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
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.
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.
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: ShutterstockBack to top