Credit Union Credit Cards

A credit union credit card can give you the same perks you'd expect from a bank – with profits going back to members and the community.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

Name Product Purchase rate Balance transfer rate Annual fee
Great Southern Bank Low Rate Credit Card
11.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 25 months
$0 annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of a 0% p.a. balance transfer rate for 25 months, $0 first year annual fee, and a low variable 11.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
Great Southern Bank Platinum Credit Card
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 25 months
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Get 1 Great Southern Bank Platinum Rewards point per $1, complimentary travel insurance, a $0 first year annual fee and a 25-month balance transfer offer.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

What's the difference between a credit union and a bank?

Credit unions offer pretty much the same products and services to conventional banks, including transaction accounts, home loans and credit cards.

But while standard banks are owned by shareholders and focus on generating profits, credit unions are often run by members and focus on providing benefits to customers. This means the profits made by credit unions are usually passed on in the form of more competitive rates and fees.

What kind of credit union credit cards are available?

Credit union credit cards often focus on providing potential savings and ongoing value for members. As a result, the credit cards available tend to have lower ongoing interest rates and annual fees than those provided by larger financial institutions. They may also come with extras such as rewards programs or complimentary travel insurance and other perks.

To get a credit union credit card, you need to become a member of the credit union, which usually involves a fee of around $5 to $10. You may also need to open an everyday transaction account before or during your application for a credit union credit card.

Once you’re a member, you also have the opportunity to influence how the credit union is run. For example, you may be able to vote at annual general meetings or provide feedback that influences the features of different products.

In comparison, banks and larger financial institutions operate more like conventional businesses. This means they often provide more competitive introductory offers than credit unions. For example, balance transfer credit cards from banks typically provide lower introductory interest rates and longer promotional periods in comparison to credit union credit cards.

Banks also tend to provide more comprehensive rewards programs and complimentary extras than credit unions. When it comes to applying for a bank credit card, you don’t need to become a member or open a transaction account. However, this means you don’t have a say in how the bank is run or how different products work.

What about building societies and mutual banks?

Like credit unions, a building society or mutual bank is a member-owned financial institution with a focus on providing value to members.

The credit cards and other products provided by building societies are very similar to those offered by credit unions. As a result of these similarities, credit unions and building societies are often put in the same category.

What’s right for me? Credit unions or banks?

Credit unions and mutual banksBanks
FocusCredit unions focus on providing better member experiences and on improving their financial situation by providing quality products and suitable advice.Banks focus on maximising profits for their shareholders, so they can attract more investors.
ProfitAny profit that a credit union generates goes back into the system to provide its members competitive rates and offerings.Profit that banks generate goes to its shareholders, and the bank might invest some of it in different kinds of financial products. This works in your favour only if you’re a major stakeholder of the bank you’re banking with, not otherwise.
SecurityCredit unions offer Mastercard and Visa credit cards, both of which provide secure payment systems. They are subject to the EFT code, so you get protection against fraudulent electronic transactions.Banks offer the same security measures.
RewardsCredit unions provide credit cards linked to some of the major rewards programs.Banks offer a range of rewards credit cards as well.
Other benefitsBanks offer a range of rewards credit cards as well.Banks also offer added features through their credit cards, but you might have to pay higher annual fees in this case.

How to compare credit union credit cards

If you’re interested in getting a credit union credit card, include the following factors in your comparison to find the right option for you:

  • Standard interest rates. Credit union credit cards tend to have lower standard purchase rates than bank options. Some credit union cards also apply the same interest rate to both purchases and cash advances (rather than having a separate and higher cash advance rate).
  • Promotional interest rates. As credit union credit cards typically offer low ongoing interest rates, the promotional rate offers may be more conservative. If you want to get a credit card with a low introductory interest rate for balance transfers or 0% on purchases, make sure you compare both credit union and bank options to find one that offers both introductory and ongoing features that will work for you.
  • Balance transfers. Some credit union credit cards don’t offer balance transfers. The cards that do provide this service are less likely to have a 0% interest rate during the introductory period when compared to cards from banks. However, credit union credit cards usually have a lower ongoing interest rate than credit card revert rates. So if you're unable to repay your balance by the end of the promotional period, make sure you consider whether you're better off going with a 0% promotion with a higher revert rate or a low ongoing rate.
  • Annual fees. Most credit union credit cards have low annual fees (i.e. under $100).There are also some credit union credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee. Some credit cards also have low or $0 annual fees, so you need to weigh up whether the features of the card justify these costs.
  • Interest free days. If you pay your balance in full by the statement due date each month, you could get up to a certain number of interest free days for each statement period. This feature is available with both credit union and bank credit cards.
  • Rewards. Credit unions offer fewer rewards credit cards than banks. There are still a few options that offer points for purchases made on the account, though, including some cards that are linked to frequent flyer programs. For example, the Visa Platinum credit card from Qudos Bank (formerly Qantas Credit Union) offers 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on most purchases, and 0.5 points per $1 for Qantas purchases.
  • Other fees. Like banks, credit unions may apply other fees for a range of credit card transactions and services. The most common include international transaction charges, late payment fees and cash advance fees. Always check the product details for information on what fees may apply so you can factor them into your comparison.
  • Membership requirements. You need to sign up as a member before you can apply for a credit union credit card. In some cases, you can request membership when you apply for a credit card but you may have to apply separately and wait for your membership to be approved before you can get a card.
  • Complimentary extras. In general, only gold or platinum credit union credit cards will offer complimentary extras such as travel insurance or concierge services.
  • Branch access. Credit unions may have a more limited branch network when compared to larger financial institutions. Before you apply for a credit card from a credit union, you should check out the existing branch network and other access options to decide if it will work for you.

Pros and cons of credit union credit cards

Pros

  • Competitive ongoing interest rates
  • Lower annual fees
  • Same interest rate for purchases and cash advances
  • Personalised service

Cons

  • You have to meet membership eligibility requirements
  • Limited reward options
  • Limited balance transfer options
  • Less competitive introductory offers

Other factors to consider

  • Community support. As well as being focused on benefitting members, credit unions usually have a community focus. For example, they may provide funding for local community groups and schools, encourage arts and performance, and work on building stronger human bonds.
  • Industry-based options. Some credit unions limit membership to people in specific industries. For example, Teachers Mutual Bank primarily offers membership to retired and current teachers, university students studying to become teachers and other employees in the education sector.

As a result of all these credit union features, people often pay as much attention to a credit union’s philosophy as they do to specific products and features. This level of involvement means that credit unions often suit people who want to completely change the way they bank.

If you’re looking for a card that offers short-term value, on the other hand, you may find that bigger financial institutions provide you with more options. But either way, it can be worth comparing credit cards from both credit unions and banks to see which option is most suited to your needs.

Frequently asked questions

Can I apply for a credit union credit card online?

This depends on the credit union you wish to deal with, and you can find a number of credit unions that accept online applications for credit cards.

What eligibility criteria would I have to meet to apply for a credit union credit card?

The eligibility criteria for credit cards can vary, but generally includes the following:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card in Australia
  • You must be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia
  • You must have a good credit history
  • You must meet the membership requirements of the credit union

For specific information on application requirements, refer to the product page of any credit union credit card you’re interested in. You may also want to visit a specific credit union’s website for more details.

Is there a credit union in Australia with branches in all states and territories?

Most credit unions have small branch networks in comparison to banks. But some may allow you to bank in partner branches, or offer other services. Refer to individual credit union websites for details of their branch networks and access options.

Are credit unions regulated in the same way as banks?

Yes, both credit unions and building societies are accountable under the same regulations and laws as banks in Australia. All credit unions must have an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) to be able to provide financial services and products. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) monitors the functioning of both credit unions and banks.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

19 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    MarySeptember 9, 2015

    I would like to know if I could get a credit card. 0400292573

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanSeptember 9, 2015Staff

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Our credit card reviews will give you the necessary information to decide which card is best for your needs. The application requirements are listed at the bottom of each review. If you meet those application requirements, then you will be eligible to apply. Please refer to a range of credit cards to compare. You can select 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.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    michelleApril 21, 2015

    what credit card would be the best to apply for with not a very good credit rate and on centrelink

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanApril 21, 2015Staff

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Banking institutions that issue credit cards have varying lending criteria and generally require a reasonable credit rating that will be able to repay the card back. Different banks have certain income, employment, and credit status requirements. For your options, you may like to refer to the following link for lenders that offer loans for Centrelink recipients.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    AlsionDecember 31, 2014

    I am on a disability pension and have been turned down for a balance transfer by major banks. At the moment I have a GO Mastercard paying an interest rate of 28% with a $3000 limit. All my financial advisers tell me to get a low interest credit card. How do I do that when on a pension? I am also told that every time I get rejected it goes against me as a bad credit risk.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ElizabethJanuary 5, 2015Staff

      Hi Alison,

      Thanks for your question.

      It is correct that every time you apply for a credit card it is listed on your credit file. Too many rejected card applications can have a negative impact on your credit score and can be a bad sign to lenders as you keep getting rejected by other credit issuers. Having said that, if you wait a while following a rejected card application (some card companies set a minimum of three months) then you may be able to apply for a new card.

      If you’d like to look at low-interest credit cards, you can compare them, check the eligibility requirements for each card are listed on the bottom of each review page. If you’re unsure whether you are eligible, it may be worth getting in touch with the card issuer before you apply to discuss your application.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

      Default Gravatar
      AlsionJanuary 5, 2015

      Thanks. I thought that was the case. The last bank I applied to was NAB and they told me the complete opposite and refused to tell me what the credit criteria was.

    Default Gravatar
    VeeApril 9, 2014

    Are there any credit cards I can apply for if I have a bed credit rating?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JacobApril 10, 2014Staff

      Hi, Vee.

      Credit cards are a product for people with a good credit rating only. A lender may consider an applicant who has taken steps to amend a default listing on their credit file. Speak to the lender directly for further information about this.

      Thanks for your question.

    Default Gravatar
    MaryDecember 13, 2013

    Why is it once you retire you cannot apply for a credit card, as soon as you say you receive the pension it is a no, regardless that you may be drawing a annuity or super pension as well. I am referring to CUA but I believe the 40,000 limit applies to all. Our total income is above the 40,000.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JacobDecember 16, 2013Staff

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your question.

      While I can’t comment on the lender criteria of various lenders, if you’re earning above the minimum income requirement your application should be considered regardless of whether you’re retired or not. Some applications even allow you to select retired when you choose your employment status.

      You may want to consider a low-rate credit card. These cards have a lower income requirement than other cards in the market.

      Please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Cheers,
      Jacob

Go to site