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Learn more about credit cards

Credit cards are more than just a means to make payments. The perks and rewards that can come with credit cards are part of what separates them from your standard debit card.

Whether it’s complimentary travel insurance or a hefty rewards program, credit card perks can be one of the advantages of using a credit card.

Which credit cards come with the best perks?

There are a range of credit card perks available and they will depend on the credit card type and card provider you choose.

Most credit cards come with perks and extras, but they are typically found with:

You may find credit card perks with the more “no frills” cards, such as low rate credit cards. However, perks are typically reserved for the above listed cards, which come with higher ongoing costs and higher income eligibility levels.

It’s important to keep in mind that while these perks are generous, they don’t come for free. Perks are used as incentives to get customers to join with that card provider. Meaning, you will typically pay a little (or a lot) more in ongoing fees and/or interest charges for a credit card with perks.

What credit card perks are there?

There are a number of extras that a card provider may offer you. Here is what you can expect when searching for a credit card with perks:

Perk About
Airport Lounge Access to airport lounges, such as Business Class lounges etc.
Concierge Accessible by phone or online, a concierge service can organise travel arrangements, dining, entertainment and much more.
Discounted Annual Fee Pay a lower annual fee for a set period of time.
Free Supplementary Cards Additional cards available for no extra charge.
Partner Discounts You may be eligible for discounts from partnered brands, such as fashion, dining, movies and more.
Special Events Cardholders may gain exclusive access to special events, as well as access to lounges.
VIP Seating Eligibility for VIP seating or packages for special events.
Reward Points Dollars spent typically earn you rewards points that can be exchanged in rewards programs for things like home goods, electronics and gift cards.

Keep in mind to check the terms and conditions of a credit card to see what is offered before you apply for anything.

What other extras can I get with my credit card?

Apart from perks and rewards, your credit card may also offer you generous protections as a means of getting you to sign up.

Protection About
Fraud Protection Protects you from losing money in the event of fraudulent transactions on your credit card.
Free Domestic Travel Insurance Entitles you to a level of insurance over when travelling domestically in Australia. Can include anything from luggage cover to cancellation fees and personal liability cover.
Free International Travel Insurance Entitles you to a level of insurance over when travelling internationally. Can include anything from luggage cover to cancellation fees and personal liability cover.
Extended Warranty An additional insurance that extends the manufacturer or retailer’s warranty on your purchases.
Purchase Protection Insurance Protects you against loss, theft or accidental damage
Rental Car Excess Insurance Covers rental car excess costs in the event of accidents or other issues.
Transit Accident Insurance Covers yourself or your family in the event of an accident or death while in transit (buses, trains, planes etc.), or while boarding or alighting.
Guaranteed Pricing Scheme If you find a cheaper price for something you’ve already purchased using your credit card, Guaranteed Pricing Scheme works by paying the difference.

Do credit card perks cost more?

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s also true of credit cards. Perks, protections and rewards on a credit card can cost you more. However, by doing your own credit card comparison you can work to keep these costs as low as possible.

Credit card perks typically cost cardholders in the form of higher annual fees but may also be reflected in higher than average purchase rates and cash advance rates. Annual fees are generally accepted as a cost that keeps card provider rewards programs, perks and protections running. As a rule of thumb, if you want perks, an annual fee is generally par for the course.

Cardholders looking at these types of credit cards will need to meet the card providers eligibility criteria to be approved, and, depending on the level of rewards or platinum status of the card, typically come with higher income thresholds. Meaning, the type of cardholder getting a card with perks is expected to be able to afford the higher fees and interest rates.

The good news is that these costs can be kept low or even avoided altogether if you’re careful with your card comparison. Using a comparison table, like the one on this page, you can filter and compare credit cards with perks, and then sort the cards by purchase rate. Then you can click on the ‘more details’ button for a breakdown of potential fees. This can help you to shortlist credit cards with perks that will help you to keep costs down. 

You can also read the Product Disclosure Statement for a card if a card provider’s website isn’t giving you enough information. 

What alternatives are there to using credit card with perks?

If you’re less interested in having a credit card with an extensive rewards program just to get a few perks, there are some alternatives you may want to consider:

  • Buy-now-pay-later

If you’re just looking for a means to make purchases and repay them back in instalments, you may want to consider using buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) like Afterpay or ZipPay instead. Much like a credit card, you will be able to make a purchase and pay it offer later, without those pesky interest rates.

  • Store Rewards

If the type of perks you’re after are in the form of store rewards, such as cashback or gift cards, you may want to consider a classic rewards card with said store. For example, the Woolworths Everyday Rewards program is easy to join and rewards you with 1 point per dollar spent in Woolworths and partners. You can choose to get $10 off a future shop or convert to 1,000 Qantas Points every time you reach 2,000 Everyday Rewards points.

  • Pre-paid money cards

If you’re embarking on an overseas holiday and wanted the ability to store multiple currencies on one card, or lock in a sum at a set currency rate, you may have been considering a credit card that offers these perks. However, there are non-credit card alternatives that do just this, such as pre-paid travel cards. These can be found at your local Australia Post Office, but are also offered by TransferWise, Revoult, Travelex and more.

  • Transaction accounts with no overseas fees

Another alternative to using a credit card for those looking to keep overseas costs down is to choose a transaction account that does just this. For example, ING’s Orange Everyday account does not charge any international transaction fees online or overseas. You’ll just need to meet its terms and conditions, much like a credit card but simpler, to be eligible for this perk.

Frequently asked questions

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.

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 card with a higher annual fee might need fewer purchases to get a reward. 

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 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 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 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.

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 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.

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 to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

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 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.

Which credit card has the highest annual percentage rate?

The credit card market changes all the time, so the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate is also liable to change.

Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are expressed as a yearly rate, or annual percentage rate (APR). A low APR is generally good but also consider:

  • There can be different APR's for each feature of the card (e.g. purchases may have an APR of 14 per cent, while cash advances on same card could have an APR of 17 per cent.
  • Credit cards with a variable rate can change throughout the year, affecting your APR, so check the full details.
  • If you pay your balance in full every month, having the lowest APR is not as important as the other fees associated with the card. However, if you carry a balance from month to month, then you want the lowest APR possible.

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.

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. 

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 I apply for a credit card online?

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.

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.