Immigrants' credit cards, passport and travel ticket

Credit cards for immigrants: Information for recent immigrants to Australia

Information verified correct on April 30th, 2017

Learn how to apply for a credit card in Australia when you're an immigrant.

There is a limited number of credit cards you can apply for as a temporary resident, permanent resident or visa-holder in Australia. Before you can get approved for a credit card in Australia, you'll also have to meet a range of specific requirements that relate to your residency status, employment and income. Here, you can learn about the different details and steps you need to take to get a credit card as an immigrant to Australia.

What requirements do I need to meet to apply for a credit card as an immigrant to Australia?

If you've recently relocated to Australia, here are the key requirements you usually need to meet to get a credit card:

  • Residency status. When you apply for a card, you will need to provide details of your residency status, such as your visa details. Make a copy and provide it to the credit card issuer when requested so they can complete your application assessment.
  • Residential address. You usually need to have a stable residential address in Australia to successfully apply for a credit card.
  • Employment. Most credit card providers that accept applications from new immigrants will require you to have permanent employment.
  • Finances. Depending on the card you apply for, there may be different financial requirements for immigrants when compared to Australian citizens. For example, the ANZ Low Rate Credit Card requires a minimum income of $15,000 p.a. Non-permanent residents of Australia, with more than 9 months remaining on Visa, must earn a minimum income of $15,000 annually or have $50,000 in Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI) accounts
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card

HSBC Credit Card Offer

Founded in China, HSBC is one of the largest foreign banks in Australia. The HSBC Low Rate Credit Card is currently one of the most popular credit cards being applied for in Australia.

  • $55 p.a. annual fee
  • 13.25% p.a. on purchases
  • 0% p.a. for 15 months with 2% balance transfer fee on balance transfers
  • Cash Advance Rate of 21.99% p.a.
  • Up to 55 days interest free
  • Minimum Income Requirement of $20,000 p.a.

Comparison of credit cards for temporary residents

Rates last updated April 30th, 2017
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
American Express Explorer Credit Card
Receive 100,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points on eligible spend within the first 3 months of card membership. Also enjoy a $400 travel voucher and two complimentary airline passes per year.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $395 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card
This card comes with a balance transfer offer, a low interest rate and up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
13.25% p.a. 0% p.a. for 15 months with 2% balance transfer fee $55 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Receive a full annual fee refund and save $149 if you meet the $6,000 spend requirement. Enjoy a balance transfer offer and platinum card benefits such as complimentary insurances and concierge services.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 15 months $149 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Essential®  Credit Card
Receive a $50 credit on eligible spend and get Smartphone screen insurance combined with a no annual fee for life card. Also enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer rate for 12 months.
14.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee $0 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Visa
Introductory offer of 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers and 0% p.a. for 6 months on purchases, plus a low annual fee.
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 12 months $55 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points on eligible spend within 3 months. Enjoy access to premium benefits and complimentary insurance.
19.99% p.a. $199 p.a. Go to site More info
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Receive a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months. Also, enjoy an annual fee waiver in the first year.
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 12 months $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
Receive 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months, plus earn up to 1 point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. Also, earn 75 Bonus Status Credits when you apply by 30 June 2017, buy and fly return with Qantas by 30 September 2017.
19.99% p.a. $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa Credit Card
Enjoy a low annual fee combined with 0% p.a. balance transfer offer for 12 months and 0% p.a. for up to 6 months on purchases.
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 12 months $55 p.a. Go to site More info
BankSA Vertigo Platinum
Enjoy 0% balance transfer rate for 12 months and 0% purchase rate for 6 months if you apply and are approved by 1 May 2017.
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 12.74% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 12 months $99 p.a. Go to site More info

Establishing credit history as an immigrant in Australia

While you may already have credit history in your country of origin, lenders in Australia will not take this into account when you apply for credit cards or other financial products here. This means you have to establish Australian credit history by opening and maintaining credit-based accounts. Some of the most common options include:

  • Utilities. This includes electricity accounts, post-paid phone accounts, Internet accounts and other energy or telecommunications accounts.
  • Loans. This includes personal loans, car loans and home loans.
  • Credit cards. This includes both credit cards and charge cards (of which there are only a few in Australia).

It's also important to open an Australian bank account. While the details of your account will only be available to that particular bank, you may be able to provide statements to other lenders to show that you are managing your money responsibly in Australia. If you decide to apply for a credit card with the same institution you bank with, these details could also help improve your chances of approval.

What about my old accounts and credit cards?

It's often practical to keep your credit cards and bank account from your country of origin, and continue to pay these debts so that your credit is not jeopardised there if you ever return.

What about secured credit cards?

There are limited options if you're interested in a secured credit card in Australia. The most common is to get a prepaid credit card that allows you to pre-load your own money onto it and then use it for your spending. However, this type of card does not provide you with extra funds the way a credit card does. It also won't add to your credit history in Australia.

Moving abroad credit cards

Some card companies offer "moving abroad'" transfers, such as American Express. They allow you to transfer your card to another country, and they make the transfer as painless as possible. All that is necessary is a current and eligible credit card with Amex, an address in Australia and a phone number. This transfer excludes existing balances, which must be repaid before the transfer is complete.

Another company that offers foreign travel moves and foreign exchange is ANZ, which helps you with your financial needs when moving to Australia. ANZ also helps with banks, accounts, foreign currency transfers, and even dual and multi-currency accounts.

Other factors to consider

If you're moving to Australia, you may also want to consider the following details to help with the transition.

  • Mail Forwarding. Mail forwarding services such as Mailbox Forwarding, and Earth Class Mail allow you to manage correspondence from your country of origin from Australia or anywhere in the world.
  • Online bill-pay.This service manages, accepts and pays all of your bills with the touch of a button. If you keep your current accounts, this will help avoid financial issues when you move. You can continue to pay your bills in the currency for the country in which you resided, and continue using your debit and credit cards.
  • Foreign currency transfers. Many online services now allow you to transfer money from one country to another. This can be very useful if you have funds from your country of origin that you would like to move to Australian accounts.

There are all kinds of factors to consider when you immigrate to Australia. But keeping these details in mind will help you get your finances in order so that you can apply for a new credit card that suits your needs.

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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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