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Credit card application tips

Applying for a credit card? Here are 12 tips to increase your chances of approval.

While applying for a new credit card only takes a few minutes online, it does come with certain risks – including a declined application and a listing on your credit file. While making sure you meet the eligibility requirements is crucial, there are some other ways to improve your chances of approval when applying for a new credit card.

Use this guide's 12 tips to increase your chances of getting approved for a credit card, including what to do before you apply and submit your application, plus the mistakes to avoid when requesting a new credit card.

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How to prepare before you apply for a credit card

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What you do before you apply for a credit card is actually more important than the act of filling out the application. This is because after you've applied for a card, the credit card issuer will look at your income, credit history and the documents you've provided in your application to determine whether you're a high- or low-risk applicant. Essentially, they're looking for signs that you have the ability to repay the money you borrow.

So while it may take only 15 minutes to complete the online form, getting your affairs in order so that you’re ready for the bank’s assessment of your application will take a bit more time and preparation. Check out these tips to get started.

Tip #1. Take your time

It’s never a good idea to rush into things and it is your right as a consumer to assess the bank before it assesses you. Don’t jump at the first credit card deal you see because that’s usually not going to be the right one for you. Instead, spend some time comparing your credit card options and doing your research so you can find a card that suits your financial needs.

youngpersoncreditcardTip #2. Know your needs

There are many types of credit cards that suit different types of cardholders. Before you begin your search, think about what you want, need and can afford with your next credit card. For example, if you're studying and this the first credit card you're applying for, you might want to apply for a student credit card or a low-income credit card to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. On the other hand, if you also want to keep your interest costs down, then you might decide to apply for a low rate credit card.

Even if you already use a credit card, it's worth taking this time to reconsider your goals. For example, if you're a regular spender who regularly repays their balance, you could get rewarded for your spending with a frequent flyer credit card. If you have some big ticket items in mind but want to keep your interest costs low, a 0% purchase rate credit card could come in handy. Otherwise, if you're struggling to repay an existing debt, a balance transfer credit card with a 0% promotional offer could help you get your finances in control. Whatever the case, getting specific about the type of card you want will help you find one that fits with your circumstances.

Tip #3: Compare your options

Once you've decided what type of card you want, it's time to begin comparing your options. You can use the reviews and tables on finder.com.au to compare the following features so that you understand the costs and benefits associated with each card.

What do I need to compare?
  • Interest rates on purchases, cash advances and balance transfer
  • Annual fees
  • Interest-free periods
  • Rewards programs including the partnered program, earn rates and how you can earn and redeem points
  • Complimentary insurances including travel insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty cover
  • Additional cardholders and whether they come with an additional fee
  • Extra benefits such as concierge services and airline lounge passes that'll help you offset the costs of the card

Comparing your credit card options will help you narrow down your search and will ensure that you're selecting your next card based on an informed decision.

Tip #4: Check the eligibility requirements

You'll need to meet a set of eligibility requirements to be approved for any credit card you apply for. Make sure you confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria before you submit your application, as rejected credit card applications can have a negative impact on your credit score. In the Australian credit card market, the eligibility requirements usually include:

Credit card eligibility requirements

  • Age. Cardholders must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Minimum income. You'll need to meet a minimum annual income to apply, which can start at $15,000 p.a. for low-income credit cards and go up to $100,000 p.a. and beyond for higher income products.
  • Residential status. Credit card issuers usually require you to be a permanent Australian resident or hold a specific visa to apply for a credit card.
  • Good credit history. You'll need to have a good credit history with no defaults or evidence of bankruptcy to receive approval. See this guide for five ways to improve your credit rating.

There are specific eligibility requirements for every credit card, so make sure you know what these are and are confident you have met them before applying.

Tip #5: Check and improve your credit rating

Banks typically use a credit rating system when assessing your eligibility for the card and card limit in question. Based on your credit history, repayment habits and current credit lines, the lender will work out how much you can safely borrow. This information is available to lenders whenever you apply for any form of credit.

Your credit report is also available to you at any time. If you request a free copy of your credit history before you apply for a credit card, you'll be able to correct any possible errors on it and know exactly what the bank will see when they assess your application. If your credit report is less than ideal, it may be wise to delay your credit card application and spend some time improving your credit score to increase your chances of future card approval.
Get Your Free Credit Score

Tip #6: Lower your credit utilisation ratio

If you already have a credit card balance, it’s wise to pay off your existing balances before submitting a new credit card application. This is because having a high debt utilisation ratio is a poor indication of credit-worthiness and reduces the likelihood of a successful application. To calculate your ratio, divide the total current balances on your cards by their total limits.

How to lower your utilisation ratio

For example, if the limits on your three cards are $5,000 each, and you have $4,000 balance on each of them, your ratio is $12,000/$15,000 = 80%. A healthy ratio is typically 30% or less. If you're struggling to repay your debts because of high-interest rates, consider consolidating your debt with a 0% balance transfer credit card.

Tip #7: Bank with your credit card provider-to-be

Opening a savings account or debit account with the bank you're applying with could help with the application process. Firstly, it will significantly speed up your application, because you’ll become an existing customer. This means the bank will have already verified that you are a legitimate customer before you apply for a credit card.

Secondly, if you have a transaction or savings account with them where your salary is deposited monthly, it proves that you have a paying job and a regular income stream. If you apply online and do it via internet banking, your application becomes even faster because your details could be pre-populated on the forms. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, being an existing customer can sometimes mean you get approved for a credit card more quickly than other applicants – without the hassle of providing further documentation.

What to remember during the credit card application process

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Once you've done some research, found a credit card you like and checked that you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for your chosen credit card. When you're filling out your application, make sure you keep the following tips in mind:

Tip #8: Check your details

You'll be asked to provide a lot of information during your credit card application including addresses, contact numbers, referee details, current and previous employment, salary, outstanding debts and monthly expenses (just to name a few). While it might seem like a lot of information, it's important to fill it out correctly and read over it before submitting the application. Mistakes on your application could slow down the process or result in a declined application. For instance, if you don't include details of an outstanding balance and the bank later finds it on your credit file, they could think you're trying to hide the debt from them and decline your application.

Tip #9: Organise the required documentsccf-application-tips-250x250

As well as eligibility requirements, you'll be required to provide a number of documents with your credit card application. Supporting documents you'll typically be asked for include your driver's licence, proof of residential status, recent payslips and tax return. Make sure you confirm what you need to provide before you start the application to ensure a swift and successful application.

Tip #10: State your actual income

This is no time to be modest or to exaggerate your income. Deflating your income may sabotage your application by reducing the bank’s opinion of your ability to finance a debt. So if you have multiple sources of income (such as from part-time employment, freelance jobs or government payments), make sure to include these details. Fabricating or inflating your income, on the other hand, is considered fraud and punishable by law.

How to apply for a credit card when you’re self-employed

Compare and apply for a low rate credit card

Rates last updated November 20th, 2017
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Interest Free Period Annual fee Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
12.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 24 months
Platinum card benefits plus 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee) and $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Westpac Low Rate Card - Online Only Balance Transfer Offer
13.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee when you apply online by 31 January 2018.
St.George Vertigo Visa - Online Offer
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 18 months
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee). Plus, $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$79 p.a.
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive 0% interest offers on purchases & balance transfers, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and free emergency card replacement.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$49 p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
Receive a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
bcu Classic Credit Card
11.80% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$45 p.a.
Enjoy a competitive interest rate of 11.8% p.a. on purchases, plus up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, extended warranty cover and 0% foreign transaction fees.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa Credit Card
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$55 p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and the protection of Verified by Visa online purchases.
NAB Low Rate Platinum Card
0% p.a. for 9 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$100 p.a.
4.99% p.a. for 6 months
A platinum card that offers 0% p.a. for 9 months on purchases. Plus 4.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$58 p.a.
With a low minimum credit limit of $1,000, this no frills card allows you to add up to 3 additional cardholders for $0 and has Mastercard PayPass.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
12.74% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Get a range of complimentary insurance covers, access to a 24/7 concierge and the convenience of Visa payWave contactless technology.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
Up to 44 days on purchases
$129 p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Until 30 November 2017, save with 0% p.a. on purchases for 12 months. Plus, up to 0.66 Velocity Points per $1 spent.
American Express Essential Credit Card
14.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with your Essential Credit Card.
ANZ Low Rate Platinum
11.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
Get $250 back to your new ANZ Low Rate Platinum when you spend $500 on eligible purchases within the first 60 days from card approval.
CUA Low Rate Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
0% p.a. for 13 months
Offer a low minimum credit limit of $500, the ability to use Apple Pay and Android Pay and a discounted annual fee for the first year.
Greater Bank Visa Credit Card
11.95% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$40 p.a.
Same low 11.95% p.a. interest rate on purchases and cash advances, plus, up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
4.99% p.a. for 6 months
This card offers a low introductory rate of 0% p.a. for 6 months on purchases. Plus 4.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months.
BankSA Vertigo Visa
13.24% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$55 p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
A no-frills Visa with the protection of a zero liability policy and a 24/7 fraud monitoring service.
Australian Military Bank Low Rate Visa Credit Card
10.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$49 p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
Enjoy up to 55 interest-free days on purchases, add an additional cardholder for $0 and enjoy the convenience of Visa payWave.
Bankwest Low Rate Business Mastercard
0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 11.99% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
Offers an introductory 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases for 12 months. Plus, add up to 3 additional cardholders for $0.
Westpac Lite Card
9.90% p.a.
Up to 45 days on purchases
$108 p.a.
Keep credit card costs low with a maximum credit limit of $4,000 and no foreign transaction fees.
bcu Rewards credit card
12.80% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$89 p.a.
Enjoy a low ongoing purchase rate, get 0.66% cashback for every dollar spent, plus take advantage of up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.

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Mistakes to avoid when applying for a credit card

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Aside from the tips to follow before and during your application, the following are common mistakes to avoid if you want to increase your chances of approval.

Tip #11: Don’t apply for multiple cards at once or within a short period

You may be tempted to apply for more than one credit card just in case your first one doesn’t get approved, but don’t. Each credit enquiry that a lender makes about your credit history is listed on your credit file for five years. If you apply for a lot of credit cards at once or within a few months, it could appear to lenders that you have a lot of debt, even if that isn’t true. This could leave you in a vicious cycle of applying for credit cards and not having them approved.

In fact, some banks will automatically reject your application if you’ve recently applied for a credit card. For example, Citi states in its terms and conditions that your application may not be approved if you’ve applied for and been accepted for another Citi offer in the prior nine months. Be aware that this may be the case for other lenders too.

Tip #12: Don’t apply for balance transfers between cards funded by the same bank

Note that you can only transfer the balance of a card that isn’t funded by the same bank as your new card. This can be tricky because it’s not always clear which bank funds what credit card. To ensure you know which banks you can transfer between, see our detailed guide.

Applying for a credit card is a relatively simple process and can take as little as 15 minutes. However, if you don't do your research beforehand, ensure you meet the eligibility requirements and prepare the necessary documents, you'll likely reduce your chances of approval.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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Qantas Premier Platinum
Qantas Premier Platinum

Interest rate

19.99

Annual fee

299
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer

Interest rate

12.74

Annual fee

99

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20 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DaneAugust 25, 2017

    Hi
    Is it best for me to change my license over to the state I have moved to before applying for a credit card?
    Thanks

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanAugust 26, 2017

      Hello Dane,

      Thank you for your question.

      It is not necessary for you to change your license. Most (if not all) creditors would weigh more the authenticity and correctness of your identification and the other documents.

      Please take note that there are credit card companies that may request a proof of your residence. If this happens, you only need to provide them an updated paperwork for verification. Don’t forget to talk to your issuer if you need to move out in the future.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    HayleyTJuly 1, 2017

    Hi, I have just accepted an international teaching position for 2 years and leave Perth in August. Is there any chance that an Australian bank would give me a credit card based on my foreign employment contract for the 2 year period Aug 17-Aug 19? Obviously, it would be more difficult to obtain a credit card from a foreign bank in the country I’m moving to, so just wondering what my chances are here before I leave Australia?
    Thanks.

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 1, 2017

      Hi Hayley!

      You can check our full guide on this page. :)

      Most of the card issuers would require your passport, visa, proof of employment with at least 6 months remaining, and pay stub.

      Kindly ensure you meet minimum eligibility requirements. You may click “Go to Site” green button of your chosen card to proceed with your application.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    • Default Gravatar
      HayleyTJuly 1, 2017

      Hi Jonathon, thanks for your reply. My original post wasn’t very clear…

      I am an Australian – born here and lived here all my life. I have accepted a teaching position in China for 2 years, so will be moving there in August. I was trying to find out if any of our Australian banks would even consider giving me a credit card, knowing that I’ll be out of the country for 2 years and working for a foreign company.

      Thanks

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 1, 2017

      Hi Hayley!

      Thanks for getting back on us and clarifying your inquiry. We do appreciate that! :)

      You may visit this page. This is our guide and list of card issuers that may approve you for your plans to use this card overseas.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  3. Default Gravatar
    SelvaApril 26, 2016

    I recently applied for ANZ credit card, what is the status on my credit car application?

    • Staff
      MayApril 26, 2016Staff

      Hi Selva,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Please note that you have come through to finder.com.au we are a financial comparison website and general information service and we do not represent any credit card company like ANZ.

      As we don’t have access to your application, I’m afraid you may need to get in contact with ANZ directly to follow-up your application. For your convenience, I’ve forwarded to your email the phone number of ANZ.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      May

  4. Default Gravatar
    CorTanFebruary 9, 2016

    I recently applied Citibank signature and got rejected. It is not related to the credit rating though. And they just simply said have not met our credit criteria. Would like to apply for another card with different provider. Is it safe to apply or should I wait? How many is too many in a specific period of time?

    • Staff
      SallyFebruary 10, 2016Staff

      Hi CorTan,

      Thanks for your question and we’re sorry to hear about your rejected application.

      You may not have met the eligibility requirements (such as income, credit score, provided necessary documents) when applying.

      No, it’s not a good idea to apply for another credit card straight away as applying for multiple credit cards within a short period can reflect badly on your credit score and decrease your chances of approval in the future.

      You should wait a few months before applying for another card. In the mean time, you can start comparing other credit cards and making a shortlist of cards you’re eligible for. Make sure to read all of the relevant product disclosure statements and contact the providers to discuss your chances of approval before applying.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  5. Default Gravatar
    VISHALDecember 21, 2015

    This is my ref no plz check the status and get back to me

    • Staff
      SallyDecember 22, 2015Staff

      Hi Vishal,

      Please note that you have come through to finder.com.au, not a provider. As such, we’re unable to check the status of your application. You’ll need to contact your provider to confirm this information. If you can confirm the provider you’ve applied with, we may be able to guide you in the right direction.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  6. Default Gravatar
    SharonNovember 10, 2015

    how is my credit card application progressing

    • Staff
      SharonNovember 10, 2015Staff

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that you’ve come through finder.com.au, an online comparison service and is not directly affiliated with any bank.

      Please see this page for information on how to check on your credit card application.

      I hope this has helped.

      Sharon

  7. Default Gravatar
    BarbSeptember 22, 2014

    I got conditional aaproval for a coles mastercard, is this approved? I have sent through the paperwork they asked for. Just looking for clarification.

    • Staff
      ShirleySeptember 23, 2014Staff

      Hi Barb,

      Generally if you have been conditionally approved, and the documentation you’ve sent in supports everything you’ve stated in your application, then your application should go through.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  8. Default Gravatar
    ErnestJune 11, 2013

    How is my application progressing?

    • Staff
      JacobJune 11, 2013Staff

      Hi Ernest. Thanks for your question. Please see this page for information on how to check on your credit card application. Jacob.

  9. Default Gravatar
    SonamMay 5, 2013

    My salary is $200,000 p.a. I want to buy a credit card with limit of $15,000 to $20,000. Is it possible?

    • Staff
      JacobMay 6, 2013Staff

      Hi Sonam. Thanks for your question. A credit limit is assigned based on the information you provide during the application. You can elect for a certain credit limit when you apply for a card, but the final say will rest with the lender. Let us know if you have any more questions. Jacob.

Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated November 20th, 2017
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
12.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers complimentary travel insurance, complimentary purchase insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
Qantas Premier Platinum
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 15 months
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Fly faster with up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent, receive 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations, plus, included travel insurance.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 14 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you apply by 31 January 2018 and make an eligible purchase by 28 February 2018.
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 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.

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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