Credit card application tips

12 tips to improve your chances of approval when applying for a new credit card.

While applying for a credit card doesn't have to be complicated, it can come with certain risks. 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 demonstrate that you're a low-risk applicant that has the ability to repay the money you borrow. 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 for 12 tips 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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What to do before you apply for a new credit card

In reality, the pre-application process is considerably more important than the act of applying itself. While it may take only 15 minutes to fill out the 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.

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 available on the credit card market. Before you begin your search, spend some time considering what you want, need and can afford with your next credit card. For example, if you're a regular spender who regularly repays their balance, a frequent flyer credit card might reward you for your spending. 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.

Tip #3: Compare your options

Once you've decided what type of card you want, it's time to begin comparing your options. Use the reviews on finder.com.au and the card's product disclosure statements to compare the rates, fees, charges, interest calculation and interest-free periods that apply to each card. If you're looking for some extra benefits from your card, you might also want to compare whether the product has a rewards program, complimentary insurances or additional cardholders. 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:

  • 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, but also to you at any time. You should request a free copy of your credit history before applying, so you can correct any possible errors on it and see exactly what the bank will be seeing when they assess your application. If the report is less than ideal, it may be wise to delay your application and spend some time improving your credit score to increase your chances of future card approval.
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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 reduce the likelihood of a successful application. To calculate your ratio, divide the total current balances on your cards by their total limits, e.g. 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’re an existing customer and the bank has already verified that you are a legitimate customer. 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 will usually already be pre-populated on the forms. As long as they meet the eligibility requirements, existing customers can sometimes get approved quicker than other applicants without the hassle of providing further documentation.

Applying for a credit card

Once you've done some research, ensured you've met the eligibility requirements and selected a card, you can apply for your chosen credit card. While filling out your application, make sure to keep the following tips in mind:

Tip #8: Be careful with the details

You'll be asked to provide a lot of information during your 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 omit 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 could decline your application.

Tip #9: Organise the required documentsgirlprepsdocuemnts

As well as eligibility requirements, you'll be required to provide a number of documents with your application. Supporting documents you'll typically be asked for include your passport, 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

Mistakes to avoid when applying for a credit card

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 a second 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 leaves a new mark on your credit file for five years. If you apply for many cards at once or during the same period, it would appear to every subsequent lender 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, Citibank states in its terms and conditions that your application may not be approved if you’ve applied for and been accepted for another Citibank 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 reduce your chances of approval. As long as you follow the above tips, you should have no trouble applying for your next credit card.

Pictures: Shutterstock.

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14 Responses to Credit card application tips

  1. Default Gravatar
    Selva | April 26, 2016

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

    • Staff
      May | April 26, 2016

      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

  2. Default Gravatar
    CorTan | February 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
      Sally | February 10, 2016

      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

  3. Default Gravatar
    VISHAL | December 21, 2015

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

    • Staff
      Sally | December 22, 2015

      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

  4. Default Gravatar
    Sharon | November 10, 2015

    how is my credit card application progressing

    • Staff
      Sharon | November 10, 2015

      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

  5. Default Gravatar
    Barb | September 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
      Shirley | September 23, 2014

      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

  6. Default Gravatar
    Ernest | June 11, 2013

    How is my application progressing?

    • Staff
      Jacob | June 11, 2013

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

  7. Default Gravatar
    Sonam | May 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
      Jacob | May 6, 2013

      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.

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Rates last updated December 4th, 2016
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Enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer offer for 18 months and also earn 2 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on everyday spend.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
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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
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
The NAB Low Rate Card offers 0% p.a. on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. This card also comes with a low annual fee.
0% p.a. for 15 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 15 months with a one off 3% balance transfer fee $59 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.
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* 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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