Most major banks in Australia let you apply for a credit card when you are a temporary resident or a recent immigrant. But your options could vary depending on what type of visa you hold, your income and other individual details. You can use this guide to compare credit cards and learn more about applying when you're living in Australia as a temporary resident or immigrant.
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Which banks offer credit cards to temporary residents?
The credit cards available to temporary residents in Australia varies between banks. It also depends on the type of visa that you hold. For example, the conditions and requirements for people holding a 457 working visa may differ from those that apply to someone with a 417 or 462 visa.
This table looks at the different Australian banks that offer credit cards to temporary residents, eligibility requirements and any specific cards that you can apply for.
What are the eligibility requirements?
To be eligible for an American Express credit card, you must:
Have a Business Long Stay Visa (subclass 457)
Minimum income requirements vary between cards but start from AU $35,000
Other eligibility requirements may be outlined for individual cards
You can only apply for Citi credit cards if you are a permanent Australian resident or recent permanent resident (at least 12 months). Citi may assess credit card applications on a case-by-case basis, so you may want to call them to discuss your circumstances directly.
CommBank lets you apply for a credit card before you come to Australia, providing you meet the following requirements:
You have applied for a Commonwealth Bank transaction account
You have established full time permanent employment in Australia with a confirmed Australian income of more than $50,000 per annum
You have an eligible visa (457, Permanent Resident, temporary business visas) or hold an Australian/NZ passport
What are the eligibility requirements for getting a credit card as a temporary resident?
You can use the following list as a guide to the general conditions you should meet before applying for an Australian credit card as a temporary resident.
Age. You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card in Australia.
Employment. You should have employment in Australia or proof of upcoming employment in Australia at the time of your application. You may also have to supply details of your most recent previous employer. It is recommended that you get official, written confirmation of your employment contract, including details of your salary to verify your situation.
Income and assets. You must have a regular, Australian taxable income to apply for a credit card. Minimum income conditions also apply for some cards. You may also be required to have a specific amount of Australian dollars in an Australian bank account.
Passport. You will have to supply your passport number and/or a certified copy of your passport for the application.
Visa status. You must have a valid, eligible visa. Depending on the credit card issuer, you may need to have a minimum amount of time left on the visa to apply (for example, two years before the visa expiry date).
Australian address. You must have a residential address in Australia to apply for a credit card.
Australian bank account. You must have applied or opened an Australian bank account to get a credit card.
It’s important to remember that credit card eligibility requirements depend on the bank (or issuer) and the credit card you apply for. But being prepared with all of these details will help you speed up the application process.
Can I transfer my existing credit card to an Australian one?
This is sometimes possible, if your credit card is issued by a company that offers "moving abroad'" transfers, such as American Express. Its Global Card Relationship service allows you to seamlessly apply for an Amex card in your new country by logging in to your existing account. To do this in Australia, you would need to choose a new Amex card, log into your current account and then apply using your Australian address and contact details. Your account history may be used as part of the application, and the existing account will remain open unless you close it.
As another example, Citibank offers a range of support options for existing customers around the world if they are moving (or have recently moved) to Australia. This includes setting up a bank account for you, although you may still need to wait until you are in Australia before applying for a credit card.
What else do I need to know before I apply for a credit card in Australia?
Credit card issuers may consider individuals with no permanent ties to Australia as a risk for any type of credit product. So, make sure you consider the following when choosing a bank and credit card to apply for:
Unexplained denials. Australian credit card issuers that offer credit cards to temporary residents reserve the right to decline applications without giving you a reason.
Reference checks. You may be asked to supply names and contact information for Australian residents who can confirm the details you provide on your application. This could include the person who you rent your home from, your employer or any other individual that you have financial obligations with.
Utility bills. Your Australian payment history with utility companies (such as phone or electricity companies) may also be reviewed to check for late payments or defaults. If you want to qualify for a credit card in Australia as a temporary resident, you should ensure that you have excellent financial history while you are here.
Low credit limits. As a temporary resident, you may be granted a credit card with a lower credit limit than you would normally expect. If you use the card regularly and make your repayments on time, you may be able to apply for a credit limit increase at a later date.
The credit card application requirements that you must meet as a temporary resident differ between different banks and providers. So, it's a good idea to discuss your individual circumstances with your chosen provider before you apply for a card. Taking this step will give you the most accurate information possible and increase your chances of approval for your chosen card.
What about my credit history?
Credit card issuers in Australia only consider your Australian credit history. This means if you have an excellent credit rating overseas (or a bad credit rating), it won't impact on your application for a credit card in Australia.
However, as a temporary resident you may not have many details on your Australian credit file, so it's important to make sure all the additional information you provide is as accurate as possible to help improve your changes of approval.
Establishing credit history as a recent immigrant in Australia
When you arrive in Australia, you will have to establish Australian credit history by opening and maintaining credit-based accounts. Some of the most common options include:
Loans. This includes personal loans, car loans and home loans.
Credit cards. This includes both credit cards and charge cards (of which there are only a few in Australia).
It's also important to open an Australian bank account once you are settled in Australia. While the details of your account will only be available to your Australian bank, you may be able to provide statements to other lenders to show that you are managing your money responsibly. If you decide to apply for a credit card with the same institution that you bank with, your transactoin account details could also help improve your chances of approval.
Advantages and disadvantages of getting a credit card as a temporary resident
Build your credit. If you plan to become a permanent resident, getting a credit card as a temporary resident will help you build your Australian credit history.
Flexible payments. An Australian credit card will allow you to make purchases in local stores using credit, which you can then pay off in full or over time.
Increased borrowing power. It may be easier to get approval for personal loans, including car loans, if you already have a credit card issued by an Australian bank.
Other types of credit. Once you have an Australian credit card, it could be easier to enter into other financial contracts, such as a mobile phone plan, or utilities for your residence.
Limited availability. Not all financial institutions offer credit cards to temporary residents, and those that do may not offer all of their products to you.
High rates and fees. To compensate for your residency status, you may find that you have to pay higher rates or fees for the privilege of having a credit card.
Income requirements. With no credit file to refer to, many banks have strict income requirements to help offset the risk of lending to you.
Credit history. If your application for an Australian credit card is declined, it may negatively affect your credit history here.
When you're looking at getting a credit card as a recent immigrant or temporary resident in Australia, remember that the application requirements and eligibility could be different to what's listed for permanent residents and Australian citizens. Make sure you compare cards based on their features and fees so that you can find one that suits your budget and needs while you're living in Australia.
Frequently asked questions
Banks look at the length of time remaining on the visa to ensure that you will be in Australia long enough to repay any debt accrued on the credit card.
No. Balance transfer offers are only valid on balances held by another Australian financial institution.
Collections proceedings will begin against you and will remain in place if you ever decide to return to Australia.
It depends on the circumstances. The Department of Immigration will be able to provide you with more information about your previous credit history in Australia in relation to your application. Remember that credit card debt will also affect any applications of enquiries for other credit products that you make in the future.
You might like to get in touch with the credit card issuer directly to discuss your eligibility, financial history, income and ability to repay to discuss your chances of approval before applying for the card. Please note that rejected applications will have a further negative impact on your account, so it’s wise to discuss your options or work on improving your score before you apply for a new card.
There are a few providers that offer credit cards to temporary residents, each with their own specific requirements and considerations. If you want to apply and can’t see details of your visa listed here, you can contact a provider directly to find out more based on your circumstances.
There are limited options if you're interested in a secured credit card in Australia. The most common alternative is to get a prepaid card that allows you to pre-load your own money onto it and then use it for your spending. However, this type of card does not provide you with extra funds the way a credit card does. It also won't add to your credit history in Australia.
Amy Bradney-George is the acting editor for Finder X and a senior writer for credit cards and Finder Green. She has more than 13 years' experience as a journalist and writer, with bylines in publications including The Equity Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News and produce industry website FreshPlaza. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Drama from Griffith University, and when she’s not putting (virtual) pen to paper, she spends her time as an actress.
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