Credit cards for self-employed or contract workers
A credit card can help you manage your personal and business cash flow. Here's what you'll need to apply if you're self-employed or a contract worker.
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If you’re self-employed or a contract worker, you can still apply for most credit cards as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. You may just need to provide some extra details and documents – such as your Tax Assessment Notices from the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) or your contract period.
This helps the credit card issuer can confirm your income, work situation and other information you put on your application. So, let's take a look at cards you can apply for, as well as what details you'll need to include.
Credit card providers that consider self-employed applicants
The following credit card providers consider applications from people who are currently self-employed, whether that's as a sole trader or as a partner in a business. We've also listed the information you should provide with your application.
Working as a contractor or sub contractor?
Banks and credit card providers officially view contractors and sub-contractors as self-employed. In most cases, in order to qualify for credit, a self-employed person is often required to present 2 years financials, prepared by an accountant, and sometimes even BAS records to verify their contract income.
|Provider||The documents you’ll need|
|American Express||Your accountant’s details are required.|
|ANZ||Your most recent personal tax return and corresponding ATO Notice of Assessment (less than 18 months old, e.g. a tax return from June 2014 can only be used until December 2015).|
|Bank Australia||Provide your two most recent tax returns (both personal & business) along with the corresponding ATO official notice of assessments.|
|Bankwest||Two of your most recent Notices of Assessment from the Australian Taxation Office showing your earnings for these financial years. You may also need to provide copies of your taxation and financial reports from your accountant. These must be from within 18 months of the application submission date.|
|Bank of Melbourne||Provide recent tax information.|
|BankSA||You’ll need to provide an eligible tax return. If you haven’t been self-employed for more than a year, you’re not eligible to apply.|
|Bank of Queensland||You’ll need to supply any one of the following options:|
|Bendigo Bank||You’ll need to provide your accountant's name and contact details as well as details of your income, assets and liabilities. This is where your most recent tax return statement would come in handy.|
|Coles||You’ll need to provide your Notice of Assessment for the previous financial year. If you haven’t got that, then you’ll need to provide a tax return that shows your individual taxable income prepared by your accountant. If you haven’t been self-employed for a full year, you’ll need a letter from your accountant detailing the personal taxable income for the time you’ve been self-employed.|
|Commonwealth Bank||You’ll need to submit your ABN and the title of your business. You’ll also need to provide two appropriate documents such as your most recent tax return, ABN registration certificate, trade or qualification certification, projected income statement from the accountant or tax return from before you were self-employed.|
|Emirates||One of the following options are required:|
|Latitude Financial Services||Notice of Assessment for the previous financial year is required. If you haven’t got that, then the next document is a tax return, which shows your individual taxable income prepared by your account. If you’re not self-employed for a full year, you’ll need a letter from your accountant detailing the personal taxable income for the time you’ve been self-employed.|
|HSBC||You’ll be required to provide your most recent individual Notice of Assessment and HSBC may ask for further documentation if required.|
|Jetstar||Your accountant’s details are required.|
|ME Bank||You will need to provide:|
Make sure all documents show both your full name and your agency/ institutions name & ABN.
|St.George||You must provide a Notice of Assessment. If you’ve been self-employed for less than a year, you won’t be able to apply.|
|Suncorp||If you’re self-employed, you need to provide a recent tax statement or payslip. If you’ve been self-employed for less than 2 years, you’ll also need to provide information about your income before then. You’ll also need to provide your accountant’s name and contact details.|
|Virgin Money (Citi)||As Virgin Money credit cards are issued by Citi, they follow the same rules as the bank.|
|Westpac||Most recent Notice of Assessment that must be less than 18 months old and last 2 months of business bank statements.|
|Woolworths||You’ll need to detail your trading name and trading address and provide your most recent tax statement.|
What to consider before applying for a credit card when you're self-employed or a contract worker
When you're comparing credit cards for business or personal expenses, here are some of the factors you should consider:
- Business or personal card. A personal credit card may be better suited if your business is in its early stages, if you don't have an ABN yet and if you're a sole trader with no employees. One of these cards might be better if you plan to use it for both personal and business expenses. If you have a registered company and multiple employees, you may want to consider a business credit card that offers a larger credit limit, more additional cardholders and accounting features.
- Card features. If you'll use a credit card regularly and pay it off each month, you could reward your spending with a frequent flyer credit card. If you need a card to free up cash flow and plan to carry a balance from month to month, you could consider a card that charges a low interest rate.
- Eligibility requirements. Many credit cards require you to meet a minimum annual income to apply. You'll need to provide recent bank statements, tax returns and your accountant's information to demonstrate your income. Some banks will only consider self-employed applicants if they've been in business for more than a year. If you're unsure if you meet the criteria, get in contact with the card issuer before applying to check if you're eligible.
Do you need a business credit card as a sole trader?
Not always, although the answer does depend on how your business is set up and what you want to use the card for. Personal credit cards can be used to pay for common business expenses such as office supplies and equipment, travel costs and direct debit payments for bills, so some sole traders and small businesses do use them.
But business credit cards are specialised accounts and usually offer more features to help you keep track of expenses. For example, many business credit cards let you directly export transaction data to accounting software programs such as MYOB, Xero and BAS. This can simplify your tax reporting and save you (or your accountant) time on manually importing bank statements into your chosen software.
Most business credit cards also offer customisable statements and a wider range of download formats, including CSV and Excel. In comparison, personal credit cards typically provide PDF statements that you need to manually convert to any other format.
Some business credit cards also give you access to useful Internet banking tools that help you with budget tracking, spending analysis and forecasting.
If you're planning to set up premises or hire employees in the future, a business credit card could give you access to additional cards for employees, complimentary business inconvenience insurance and unauthorised transaction insurance (which is not available if you add an additional cardholder to a personal account).
Personal vs business credit card application requirements
Another major difference with business credit cards is in the eligibility requirements – and in some cases this may answer your question about which type of card to apply for.
While personal credit cards have basic requirements around age, residency status and income, business credit cards typically add the requirement of an active ABN (Australian Business Number). The amount of time your business has been operating is also a common requirement. For example, you may need to show that your business has been trading for at least 12 months. You'll also need to confirm that you plan to use the account primarily for business spending.
As well as these requirements, some business credit cards only accept applications if your business is registered for GST and meets an annual turnover above the GST threshold of $75,000.
Business spending and tracking tools
When it comes to choosing between a personal and a business credit card as a sole trader, it's also worth looking at the main expenses you'll be paying and what account features you want.
For example, if you're planning to use a credit card for payments to the ATO, a business credit card is more likely to earn you rewards. On the other hand, if a lot of your business expenses are processed overseas (or in a foreign currency), you could look at personal credit cards that offer 0% foreign transaction fees.
You should also consider your plans for the future. If you want to build your business into a full-time job, a business credit card is more likely to offer that offers additional cardholders and expense management tools could be useful for keeping track of spending, managing your budget and submitting expense reports.
On the other hand, if you're going to keep running the business as a sole trader, a personal card could be enough.
So you could compare a mix of both personal and business credit cards to find one you like. It's also worth talking to an accountant about these different options so you can choose a card that fits with your financial circumstances and plans for the future.
Compare credit cards available to self-employed applicants
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
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