Low income credit cards provide various benefits with a lower income requirement

Compare low income credit cards and find the right card for your budget here.

When you apply for a credit card, you need to meet a minimum income requirement to receive approval. If you fall into a lower income bracket, there are other credit cards that could better suit your financial situation. Low income credit cards are usually aimed at applicants with an annual income between $15,000 and $30,000 and these cards have a minimum credit limit of $500 or more. Use this guide to understand how low income credit cards work and how you can find the right credit card for you.

How to choose the best* low income credit card

Low income credit cards generally come with fewer features than top-tier high income credit cards, but the lower costs help counteract this. When you’re comparing your credit card options, pay attention to the following features:

  • Minimum income requirement. Do you earn enough to meet the credit card’s minimum income requirement? The minimum income requirement usually starts at $15,000 p.a. and ends at $30,000 p.a. for a low income product.
  • Annual fee. Low income credit cards usually come with annual fees between $0 p.a. and $95 p.a. Make sure the benefits you get from the card outweigh the annual fee if you do decide to go with a card that has a fee higher than $0.
  • Interest rates. These cards usually have interest rates between 11% and 19.99%, though some come with lower promotional rates for set periods. If you always pay your balance in full each month, be sure to check out the interest-free days feature. Many low income cards offer up to 55 days interest-free.
  • Other eligibility requirements. You need to have a good credit history to apply for a low income credit card. You will need to address any defaults on your credit file before applying for any type of credit card.
  • Features. Low income credit cards are no-frills products, so they usually come with fewer features than higher tier cards. Some might offer promotional low interest offers, rewards programs and interest-free days, so it’s important to compare these features before applying.

Comparison on Low Income Credit Cards

Rates last updated September 20th, 2019
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate Annual fee Min credit limit Max credit limit Minimum Income Product Description
Westpac Low Rate Card
2019 Winner
Westpac Low Rate Card
13.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 16 months
$59 p.a.
A no frills, low rate card offering 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for the first 16 months, with no balance transfer fee.
ANZ First
20.24% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
$30 p.a.
Get up to 18 months interest-free on balance transfers and save with a low $30 annual fee. Plus, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Annual Fee Offer
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 18 months
$50 p.a.
Save with an ongoing $50 annual fee and 0% balance transfer offer. Plus, the ability to earn up to 30,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months.
Virgin No Annual Fee Credit Card
18.99% p.a.
6.9% p.a. for 36 months
$0 p.a.
Offers 6.9% p.a. for 36 months on balance transfers and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases, all for a $0 annual fee.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to improve your chances of approval when applying for a low income credit card

Before you apply for a low income credit card, make sure you get the following in order:

  • Have your finances and debts in order. If applicable, you will need to pay all default listings on your credit file before applying for a credit card.
  • Apply as a joint applicant. If your income is too low to apply for a credit card, you can apply jointly with another person such as your spouse. In this instance, both of your finances are assessed by the credit card company during the application process.
  • Open a savings account with the bank. A history of banking with the credit card company can help give you the status of being a valued customer.
  • Take stock of your existing debts. Pay down your debts as much as possible before you apply. The lower you can get your liabilities and expenses before applying for a credit card, the more the financial institution will be willing to lend.
  • Include all sources of income. Really think about all the money coming in. If you do freelance work, or you receive government payments, be sure to include this information on your application.

Case Study

Terry is working as a part time retail assistant while he studies to become a mechanic. He earns an annual income of $17,000. This translates to a weekly income of roughly $325 before tax. He's applying for a credit card to be able to make emergency bill payments or purchases. His wife Demelza earns an annual income of $35,000.

If Terry applies for a credit card and includes both his own income and that of his wife, he may be able to qualify for a platinum or gold credit card, which may even come with a rewards program. Their combined income in this case would be $52,000.

Terry might still want to apply for a low rate credit card with only his income if his wife already has a credit card of her own. If he does this he'll have a credit card with a low credit limit for emergency purchases and payments.

Alternatives for low income earners

If you have default listings on your credit file, you don’t meet the minimum income requirement or your application is declined for whatever reason, consider these alternatives.

  • Debit cards. A debit card can do all the things a credit card can, only cheaper because there are no line of credit and interest costs. Using a debit card you can shop online, over the counter or withdraw cash from ATMs. You’re spending your own money, so you don’t need to go through a credit check when you apply for a transaction account with a debit card.
  • Prepaid credit cards. Similar to a debit card, you spend your own money using a prepaid credit card. Prepaid credit cards can be single use and you can order a prepaid credit card anonymously.
  • Loans for applicants with Centrelink benefits. Personal loans, payday loans, overdrafts and government financial assistance schemes are all alternatives to a low income credit card. You can apply for one of these types of loans if you’re receiving Centrelink benefits.
  • Student credit cards. Student credit cards are low fee and low rate products for when you’re juggling work and study. The minimum income requirement of these credit cards caters to students earning a low income. You need to be enrolled in an Australian education institution to be eligible to apply for a student credit card.

Case Study

Glenda is travelling overseas next year after she graduates from university. She's already paid for her trip with the help of a gift from her parents, and now wants to sort out how she'll keep her spending money safe while travelling. Her credit card application was recently rejected because she only makes approximately $12,500 a year.

Glenda decides to use a Key to the World Currency Card. She can load up to 10 different currencies onto the card, and can lock-in exchange rates for each of them. The card also has a security chip and PIN so her money is safe from credit card scammers.

There are many credit cards on the market that are geared to applicants with lower incomes. Otherwise, you might want to consider some of the alternatives that are suitable to low income earners. Above all, it’s important that you compare your options and make sure you apply for something that will suit your financial situation.

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