Credit cards for immigrants: Information for recent immigrants to Australia

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

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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, you'll 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 Be a non-permanent Australian resident with more than 9 months remaining on your Visa.

Comparison of credit cards for temporary residents

Rates last updated November 23rd, 2019
Name Product Interest Free Period Cash advance rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
Up to 55 days on purchases
21.49% p.a.
13.99% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest for up to 18 months on balance transfers. Plus, a low annual fee and competitive purchase rate.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
Up to 55 days on purchases
20.74% p.a.
$195 p.a.
Receive a yearly $200 Travel Credit and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance, plus 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
David Jones American Express Platinum Card
Up to 44 days on purchases
20.74% p.a.
$295 p.a.
DJ's shoppers and Qantas travellers earn 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points or 25,000 Qantas Points on eligible spend.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
Up to 55 days on purchases
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
Get 50,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $3,000 for the first 3 months. Plus, 100 Status Credits and luxury travel perks.
BankSA Vertigo Platinum
Up to 55 days on purchases
21.49% p.a.
0% for 15 months, reverts to 12.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers an interest-free purchase promotion, a discounted annual fee of $49 for the first year and complimentary travel insurance.
Commonwealth Bank Low Rate Gold Credit Card
Up to 55 days on purchases
21.24% p.a.
0% for 15 months, reverts to 13.24% p.a.
$89 p.a.
Keep interest costs low with a 0% p.a. introductory rate on purchases for 15 months. Plus, access to complimentary insurance covers.
BankSA Amplify Platinum
Up to 55 days on purchases
21.49% p.a.
19.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive a $400 e-gift gard when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature
Up to 55 days on purchases
21.49% p.a.
19.74% p.a.
$139 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 200,000 bonus Amplify Points (130k in the first year & 70k in the second year) when you spend $12k / year for the first 2 years.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
Up to 45 days on purchases
21.49% p.a.
20.49% p.a.
$150 p.a.
Earn 80,000 bonus Altitude Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, complimentary insurance and a personal concierge service.
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
Up to 55 days on purchases
21.99% p.a.
17.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and a balance transfer offer.

Compare up to 4 providers

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.
Images: Shutterstock

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Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated November 23rd, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Annual fee Product Description
Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard
21.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Save with 0% foreign transaction fees on purchases. Plus, complimentary flight delay passes and a global wifi access.
Qantas Premier Platinum
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Get 20,000 bonus Qantas Points per month for the first 6 months when you spend $1,500/month. Total of up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points.
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
0% for 9 months, reverts to 14.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 9 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy a $0 first year annual fee and a 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers. Plus, complimentary purchase insurance cover.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 70,000 bonus Velocity Points (60,000 in 3 months and 10,000 after first year). Plus, save with 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers.

Compare up to 4 providers

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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