employed for at least 12 months), and
  • Have a good or excellent credit history.

Application process: How to get a credit card with no or poor credit history

If you’re a young Australian with no credit history, there’s a chance that your card application may be rejected. This is because credit cards are a financial risk, and those with good credit history built up are less likely (in the eyes of the provider) to run up debt.

But how do you build credit history if you can’t get approved for credit?

There are ways to potentially grow your credit history without a credit card, including:

  • If you’re financially independent, consider putting your phone plan and bill under your name.
  • If you’re out of home, consider having your name on the energy and/or gas account and bills.
  • Build your savings, as having a big nest egg may give card providers the impression that you’re responsible with your finances, and also have a good record of making regular payments into a savings account.
  • Don’t make late payments, whether on your phone bill or on a car loan, as this may weaken your credit score.

 If you’re set on getting a credit card, but have little to no credit history, you could consider having a parent or family member go guarantor on your card application to help boost your chances of approval. The card provider will then look at their credit history, as well as their current debts and assets, and this may help to get you over the line. Just keep in mind that mixing money with relationships can turn sour if not carefully managed. You may damage your guarantor’s credit history if you then use your card to rack up a huge debt that you never pay off.

Credit card alternatives

If, after you’ve read through this guide, you’re no longer sure you want to get a credit card, there are other options available. 

You may want to consider the following:

  • Debit card. No, it’s not as “glamorous” as a credit card, but your standard debit card does give you access to your own money. This means you run less of a risk of racking up debt, as you’re only spending what you can afford. Plus, the eligibility criteria is much less strict, as pretty much anyone can apply for a bank account.
  • Buy-now-pay-later. If you’re just looking for a means to get one-off items, like clothing or furniture, you may want to consider buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services like Afterpay or ZipPay. BNPL services allow you to break up the total cost of your purchase into smaller, more manageable sections that are paid off typically fortnightly. They also do not charge interest but may come with late payment fees if you miss a scheduled payment.

It’s also always worth grabbing your annual free copy of your credit report and going through it with a fine-tooth comb, as mistakes can occur. 

FAQs

Can a pensioner get a credit card?

It is possible to get a credit card as a pensioner. There are some factors to keep in mind, including:

  • Annual income. Look for credit cards with minimum annual income requirements you can meet. 
  • Annual fees. If high fees are a concern for you, opt for a card with a low or $0 annual fee. 
  • Interest rate. Make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises on your credit card bill. Compare cards with a low interest rates to minimise risk.

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. A balance transfer credit card generally has a 0 per cent interest rate for a set period of time. When you roll your debt balance over to a new credit card, you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest-free period to pay your credit card debt off faster without accruing additional interest charges. If your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card. 

Should I get a credit card?

Once you've compared credit card interest rates and deals and found the right card for you, the actual process of getting a credit card is quite straightforward. You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at a bank branch. 

What should you do when you lose your credit card?

Losing your credit card is a serious situation, and could land you in financial trouble. Here is a simple guide detailing what to do when you lose your credit card.

Lock you card – Contact your provider and inform them about your lost credit card. From here lock, block or cancel your card.

Keep track of transactions – Look out for unauthorised credit card transactions. Most banks protect against fraudulent transactions.

Address recurring charges – If your card is linked to recurring charges (gym membership, rent, utilities), contact those businesses.

Check credit rate – To ensure you’re not the victim of identity theft, check your credit rating a month or two after you lose your credit card.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

What's the best credit card for rewards?

There is no one-size-fits-all best rewards credit card. It's best you research what type of rewards program you'd like, as well as the fees, interest rate and conditions associated with those types of cards before making a choice. 

Rewards credit cards can also come with high annual fees that may end up nullifying the rewards, so think how often you use the card to decide whether the benefits outweigh the extra cost for you. A card with a lower annual fee might require a lot of spending to get any useful rewards, while another ca