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What you need to apply for a credit card

Information verified correct on December 10th, 2016

Find out exactly what details and documents are required for your credit card application here.

Getting a new credit card is always subject to application approval from the bank or provider. The exact requirements you’ll need to meet vary between credit card providers, but there are a few general terms and conditions you’ll need to meet across the board.

This guide outlines the eligibility requirements and information you need to provide to ensure your credit card application process goes as smoothly as possible.

What are the eligibility requirements?

The start of your credit card application will include a small section to verify that you qualify and that you have read and understand the terms outlined by the provider. These criteria vary based on the card and provider, but generally include the following:

  • Age. You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card in Australia.
  • Residency status. Most credit card providers require you to be a permanent resident or citizen of Australia. There are also a limited number of cards available for temporary residents with valid visas.
  • Income. Some credit cards list a minimum income you're required to earn to be eligible to apply for the card, such as $30,000 or $70,000.
  • Credit status. You must have good credit history to apply for a credit card.

If you meet these requirements, you can continue to the main part of the application. This is where you'll be required to provide a variety of information to the lender.

What information will I need to provide on my application?

The order of this information could vary depending on the credit card you're applying for, but you will need to include details in the following categories.

Personal information

Most credit card applications begin by requesting details about your personal information. Ensure that all the following information you provide is correct:

  • Personal information. This includes your full name and date of birth.
  • Residential information. At this stage of the application, you may also be required to provide details or your Australian residency status.
  • Proof of identity. You will need to provide proof of identification such as a passport or driver’s licence.
  • Residential address. These details relate to your current home address and the length of time you have been there. In certain cases, you could also be asked to provide information on previous residential addresses.
  • Contact details. Most lenders now require a valid email address as well as a phone number.
  • Dependents. This is the total number of dependents (ie. your children).

Note that if you are applying for a joint credit card account, all of the same information will be required for the additional applicant.

Employment and income information

The financial institution that you are applying with may want to verify that you are receiving a steady income. To do this they will ask for:

  • Your occupation. For example, you'll need to provide your title and the field you work in (e.g. media, education, management).
  • Employer information. You'll need to specify the amount of time you've been with your current employer and provide your employer’s name and contact information. In some cases, you may also be asked to list previous employment details as well.
  • Income. Include details of your annual income before taxes, as well as any secondary income you may receive.
  • Self-employed. If you are self-employed when applying for a credit card, you may need to provide your accountant's information and previous Tax Assessments in order to verify your income.

Financial information

The financial information portion of a credit card application helps to determine if you qualify for the card. It also helps in determining your credit limit. Information you'll need to provide here includes:

  • Account details. This includes details for savings and transactions accounts, along with the current balances.
  • Assets. Assets could include savings, investments, property and major items in your home.
  • Monthly expenses. You will be asked to provide details of your monthly financial obligations, including payments for rent, mortgage and other living expenses (such as groceries and fuel). If you are unsure of some of these expenses, you can estimate them by looking at your transaction account details for the past few months and working out an average.
  • Credit and other liabilities. You'll need to provide details of any existing credit accounts and liabilities, such as cards, personal loans or mortgages.

Card preferences

At some point in your application, you will be asked for your card preferences and given the option for a balance transfer. Information in this section will include:

  • Credit limit. You can choose between nominating a specific credit limit or having the lender assign a limit to you. If you decide to request a limit, consider your spending habits as well as your current financial circumstances so that you can choose a figure that is likely to be approved and also manageable for you.
  • Additional cardholders and their details. If you have an eligible partner or dependent who you’d like to add as an additional cardholder, make sure to have their personal details on hand for this part of the application. You will need to provide their full name, age and contact information.
  • Balance transfer. If you are applying for a balance transfer from an existing card to the new card, you will need to include details of your current credit card account, the financial institution and the amount of debt that you wish to transfer. Make sure you have your card details, as well as the BSB for your current provider on hand. Also note that you may not be able to transfer the balance from a card that is issued by the same provider. For example, you can't transfer a balance from one Westpac card to another Westpac card. Read our guide for a full list of banks you can balance transfer between.

After you have completed these steps, you will be asked to review your details before hitting the "submit" button. Thoroughly check your form for accuracy, and remember that the application cannot be recalled once submitted. It will trigger an enquiry on your credit file, so make sure it’s worthwhile.

What else do I need to remember when applying?

  • Supporting documentation. After you have submitted the initial application (or during the application), you will also be required provide documentation that supports the information provided. This typically includes identifying documents with a photo, several recent payslips and/or tax documents.
  • Document submission. Check how the process works for verifying your documents. In some cases, you may be able upload copies online via a secure service, while in others you might have to bring them to a branch.
  • "Instant" approval. Most credit card applications you submit online will provide you with a response within 60 seconds. Remember that if you are approved at this stage, you may still have to provide the supporting documents in order to receive and activate your card.

How to get your credit card application approved

If you do the research first and gather together all of the information required, filling out a credit card application online will only take a few minutes. And thanks to the convenience of 60-second approval times, you could know within 15 minutes of clicking “Apply now” whether you will be getting a brand new credit card.

Frequently asked questions

Why do credit card providers need details of my previous addresses?

Your previous addresses help with providing an accurate credit history. This is especially important with Australians who have common names and may be confused with another individual. This information is also used to show what your history is as far as keeping up with your monthly payments.

Will I be able to check the status of my application?

Most banks will send you a confirmation email and reference number that allows you to track the progress of your application.

What if I don’t have time to finish the application right away?

In most cases, you will be given the option of being able to save the application in a secure data base to be continued at a later date. Check for how long the provider will save that information before deleting it from their system.

How will I know which documents I am going to need?

With most applications you will be provided with a list of the necessary documentation. Alternatively, you can also find this information on finder.com.au credit card review pages.

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