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How to fund your student holiday with a credit card

Using your credit card to fund your student holiday has its benefits, but it doesn’t come without some costs. Use this guide to weigh up whether you should pay for your next trip on plastic.

Organising a holiday can be expensive. In between saving for flights, accommodation, travel insurance and spending money, it’s easy for the costs to pile up. If you’re still studying, finding the funds to do this can only make things more difficult. This is where a credit card could come in.

While you shouldn’t charge your entire holiday to a credit card, there are a few ways that paying on plastic could help you manage your cash flow when organising your next trip. Use this guide to compare which cards are suitable for students booking their next holiday, the features to look out for and the mistakes to avoid.

skiingholiday (1)

How can I use a credit card to fund my holiday?

While you shouldn’t pay for your whole holiday on plastic, there are a few different ways you can use a credit card to help manage those travel costs. Whether you want to use your credit card to pay for flights, cover your accommodation or consolidate your post-holiday debt, you can compare some of your options below:

Before your holiday: Managing your prepaid expenses

When you’re planning a holiday, many of the costs come up before you even step on the plane. However, there are a few different credit cards on the Australian market that could help you cover some of these costs while racking up some extra benefits.

0% purchase rate credit cards

If you have some big-ticket purchases in mind, a credit card with a 0% purchase rate might help. 0% purchase rate offers can last anywhere from 3 to 15 months, meaning you can pay off your balance without accruing interest for as long as the promotional period lasts. If you’re trying to save your holiday spending money and organise your prepaid costs, a 0% purchase rate credit card could help you manage some of those on credit without the burden of interest. As these 0% rates are only in place for a set period, make sure you pay off the prepaid purchases before the promotion ends to avoid collecting interest when the revert rate sets in.

Comparison of 0% purchase rate credit cards

Rates last updated June 26th, 2017
$
Name Product Product Description Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Interest Free Period Interest Saved
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Includes complimentary overseas medical and travel insurance and the ability to use Apple Pay and Android Pay.
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.)
0% p.a. for 12 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Westpac 55 Day Platinum Credit Card
Receive complimentary overseas travel insurance and transit accident insurance, plus a 24/7 personal concierge service.
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 19.84% p.a.)
0% p.a. for 12 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($90 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Westpac Low Rate Card
Get an additional cardholder at no extra cost and take advantage of Visa PayWave and Samsung Pay.
0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.49% p.a.)
0% p.a. for 12 months
$59 p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
Earn 0.66 Velocity Rewards points per $1 on purchases and receive a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
0% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
0% p.a. for 6 months
$129 p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases

Compare up to 4 providers

Cards with complimentary international travel insurance

When you plan an overseas holiday, travel insurance is another cost you’ll need to consider. This is where a credit card with complimentary insurance could come in handy. While some cards will require you to spend a percentage of your holiday costs (such as $500 for flights or accommodation) on the card to activate the policy, it could be a convenient way to receive insurance cover without the time and cost it takes to organise standalone travel insurance. The insurance is often eligible for up to six months worth of travel, though you’ll need to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements before you apply.

Comparison of credit cards with complimentary insurance covers

Rates last updated June 26th, 2017
Name Product Product Description Bonus Points Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC) Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX) Complimentary Travel Insurance Annual fee Minimum Income
St.George Vertigo Platinum
Take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 20 months on balance transfers offer with no balance transfer fee.
0
0
Yes
$99 p.a.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 22 months on balance transfers offer with a 2% p.a. balance transfer fee.
1
0
Yes
$99 p.a.
$40,000
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Enjoy complimentary membership to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program and the ability to pay with Apple Pay.
60,000 bonus points
1
0
Yes
$199 p.a.
$40,000
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Receive a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
0
0
Yes
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
$35,000
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
Earn 2 Velocity Points on top of the standard earn rate per $1 spent within the first 3 months.
0.66
No
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
$35,000
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
Earn 75 Bonus Status Credits when you apply by 30 September 2017, buy and fly return with Qantas by 31 January 2018.
75,000 bonus points
1
Yes
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter)
$75,000
ANZ Low Rate Platinum
Take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 16 months on balance transfers offer with a 2% p.a. balance transfer fee.
Yes
$99 p.a.
$35,000
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
Enjoy complimentary membership to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program and access to a 24/7 concierge service.
50,000 bonus points
0.75
Yes
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter)
$35,000
American Express Explorer® Credit Card
Receive a $400 travel voucher and two complimentary American Express Lounge passes each year.
50,000 bonus points
2
Yes
$395 p.a.
$65,000
NAB Premium Card
Take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 20 months on balance transfers.
0
0
Yes
$90 p.a.

Compare up to 4 providers

Student credit card

If you’re using a credit card for both everyday and holiday expenses while you’re studying, a student credit card could be another worthwhile option. Only available to applicants who are enrolled in full-time study, student credit cards usually come with lower credit limits, annual fees and interest rates. While they don’t usually offer the same level of features as top-tier cards, they can be a convenient way to manage your costs without the frills.

Comparison of student credit cards

Rates last updated June 26th, 2017
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Interest Free Period Annual fee Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Product Description
ANZ First Student Card
19.74% p.a.
Up to 44 days on purchases
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($30 p.a. thereafter)
A basic card that comes with extended warranty benefits, purchase security cover and a low minimum credit limit.
Bankwest Breeze Mastercard
12.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
0% p.a. for 21 months with 2% balance transfer fee
A standard credit card that offers free worldwide emergency card replacement and Android Pay.
ANZ Low Rate
12.49% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$58 p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Includes Mastercard's Zero Liability Guarantee, plus Android Pay and Apply Pay.
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
13.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$59 p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
Includes 24/7 emergency travel assistance and exclusive Visa Entertainment offers.
Citi Simplicity Card
19.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0 p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
Pay no annual fee for the life of the card and get 10% cash back on eligible purchases (capped at $50/month for 4 months from card approval).
Citi Clear Platinum
14.99% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$99 p.a.
A platinum card with benefits including complimentary insurance, a 24-hour concierge service and Citi World privileges.

Compare up to 4 providers

travelling on a budget

During your holiday: Handling your travel budget

Now that your prepaid expenses are out of the way, it’s time to plan how you’ll manage your travel budget overseas. While you should have some savings to spend overseas, a credit card could be a useful way to balance out your travel budget between cash and credit. If you want to avoid racking up post-holiday debt, you might even want to consider just carrying a credit card in case of emergencies. Either way, you can compare some of your options below:

No foreign currency conversion fee credit card.

If you’re spending overseas, a regular credit card will quickly rack up foreign currency conversion fees when you pay in the local currency. If you plan to make regular purchases overseas on your credit card, a card with no foreign currency conversion fees can help you save on those costs. These cards generally come with higher annual fees, though, so you’ll want to make sure the interest savings outweigh the standard costs before you apply.

Comparison of no foreign currency conversion fee credit cards

Rates last updated June 26th, 2017
Name Product Product Description Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
Receive complimentary travel insurance for up to 6 months and up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
0% of transaction value
$0
The greater of 2% or $4.00
$0 p.a.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
Offers an introductory balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for 21 months with a 2% BT fee, plus platinum perks.
0% of transaction value
$0
Greater of 2% or $4.00
$99 p.a.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
Earn up to 1.50 Reward Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and receive complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance.
0% of transaction value
$0
$225 p.a.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
A low cost card designed specifically for travelling with up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rewards credit card

If you’re planning to pay on plastic frequently throughout your holiday, you might want to increase the value you get from your purchases with a rewards credit card. These cards let you earn rewards points per $1 spent, which you can then redeem for flight rewards, travel packages, merchandise, cash back and more. Some cards even offer bonus points for purchases made overseas, which could come in handy on your trip. Again, these cards usually come with higher annual fees and interest rates, so don’t let the promise of rewards sway you. Instead, make sure you compare the other features, fees and costs involved before applying.

Comparison of rewards credit cards

Rates last updated June 26th, 2017
Name Product Product Description Bonus Points Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC) Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee
ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card
Receive complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance, unlimited airport lounge access and a 24/7 personal concierge.
75,000 bonus points
2
18.79% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($375 p.a. thereafter)
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
Receive 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $2,500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.
75,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter)
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
Consolidate your debt with a low balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 24 months and a host of platinum privileges.
1
0
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement and earn up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent.
60,000 bonus points
1
0
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
Receive a complimentary Virgin Australia return Economy domestic flight each anniversary year and complimentary travel insurance.
100,000 bonus points
0
1.5
20.74% p.a.
$375 p.a.
American Express Explorer® Credit Card
Receive a $400 Travel Credit every year and up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport.
50,000 bonus points
2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Enjoy an annual fee refund every year if you meet the spend requirement, plus prestige services including a personal concierge service.
1
0
19.99% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
Earn 2 Velocity Points on top of the standard earn rate per $1 spent in the first 3 months, plus a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
St.George Amplify Signature
Receive up to 60,000 bonus Amplify points on eligible spend and earn up to 3 reward points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
60,000 bonus points
1.5
0
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
ANZ Rewards Platinum
Earn up to 50,000 bonus Reward Points when you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months plus $0 in the first year.
50,000 bonus points
1.5
18.79% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($95 p.a. thereafter)

Compare up to 4 providers

Credit cards with purchase protection

Shopping with a credit card overseas can help you make more secure purchases. Many credit cards offer purchase protection cover, which can protect you from fraudulent transactions, replacement or a refund of the purchase price if an item is lost, damaged or stolen and extended warranty protection. In the case of an emergency, make sure you understand what you’re covered for under the policy and the contact details you’ll need to report an issue or make a claim.

Comparison of credit cards with purchase protection

Rates last updated June 26th, 2017
Name Product Product Description Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
American Express Essential®  Credit Card
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with your Essential Credit Card.
14.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Take advantage of purchase protection repairs or replacements on eligible items if they are accidentally broken or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
The HSBC Platinum Credit Card offers purchase protection cover for eligible purchases.
19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$99 p.a.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Earn uncapped Velocity points on purchases and redeem for a range of rewards including flights, accommodation, car hire and gift cards.
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
Receive a $200 Travel Credit every year and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance.
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($195 p.a. thereafter)
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
Get 50,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $2,500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months.
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter)
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement and earn up to 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent.
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
Earn 2 Velocity Points on top of the standard earn rate per $1 spent in the first 3 months, plus a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Receive a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.)
0% p.a. for 12 months
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
NAB Low Fee Card
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, special offers from Visa Entertainment and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$30 p.a.

Compare up to 4 providers

Happy woman buying online with a smart phone

After your holiday: Consolidating any post-holiday debts

In 2015, finder.com.au reported that more than 2 million travellers were hit with debt lag when they returned from their holiday. According to the survey, one in three Australians who used their credit card on holiday failed to pay off their accumulated debt, worth a total of $139 million, in time to avoid interest. So, while a credit card can be a useful way to manage your costs, it can also be an easy way to fall into debt if you’re not careful. If you have overspent and are struggling to pay off your post-holiday debt, it might be time to consider a balance transfer.

Balance transfer

If you’re struggling to repay your holiday debt due to interest, a 0% balance transfer credit card could help you pay off your debt faster without the cost of interest. 0% balance transfer offers are only available for a promotional period and generally last from 6 to 20 months. When the promotional offer ends, a standard balance transfer interest rate will apply and your debt will continue to grow with interest. So if you really want to et your post-holiday debt under control, be sure to pay the debt off in full before the offer ends.

Comparison of balance transfer credit cards

Rates last updated June 26th, 2017
$
% p.a.

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Name Product Product Description Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Interest Saved
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
Earn 2 Velocity Points on top of the standard earn rate per $1 spent in the first 3 months, plus a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Earn 1 Reward Point per $1 of eligible spend and receive complimentary travel and purchase protection insurances.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$99 p.a.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Receive a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
0% p.a. for 12 months
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.)
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
St.George Vertigo Visa
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and the ability to make contactless payments with Visa payWave technology.
0% p.a. for 14 months
13.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases. Also enjoy exclusive offers with the home&Away Privilege Program.
0% p.a. for 15 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.25% p.a.
$55 p.a.
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases, special offers from Visa Entertainment and Tap and Pay capabilities.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.99% p.a.
$59 p.a.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
A long-term balance transfer offer with the Citi Rewards Platinum Card. Earn extra points on eligible international spend, plus complimentary travel insurance.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
NAB Premium Card
Benefit from premium credit card advantages including travel insurance, Platinum Concierge Service plus 0% p.a. for 20 months on balance transfers.
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
American Express Essential®  Credit Card
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with your Essential Credit Card.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
14.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
St.George Vertigo Platinum
Offers complimentary travel insurance, complimentary purchase insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
0% p.a. for 20 months
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.

Compare up to 4 providers

For more tips, see our guide on how to use a credit card for your next holiday.

What are the benefits of using a credit card to fund your student holiday?

  • Security of credit. Credit cards give you access to an emergency line of credit and their purchase protection features could give you extra peace of mind when shopping overseas.
  • Travel-centric extras. Some credit cards offer extra features designed for frequent travellers including rewards programs, complimentary airline lounge access and included international travel insurance.
  • Manage prepaid cash flow. Using a credit card to pay for expenses such as flights can free up your savings for incidental expenses and holiday spending.
  • Debt consolidation tool. If you return from holiday with a debt, a balance transfer credit card can help you consolidate your balance in a credit card with 0% on balance transfers for a set period. Not only will you be able to pay off your debt quicker, but you can do so without the burden of interest.

What are the downfalls of using a credit card to fund your student holiday?

  • Temptation to spend. Unlike when you’re spending to a budget with your debit card, a credit card can tempt you to spend more than you have. Remember that you have to repay everything you charge (plus interest) and stick to a budget whenever you can.
  • Come with extra costs. Unlike a debit card, credit cards come with extra costs such as annual fees, interest charges and late payment fees.
  • Shouldn’t be used for ATM withdrawals. Using your credit card at an ATM is considered a cash advance. Unfortunately, cash advances collect a higher interest rate and can also incur a cash advance fee. You might want to consider a debit card or prepaid travel card for withdrawals instead.
  • Eligibility requirements. Credit cards also come with stricter eligibility requirements than debit cards or prepaid cards. This means you’ll need to meet a minimum income requirement, have a good credit history and meet the age restriction to receive approval.

How do I apply for a credit card to fund my student holiday?

If you’ve decided to use a credit card to fund your student holiday and have compared your options, you’ll need to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements and have prepared the necessary documents before you apply:

Eligibility requirements

  • Age. All Australian credit cards require cardholders to be at least 18 years old.
  • Minimum income. Most credit cards come with a minimum income requirement. If you’re studying full-time, you might want to consider comparing low income credit cards (which usually start at around $15,000 p.a.) to ensure you meet the minimum requirement.
  • Credit history. Credit card issuers require applicants to have a good credit history. If you’ve never had a credit card before, it’s likely that you’ll have no activity on your credit history. If this is the case, you might need to get in touch with the issuer directly to see if there are any other details you need to provide to improve your chances of approval if you don’t have a credit score.
  • Residential status. Many credit cards require cardholders to be permanent Australian residents.
  • Full-time enrolment. If you’re applying for a student credit card, you’ll need to be enrolled full-time at an eligible university, TAFE or other education institution.

Required documents

  • Proof of identity. You’ll need to provide proof of identity such as your birth certificate, passport or driver’s licence.
  • Proof of income. You’ll need to include proof of income such as recent payslips, Centrelink payments and even student scholarships if relevant.
  • Student information. You’ll need to also provide proof of your full-time enrolment.
  • Co-signer. If you’ve never had a credit card, you might be required to have a co-signer when you sign up for the card. The co-signer is usually your parent or guardian and will be responsible for your debt if you’re unable to make repayments.

A credit card can come in handy whether you’re planning for your holiday, managing your travel spending budget or consolidating your post-holiday debt. However, it’s important to remember that you have to repay everything you charge and you don’t want to rack up debt and get your credit history off to a bad start while you’re still studying. Above all, be sure to compare your options and ensure you can afford the card before you apply.

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