What you need to apply for a credit card

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

If you want a new credit card, you can usually apply online in around 10 to 15 minutes and get a response within 60 seconds. While this could mean you get almost instant approval in some cases, your application will always be subject to the bank or provider's lending criteria before it can be approved (or declined).

While exact requirements you’ll need to meet for a successful application vary between credit card providers, there are a few common terms and conditions you’ll need to meet. So if you're looking 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 that makes sure you are eligible to apply for the card. These criteria vary based on the card and provider but generally include your age, residency status, income and credit status.

      • CC Requirements

At this stage of the credit card application, you'll also usually be asked if you have read and understood the terms outlined by the provider. 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 to provide on my credit card application?

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

Personal information

Most credit card applications begin by asking for some basic personal details. So make sure that all the following information you provide is correct:

    • 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

The financial institution that you are applying with will 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.
    • 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

The financial information portion of a credit card application helps the credit card issuer work out 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.

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