applying for a credit card

How To Apply For Your First Credit Card

From eligibility requirements to filling out the application form, here's what you need to know to apply for your first credit card.

If you've decided you want a credit card, it's easy to compare different cards and apply online. But if you're worried about getting approved for your first card or don't really know where to start, you can use this guide to find out how the application process works and what you can do to increase your chances of a successful application.

What do I need to think about when choosing my first credit card?

Ask yourself these three questions to help you find a first credit card that will work for you:

  • Are you a student?
    If you are studying full-time at university or another approved institution, you may be able to get a credit card that's designed specifically with students in mind. Student credit cards usually have low credit limits and low or $0 annual fees, which can help you manage your account costs and reduce the risk of serious debt.
  • How much do you earn?
    Credit card companies consider your income to help decide if you'll be able to manage a card. If you're applying for your first credit card and don't have many other accounts, the credit card company could place more weight on your income when deciding whether to approve or decline your application. If you're worried about this, you could consider applying for a credit card with a low minimum income requirement.
  • How much can you afford to pay for a credit card?
    Credit card annual fees and interest rate charges can quickly add up – particularly when you're not used to having one. To avoid getting into serious debt, focus on cards that offer affordable rates and fees based on your circumstances.

Compare credit cards with competitive rates and fees

Rates last updated July 20th, 2018
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Citi Clear Platinum - Exclusive Offer
14.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive: Receive 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers and a discounted annual fee in the first year. Plus, access to Citi World Privileges.
Westpac Low Rate Card
13.49% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% for 24 month balance transfer option, first year annual fee waiver and a competitive purchase rate.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months
$58 p.a.
Save with a 0% p.a. introductory rate on balance transfers for 15 months with no BT fee. Plus a low 12.49% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card
13.25% p.a.
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$79 p.a.
Receive up to 20 months interest-free on balance transfers with a 2% BT fee. Also enjoy exclusive offers with the home&Away Privilege Program.
ANZ First Visa Credit Card
19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$30 p.a.
Get up to 18 months interest-free on balance transfers and save with a low $30 annual fee. Plus, up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

What if I want a reward or frequent flyer card as my first credit card?

As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for any credit card you want – including reward credit cards, frequent flyer credit cards or other premium options. However, make sure the card you apply for is affordable based on your income and spending habits. If you're unsure, you may want to call the credit card company and discuss your circumstances before applying, so that you can decide if the card you want is worth it.

What details do I need to apply for my first credit card?

Once you've found a credit card you want to apply for, start by checking that you meet the eligibility requirements. These details vary between cards but usually include the following:

Credit card eligibility criteria

  • A minimum age of 18. You must be at least 18 years old to get a credit card in Australia.
  • Valid Australian residency status. In most cases, you'll need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. If you're a temporary resident, you'll need to hold a valid visa. Check out the full guide on credit cards for temporary residents for more details.
  • Minimum income. Many credit cards list a minimum annual income requirement, which could range from $15,000 to more than $80,000 or more.
  • Credit history. Credit card companies will request a credit check when you submit your application. Ideally, you should have good or excellent credit history when you apply. Otherwise, you may want to focus on improving your credit rating before you apply.

first credit card applcation

What will I be asked about on the credit card application?

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can usually apply for a credit card online in around 20 minutes. Here's a checklist of the details and documents you need when you apply:

  • Personal details. This includes your full name, date of birth, Australian residency or citizenship status, contact phone number, email address and residential address.
  • Identification. You also need to provide a valid form of ID, such as your driver's licence, passport or Medicare card. Once the initial application is submitted, you may also be asked for certified copies of these documents.
  • Employment details. You'll be asked for details of your employment status, including your profession, your employer's name and contact details, as well as your salary. You may also be asked to provide recent payslips that verify your income.
  • Other financial details. This includes any other types of income, such as Centrelink payments, and assets such as savings or shares. You'll also need to provide estimates of your regular expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, loan payments, bills and grocery costs.
  • Card details. During the application, you'll be asked about some card features, including the credit limit and whether or not you want to be told about other promotions. You're not required to choose a credit limit (as the credit card company can assign one instead), or to sign up for promotions unless that's what you want.

As well as these details, you may be asked for supporting documentation once your online application is submitted. This could include:

  • Copies of identity documents such as your driver's licence, passport and birth certificate
  • Recent payslips
  • Recent bills or bank statements

It's a good idea to have these documents ready before you apply for your first credit card, so that you can provide them as soon as they are requested.

Get full details of what you need to apply for a credit card

Getting your first credit card can be a big financial step. So taking the time to compare different cards based on your financial circumstances and checking the eligibility requirements will help you find a card that suits your needs.

Images: Shutterstock

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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a senior writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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Important Information*
Citi Clear Platinum - Exclusive Offer
Citi Clear Platinum - Exclusive Offer

Interest rate

14.99

Annual fee

99
Qantas Premier Everyday
Qantas Premier Everyday

Interest rate

19.99

Annual fee

49

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8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BenJuly 9, 2013

    How long does it take for an application to be approved, and for cards to be received? We are going away in 2 months and need to know if we should start applying now.

    Cheers

    • finder Customer Care
      JacobJuly 9, 2013Staff

      Hi Ben. Thanks for your question. An application should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Once you finish, you should have a response in about a minute. After approval, a card will be sent out in about a week and half. When you receive the card, you will need to activate it, which can be done over the phone, and you can start using your card right away. Jacob.

  2. Default Gravatar
    June 4, 2013

    I’m new in Australia permanent resident about just over a year ago and I’ve only been working for 9 months and get paid 60000 a year I have took out car finance about 6 months ago. Am I eligible. For credit card or do I have to wait a bit longer to apply for one? Thanks

    • finder Customer Care
      JacobJune 5, 2013Staff

      Hi Susuan. Thanks for your question. Please see this page for a list of providers that allow temporary residents to apply for a credit card. Jacob.

  3. Default Gravatar
    NimeshMay 6, 2013

    Can I cancel the credit card when I have no longer use of it and if I can, what should I do?

    • finder Customer Care
      JacobMay 7, 2013Staff

      Hi Nimemsh. Thanks for your question. If you have paid your account balance in full, you can cancel your credit card account at any time without charge. To cancel the card, you will need to call your provider. They will put you through the process, which only takes about five minutes. Once that’s done, cut the card up. Jacob.

  4. Default Gravatar
    March 10, 2013

    I am a full time worker getting $652 clear money per week. i applied for a credit card to commonwealth bank and after around 6 month ,the bank accepted my offer and they sent me message with conditionally approved for 10,500 credit offer and when i sent my pay slip again they declined me,.again the manager from the broad meadows branch recommended for me but again they declined me and sent me one letter,.i m not meeting the bank’s criteria,.so can you please answer me why they are declining my credit card application,..and what should i do to get credit card, again?

    • finder Customer Care
      MarcMarch 11, 2013Staff

      Hello Baba,
      thanks for the question.

      There are many reasons why a credit card application can be denied. Some of the more common reasons are: bad credit history, failing a credit provider’s point score system, or too many prior credit applications on your credit file. To read more about these in depth this page may be of some help. To better understand how not to be declined on your next credit card, this guide may also have some answers for you.

      I hope this helps,
      Marc.

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