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What are student credit cards?
If you’re studying at a university or TAFE, changes are you may struggle to make time for a full-time job. This means it can be challenging to pay for school essentials, like textbooks, laptops or work equipment. This is why some students look to credit cards for help.
Credit card eligibility requirements typically include a minimum income and some form of employment. Card providers also often reject applicants on Centrelink payments. This is why it can be challenging as a full-time student to pay for schooling, let alone get a credit card.
Student credit cards are designed with students in mind. They may come with lower income requirements (minimum of $15,000) but accept applicants with part time jobs or on Youth Allowance. Some student credit cards are also international student-friendly. Normally international students will be rejected from most Australian credit cards.
Student credit cards are unlikely to come with frequent flyer or rewards programs. They’re designed to be basic to suit a student’s needs.
Warning: Applying for a credit card and being rejected can negatively impact your credit history. Always check a card's terms and conditions and/or PDS before applying. They can give you a clear understanding of who is eligible for a credit card. Student eligibility may differ for each credit card.
What are the benefits of student credit cards?
- Access to credit: A student credit card can help you to pay for school essentials. However, it’s crucial that you have a budget and repayment plan in place. Credit cards are a very easy way for debt to grow out of control if not used carefully.
- Build credit: For younger Australians in particular, a credit card is an easy way to build a credit history. A good credit history can help your likelihood for approval for personal loans or home loans in the future.
- Learn good habits: Credit cards can understandably be risky if not used cautiously. Having a credit card could help young Aussies to learn essential money habits early, such as how to budget and make consistent repayments. You may also become more aware of where your money is going and use a credit card to better track what you actually spend money on, and what non-essentials you could cut out.
Do I need a student credit card?
It’s very easy for students - particularly young Aussies - to use credit cards in risky ways.
- Hurting your credit score
Missing a credit card repayment due to a lack of planning and budgeting can hurt your credit score. A recent survey of 1000 respondents by credit bureau Experian found that just one missed credit card repayment results in an average 22 per cent drop in the borrower’s credit score.
- Spending on non-essentials
Cash advances allow student credit cards to be used for any purpose, but ideally you’d want to use a credit card to help finance your studies. Experian found that more than half of respondents (51 per cent) admitted to putting up to $4,000 on their credit card for a holiday. Only 37 per cent said they paid it off immediately. Be wary of what you’re using your credit card for and if you can realistically pay off that debt.
- Snowballing debt
Using a credit or debit card, versus using cash, has a way of making us feel like we’re not spending much at all. If you don’t physically see the dollars leaving your hand, it can be difficult to see the debt you’re growing.
Credit cards are one of the easiest ways Aussies can make debt grow out of control. Especially if you only make minimum repayments - usually around 2 per cent of the outstanding balance or $20.
For example, making minimum repayments on a $3,000 credit card balance at 20 per cent interest would take you over 34 years to pay off. It would cost you $13,254, thanks to interest, by the time you paid it off.
It’s not all doom and gloom
If you’ve got a budget in place and you’re prepared, a student credit card can be a useful financial tool. Create a spending limit that you won’t cross. Credit cards can have daily limits in the hundreds or thousands. If you choose to get a student credit card, consider setting a limit that you know you can comfortably pay back at the end of the statement period.
What financial assistance can I get from the Australian government?
Student credit cards aren’t the only way you can finance your studies. According to StudyAssist, there are a range of government loans and subsidies in place, including:
- HECS-HELP: A loan scheme to help eligible Commonwealth-supported students to pay their student contribution amounts through a loan or upfront discounts.
- FEE-HELP: A loan to help eligible fee paying students to pay their tuition fees.
- SA-HELP: A loan that assists eligible students to pay for all or part of their student services and amenities fees.
- OS-HELP: A loan to help eligible Commonwealth supported students pay their overseas study expenses.
- VET Student Loans: A loan program that helps eligible students enrolled in certain higher-level vocational education and training courses at approved course providers to pay their tuition fees.
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Personal Finance Editor
Alex is a personal finance writer and editor at RateCity, and has been writing about finance for over five years. She is passionate about closing the gender pay and superannuation gap, and aims to help young Aussies to overcome their financial apathy and better manage their finances. Alex has been published in numerous print and online outlets, including Money Magazine, Lifehacker Australia, and Business Insider.
Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Does ING increase credit card limits?
You may want to increase your credit card limit for many reasons, such as having access to more spending money. However, if you are using the Orange One credit card issued by ING, you may not be able to do so.
ING customers can choose a credit limit of their preference when applying for the Orange One credit card. Depending on your financial situation, this limit can be anywhere between $1,000 and $30,000. If you qualify for a Rewards Platinum card, the minimum credit card limit will likely be $6,000.
Ideally, you should set your credit card limit knowing how much you can afford to repay each month and keep your expenses lower than this level. With most credit cards, you should have the option of requesting a credit card limit increase at a later time, although you will need to qualify for any increase. With an ING credit card, limit increases are out of the question (at the time this was published), which means you may want to apply for a higher credit card limit from the beginning. Remember that you have the option of decreasing your ING credit card limit at a later time.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Increase your credit card limit with Westpac
You can apply to increase your Westpac credit card credit limit at any time, and most credit card providers have made it really easy to do so. You can use your online banking portal, the credit card provider’s mobile app, or even the telephone.
Applying online to increase your credit limit with Westpac is the easiest option if you’ve already activated Westpac Live Online Banking. All you need to do is fill in the required information and then hit ‘submit’ to apply for an increase in your credit card limit.
Most banks will ask for details of your financial situation at the time of applying for a credit increase. This is done to ensure your new limit meets the lender’s criteria.
You can apply for increasing your credit limit in any of the following ways:
- Visiting your nearest Westpac branch
- Calling Westpac on 1300 651 089
- Logging in on Westpac Live Online Banking
How to increase my Commonwealth credit card limit?
Commonwealth Bank credit cards are extremely popular in Australia for everyday purchases and big ticket items alikers. A number of the card’s functions can be customised, depending on your needs and desires. If you wish to increase your Commonwealth credit card limit using the CommBank, you can usually do so on the app or via NetBank.
In the CommBank app, tap on the ‘Cards’ icon and choose your credit card. Then, click on ‘Credit Limit’ and select the ‘Increasing your limit’ option. If you don’t have the CommBank app, you can also increase your Commonwealth Bank credit card limit through NetBank. Simply log on and go to Settings, then click on ‘Product Requests’ and then choose ‘Credit Card Limit Changes’.
Once the bank has received your application, they will review your account and payment history. Based on this assessment, your application will either be approved or denied. If approved, your new limit will be applied to your card instantly.
While increasing your credit card limit may be an easy process, it’s important to remember that you should only request limits that you can manage. A high limit increases the risk of having a larger debt, even with cards that provide low-interest rate options. So, it’s important to think carefully and seek advice from people you trust before increasing your Commonwealth Bank credit card limit.
How can I increase my credit card limit on my American Express card?
If you want to increase the credit limit on your American Express (AMEX) credit card, you will need to apply through the AMEX Online Services, or by calling the number on the back of your card. You may need to share personal information that the bank can use to assess whether the requested limit is suitable for you and your current financial status. Once your application is approved, your new limit will be ready for use within an hour.
Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to my bank account?
If you’re an American Express credit card customer, you may not be able to transfer money from your credit card to your bank account. However, you may be eligible for cash advances, which involves withdrawing money through an ATM.
To qualify for a cash advance, you’ll likely have to enrol for American Express Membership Rewards. Consider checking your online credit card account to see if you can withdraw a cash advance and, if so, the fees and charges you’ll incur for this transaction.
You should remember that cash advances are different from balance transfers, which were available with some American Express credit cards earlier. Balance transfers allow customers to consolidate debt from high-interest credit cards to a credit card offering a lower interest rate. If you only recently applied for an American Express credit card, balance transfers may not be available irrespective of the card you own.
How to increase your Heritage credit card limit?
Heritage credit card holders can increase their card limits, and typically without any hassles. There are two limits applied to your credit card: your account transfer limit and your credit card limit, each of which has a separate limit.
To increase your Heritage credit card limit, you can contact Heritage on 13 14 22. Unfortunately, you cannot opt to increase your credit card limit online due to security reasons.
You can, however, request to increase your daily account transfer limit and BPAY® to up to $40,000 per day easily through Heritage Online. To do this, you'll need to first ensure that your credit card limit is more than $40,000. If it is lower, you’ll need to first ask Heritage for an increase in your credit card limit.
- It’s important to note that once you change your credit limit, the daily periodic rate and corresponding annual percentage rate will change as well. This is likely to come into effect on the first day of each billing cycle that begins in March, June, September, and December. The effect of an increase in the annual percentage rate and the daily periodic rate will lead to an increased amount of interest you will have to cover in your monthly payment.
What coverage does Coles credit card insurance offer?
Most customers who own a Coles credit card may be eligible for complimentary purchase protection insurance, but low rate card owners won’t receive this benefit.
Some premium credit cards issued by Coles include transit accident insurance and extended warranty cover in addition to purchase protection insurance. Covered items paid for at least partially with your Coles credit card usually qualify for purchase protection insurance.
However, you may only be eligible for transit accident and extended warranty coverage if the entire travel cost or purchase price is billed to the eligible card. Additionally, the extended warranty coverage matches the manufacturer’s warranty up to a maximum of five years. If your credit card offers extended warranty, but the covered item comes with a six-year warranty, you're unlikely to receive the benefit.
How to apply for an HSBC credit card instalment plan?
HSBC provides a host of different features and benefits to its customers, including interest-free finance options for purchases made at select retailers.
Using this feature, you can make a purchase in-store or online through your credit card, and spread your repayments for up to 60 months. Opting for a credit card instalment plan may be an ideal option as you can make big purchases without worrying about making immediate payments.
The interest-free instalment plan is valid for all HSBC credit cards, so you shouldn't need to fill out separate forms or apply for a particular plan. Rather, all you should need to do is use your HSBC credit card at any of the participating retailers and inform the vendor that you want to pay using HSBC interest-free.
As HSBC has partnered with over 1,000 retailers for its interest-free credit card instalment plan, you get the flexibility to purchase a host of different products. Some of the popular retailers that HSBC allows instalments for are:
- King Furniture
- Betta Home Living
- Video Pro
- Bing Lee
Once you have provided approval to the vendor, HSBC will send you an SMS asking you to confirm the purchase, following which the payment will go through, and you can select your preferred instalment plan.
While you may be inclined to choose the most prolonged duration for repayment considering there are no interest charges, it’s important to know that minimum monthly repayments will still apply (3%, or $30, whichever is higher), making it important to choose the right HSBC credit card instalment plan that suits your requirements.