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What you need to apply for a credit card

From eligibility checklists to the documents and details you need to provide, here's how you can prepare for your next credit card application.

While online credit card applications can take as little as 10 to 20 minutes to complete, the actual time it takes you could be shorter or longer than this depending on how organised you are. So if you want to speed up the application process and increase your chances of approval, you can use this guide to go through the eligibility requirements and information you need to provide for most credit card applications.

What are the eligibility requirements?

The start of your credit card application will include a small section or checklist you can use to make sure you are eligible to apply for the card. These requirements can be different for each card and provider but generally include your age, Australian residency status, income and credit status.

Eligibility criteria icons

At this stage of the credit card application, you'll also usually be asked if you have read and understood the terms and conditions outlined by the provider. You may also need to read a privacy statement that explains how your information is stored and used. After confirming these details, you can continue to the main part of the application. This is where you'll need to share your personal and financial details with the lender.

What information will I need for my credit card application?

To complete the online credit card application form, you'll need to share a range of personal and financial details. The order of these details can vary between application forms but it's generally separated into the following categories.

Personal information

  • Basic personal information. This includes your full name and date of birth.
  • Residency status. At this stage of the application, you may also be required to provide details or your Australian residency status. For example, whether you're an Australian citizen, permanent resident or temporary resident, as well as details of any relevant visa you may hold.
  • 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 other applicant.

Employment and income information

  • 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. You may also be asked to provide recent payslips, bank statements or your last tax assessment notice from the ATO to help verify your income.
  • 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.
  • Retirees or pensioners. If you are retired or on a pension, you may need to provide details of your superannuation account, your regular pension benefits, your accountant's contact information or other proof of regular income.

Financial information

  • 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

  • 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've found a credit card you like and checked that you're eligible to apply for it, having all of these details ready will help you fill out the online credit card application as quickly as possible. Plus, if it's a card that offers "instant approval", you could find out if you've been approved within around 20 minutes of starting the application.

Frequently asked questions

Images: Shutterstock

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