Credit Union Credit Cards

Interested in getting a credit union credit card? Find out how these financial institutions differ from banks and compare your options here.

Credit unions provide a range of financial products and services that are similar to conventional banks. While banks are led by shareholders and have a focus on generating profits, credit unions are often run by members and focus on providing benefits to all of their members. This focus means the profits made by credit unions are usually passed on in the form of more competitive products and services.

You can use this guide for everything you need to know to compare credit union credit cards, including how they’re different to banks and what you need to know to choose a credit card that’s right for you.

Compare Credit Union Credit Cards

The finder.com.au list of credit union credit cards

Compare the features of the credit cards from credit unions below.

Credit Card Feature
Get a low price annual fee and up to 62 days interest free.
A low cash advance card with a $0 annual fee.
A $0 p.a. annual fee credit card.

How do credit union credit cards compare to other options?

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 unionBanks
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.

girls comparing credit cardsHow 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 2 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.

Benefits and disadvantages of credit union credit cards

Benefits

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

Disadvantages

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

Other factors to consider

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.

Some credit unions also 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 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.

Credit unions also try to make sure they only lend to people who can make repayments, and they have support services in place to help members going through rough patches. When it comes to credit cards specifically, credit union options tend to offer the most value to people who want an ongoing, affordable option.

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. Credit unions offer a wide range of credit cards for members, including low rate, low fee and reward options. Now that you know more about the different structure and focus of credit unions, you can compare these cards to those of larger financial institutions to find one that suits all of 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.
Back to top
Back to top

Read more on this topic

American Express Essential Credit Card
American Express Essential Credit Card

Interest rate

14.99

Annual fee

0
ME Bank frank Credit Card
ME Bank frank Credit Card

Interest rate

11.99

Annual fee

0
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
HSBC Platinum Credit Card

Interest rate

19.99

Annual fee

149

Ask a Question

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

Disclaimer: At finder.com.au we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
By submitting this question you agree to the finder.com.au privacy policy, receive follow up emails related to finder.com.au and to create a user account where further replies to your questions will be sent.

19 Responses to Credit Union Credit Cards

  1. Default Gravatar
    Mary | September 9, 2015

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

    • Staff
      Jonathan | September 9, 2015

      Hi Mary, thanks for your inquiry!

      Our credit card reviews will give you the necessary information to deciding 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 this page to compare credit cards and offers.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    michelle | April 21, 2015

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

    • Staff
      Jonathan | April 21, 2015

      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. You may like to refer to the following link for loans for people on centre link benefits.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  3. Default Gravatar
    Alsion | December 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.

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | January 5, 2015

      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 on this page. 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
      Alsion | January 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.

  4. Default Gravatar
    vee | April 9, 2014

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

    • Staff
      Jacob | April 10, 2014

      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.

  5. Default Gravatar
    mary | December 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.

    • Staff
      Jacob | December 16, 2013

      Hi Mary.

      Thanks for your question.

      I can’t comment on the lender criteria of various lenders, however, 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.

  6. Default Gravatar
    Lyn | December 2, 2013

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

    • Staff
      Jacob | December 2, 2013

      Hi Lyn.

      You can find this information on the lender’s website. Each union’s website have a feature that allows you to search for branches and ATMs around the country.

      Thanks for your question.

  7. Default Gravatar
    francesca | August 15, 2013

    I have a closed travel card it as a credit of $40.00. I want to transfer the money to my bank account. How do I do it?

    • Staff
      Jacob | August 15, 2013

      Hi Francesca.

      Which card is it? Please let us know a little more so we can offer specific information.

      Generally speaking you should be able to contact the card issuer and request that they transfer the funds to a nominated account.

      I hope this helps.

  8. Default Gravatar
    Bev | July 22, 2013

    Does a credit union have the same status as a bank?

    • Staff
      Jacob | July 22, 2013

      Hi Bev. Thanks for your question.
      Can you please clarify what you mean by status.
      Credit unions are different to banks mainly because credit unions are owned by their members.

      Credit unions are accountable to the same laws as banks. And when it comes to their credit cards, they’re offered in conjunction with issuers Visa and MasterCard, so their credit union cards offer the same levels of fraud protection as cards offered by banks.
      I hope this helps.
      Jacob.

  9. Default Gravatar
    j | July 4, 2013

    I sent my membership fee and haven’t heard anything.

Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated December 10th, 2016
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
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
ME Bank frank Credit Card
Enjoy a low and consistent interest rate on purchases and cash advances, combined with no annual fee.
11.99% p.a. $0 p.a. Go to site More info
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.
19.99% p.a. $199 p.a. Go to site More info

* 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.

Ask a question
feedback