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How to get a credit card

Apply for a credit card in 3 simple steps: Compare your options, check the eligibility criteria and complete the application form online.

Ready for a new credit card, or even your first one? It's simpler than you might think. In Australia, you can apply for a credit card if you're 18, have a good credit history and meet the card's eligibility criteria.

How to apply for a credit card in 3 steps

You can usually complete an online credit card application form in 10 to 20 minutes and get a response within 60 seconds of submitting it. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you get there.

1. Compare your options

The first step is deciding what's most important to you. Is it a low interest rate or bonus frequent flyer points? Knowing exactly what you need makes it easier for you to find the right card.

If you're comparing credit cards on Finder, use the tables to view features and fees side-by-side. There are also reviews of individual cards if you want more detailed information.

2. Check the card's eligibility requirements

Each credit card has its own requirements, also known as eligibility criteria. You'll find these details on the card's review page and at the start of the online application.

Common credit card eligibility requirements

  • 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 need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. If you're a temporary resident, you 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 $80,000 or more.
  • Credit history. Credit card companies will request a credit check when you submit your application. Ideally, you should have good credit history when applying. Otherwise, you may want to focus on improving your credit rating first.

3. Complete the application

This part usually takes around 10 to 20 minutes online.

You can save some time by having the details and documents you need ready to submit. So, here's a checklist of what you typically 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 need to provide a valid form of ID, such as your driver's licence, passport or Medicare card details. 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 be asked to provide recent payslips to verify your income.
  • Other financial details. This includes any other types of income, such as Centrelink payments, as well as any savings, shares or other assets. You 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 any balance transfer (if you're moving debt from an existing account). Keep in mind these details and requests are still subject to the provider's lending criteria and approval.

You may also 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

Wondering if you'll get approved?

Only 9% of Australians say they've been rejected for a credit card, according to our consumer sentiment tracker (November data). 80% of Australians say they've never been rejected for any products at all.

What happens after you apply?

After completing the online credit card application form, check that all the information is accurate and submit the application.

Most credit card providers offer a response within 60 seconds of applying. This includes online applications with ANZ, CommBank, NAB and Westpac. There are typically 3 potential outcomes: approved, conditionally approved or declined. The bank may ask for more information before making its final decision.

If you're approved, you can usually expect your new credit card to arrive in the mail within a week or so.

If you're not approved, wait a few months before applying again and work on improving your credit score during this time.

Either way, a credit enquiry will be recorded on your credit file once you've applied.

What to think about when applying for your first credit card

Ask yourself these 3 questions to help you find a credit card that works for you:

  • How much do you earn? Banks and other credit card brands look at your income as part of the application process. If you're applying for your first credit card and don't have much credit history, they could place more weight on your income when deciding to approve or decline your application. If you're worried about this, you could compare credit cards with low minimum income requirements.
  • How much can you afford to pay for a credit card? Credit card annual fees and interest rate charges can quickly add up – especially when you're not used to having one. So it can help to look at cards with interest rates and fees that are affordable based on your income and spending habits.
  • Are you a student? If you're studying full-time, you may be able to get a credit card that's designed for students. Student credit cards usually have low credit limits and low or no annual fees to help you manage the costs (and reduce the risk of serious debt).

Finder survey: Have Australians ever used a comparison website to compare credit cards?

Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

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 and frequent flyer credit cards.

But make sure the card you apply for is affordable for you. If you're unsure, you can call the credit card provider to talk about your circumstances before applying, so you can decide if the card is worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Amy Bradney-George's headshot

Amy Bradney-George was the senior writer for credit cards at Finder, and editorial lead for Finder Green. She has over 16 years of editorial experience and has been featured in publications including ABC News, Money Magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald. See full bio

Amy's expertise
Amy has written 596 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Credit cards
  • Frequent flyer
  • Credit score
  • BNPL
  • Money management
  • Sustainability

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12 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    NateMarch 7, 2024

    Hi need a credit card preferably low Rate. My Situation I’m on a DSP my annual income is under 30K. I only have a Photo ID and Medicare Card as proof of identification.

      SarahMay 30, 2024Finder

      Hi Nate,

      You may be eligible, depending on your situation. You can review a few low or no-fee cards here.

      You may also be eligible for an interest-free small loan from Good Shepherd. Find out if you’re eligible and start your NILs application by contacting Good Shepherd on 13 64 57 or visit their website.

      Hope this helps!

    Default Gravatar
    SidneyMarch 19, 2023

    My application for a CC with Westpac was rejected even though my credit score is between 700 and 1000, depending on which company I use to find it.

    I don’t have bad credit, but I also don’t have any good credit which I suspect is their reasoning.

    I’m at a loss as to how to get credit so that I can get a CC.

    I feel like I’m in a catch -22.

      AmyMarch 22, 2023Finder

      Hi Sidney,

      When you apply for a credit card, the lender will look at many different factors. This includes your credit score, income, expenses and Australian residency status. The credit card’s minimum limit can also have an impact. Finder’s guide on applying for a credit card has more details on the process. You could also consider calling the bank before applying to discuss the eligibility requirements. I hope that helps.

    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.


      JacobJuly 9, 2013Finder

      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.

    Default Gravatar
    SusanJune 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

      JacobJune 5, 2013Finder

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your question.

      Applying for a credit card as a temporary resident may vary depending on what type of visa you hold, your income, and other individual details. You can use this guide to compare credit cards for temporary residents. You can press the “Go to Site” button of your preferred credit card to proceed with your application. You can also contact the provider if you have specific questions. A gentle reminder, please ensure to read through the relevant product disclosure statement and terms and conditions to ensure that you got everything covered before you apply.

      I hope this helps.


    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?

      JacobMay 7, 2013Finder

      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.

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