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Learn more about credit cards

The Mastercard brand is one of the most recognisable in the credit card industry today. From travel rewards cards and platinum products to debit cards and exclusive cardholder privileges, the range of options and benefits when it comes to Mastercard credit cards is comprehensive.

Of course, with such a wide array of choices, it's even more important you know what you're getting into before committing to a particular service. Instead of being overwhelmed by an ocean of options, understanding the benefits of Mastercard and how to carry out a comparison can help you sift through and find a suitable product.

What are the different Mastercard product offerings?

Mastercard credit cards come in all shapes and sizes. Among the products potential cardholders can receive are:

  • Low-interest-rate credit cards
  • Reward credit cards
  • Low-annual-fee credit cards
  • Debit cards, allowing you the benefits of a credit card with the use of your own money
  • Gold and platinum cards

These products are offered across different banks and lenders, and offer a variety of rates and fees. While the long list of options can appear exhausting, a thorough Mastercard comparison will help you decide between them.

What are the benefits of Mastercard credit cards?

Mastercard is accepted at more than 30 million locations globally. Wherever you go, though the landscapes and languages might change, you can be almost certain that your Mastercard will be accepted.

Being a Mastercard credit cardholder also comes with a few more perks:

  • The use of PayPass for purchases under $100, making shopping simple, quick and convenient
  • Access to the GO Mastercard Online Service Centre, allowing you to view statements and transactions, pay bills and manage your account with a few taps on your smartphone or computer
  • If in a bind, the ability to fall back on Mastercard Emergency Services at all hours of the day and all days of the year if, say, your card goes missing or you need an emergency cash advance

Mastercard credit cardholders also get access to a few exclusive programs:

  • The chance to apply for a World Mastercard, letting you get exclusive deals at select retailers, tourist destinations, eateries and entertainment centres on city streets across the world
  • Mastercard Privileges, letting all cardholders make use of special offers for accommodation, shopping and entertainment
  • Mastercard Priceless Cities, allowing you to jump queues and pay less for experiences in locations as diverse as Indonesia and the United Kingdom

What is the history of Mastercard?

Mastercard began life in 1966, when 17 bankers met in New York to form the Interbank Credit Association, which came to offer its own credit card – the 'Master Charge'.

It began to spread from there, extending beyond the borders of the United States and touching down in Europe, Japan and Mexico in 1968, and further penetrating Asia and Latin America during the 1980s.

By 1979, it had changed its name to 'MasterCard', and in the 1980s it became firmly established as a global brand. In 1987, it became the first payment card ever issued in the People's Republic of China, and in 1988 it entered the Soviet Union.

It was in this decade that Mastercard came to Australia, initially being offered by some smaller banks and credit unions, and competing against the Bankcard that was issued by the major banks.

By 2006, while Bankcard was forced to withdraw, Mastercard's market share in Australia had steadily grown, spurred on by the increased pervasiveness of electronic payments in people's lives.

How can I get a Mastercard credit card?

If you want to enjoy the benefits of Mastercard products, the application process is simple.

Mastercard credit cards are issued by all major Australian financial institutions, so you can either go online or walk in to a bank branch and enquire. Just be sure you've carried out a Mastercard comparison to find the right product first.

The card provider will carry out a credit check on you when you apply. Different cards also have distinct applicant requirements that you'll need to be aware of, such as a minimum annual income.

Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible for Bankwest credit card insurance

Bankwest offers complimentary overseas travel insurance to its Gold MasterCard, Platinum MasterCard and World MasterCard cardholders. Eligible Gold and Platinum MasterCard customers are covered for up to 31 consecutive days of travel, while the World MasterCard holders are covered for six successive months.

To receive the complimentary Bankwest credit card insurance, cardholders need to:

  • Be under 80 years old
  • Be travelling to a foreign destination
  • Not have a cancelled or suspended card.


The complimentary insurance is also available to spouses and children if they travel with you for the entire period. The level of cover depends on the type of card and its  credit limit. Some of the standard types of cover include:

  • Overseas emergency medical assistance
  • Personal liability
  • Accidental demise
  • Baggage and personal goods.


It’s important to remember that pre-existing conditions are not covered by the complimentary Bankwest credit card insurance. Other terms and conditions also apply. 

If you are an eligible cardholder and need to make a claim, it can either be done online or by calling +612 8907 5615. 

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 many numbers are on a credit card?

The numbers on your credit card actually follow a universal standard which is used to identify specific functions. Each credit card has a different amount of numbers. Visa and Mastercard have 16, American Express has 15 and Diner’s Club has 14. 

The first number on a credit card always identifies what type of credit card it is. Visa cards start with a 4, whereas Mastercard starts with a 5 and American Express with a 3. The remainder of the digits represent the account number, including the last number which is used to verify that your credit card is actually valid. 

Credit cards also have additional verification numbers, which are mainly used when the card isn’t present for phone and online purchases. These are the three-digit numbers on the back of Visa and MasterCard or the four-digit numbers on the front of an American Express card.

Where can I get a credit card?

Looking to get your first credit card? You might be confused as to exactly where to go to apply for one. Here’s where to go when you are ready to put in that application.

The bank: Your bank is a great place to start, provided that you have a good banking history. Since you already have a financial history, you have more chance of your application being approved.

Credit card provider: Another option is to apply for a credit card directly from the issuer, such as Visa, Mastercard or Amex. This will most likely be an online application, so do your research and apply for a suitable card for your circumstances.

Major retailers: Coles, Woolworths, Myer and David Jones all have credit cards available. But watch out for the interest rate and annual fees – these cards are designed to help you spend more in store.

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 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.

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.

Do you need a credit card to get a loan?

You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.

If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset. Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for. But you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset. For more information on improving your credit score, go here

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

How to make a credit card online

If you’re wondering about how to make a credit card online application, here are some steps to follow:

  • Test the market. Many credit card options are available online. Compare providers by fees, interest and perks to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Complete the application. Once you’ve selected a card, head to the provider’s website and complete the online credit card application form. Forms vary by providers.
  • Provide details. Most cards require you to meet age, residency, income and credit status condition, and you need to provide details like a bank account statement to prove this.
  • Review details. Ensure the information you’ve entered is correct.

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 can I increase my Coles credit card limit?

You can apply to increase the credit limit on your Coles Mastercard at any time after you have received and started using it. You may need to provide details of your financial situation at the time of applying for a credit increase. This is done to give the lender confidence you have the capacity to pay off your credit card. 

To find out more about how to increase your Coles credit card limit, simply call 1300 306 397 and make the request to change your spending limit.

How can I increase my Bankwest credit card limit?

When you apply for a Bankwest credit card, you get assigned a pre-set credit limit, which will end up being the most that you can spend on your credit card before having to pay it off. Your credit limit is chosen for you and your current financial situation, and you should remember not to overspend, irrespective of the limit, in order to avoid racking up a massive bill.

However, banks and lenders understand that your needs will change, and have made it possible for you to increase your credit card limit, allowing you to get extra cash when you need it most. Moreover, with a higher spending limit, you may be able to get access to certain perks and benefits with your Bankwest credit card.

To increase your Bankwest credit card limit, you can visit any of the bank’s branches or call 13 17 19 and follow the steps outlined.

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. 

How do you cancel a credit card?

It’s important to cancel your old cards to avoid any additional fees. Unless you’re doing a balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance before you cancel your credit card. If you’ve opted for a card with reward points, make sure you redeem or transfer the points before you close your account. To avoid any bounced payments and save yourself an admin headache, redirect all your direct debits to a new card or account. Once you’ve done all the preparation, call your bank or credit card provider to get the cancellation underway. Once you receive a confirmation letter, destroy your card and make sure the numbers aren’t legible.

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.

How do credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

How do you pay off credit cards?

The best way to pay off a credit card bill is to set a realistic spending budget and stick to it. Each month, you’ll get a credit card statement detailing how much you owe and how long it will take to pay off the balance by making minimum repayments. If you only make the minimum repayments, it will take you years to pay off your outstanding balance and add extra costs in interest charges. To avoid any extra charges, you should pay the entire bill. 

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

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.