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How old do you have to be to get a credit card?

In Australia, you need to be at least 18 years old to get a credit card. Not quite 18 yet? Here are some alternatives.

In Australia, you must be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in your name. This is the age you are legally considered an adult and, since minors can’t be held liable for contracts, only adults can apply for credit products. This policy is part of the strict lending rules that protect young Australians from getting into debt they can't afford.

Other credit card application requirements

In addition to being at least 18 years old, there are several other key application criteria you’ll have to consider when applying for a credit card. Requirements vary between providers and individual products, but the following are some of the most common conditions:

  • Australian residency status. The majority of cards require you to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. There are also some cards that allow applications from temporary residents.
  • Credit history. Credit history is very important when applying for a credit card, and your credit report and credit score should be very good or excellent.
  • Minimum income. Not every credit card lists a minimum income amount. But for those that do, the minimum income requirements typically range from $15,000 per year for a basic card, up to $150,000 for some prestige cards.
  • Employment details. It is ideal to have permanent, full-time work when you apply for a credit card. But there are cards you can apply for while working part-time, casually and even when you’re retired or receiving government payments.
  • Personal details. You will also need to provide personal information as well as documentary proof of identification and income.

What credit card options are available for people under 18?

Although you can’t apply for a credit card in your name while you’re under 18, you can consider the following options:

  • Ask to be an additional cardholder on your parents’ credit card. If you’re at least 16 years of age, your parents may add you as a supplementary cardholder to their credit card account. This means that you will receive a credit card linked to their account, and they will remain legally responsible for all the expenses.
  • Get a prepaid credit card. A prepaid credit card lets you preload the card with money. This means it’s technically not a “credit” card because you are responsible for providing the money you spend, but it can be a useful pay-as-you-go option. With a prepaid card, you won’t fall into debt, and can usually shop anywhere Visa or Mastercard is accepted (including online).
  • Use a debit card. A debit card is similar to a prepaid card, except it is linked to a bank account. When you use this type of card, you are spending money that you have in the account and don't have to keep loading money like you would with a prepaid card. Most debit cards can be used for contactless payments and mobile wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay, if you're set up with one of those accounts.
  • Focus on savings. The importance of saving throughout your life is often underrated. Learning to save should be a critical focus, especially before you get a credit card. This will ensure you have funds that you can use when necessary and also prevent unmanageable credit card debt in the future.

Before applying for a credit card, make sure that you’ve researched your chosen card and understood the terms, conditions and eligibility requirements. Rather than thinking of these requirements as restrictive, understand that credit card application requirements help uphold responsible lending practises and protect consumers.

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Finder survey: How old are Australians when they get their first credit card?

Response
18-2231.63%
23-2728.21%
I’ve never had a credit card14.73%
28-3212.94%
33-408%
41-502.7%
50+1.8%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

Written by

Amy Bradney-George

Amy Bradney-George was the senior writer for credit cards at Finder, and editorial lead for Finder Green. She has over 16 years of editorial experience and has been featured in publications including ABC News, Money Magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald. See full profile

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    sulfusMarch 18, 2015

    how old do you need to be and who issued this rule?

      AvatarFinder
      JonathanMarch 18, 2015Finder

      Hi Sulfus, thanks for your inquiry!

      The require legal age for a credit card for most providers/banks is 18 years. It would be best to contact the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority in regards to the legal requirements that have been set for credit card services.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

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