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Credit cards for self-employed people

Working as a sole trader, contractor or business owner? Here's what credit cards you can get and tips for applying when you’re self-employed.

If you’re self-employed or a contractor, you can still apply for most credit cards as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

You usually need to include some extra details and documents, such as your Tax Assessment Notices from the ATO (Australian Taxation Office), your accountant's contact details or a copy of your work contract. This helps the credit card provider confirm your income and work situation as part of the application process.

Which credit cards can I apply for when I'm self-employed?

Usually, you'll be able to apply for a mix of personal and business credit cards. But it depends on the credit card provider and how your business is set up.

Table: Credit card provider details for self-employed applicants

Here, you'll find details of what different providers will ask for when you're applying as someone who is self-employed (whether that's as a sole trader, business owner or partner).

ProviderThe documents you’ll need
American ExpressYour accountant’s details are required.
ANZYour most recent personal tax return and ATO Notice of Assessment (it must be less than 22.5 months old).
Bank AustraliaProvide your most recent tax return (both personal & business) along with the corresponding ATO official notice of assessments.
BankwestTwo 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 MelbourneYou will need to provide:

  • Proof that you've been in business for at least 18 months
  • Last two months' business bank statements
  • Notice of Assessment for the previous financial year
BankSAYou will need to provide:

  • Proof that you've been in business for at least 18 months
  • Last two months' business bank statements
  • Notice of Assessment for the previous financial year
Bank of QueenslandYou’ll need to supply any one of the following options:

  • Two most recent individual/company tax returns
  • Two most recent business/company profit and loss statements
Bendigo BankYou'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.
CitiOne of the following options are required:

  • Two most recent income tax returns
  • Two most recent Tax Assessment Notices
  • Two most recent business/company tax returns
  • Two most recent business/company profit & loss statements
ColesYou'll need to provide two most recent Notices of Assessment. If you haven’t got that, then you’ll need to provide a tax return that shows your individual taxable income both audited and prepared by your accountant. Otherwise, you may call 1300 265 727 for further options
Commonwealth BankYou must provide information of at least 12 months of your income.
Latitude Financial ServicesNotice 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 accountant. 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.
HSBCYou’ll be required to provide your most recent individual Notice of Assessment and HSBC may ask for further documentation if required.
ME BankYou will need to provide:

  • Two most recent individual/business tax returns
  • Last Notice of Assessment
NAB
  • An ATO Notice of Assessment (NOA) that's dated within the last 24 months
  • Two most recent financial statements (e.g. taxation returns)

Make sure all documents show both your full name and your agency/ institutions name & ABN.

St.GeorgeYou must provide a recent tax information and a Notice of Assessment. If you’ve been self-employed for less than a year, you won’t be able to apply.
SuncorpIf 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 MoneyAs Virgin Money credit cards are issued by Citi, they follow the same rules as the bank.

  • Two most recent individual or business/company tax returns
  • Two most recent business profit and loss statements.
WestpacMost recent Notice of Assessment that must be less than 18 months old and last 2 months of business bank statements.

Working as a contractor or sub-contractor?

Banks and credit card providers typically view contractors and sub-contractors as self-employed. As a general guide, aim to provide 2 years of financial information from the ATO or prepared by your accountant. And if you have questions about an application, call the credit card provider so they can talk to you about your situation.

What to think about before applying for a credit card when you're self-employed

If you want to apply for a credit card as a sole trader or someone earning money through an ABN, these factors can help you improve your chances of getting approved.

Credit history

When you apply for a credit card, the bank or credit provider will check your credit history and credit score. This is the case whether you're self-employed or work for an employer and apply for credit in your own name (it can be different for business credit cards that offers joint and several liability).

So, finding out what's listed on your credit file will help you make sure it is accurate. It's also free to get a copy of your credit file and can give you an idea of the types of credit cards you'd be eligible for when you apply.

Tip: If you get your free credit report and credit score through Finder, you can use it to see your chance of approval for credit cards before you apply. Finder's credit score guide has the full details.

Eligibility requirements

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.

Some credit cards also list a minimum income requirement that you need to meet before you can apply. Even if that's not listed, you should aim to include as much information as possible on the application. If you're unsure if you meet the criteria, get in contact with the card issuer before applying to check if you're eligible.

Personal and business credit cards

If you're a sole trader or fall under the self-employed umbrella, you could choose between a business credit card or a personal card. It depends on how your business is set up and what you want to use the card for.

  • If you're planning to use the credit card for everyday spending in and out of business, it makes sense to get a personal credit card. A personal credit card may also be suitable if your business is new, if you don't have an ABN yet or if you're a sole trader with no employees.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 for business spending or a mix of personal and business spending.
  • If you only want the card for business spending, have an ABN, registered company or plan to hire employees, a business credit card is another option.These cards can give you access to additional cards for employees, data feeds for accounting software programs such as MYOB, Xero and BAS and other business-focused features. They can also be set up with business liability if you want to keep your accounting completely separate.

Credit card features

What are the main features you want on your credit card? Asking this question will help you narrow down your search.

For example, 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.

Tip: If you want to earn points for payments to the ATO, there are more business credit cards that offer rewards for this type of payment.

Key details to keep in mind

  • Banks and other credit card issuers need to meet the government's strict lending requirements, so details including your sources of income and regular expenses must be factored in when you apply for a credit card.
  • If you're earning income through an ABN, you can 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.

Finder survey: How many Australians mix personal and business spending on their credit card?

Response
No38.17%
I don't make business-related purchases31.62%
Yes16.59%
I don't have a credit card13.62%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1145 Australians, December 2023

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

  1. Check the card's eligibility requirements. This includes any income requirement, Australian residency requirements and your credit history (which you can also check at this stage). If you need to have an ABN to apply, the details will also be here.
  2. Get your documents and details ready. Many providers list what documents they need, including when you're self-employed. As a general guide, aim to have your most recent ATO Tax Assessment Notices, any Business Activity Statements and other proof of income, such as documents or letters from your accountant. You also need to include a valid form of ID, such as your driver's licence or passport.
  3. Fill in the application. Usually, this includes a mix of basic personal information and financial details.
  4. Wait for an outcome. You'll typically get a response within 60 seconds with details of whether your application has been approved, declined or if more details are needed. As self-employed people often need to provide more details, keep an eye out for details about how to upload or submit supporting documents.

Personal vs business credit card application requirements

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.

Have a question about your credit card application? Just call the bank or credit provider to talk about your situation.

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JarradAugust 29, 2023

    I have just started as a contractor to a finance broking business so only generated approx $15k in commissions so far. I’m after a card i can get to put my business expenses like software subscriptions etc through? What can i apply for given i dont have 12 mths ABN yet etc?

      AvatarFinder
      AmySeptember 4, 2023Finder

      Hi Jarrad,

      Unfortunately, it’s typically more difficult for people to get approved for a credit card when they have recently started new employment (including contractor work). It would be ideal to wait a bit longer to build up payment history, but it is possible that providing enough supporting documentation (such as ATO tax assessment notices for the past few years) would be sufficient if you met the eligibility requirements for a card.

      With less than 12 months of details for our ABN, you may want to consider a personal credit card with a low income requirement. Another option is to consider an expense management card which is designed to help businesses manage their costs – some offer a line of credit that may be suitable. I hope this helps.

    Default Gravatar
    CamilleApril 23, 2017

    I just wanted to ask, what if im a self employed i have a business buy it does not registered to the b.i.r and i don’t have any bank account. . My business earn 45,000 monthly. . Am i still eligible to apply for a credit card ? Thanks in advance

      AvatarFinder
      DeeApril 24, 2017Finder

      Hi Camille,

      Thanks for your question.

      Kindly note that our guide above is applicable only to credit cards that are available to Australian residents.

      The credit card brands in your country might have a different set of eligibility criteria when it comes to accepting credit card applications from self-employed. Generally, when you apply for a credit card, you’ll be required to show proof of your income, which could include a bank statement or income tax return.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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