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Student Credit Cards

At Finder, we're credit card nerds! We've narrowed down the key features to help you compare quickly and get back to studying.

Name Product Purchase rate p.a. Interest-free period Balance transfer rate p.a. Annual fee

ANZ Low Rate - Credit Back Offer

ANZ Low Rate - Credit Back Offer
13.74%
Up to 55 days on purchases
21.99%
$58
Get $250 back on your card when you spend $1,500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.

St.George Vertigo Card

St.George Vertigo Card
13.99%
Up to 55 days on purchases
0% for 28 months with 1% balance transfer fee, then 21.49%
$55
Get a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 28 months (with a 1% balance transfer fee).

Westpac Low Rate Card - Cashback Offer

Westpac Low Rate Card - Cashback Offer
13.74%
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59
A no-frills card offering up to $350 cashback: $50 each month you make at least $1,000 of eligible purchases for the first 7 months.

NAB Low Rate Credit Card

NAB Low Rate Credit Card
13.49%
Up to 55 days on purchases
0% for 28 months with 2% balance transfer fee, then 21.74%
$0 first year ($59 after)
Get a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for the first 28 months (with a 2% BT fee). Plus, save with a $0 first-year annual fee.

Westpac Low Rate Card

Westpac Low Rate Card
13.74%
Up to 55 days on purchases
0% for 28 months with 2% balance transfer fee, then 21.49%
$59
Save with a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 28 months (with a 2% BT fee). Plus, a low 13.74% p.a. purchase interest rate.

St.George Vertigo Card - Cashback Offer

St.George Vertigo Card - Cashback Offer
13.99%
Up to 55 days on purchases
6.99% for 12 months, then 21.49%
$55
Get up to $400 cashback at eligible supermarkets and petrol stations in the first 180 days. Plus, a low interest rate for purchases.
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What is a student credit card?

A student credit card lets you buy what you need now and pay it off later when you're studying at university or TAFE. Depending on how long you take to pay off your spending on a credit card, it will also charge interest or a monthly fee.

There aren't any specific student credit cards on the market in Australia. But there are lots of cards suited to students, including those with low interest rates and fees that can help keep costs down when you're studying.

💡Tip: If you use a credit card responsibly and pay your balance off each month, getting a credit card while you're studying at TAFE or university can also help you build a good credit history and credit score.

This helps with your chance of approval for car loans, home loans and other types of lending products you might want to get in the future.

How do student credit cards work?

As long as you're at least 18 years old, you can apply for a credit card as a student. You can use one of these credit cards to borrow and spend up to a certain amount. The amount you have available to use is your "credit limit" and the amount that you spend is called your "balance".

Each month, you get a statement that includes:

  • Details of your transactions for that month
  • Your account's closing balance for that statement period
  • A minimum repayment amount
  • The due date for repayments
  • The amount of time and interest you'd pay if you only made minimum repayments

Minimum repayments are usually 2–3% of your outstanding balance.

You need to pay at least the minimum amount listed by the due date on your statement, but it's wise to pay your balance in full when you can. Otherwise you'll collect interest charges and your debt will start growing.

Pros and cons of student credit cards

Pros

  • Flexibility. If you have lots of bills or purchases to make in a short amount of time, you could use a credit card and then pay them off over time. If you repay the card each month, it could even be interest-free.
  • Low fees. Most credit cards suited to students have low annual fees or monthly fees to help keep account costs down.
  • Credit history. You can use a credit card to establish your credit history (unlike most buy now pay later plans). If you use the card responsibly and make repayments on time, it can help increase your credit score and chance of approval for other cards or loans.

Cons

  • Temptation to spend. If you spend more than you can afford to repay on a credit card, it can quickly become expensive and lead to debt.
  • Interest charges. Credit card interest rates range from around 8% to 27% for purchases. While most cards offer an interest-free period for purchases if you repay the total amount on every statement, the cost of interest can quickly add up if you don't pay it all off.
  • Sneaky extra charges. Some businesses add a fee to credit card payments, which can add 1-2% to what you spend.

If you're young, have minimal income and want to establish good credit history then applying for a credit card with a low limit is not a bad option. Especially if you get a card with no fees and try to pay off as much as you can during the interest-free period.

Richard Whitten

Richard Whitten
Finder money editor

Trying to choose between a credit card and buy now pay later? Finder's guide to Afterpay vs. credit cards has a side-by-side comparison for different accounts.

What features can I get with a student credit card?

Every student credit card offers different interest rates, fees and extras. Some popular features include:
  • Interest-free days. Most credit cards offer an interest-free period for purchases, such as "up to 55 days" if you pay the total amount listed on your statement by the due date. This gives you a way to avoid being charged interest on your shopping.
  • Low credit limits. Student credit cards can have credit limits as low as $500 or as high as $15,000. The credit limit you get depends on the card, the lender and your circumstances. A lower credit limit is generally easier to pay off and can help you avoid serious debt.
  • Instalment plans. A lot of credit cards offer instalment plans for purchases or part of your balance, similar to buy now pay later plans. For example, if you bought a $2,000 laptop, you could pay it off in monthly instalments over 6 months and would know exactly how much each payment needed to be. Some even offer low or 0% interest rates.
  • Digital wallets and virtual cards. Most major banks and brands offer credit cards you can add to Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and/or other digital wallets. There are some virtual cards you can start using once you're approved.
  • Complimentary extras. Some student credit cards come with extras like complimentary purchase protection insurance and extended warranties for eligible items, which could be handy if you buy a new laptop or other study gear.
  • Other features. For example, introductory low or 0% interest rate offers, security services like instant card-locking and Mastercard or Visa benefits. Keep an eye out for these features when you're comparing student credit cards to find one that offers great value for you.

How much do student credit cards cost?

The cost of a student credit card depends on the features of the card you choose, as well as how you use the account. The main charges to consider are:

  • Annual fees. Student credit cards usually have annual fees of around $25 to $60, which is at the lower end of the scale for credit cards in Australia. There are also cards with no annual fee in the first year, or for the life of the card.
  • Purchase rate. Credit cards typically have interest rates around 11% p.a. (per annum) to 27% p.a. for purchases. The higher the purchase rate, the more interest you will pay if you don't pay off what you owe on each monthly statement. If you don't want to deal with interest charges, you could consider a credit card with no interest and monthly fee instead.
  • Cash advance rate. If you use a credit card for ATM withdrawals or even some bill payments, the cash advance interest rate will usually apply. This typically ranges from around 19% p.a. to 30% p.a. and is charged from the time of the transaction.
  • Cash advance fee. Cash advance transactions also attract a fee worth 2% to 3.5% of the total transaction amount. So using a credit card for a cash advance can be very expensive.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards charge a 2% to 3.5% fee when you spend money overseas or online with a business based overseas. If you're studying abroad, going on an international holiday or want to use a credit card to shop online with brands that are based overseas, you could consider a card with no foreign transaction fees. Or, use a different payment option like a no-fee debit card.

💡Tip: When you're comparing student credit cards, check for other fees including late payment fees and charges for going over your credit limit. The credit card product disclosure statement (PDS) and Key Facts Sheet includes these details so you can factor in all the costs before you apply for a card.

How to apply for a student credit card

After finding a suitable credit card, the next step is applying and an application online should take 10-15 minutes. You could also call the bank directly or pop into a branch if there's one near you.

Before starting an application, make sure you meet the credit card's eligibility requirements.

Common eligibility requirements checklist

  • Are you at least 18 years old? You need to be over 18 years old to apply for any credit card in Australia. If you are between 16 and 18, you could be added as a supplementary cardholder to a parent or guardian's account. In the meantime, you could use a Visa debit or Mastercard debit card to shop with your own money instead of credit.
  • What is your residency status? Credit card companies generally prefer you to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.
  • Are you an international student? If you are on a 500 Student or 485 Temporary Graduate visa, it can be difficult to get a credit card in Australia. But if you have regular income and meet the other eligibility requirements, you could speak to your bank about credit card options. Finder's guide on credit cards for temporary residents also has details and tips that may help.
  • Where are you studying? If you're applying for a credit card as a student, you usually need to be enrolled in an accredited school, TAFE or university. High school students are generally not eligible for a student credit card. You may also need to be enrolled full-time to apply.
  • How much money do you earn? You must have enough income to manage repayments for at least the minimum credit limit that's available on a card. Income can include Centrelink payments, your wages from full- or part-time work, and even student scholarships in some cases.
  • What's on your credit report? If a credit card is the first credit product you apply for, you usually won't have any listings on your credit report. But the bank or credit provider will check your credit history and add a listing when you apply. You can also check your credit score for free at any time to find out what's on it.

Documents and information you'll need to provide

  • Personal information. This includes your full name, date of birth, residential address, email address and phone number. You'll also need to provide a valid form of identification, such as your driver's licence number, passport number or Medicare number.
  • Student information. You may be asked to include details of the university, TAFE or other institution you're studying at and the course you're enrolled in.
  • Employment and income information. If you work outside of study, you'll need to provide details of your employer and income, such as contact details and recent payslips. If you earn income from other sources, such as Centrelink payments, you can include these as part of your application.
  • Other financial information. Details of any assets and debts that you have, including savings accounts or other loans. You will also be asked to estimate your ongoing financial commitments, such as rent, bills and grocery costs. This helps the issuer determine whether or not you can afford to manage a credit card.

What happens after you apply?

Once you have submitted an online application, you'll usually get a response within a few minutes. The credit card company will assess your application against its lending criteria and will contact you if it needs further information as part of this process.

If your application is successful, you should get your new card within a couple of weeks. You'll need to activate it and then you can start using it.

Tips for using a student credit card

  • Only use your credit card for essential items. If you want to buy something but don't need it straight away, consider saving up for it instead. Keeping your credit card at home, not adding it to your digital wallet and saving it for textbooks, groceries and emergencies is a good way to curb the temptation to spend.
  • Stick to a budget. You should create a realistic budget that accounts for your necessary expenses (school supplies, bills, groceries), but also leave room for any emergencies expenses you may have. If you stick to this, you'll know to set aside money from your savings each month to pay off your credit card in full and will avoid any nasty surprises when your bill arrives each month.
  • Aim to pay your balance off in full every month. Although you're only required to pay the minimum payment each month, doing this could land you with high interest costs and an unmanageable debt. Instead, you should aim to pay off your balance in full each month.
  • Pay as you go. While credit card statements usually come once a month, you can choose to pay off the balance more regularly. As well as ensuring that you always meet the minimum repayment, this strategy can reduce the amount of interest you pay and may even help improve your credit score.

Frequently asked questions

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14 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    ChrisApril 30, 2015

    Are there any credit cards that temporary graduate visa holders (subclass 485) can apply?

    I’m working full-time.

    Thanks!

      AvatarFinder
      JonathanApril 30, 2015Finder

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      At this point in time, only temporary residents, permanent, and citizens are eligible to apply for credit card services. You may like to refer to the following link for debit cards and offers.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    rajJanuary 8, 2015

    Can an international student apply for an ANZ credit card?

      AvatarFinder
      ElizabethJanuary 8, 2015Finder

      Hi Raj,

      Thanks for your question.

      There are some cards available for temporary residents, but conditions usually apply. You might want to see what options might be available to you.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

    Default Gravatar
    DanilJanuary 13, 2014

    I’m not at college yet. Can I apply for a student credit card now?

      AvatarFinder
      JacobJanuary 13, 2014Finder

      Hi, Danil.

      Eligibility requirements for student credit cards are set out on the above page.

      Thanks for your question.

    Default Gravatar
    StephenOctober 31, 2013

    I applied for a few cards 8 months ago, and was declined by all, I only moved to Australia a couple of years ago and have limited credit history. My credit report just has inquiry’s on it, more recently I applied for a Virgin card, and I was declined again. I have been in the same job for three years and have enough income. I meet all their standards, is it because I need to have more credit history? I’m from Ireland by the way, if that helps.

      AvatarFinder
      JacobOctober 31, 2013Finder

      Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for your question.

      Have a look at this article at why credit card applications can get rejected.

      Banks and lenders don’t give you a reason why your application was knocked back, which is part of the problem considering too many applications for credit can be a negative signal to a credit issuer. Good credit history is one of the application requirements, so your lack of a credit record may have been one of the reasons you were declined. Things like phone and Internet contracts as well as credit cards and home loans etc. are recorded on your credit file. It could also be that you applied for too many cards in too short of a space of time. If you have multiple inquiry marks on your credit file it can raise red flags to a lender when you enquire about credit again. It might be worth starting a conversation with your lender about obtaining credit in the future.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jacob

    Default Gravatar
    RajuSeptember 18, 2013

    I’m an Indian citizen and have been in Australia for 6 years. I have some credit cards in Australia but currently live in another country and I’m not paying credit cards. What will happen?

      AvatarFinder
      JacobSeptember 19, 2013Finder

      Hi Raju.

      The default will stay against your name and you will be held liable for the debt if you return to the country.

      Thanks for your question.

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