Low income credit cards

Discover low income credit card options that suit your financial needs. - Data last updated on 24 Aug 2019

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    For low income earners, finding a credit card can feel like an uphill battle as many Australian credit card providers have minimum income requirements of $30,000 to $40,000 annually. 

    However, you shouldn’t feel priced out of the market as there are a range of basic credit cards with minimum annual income as low as $15,000 to $20,000; you just have to know where to look. 

    What are low income credit cards?

    Low income credit cards, as the name suggests, have lower minimum income levels within their eligibility criteria, usually between $15,000 to $20,000. While they won’t have all the bells and whistles of credit cards afforded to higher income earners, they allow those Australians with lower annual income, such as students working part time, or stay-at-home parents working on a casual basis, to obtain a basic credit card.  

    How do I choose the best low income credit card?

    There is no one ‘best’ low income credit card available as what works for one person might not work for another, but there are several features and fees to consider when choosing the right credit card for your financial needs. 

    Credit card feature

    About

    Interest rate

    The interest rate you choose will determine how much your repayments will be. You should look for a lower than average rate – but this is not the only thing to consider.

    Introductory offers

    Some credit card providers offer lower introductory or ‘honeymoon’ rates to entice new customers. While these aren’t as common for low income credit cards, keep an eye on when these rates expire as you’ll be automatically swapped onto a higher rate.

    Annual fee

    Low income credit cards can come with annual fees, so try to look for ones with no or lower than average costs.

    Interest free periods

    The amount of time (usually up to 55 days) that you won’t be charged interest on a new purchase on your low income credit card. This depends on your payment cycle, not when you purchased the item.

    Late payment fee

    If you don’t make your minimum repayments on time each month, your low income credit card provider will sting you with a late payment fee.

    How do I get approved for a low income credit card?

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    To improve your chance of approval for a low income credit card, consider the following: 

    1. Check the minimum income requirements - You’ll want to ensure you suit credit card providers’ specific lending criteria, as this differs for each credit card. E.g. If your annual income is $17,000 a year you’ll want to ensure you’re applying for the $15,000 a year minimum income credit cards, instead of the $20,000 a year minimum income credit cards.
    2. Review your credit history – If you’re applying for any financial product with a bad credit score, your application will have a higher chance of being rejected. As it’s not uncommon for credit reports to contain mistakes, obtain a copy of your credit history and go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Learn how you can repair your credit score here.
    3. Joint applications – If your partner is willing to go on the credit card application with you, you’ll be able to combine their income levels with your own. Not only will you have a greater chance of reaching low income credit card minimum requirements, you could also qualify for standard or rewards credit cards. Just ensure that you’ve prepared an effective budget before applying as you don’t want to fall into debt and negatively impact your partner’s credit history in the process. 

    I have bad credit and low income – how do I get approved?

    If you have a bad credit history on top of a low income, you’ll want to look at doing the following things before applying: 

    1. Make regular debt payments – The low income credit card provider will be looking through your personal finances, including your repayment history. If you have existing debt, show the provider that you’ve been consistent with meeting your repayments (and paying more than the minimum requirements if possible). This will show you have stability in your finances and improve your chances of increasing your credit rating.
    2. Start a savings nest egg – Lenders are looking for reliability in your finances. If you can consistently put money into your savings each income cycle, you’ll show that you have an effective budget and that you have self-control. 

    For more information on what you can do to obtain a credit card with bad credit, please go here. 

    What low income credit cards are available for students?

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    Students can be eligible for basic low income credit cards, but keep in mind credit card providers will examine your eligibility much like with any other applicant. Try to present yourself as the most reliable borrower before applying – whether it’s through taking out a part-time job or growing some savings. 

    If you’re a student, taking out a credit card is an opportunity to learn about budgeting and financial responsibility. But it’s also a quick and easy way to grow a hefty debt before you’ve even graduated if you’re not careful. Learn more about student credit cards here.

    Students may also be eligible for government financial assistance through Centrelink, such as Youth Allowance. Before applying for a credit card, consider whether government assistance might better suit your financial needs and situation. 

    Can I get a credit card with no income?

    You’ll be hard-pressed to find a provider who’d give anyone a credit card with no income. Minimum annual income requirements are in place by credit card providers to ensure card holders can manager their repayments. It may seem unfair, but it’s for your own benefit as risk-based lending helps to prevent Australians from easily falling into debt.  

    If you already have debt and are struggling to manage this, please consider talking to a financial counsellor who could help you work through a debt consolidation plan and help you to make better financial choices to clear bad debt. To find your nearest financial counsellor, or for more information, please visit ASIC’s MoneySmart website.

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    FAQs

    Yes, there are credit cards available with students in mind. These can help young Australians to build their credit report and learn crucial life skills around budgeting and managing personal finances.

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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, fact sheet or terms and conditions document and obtain professional financial advice on whether a product is right for you and your finances.

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