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

Information verified correct on March 27th, 2017

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

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:

  • Residency status. The majority of cards require you to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, but some cards cater to 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. Your minimum yearly income must exceed $15,000 for basic cards. This requirement can go as high as $100,000 or $150,000 for prestige cards.
  • Employment details. You should have permanent, full-time work, 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.

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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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a Senior Writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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

  1. Default Gravatar
    sulfus | March 18, 2015

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

    • Staff
      Jonathan | March 18, 2015

      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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