Manage your money as you study and build up credit history with a credit card that's suited to students in Australia.
Use this guide to compare student credit cards based on different features and costs. You can also learn more about how student credit cards work and weigh up the pros and cons of using a credit card while studying so that you can decide if this is an option that will work for you.
11.99% p.a. interest rate on purchases
Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
Bendigo Bank Credit Card Offer
Exclusive for customers aged 18 to 25 years, this low rate credit card comes with a low annual fee and up to 55 interest-free days on purchases. Plus, access to Mastercard Priceless Cities.
- $29 p.a. annual fee.
- 11.99% p.a. on purchases
- Cash advance rate of 13.99% p.a.
- Up to 55 days interest free
Compare student credit cards
The best* student credit cards trending now
Compare the features of these different student credit cards to see if one is right for you.
|A low-fee credit card for people studying full-time at educational institutions in Australia. Offers a $0 annual fee for the first year and complimentary purchase insurances.|
|A card only for those aged 18 to 25, with a low annual fee of $29 and purchase rate of 11.99% p.a.|
|A credit card that offers $0 annual fee for the life of the card, combined with a low interest rate of 11.99% p.a. on purchases.|
How do student credit cards work?
As long as you're at least 18 years old, you can apply for a student credit card to help free up your cash flow while you're studying at TAFE or uni. 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 known as your "credit limit" and the amount that you spend is known as your "balance". You're required to pay at least the minimum repayment each month (which is usually a small percentage - such as 2% - of your outstanding balance) each statement period. However, it's wise to pay your balance in full each statement each month otherwise you'll collect interest charges and your debt will start growing.
When compared to other credit cards available in Australia, student credit cards tend to have low credit limits and low annual fees that can help keep them affordable when you're studying full time. Usually, these cards also have very basic features that can help you learn how to manage credit without racking up huge debts.
What features can I get with a student credit card?
- Interest-free days. If you regularly pay off what you owe on your credit card by the due date on your statement, you will usually have an interest-free period for each statement cycle, such as “up to 55 days”. The interest-free days generally start at the beginning of your statement period and give you a window of time when interest won't be charged on your purchases.
- 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 individual circumstances. A lower credit limit is generally easier to pay off from month to month and can help you stay out of serious debt.
- Complimentary extras. Some student credit cards will come with additional benefits, such as complimentary purchase protection insurance and extended warranties for eligible items you buy with your card. This could be useful if you're using the card to buy a laptop, expensive text books or other supplies for your study.
- Other features. Student credit cards could come with a range of other features, including contactless and mobile payments, low or 0% interest rate introductory offers 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 features to consider are:
- Annual fees. Most student credit cards come with a low annual fee to help keep account costs down. Some options may even offer no annual fee, which could help you save on this cost for a limited time or for the life of the card.
- Purchase rate. This is the standard interest rate that’s applied to purchases made on the card. Student credit card purchase rates range from around 11% per annum (p.a.) to 22% p.a. The higher your purchase rate, the more interest you will have to pay if you carry a balance on your card.
- Cash advance rate. This is the standard interest rate that’s applied to cash advance transactions such as ATM withdrawals, gambling purchases and even some bill payments. The cash advance rate is typically the highest interest rate on a credit card and usually ranges from around 19% p.a. to 22% p.a. The cash advance rate is applied immediately from the time a cash advance transaction is made.
- Cash advance fee. If you use your credit card for a cash advance transaction, you will also be charged a fee of 2% to 3% of the total transaction amount. For example, if you used your credit card to withdraw $500 from an ATM, the cash advance fee would be $10 and $15.
- Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards charge a fee when you use it to make purchases overseas or with an international retailer online. This fee is usually between 2% and 3.5% of the total transaction. You can avoid this cost by considering credit cards with no foreign transaction fees or other options such as travel money cards. These cards could be useful if you're studying abroad, going on an international holiday or if you regularly shop with foreign merchants.
- Other fees. Other fees that may apply when you have a student credit card include late payment fees and charges for going over your credit limit. Always check the credit card’s product disclosure statement (PDS) for full details so that you can factor in all the costs before you apply for a card.
Tips for using a student credit card
Whether or not you’ve had a credit card before, these simple tips will ensure you know what to do and what not to do when you get your 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 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.
How to compare student credit cards
Comparing student credit cards allows you to see features of different products so that you can find one that will suit your needs. We’ve outlined the main factors you’ll need to consider for a student credit card comparison below.
- Consider your individual circumstances. This includes your study commitments, your income from work, Centrelink or other benefits, as well as your ongoing expenses. You should also think about your current money habits to decide whether or not you will be able to effectively manage a credit card.
- Look at the features of the card. Pay particular attention to the standard interest rates and fees, as well as the requirements you need to meet for any student discounts or fee waivers that are offered by the card. This step will help you find a credit card that offers the most convenience and affordability for you.
- Choose the card that suits your circumstances. By looking at the features of a number of cards and considering your circumstances, you will be able to find a student credit card that is convenient and affordable for you.
Aisha applies for her first student credit card
In this scenario, Aisha is studying law at the University of Sydney and has a casual job at a cafe. She is just about to start her second year and is considering getting a credit card to help pay for all her textbooks and other study materials at the start of the semester. This would allow her to pay off the purchases over time, leaving her with enough cash to cover her rent and other everyday expenses.
Aisha also wants to keep her interest charges low and would like to pay off the card in full each month, so she decides to look for an option that has a competitive interest-free period. Aisha narrows her choices down to the ANZ First Student credit card and the Bendigo Bank Low Rate First Mastercard. She considers the following features:
|Card||Standard purchase rate||Interest-free days||Annual fee|
|ANZ First Student credit card||19.74% p.a.||Up to 44 days interest-free on purchases||$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($30 p.a. thereafter)|
|Bendigo Bank Low Rate First Mastercard||11.99% p.a.||Up to 55 days interest-free on purchases||$29|
*Rates and fees used are for example purposes only.
Based on these details, Aisha decides to apply for the Bendigo Bank because it offers a lower variable purchase rate. It also offers more interest-free days on purchases.
How to apply for a student credit card
After comparing student credit cards to find the right option for you, the next step is to apply. You can do this online in about 20 minutes by clicking the “Go to site” button for your chosen card. You’ll then be taken to a secure application page. Before filling out your information, make sure you meet the credit card application requirements. These can vary, but generally include:
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. You could also use a Visa debit or Mastercard debit card to make the same transactions you would with a credit card but using your own money instead of credit. If you would like to earn rewards points you could also compare prepaid travel cards that also offer points.
- What is your Australian residency status? Credit card companies generally prefer you to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident. If you are on a 500 Student or 485 Temporary Graduate visa, check out our guide on credit cards for temporary residents to see your options.
- What is your student status? Usually, you need to be enrolled in an accredited school, TAFE or university to get a student credit card. High school students are generally not eligible for a student credit card. You may also need to be enrolled full-time to apply for a student credit card.
- How much money do you earn? You must have enough income to service the minimum credit limit available on the card. Income can include your wages from full- or part-time work, as well as Centrelink payments and even student scholarships in some cases. If you do not have a source of income, you can consider a supplementary card on a parent or guardian's credit account or a Visa debit or Mastercard debit card.
- Do you have existing credit history? For most applicants, a student credit card is their first credit product, meaning they do not have existing credit history. Credit limits for most student cards are low to minimise the bank's risk of default and give students a pathway to build their history. As long as there are no blemishes on any existing credit reports, your application should be approved if you meet all of the other eligibility requirements.
The documents and information you'll need to provide
If you meet the credit card's application criteria, you can apply online at any time. The details you'll need for the online application include:
- 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’ll need to include details of the university, TAFE or other institution you're studying at and the course you’re enrolled in.
- Employment 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.
- 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 I've applied?
Once you have filled out the online application, review all the details and hit “submit”. You should get a response within a few minutes. The credit card company will also be in touch if it needs further information in order to complete the application process. If you’re approved, you should get your new card within a couple of weeks. You’ll need to activate it and then you can start using it.
So, now that you know more about student credit cards, you can compare your options and decide what types of accounts you want to use while you’re studying.
FAQs about student credit cards
If you want to know more about getting a student credit card or managing this type of account, check out these answers to frequently asked questions. You can also leave your own question about student credit cards using the comment section below and we'll get back to you with an answer.