Want to get a credit card while you’re studying in Australia? Learn about your options and compare student credit cards here.
Use this guide to compare student credit cards based on different features and costs. We also explain how student credit cards work and list 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.
$0 annual fee for the first year
Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
ANZ Credit Card Offer
A credit card option for students which offers an annual fee waiver in the first year plus interest-free days on purchases.
- $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($30 p.a. thereafter).
- 19.74% p.a. on purchases
- Cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
- Up to 44 days interest free
- Minimum income requirement of $15,000 p.a.
Best* Student Credit Cards
Compare the features of these different student credit cards to see if one is right for you.
- ANZ First Student Card. A low fee credit card designed especially for people studying at tertiary institutions in Australia. Offers a $0 annual fee in the first year and $30 per year after that.
- Bendigo Bank Low Rate First Mastercard. A card designed especially for people aged 18 to 25, with a low annual fee of $29 and purchase rate of 11.99% p.a.
- Commonwealth Bank Student Credit Card. Offers a $0 annual fee for the first year after which the standard annual fee of $29 p.a. applies. Receive an annual fee waiver every year if you spend of at least $1,000 on your card in the previous year (on purchases and cash advances only).
- ME frank. A credit card which offers $0 annual fee for the life of the card, combined with a low interest rate of 11.99% p.a. on purchases.
- Westpac Lite. A low-cost card with a standard variable interest rate of 9.9% p.a. and credit limits between $500 to $4,000 (subject to approval). Instead of an annual fee, this card $500 to $4,000.
What is a student credit card?
A student credit card allows you to borrow money up to a certain amount every month. You can then choose to pay off the balance over time (with interest charges), or in full at the end of each statement period.
When compared to other credit cards available in Australia, student credit cards tend to have low credit limits and low annual fees to help make them more affordable when you're studying full time. These cards also typically 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 your balance in full by the due date on your statements, 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.
- Low credit limits. Student credit cards can have credit limits as low as $400 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 reduces the risk 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.
- 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 varies depending on the specific features of individual cards. 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 for a limited time or for the life of the card. Factor the cost of an annual fee into your budget and check the terms and conditions for any annual fee waivers that are available for students.
- Purchase rate. This is the standard variable interest rate that’s applied to new purchases made on the card. Student credit card purchase rates range from around 10% 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 variable interest rate that’s applied to cash advance transactions such as ATM withdrawals, gambling purchases, payment for foreign currency 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 worth around 2% to 3% of the total transaction cost. For example, if you used your credit card to withdraw $500 from an ATM, the cash advance fee would be $10-$15. The high cost of cash advances means they should be avoided as much as possible when you have a credit card.
- 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.
- 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 for full details so that you can factor in all the costs before you apply for a card.
Should I get a student credit card?
Student credit cards offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to cash flow but they are not right for everyone. Consider the following key questions before you apply for a student credit card to decide if this option will suit your circumstances and needs.
- Why do you want a credit card? Is it to manage your expenses between paydays, to have access to funds while travelling or to build up your credit? Thinking about your reasons for wanting a credit card will help you figure out if it’s right for you and also make it easier to compare different options.
- Are you planning on applying for other loans in the future? Lenders consider your credit history when you apply for any form of credit, including cards, personal loans, car loans and mortgages. Getting a credit card and using it responsibly can help you build up a good credit history and credit score so that it is easier to get approved for other financial products in the future.
- Will you be able to pay off the card in full every month? Paying off your card in full helps you avoid interest charges and reduces the risk of debt. Looking at your current income and budget, then considering how credit card payments would fit in, will help you figure out if a card is the right option for you at this stage of your life.
- Are there other options you should consider? Depending on your needs, there may be other financial products or plans that are more affordable than a credit card while you’re studying. For example, if you want to have funds in an emergency, you could consider opening a savings account and putting some of your own money aside for unexpected outlays that may arise. This could help keep costs down as you’ll avoid the potential interest charges and debt that can come from using a credit card if you can’t afford to pay it off in full.
- Where are you studying? The right type of credit card may also vary depending on where you're studying. For example, you may want a different credit card depending on if you're studying at a university or at TAFE. You can compare credit cards for TAFE students here.
If you have regular income and can manage your expenses well, a student credit card could be a useful tool to help with cash flow when you have a lot of expenses between paydays. But if you struggle to manage your money or find that you can’t afford everything you want, then it may be better to stick to using your own money. You may even be able to save on banking costs by considering a student bank account that charges fewer fees when you’re studying.
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 items that are essential. This strategy usually stops impulse spending, which will run up a credit card in no time. 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 emergencies is a good way to curb the temptation to spend.
- Try to pay cash for your everyday spending. Remember that credit card spending has to be paid back and could lead to interest charges and other fees if you carry a balance. For everyday spending, you may want to consider using a student debit card, which allows you to use your own money and doesn’t lead to interest charges.
- Follow a monthly and weekly budget. That way if you spend more in one week, you can adjust your spending for the next week so that it is affordable based on all your financial commitments, including credit card payments. Get started with our free budget planner.
- 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.
- Try to save a portion of your income in an emergency account. Ideally, you should aim to put away 10% of your income. If that’s too difficult as a student, aim to save at least 5% of your pay so that you have some money set aside if something unexpected comes up. This money will help keep your costs down in an emergency, even if you have to use a credit card to pay the difference.
- Make sure you have some money budgeted for fun. Credit cards can make it tempting to spend money that you don’t actually have. By budgeting for luxuries or a bit of fun, you’ll be in a better position to keep your spending and your credit card balance in check.
- Ask for split payment options. Many businesses allow you to split payments between different cards, or even allow you to use a combination of cash and cards. This type of payment can be a useful way to keep your credit card balance down while also allowing you to keep some of your own money available for other spending.
How to compare student credit cards
If you decide to get a credit card as a student, it’s important to make sure you find an option that’s right for you. Comparing student credit cards allows you to see features of different products side-by-side so that you can find one that will suit your individual circumstances and 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 and your ongoing expenses. You should also consider 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(s). Pay particular attention to the standard interest rates and fees, as well as the requirements to meet any student discounts or waivers 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.
Example: Aisha applies for her first student credit card
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.
She also plans to pay it off in full each month, so she wants 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 CommBank Student credit card. 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||$30 p.a.|
(Waived in the first year)
|CommBank Student credit card||19.74% p.a.||Up to 55 days interest-free on purchases||$29 p.a.|
(Waived in the first year and in each subsequent year if you spend more than $1,000 or show your eligible student card at a CommBank branch)
Rates and fees used are for example purposes only.
Based on these details, Aisha decides to apply for the Commbank Student credit card because it offers a $0 annual fee beyond the first year. It also offers more interest-free days for 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
- Age. You need to be over 18 years of age in order to apply for a student credit card. If you are between 16 and 18, you could be added as a supplementary credit cardholder to a parent or guardian's account. Additionally, with a Visa debit or Mastercard debit card you can make the same transactions you would with a credit card, but it is with your own money. If you would like to earn rewards points you could also consider a prepaid travel card.
- 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. It is also a good idea to check with your Australian banking institution about what cards it can offer you based on your existing history.
- Student status. You must be enrolled in an accredited school or university to get a student credit card. High school students are generally not eligible for 'student' credit cards.
- Co-signer. You may need to provide a co-signer to apply for your first student credit card. The co-signer is usually your parent or guardian and will then be responsible for your debt if you can’t make repayments on your card.
- Savings or everyday bank account. In some cases, you may be required to have an everyday bank account or savings account with the same bank that issues the credit card.
- Income. 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, which allow you to make the same transactions as a credit card, without using borrowed money.
- 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 these application criteria, you can fill out the online form. You’ll need to provide a range of details, including:
- 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 institution and 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. Your credit card application will ask you to include 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 they need 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. From textbooks and stationery to tuition fees and everyday expenses away from home, there’s a whole range of costs that are specific to students. Now that you know more about student credit cards, you can compare your options and decide on the right types of accounts to suit your needs while you’re studying.
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