How old do you have to be to apply for a credit card?

Learn the requirements for obtaining a credit card as well as some alternatives for under-18s.

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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 in Australia and, as 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 accumulating debt they are not yet mature enough to take on.

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.

Compare credit cards with low minimum income requirements

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Purchase rate Balance transfer rate Annual fee Min credit limit Max credit limit Minimum income
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
20.74% p.a.
$0
$2,000
$35,000
Earn 0.75 Qantas Points for your everyday purchases, uncapped, and pay $0 annual fee for the life of the card on this no-frills frequent flyer card.
Westpac Low Rate Card
13.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$59
$1,000
$25,000
$15,000
A low rate card offering 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for the first 24 months and a $200 cashback offer.
St.George Vertigo Classic
13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Get 0% p.a. promotional balance transfer rate, with no balance transfer fee. Plus, save with a first-year annual fee waiver.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Save with a 0% p.a. interest for 24 months on balance transfers, with no balance transfer fee. Plus, a $0 first-year annual fee.
NAB StraightUp Card
N/A
$0
$1,000
$3,000
Save with 0% interest charges and 0% foreign transaction fees. Plus, $0 monthly fees when you don't use the card or carry a balance.
BankSA Vertigo
13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 24 months
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
$500
$80,000
Enjoy a 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers, with no balance transfer fee. Plus, $0 first-year annual fee.
BankSA No Annual Fee
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$0
$500
$40,000
Offers 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and an ongoing $0 annual fee.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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:

  • Request 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 expenses incurred on your card.
  • 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 useful for convenience, flexibility and learning about budgeting. With this card, you won’t fall into debt, and shopping is convenient since the card is accepted just like a Visa or Mastercard.
  • 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. The difference between a debit card and a prepaid credit card is that the debit card is limited by your bank account balance, while your prepaid card balance is limited by the amount of money you preload on it.
  • 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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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    sulfusMarch 18, 2015

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

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanMarch 18, 2015Staff

      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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