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If you and/or your partner earn a higher than average Australian income, you may be eligible for a high-income credit card.

This type of credit card may reward bigger spenders with big budgets, via generous frequent flyer or rewards programs and perks. They may also come with higher ongoing fees and interest costs, as it’s expected you can afford them, making them not the most ideal suggestion for a first credit card

Here is everything you need to know about qualifying for high income credit cards, as well as their perks and risks.

What is a high-income credit card?

All credit cards come with income requirements in their eligibility criteria, as set by the provider. These typically sit around $30,000-$40,000 p.a. as a standard, and may be as small as $15,000-$20,000 p.a. for more basic, low-income credit cards. 

However, some credit card providers have much higher income requirements, typically for more premium or platinum credit card tiers. One of the most common features of a high-income credit card is that it will come with a higher than average credit limit – often into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Not only does this help to encourage the card holder to spend generously with the credit card, but ensures they can afford the ongoing costs, such as high annual fees and purchase rates.

High-income credit cards are also linked to rewards credit cards. By meeting certain criteria, you may be offered more generous access to rewards and perks. This can mean anything from complimentary travel insurance, VIP seating at events, concierge service, and even higher bonus rewards points on sign-up.

What do different credit card colours mean?

High income credit cards can be colour labelled according to their tiers. These may differ depending on your credit card make (Visa, Mastercard or American Express). Think the difference between a green and black AMEX card.

These tiers may be gold or silver (middle tier and more prestigious than your standard credit card) or platinum/titanium/black (top of the range). For high-income earners, you may be looking at platinum, titanium or even black credit cards in your comparison.

The biggest differences between the top tier colour ranges are generally the credit limits and income requirements. Titanium credit cards may typically come with higher credit limits than platinum cards – into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, it can just simply be part of branding, with providers offering differing credit limits, rewards and income requirements for platinum, titanium or black credit cards across the market.

However, unlike standard plastic credit cards, titanium credit cards are made from – as the name suggest – titanium. The idea is that the credit card (and your income) will be heavier and more noticeable when you’re flashing around your card.

What are the benefits of high-income credit cards?

There are a few benefits to being eligible for a high-income credit card, including:

  • Higher credit limit. Typically, a high-income credit card will see the cardholder offered a greater credit limit than standard. This can range as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars, as it’s expected you can afford this limit based on your income.
  • Rewards and frequent flyer points. A high income may see you eligible for credit cards with rewards programs or frequent flyer programs. You may be offered a greater variety of perks, such as gift cards, flights and accommodation. You may also be offered a higher earn rate towards your rewards points on eligible purchases. 
  • Bigger sign up bonus. Often, issuers will offer new cardholders a sign up bonus to entice them onto their books. The biggest sign up bonuses for a credit card are reserved for more premium credit card products. This may include bonus rewards points on card approval, cashback offers and gift cards.
  • Travel perks. You may be eligible for generous travel credit card rewards, such as airport lounge access, flight upgrades and more.
  • Complimentary insurance. You may be offered a range of complimentary insurances, such as international travel insurance, domestic travel insurance, rental car insurance and purchase covers, including extended warranty protection.
  • Concierge service. High income credit cards may also come with concierge services, in which a representative from your card provider can act as a personal assistant of sorts, helping with travel arrangements, holiday activities, dining, entertainment, gifts, shopping and much more.

What interest rates are charged on high-income credit cards?

As you are looking at a more premium product, a high-income credit card will typically come with a higher purchase rate or cash advance rate.

Not only is it assumed that you will be able to afford to pay off your balance in full each statement period, your card provider will also assume your income can support a higher purchase rate.

It’s still worth comparing purchase rates and cash advance rates on your credit cards when searching for high-income options. Keeping this ongoing cost as low as possible can help you to maintain a responsible usage of the card and prevent growing debt.

If you're looking for credit card perks without the high interest charges, you may want to consider a low rate credit card that offers a frequent flyer or rewards program. For example, Qantas frequent flyer credit cards are also offered in tiers across a range of card providers. Meaning, you don't need to have the most premium card with the highest income requirements to nab a credit card that offers frequent flyer rewards.

What fees are charged on high-income credit cards?

Similar to interest rates, high-income credit cards also typically come with higher ongoing fees than your standard or low-fee card. Again, this is because it is assumed you can afford these premium card costs, and it helps the provider to fund the rewards and perks being offered to you.

These fees may include:

  • Annual fees
  • Monthly account keeping fees
  • Foreign transaction fees (overseas ATM fees, currency conversion fees)
  • Balance transfer fees
  • Late payment fees
  • Paper statement fees

How do I qualify for a high-income credit card?

Each credit card issuer will come with its own minimum income requirements dictating a minimum annual income you need to qualify for its highest tier cards.

As mentioned earlier, basic credit card income requirements are around $30,000-$40,000p.a. A high-income credit card may require the cardholder have an income of $80,000 or more, with the most premium options with income requirements ranging in the hundreds of thousands.

Some high-income credit cards may be so prestigious, they're only available via invitation. For example, the rumour is that to be eligible for a Black American Express card, you need an annual income of at least $250,000(USD), with some reports claiming it's into the millions. You can request consideration for this card, but cardholders are often given invitations to sign up. 

One of the best places to start to find out if you may qualify for a high-income credit card is to look at its product disclosure statement and terms and conditions online. There you’ll not only find a breakdown of the income needed to apply, but also view the interest rates and ongoing fees charged. This can help you to compare your card options more carefully.

You’ll want to ensure you’re as prepared as possible around meeting the credit card eligibility criteria before applying, as being rejected for a credit card will impact your credit score.

If your income alone does not meet the high-income credit card’s requirement, you may want to consider bringing someone else on to the application. Keep in mind that mixing money with relationships (spouse, family or friends) can lead to financial stress. Both of your credit history’s will be reviewed upon the card application. You’ll both be responsible for meeting minimum repayments on time and ensuring you keep your debt levels down.

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.