Credit cards

Compare 200+ credit cards from Australia’s leading banks, credit unions and building societies all in one place.

By   |   Updated 13th July 2020

Comparing credit cards

Citi Rewards Card Balance Transfer Offer

On Citi's website

Citi Rewards Card Balance Transfer Offer

Balance transfer

26 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

21.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Avail 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 26 months which could help you get on top of things. A one-off 1.5% balance transfer fee applies.
  • Earn Citi Rewards points as you spend using the card: 1 point per $1 Domestic spend (capped at $10,000 per statement period); or 1 point per $1 International spend (uncapped).
  • Feel secure with the complimentary Insurances: International Travel Insurance, Transit Accident Insurance, Purchase Cover Insurance, Extended Warranty Insurance, and Guaranteed Pricing Scheme.
  • Indulge convenience with contactless payment: Mastercard® PayPass, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay.
  • Enjoy a free bottle of wine every time you dine at any of partner restaurants.
ANZ Low Rate

On ANZ's website

ANZ Low Rate

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for 22 months on balance transfers (1.5% balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • Low 12.49% p.a. ongoing rate on purchases.
  • No annual fee for the first year ($58 thereafter).
HSBC Platinum Credit Card Balance Transfer Offer

On HSBC's website

HSBC Platinum Credit Card Balance Transfer Offer

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$129 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. on balances transferred for 22 months, with no balance transfer fee.
  • $129 p.a. annual fee which is refundable each year when you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases.*
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on overseas purchases.
CUA Platinum Credit Card

On CUA's website

CUA Platinum Credit Card

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Transfer your existing credit card balance at 0% p.a. for 18 months with $0 balance transfer fee.
  • Earn CUA Life Rich Rewards points for every spending with your card. Earn 1 pt per $1 spent.
  • Feel secure with complimentary Purchase protection insurance.
  • Enjoy up to 9 additional cards for no extra cost.
Virgin Money No Annual Fee Credit Card

On Virgin Money's website

Virgin Money No Annual Fee Credit Card

Balance transfer

12 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

18.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • $0 annual fee for the life of the card.
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
  • Up to 55 days on purchases.
Qantas Premier Platinum Credit Card

On Qantas Money's website

Qantas Premier Platinum Credit Card

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$199 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Receive up to 80,000 bonus Qantas Points. That's 20,000 points each month for four months when spending $1,500 or more on eligible purchases.
  • Get additional 75 bonus Status Credits when you make your first eligible purchase by 30 November 2020.
  • $199 p.a. annual fee for the first year, then $299 p.a..
Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard

On Coles' website

Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • No annual fee ever.
  • 0% p.a. for 18 months with a 1.5% balance transfer fee (reverts to cash advance rate).
  • Earn 1 flybuys point per $2 on eligible spend.
CUA Low Rate Mastercard

On CUA's website

CUA Low Rate Mastercard

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

11.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Transfer your existing credit card balance at 0% p.a. for 18 months with $0 balance transfer fee.
  • Enjoy up to 9 additional cards for no extra cost.
  • Indulge convenience with contactless transactions: Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • Save on interest with interest-free days up to 55 days on purchases.
Bankwest Breeze Mastercard

On Bankwest's website

Bankwest Breeze Mastercard

Balance transfer

9 months at 2.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

15 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$79 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. on purchases up to 15 months (reverts to 12.99% thereafter).
  • 2.99% for 9 months on balance transfers with no BT fee (reverts to 12.99% thereafter).
  • Low annual fee of $79 p.a..
  • Limited time only. Fees, T&Cs apply. New Breeze Mastercard customers only.
Westpac Low Rate Credit Card

On Westpac's website

Westpac Low Rate Credit Card

Balance transfer

16 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

13.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$59 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for 16 months on balance transfers. Reverts to variable cash advance rate.
  • Low purchase rate of 13.74% p.a..
  • Up to 55 days on purchases.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard

On Bankwest's website

Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard

Balance transfer

9 months at 2.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

15 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$99 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. on purchases up to 15 months (reverts to 12.99% thereafter).
  • 2.99% for 9 months on balance transfers with no BT fee (reverts to 12.99% thereafter).
  • Low annual fee of $99 p.a.
  • Limited time only. Fees, T&Cs apply. New Breeze Platinum Mastercard customers only.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa

On Bank of Melbourne's website

Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

7 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% for 22 months on balance transfers with 1.5% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • 0% p.a. on purchases for up to 7 months from card approval (reverts to 13.99% thereafter).
  • $0 p.a annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter).
BankSA Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Amplify)

On BankSA's website

BankSA Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Amplify)

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

7 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for 22 months on balance transfers with 1.5% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • 0% p.a. on purchases for up to 7 months from card approval (reverts to 19.74% thereafter).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter).
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Amplify)

On Bank of Melbourne's website

Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Amplify)

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

7 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for 22 months on balance transfers with 1.5% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • 0% p.a. on purchases for up to 7 months from card approval (reverts to 19.74% thereafter).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter).
BankSA Vertigo Credit Card

On BankSA's website

BankSA Vertigo Credit Card

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

7 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% for 22 months on balance transfers with 1.5% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • 0% p.a. on purchases for up to 7 months from card approval (reverts to 13.99% thereafter).
  • $0 p.a annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter).
St.George Rainbow Vertigo Visa

On St.George's website

St.George Rainbow Vertigo Visa

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

7 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% for 22 months on balance transfers with 1.5% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • 0% p.a. on purchases for up to 7 months from card approval (reverts to 13.99% thereafter).
  • $0 p.a annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter).
Virgin Money No Annual Fee Credit Card 0% p.a. for 9 Months on Purchases and Balance Transfer Offer

On Virgin Money's website

Virgin Money No Annual Fee Credit Card 0% p.a. for 9 Months on Purchases and Balance Transfer Offer

Balance transfer

9 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

9 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for 9 months on purchases (reverts to 18.99% thereafter).
  • $0 annual fee for the life of the card.
  • 0% p.a. for 9 months on balance transfers (reverts to 20.99% thereafter).
Coles Low Rate Mastercard

On Coles' website

Coles Low Rate Mastercard

Balance transfer

6 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$58 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers (reverts to Cash Advance rate). No interest-free days apply to retail purchases while you have a balance transfer.
  • Low fee of $58 p.a.
  • Competitive rates of 12.99% p.a. on purchases and 19.99% p.a. on cash advances.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card

On ANZ's website

ANZ Platinum Credit Card

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

20.24% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for the first 18 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred. Reverts to 20.24% p.a..
  • Up to 55 days interest free on purchases when you pay your account in full each month.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year (save $87).
ANZ First Visa Credit Card

On ANZ's website

ANZ First Visa Credit Card

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

18.79% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$30 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. for the first 18 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred. Reverts to 20.24% p.a..
  • Low annual fee.
  • Up to 55 days interest free on purchases when you pay your account in full each month.
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard

On Bankwest's website

Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard

Balance transfer

9 months at 2.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

17.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • No annual fee.
  • 2.99% p.a. for 9 months on balances transferred.
  • No foreign transaction fees and complimentary international credit card travel insurance.
Bendigo Bank Qantas Platinum Mastercard

On Bendigo Bank's website

Bendigo Bank Qantas Platinum Mastercard

Balance transfer

6 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$149 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 0.6 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • 180 days comprehensive travel insurance.
  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months. Purchase rate applies thereafter.
Bankwest More Mastercard

On Bankwest's website

Bankwest More Mastercard

Balance transfer

6 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$100 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 19,500 annual bonus points when you spend $24,000 on eligible purchases in the year.
  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months.
  • Earn up to 1.5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On Bank of Melbourne's website

Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Balance transfer

6 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$99 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 60,000 Qantas bonus points. Conditions apply.
  • Flexibility to choose the rewards programs that better suits you.
  • No cap on the number of points you can earn.
Bankwest Zero Mastercard

On Bankwest's website

Bankwest Zero Mastercard

Balance transfer

9 months at 2.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

17.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Pay no annual fee as long as you hold the card.
  • 2.99% p.a. for 9 months on balances transferred.
  • Up to 55 days interest free on purchases.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

On Bank of Melbourne's website

Bank of Melbourne Amplify Signature Credit Card (Amplify)

Balance transfer

6 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$139 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Up to 200,000 Bonus Amplify Rewards Points. Conditions Apply.
  • Reduced annual fee of $139 in the first year, currently saving you $140.
  • Every year get a birthday bonus with 10% extra points of the total points earned in the previous year.
Heritage Gold Low Rate Credit Card

On Heritage Bank's website

Heritage Gold Low Rate Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

10.8% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy $0 annual fee ever. You can't get better than that!
  • Save on low interest of 10.80% p.a. on purchases.
  • Interest rates on cash advances are comparatively low at 10.80%, which is lower than the standard rate by many other popular cards.
  • Credit limits start at $1,000.00
American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$450 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Get 55,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply by online, are approved and spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. New Card Members only.
  • Earn 1.25 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on Card purchases, except spend at government bodies in Australia where you will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year (conditions apply).
St.George Vertigo Platinum Credit Card

On St.George's website

St.George Vertigo Platinum Credit Card

Balance transfer

12 months at 6.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

15 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$49 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. on purchases for up to 15 months from card approval.
  • $49 p.a. fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter).
  • Low revert rate on Purchases of 12.99% p.a. (ongoing).
ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card

On ANZ's website

ANZ Rewards Black Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.24% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$375 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 150,000 points with your new ANZ Rewards Black card (terms and conditions apply).
  • Free International Travel Insurance.
  • Eligibility criteria, T&Cs, fees and charges apply.
ME frank Credit Card

On ME Bank's website

ME frank Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

11.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • At 11.99% p.a., this card has one of the lowest ongoing interest rates on purchases.
  • Cash advances are also cheap. Interest on these are just 11.99% p.a. ongoing, with a $4 or 2% fee (whichever is greater), which is also very low in comparison with others.
  • The perfect annual fee: $0 p.a.
Coles Rewards Mastercard

On Coles' website

Coles Rewards Mastercard

Balance transfer

18 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$99 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months (reverts to Cash Advance rate).
  • Collect 2 points per $1 on eligible spend – that’s on top of the usual flybuys points from other partners.
  • Get $10 off your Coles Supermarket shop instantly at the checkout every time you redeem 2,000 flybuys points.
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Mastercard

On Bendigo Bank's website

Bendigo Bank Low Rate Mastercard

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

15 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$49 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • 0% p.a. on purchases for 15 months from card approval (reverts to 11.99% p.a. thereafter).
  • Receive a $150 Woolworths gift card when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of account opening.
  • $45 p.a. annual fee.
ANZ Rewards Platinum Credit Card

On ANZ's website

ANZ Rewards Platinum Credit Card

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.24% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$95 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 100,000 points with your new ANZ Rewards Platinum card (terms and conditions apply).
  • A range of complimentary insurances for travel and purchases.
  • Earn ANZ Rewards Points on everyday purchases.
BankSA No Annual Fee Credit Card

On BankSA's website

BankSA No Annual Fee Credit Card

Balance transfer

12 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

20.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • No more annual fee, ever.
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers with 1% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred.
  • Get up to 3 extra cardholders for free.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard

On Bankwest's website

Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard

Balance transfer

9 months at 2.99% p.a.

Purchase rate

20.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$160 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 0.75 points per $1 on your first $2,500 spent on eligible purchase per month.
  • Up to 12 months of extended warranty insurance and 3 months purchase security insurance (conditions apply).
  • Enjoy complimentary insurances along with this card including overseas travel insurance for you and family members travelling with you.
St.George No Annual Fee Credit Card

On St.George's website

St.George No Annual Fee Credit Card

Balance transfer

12 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

20.74% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • $0 annual fee for as long as you have the card.
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers with 1% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred.
  • The small starting credit limit of $500 might be great for someone's first credit card.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

On Westpac's website

Westpac Altitude Platinum Credit Card (Qantas)

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$200 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days of card approval.
  • Earn 0.5 Qantas points per $1 spent.
  • Complimentary overseas travel insurance cover for trips up to 3 months.
St.George Vertigo Visa

On St.George's website

St.George Vertigo Visa

Balance transfer

22 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

7 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$0 for 1st year

Highlights

  • 0% for 22 months on balance transfers with 1.5% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
  • 0% p.a. on purchases for up to 7 months from card approval (reverts to 13.99% thereafter).
  • $0 p.a annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter).

Overview

A credit card is a small, rectangular piece of plastic that confers on its owner the ability to borrow money from a bank (or other lender) to use when paying for goods and services. (Even if you choose to pay with your mobile device, your bank still needs to send you that piece of plastic – for now.)

Repayment

On a due date specified by the bank, the credit card owner can choose whether to repay in full the accumulated balance of their purchases for the month, or make only a minimum repayment (typically 2% or 2.5% of the balance, or a fixed amount such as $5) and pay interest for continuing to borrow the remaining balance.

Payment due date

The due date for repayment usually falls between 14 and 25 days after the end of the monthly billing cycle. For this reason credit cards are often described as having ‘up to 44 days interest free’ or ‘up to 55 interest-free days’.

Interest charges

The money borrowed via the credit card, to make purchases, is free of interest charges from the date of the purchase transaction until the payment due date, provided the card account does not already have any carried-over debt from the previous month (such as an unpaid purchases balance or a balance transferred from another card).

If however, there is a debt carried over from the previous month, interest is charged on every purchase transaction, calculated from the transaction date until the repayment date. This applies unless there is an introductory offer in place which makes the purchases interest-free for a specified number of months, despite the carried-over debt – see ‘0% purchase credit cards’.

Clearly, the best way to use a credit card is to pay off the purchases balance in full every month, using the bank’s money totally free of interest charges for up to eight weeks after a purchase is made.

Interest rates

Credit card interest rates (charged on carried-over debt and also on new purchases where there is existing carried-over debt) are typically higher than the rates for other forms of borrowing, such as home loans and personal loans – in some cases very much higher. Credit card interest rates in Australia mostly fall in the range 10% p.a. to 22% p.a., although there are a few cards with rates lower and higher than this range.

Cash advances

If you use your credit card to make a cash withdrawal from your credit card account (either over-the-counter or via an ATM), this transaction is called a ‘cash advance’ and is never interest free. Interest is charged from the withdrawal date until the repayment date, even if there is no carried-over debt on the account.

Additionally, many cards have a cash advance interest rate that is higher — often by as much as 2% p.a. – than the interest rate charged on purchases debt.

Credit limit

All credit cards come with a credit limit, typically anywhere between $1,000 and $100,000. The card’s limit is based on the cardholder’s annual income and the bank’s assessment of their creditworthiness and ability to repay the amounts borrowed.

Once the card’s credit limit is reached (that is, once the total amount owing on the card is equal to the credit limit, or when the difference between the credit limit and the amount owing is less than the amount of an attempted new purchase), no further purchases can be made with the card until some of the balance owing has been repaid.

If you think your credit limit is too low, you can apply to the bank to increase your credit limit once you have had the card for a while and managed it responsibly, by making at least the minimum repayment on time every month and paying off large parts of the balance on a regular basis.

Annual fee

Many credit cards, especially those awarding rewards points on purchases and/or conferring complimentary benefits (e.g. free travel insurance), charge an annual fee. The fee can be anywhere between $30 and $1,500 or more, depending on the points and benefits attached to the card. However, some cards have no annual fee.

Credit card types

There are credit cards to suit the lifestyle and spending patterns of a wide variety of cardholders. Some of the most common types are:

  • 0% purchase credit cards: No interest is charged on purchases for an introductory period, so the carried-over balance is interest free until the introductory period is over.
  • Balance transfer credit cards: Special introductory interest rate (often 0%) for a specified period, on balances transferred from other cards.
  • Rewards credit cards: Loyalty points, redeemable for rewards, are earned when purchases are made.
  • Frequent flyer credit cards: Air miles, redeemable for flights or rewards, are earned when purchases are made.
  • Low interest credit cards: Cards whose interest rate on carried-over debt is at the lower end of the scale.
  • No annual fee credit cards: Cards with $0 annual fee.

Learn about credit cards

If you've got questions about credit cards, we've got all the tips you'll need to make a better choice.

  • Pros & cons
  • Tips
  • FAQs
  • Glossary
  • Guides

Borrow money for free

A credit card is a way of using the bank’s money for free, potentially for up to eight weeks, provided you repay your balance in full by the payment due date.

Build your credit score

Using a credit card responsibly is a way of building up your credit score so that you can get a better deal for other financial products, such as a home loan.

Alternatively, if you don’t use your credit card responsibly you risk damaging your credit score.

Convenient way to track your spending

If you use your credit card for every possible purchase and bill payment, your credit card statements become a great way to track your expenditure for budgeting purposes.

Easy to use

A credit card is a fast and convenient way of making payments.

Improper use can lead to deeper debt

If you don’t pay off your purchases balance every month, you risk becoming trapped in a debt spiral, especially if you make only the minimum repayments and the card has a high interest rate.

It may be more eniticing to to spend

For some people, having a credit card in their pocket is a temptation to spend money they don’t actually have on things they don’t really need.

Rewards for using your card

Many credit cards come with valuable extra benefits, like rewards points, frequent flyer points, free insurance, airport lounge access, free flights, cashback and more.

Safer to carry than cash

Paying with a credit card is more secure than carrying cash, provided you take normal precautions.

Your spending should pay for the annual fee

Credit cards with a high annual fee can work out to be expensive if you don’t earn enough rewards points and/or make enough use of complimentary benefits to offset the annual fee.

How to make the best use of a credit card

Plan to pay off your purchases balance in full every month, on or before the due date, and avoid taking cash advances. This means that you’ll never pay any interest charges. Setting up a direct debit from your bank transaction account, so that you never miss a payment, is a good idea.

If you can’t pay off all of your balance, always pay off as much as you can afford.

Choose a credit card to suit your spending pattern, income and lifestyle

Compare card features to get the best deal to suit the way you spend your money. E.g.

  • You travel interstate or overseas regularly? Choose a frequent flyer or rewards card.
  • You won’t be paying off your purchases balance in full every month? Choose a low interest card.
  • You have a large balance on your existing card and/or need to consolidate your debts? Choose a balance transfer card.
  • You’re planning a major purchase? Spread out the cost over several months with a 0% purchase card.
  • You’re on a tight budget? Choose a low annual fee card.

Take note of all the benefits attached to your premium card

To make the most of a premium card, make sure you’re aware of all its complimentary benefits, such free travel insurance, free flights, travel booking credits, free airport lounge access, extended warranty cover, purchase and price protection, rental vehicle excess waiver, reserved or early access seating for sports and entertainment, smartphone screen replacement and personal concierge service. Being aware of your card’s benefits, and using them, can save you heaps of money. But don’t forget to read the small print (available in online Product Disclosure Statements) to make sure that you know how to qualify for the benefits and what the limitations are.

Things to be aware of when using your card overseas

  • Some cards have high foreign currency transaction fees – a surcharge of as much as 3.5% of the transaction amount in some cases – so if you travel overseas frequently you might want to consider a ‘No Foreign Transaction Fee’ credit card.
  • If you don’t travel overseas regularly but then take an overseas trip, you might trigger a suspicious transaction alert and card suspension when your bank spots a rash of overseas purchases. Tell your bank about your travel plans in advance.
  • If your card comes with complimentary overseas travel insurance, plan to use it to save money, but read the small print first to make sure that it’s suitable for your needs and that you meet the activation conditions.
  • Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion. That is, if an overseas merchant offers to let you pay with your credit card in Australian dollars, politely decline the offer and ask for the credit card charge to be made in local currency instead. That’s because the exchange rates used for Dynamic Currency Conversion are highly unfavourable for the cardholder.
  • Make a note of the emergency contact details – by phone or online – for your credit card provider (in case your card is lost or stolen) and any complimentary insurance cover.

Don’t apply for multiple cards at once

Every time you make an application for a new credit card, a note is made in your credit history file, and your credit score will go down slightly. So if you make a lot of applications at the same time, you not only risk losing quite a few credit score points, you may also trigger some suspicion among card issuers: ‘Is this person in a difficult financial situation, and therefore a risk?’.

So do your homework before you apply (comparing cards online has absolutely no impact on your credit score) and only apply for one card at a time.

Take precautions against fraud

Credit card providers have robust systems for preventing fraud, and monitor transactions to look for anything suspicious. They also offer varying levels of ‘no liability’ fraud protection to cardholders. This means that your liability is either zero or very low (e.g. $50) if you do become a victim of credit card fraud, provided that you have not contributed to the fraud in any way. In practice this means that you should:

  • Keep your card in a safe place.
  • Notify the bank immediately if it is lost or stolen. (Some online banking systems and mobile apps have an option to put a temporary hold on the card if you misplace it, but don’t wait too long before alerting the bank if it doesn’t turn up.)
  • Never give your card’s PIN to anyone else.
  • Memorise your PIN, or, if you must record it, don’t keep the record in a place that could be lost or stolen along with the card.
  • Check your statements regularly to make sure that there are no transactions you didn’t authorise.

What does APR mean?

APR’ means Annual Percentage Rate. Interest on carried-over credit card balances, and on new purchases if you already have a carried-over balance, is actually calculated daily and charged monthly. The APR is the equivalent rate expressed as an annual figure.

Will the interest rate on my credit card always stay the same?

No. Credit card interest rates are variable and can change at any time. And special introductory interest rates on balance transfers and purchases always have an expiry date, at which point the revert rate (the standard rate for purchases or cash advances) comes into play.

What’s the best way to compare credit cards?

First of all, decide which type of credit card would work best in your current circumstances, based on your income, lifestyle and spending pattern. For example, if you don’t expect to regularly pay off your purchases balance in full, it wouldn’t make sense to choose an expensive rewards card with a high interest rate, because the annual fee and interest costs will be far higher than the value of any rewards you could earn. But if you travel a lot and intend to clear your balance every month, a frequent flyer points card with free travel insurance and airport lounge passes might work well for you.

So narrow your choices down by deciding on which card features are most important for you. Your ideal card may have one or more of the following features:

  • 0% purchase introductory offer period
  • Balance transfer introductory offer period
  • Rewards points
  • Frequent flyer points
  • Sign-up or first purchase bonus points
  • Ongoing low interest rate
  • No or low annual fee
  • No foregn transaction fees
  • Complimentary benefits for travellers and/or shoppers
  • Available with Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay

Once you’ve narrowed your choice by deciding which type, or types, of card will suit you best, you can compare their interest rates, annual fee, points earning rates (if any) and complimentary benefits (if any), to see which one is offering the best deal.

Will my credit rating affect the success of my credit card application?

Yes. The card provider is almost certain to check your credit score, and may even order a copy of your credit history file from one of the Australian credit bureaux. The higher your score, the more likely it is that your application will be successful. You can order a free copy of your credit history report once per year from any of the credit reporting bureaux: Experian, Equifax, Ilion, Tasmanian Collection Service. And you can check your credit score as often as you like here.

What if I have a low credit score, or no credit score?

If you have a low credit score, or no score because you’re a recent arrival in Australia, or a student, or someone starting their first job, you’re not going to qualify for the best credit card deals. Your choice may be limited, and you may be offered a low credit limit and a high interest rate. But there are credit cards specially designed for beginners and low credit scores.

By using one of these ‘starter’ cards responsibly (i.e. always repaying your purchases balance in full and trying to avoid maxing out your credit limit), you will build up your credit score over time and become eligible for better deals.

Are there any penalties for missing a repayment, or paying late?

Yes. If you fail to make at least the minimum repayment (usually a small percentage of the balance owing, or a small fixed amount) on or before the payment due date, you may be hit with a penalty fee of between $5 and $35 per event. You could also risk having a promotional deal, such as an introductory interest rate, cancelled. Avoid this by setting up a direct debit for an amount that will at least cover the minimum repayment.

What is a joint credit card?

A true joint credit card is where two people are equally responsible and linked to one line of credit account. What this means is that either of you can make purchases on the card. But more importantly, each party is equally responsible for any balance due on the card and either person can make changes to the account. (Although there are a few instances, like closing the account, which need both cardholders to approve.) Remember, this is different from having an additional cardholder in your credit card applicaiton. 

When considering your application, lenders will take into account both parties’ incomes and credit scores. And the details of your credit card account will appear on each of your credit reports. If you miss a payment and can’t pay off the balance, the lender can pursue both of you for payment. If one person on the account doesn’t use the card responsibly then both of your credit scores could be affected.

Because of this, joint credit cards should be considered a substantial commitment. You should only get one with someone whom you trust implicitly.

We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of joint cards. And explore an alternative option that allows almost the same benefits as a joint card, without as much risk.

What are the benefits of a joint credit card?

While a joint credit card is a big commitment there are some times when it might be the best option for your circumstances. Here are a few of the reasons it could work for you.

  • If one person in a couple doesn’t have a good credit score, but the other person’s score is high, then a joint application gives the person with the lower score a better chance of being approved (when compared with applying separately). If you don’t know your credit score you can get it for free here.
  • Continuing on from the last point, someone with a lower credit score can access more favourable terms when partnering with someone with a very good score. This could be in the form of a better interest rate or a higher credit limit based on two incomes.
  • You’ll only have one annual fee to pay, instead of paying a fee for each if you get separate cards.
  • It can make it easier for couples to get an overall picture of their financial situation and stick to a joint budget – making it a way to simplify your finances and better manage joint payments from the one account.
  • You can earn rewards faster when two people spend on one account . . . which means flying Business Class on points sooner!
  • Both cardholders are able to redeem rewards.
  • For some people, it may help to reduce the temptation to spend too much, because there are no secrets between them and their partner.
  • You can work together towards a common goal.
  • For business owners with personal liability, a joint card can provide access to greater credit capacity on a personal credit card.

While all of these benefits can have you reaching for the pen and signing on the dotted line, it’s time to step on the brakes for just a moment. We take a look at why you should avoid having a joint credit card and what the risks are.

Disadvantages and risks of a joint credit card

And now comes the bad news – sorry it has to be done! Life isn’t always a bed or roses and it’s not uncommon for two people in a partnership to have very different attitudes towards money. So getting a joint credit card can end up being a disaster for both your relationship and your credit rating.

Here are some of the risks that you should be aware of.  

  • We touched on it at the start of the article – a joint credit card means shared debt. You are both legally responsible for the full balance owing. So if the other cardholder goes on a spending spree, your run the risk of taking on a debt that you didn’t rack up.
  • Resentment can build up between one cardholder who is responsible and the other who splashes on the plastic a little too much.
  • With two people using the card at the same time, you’re more likely to go over your credit limit. You should ensure you are both tracking at least the account balance on a regular basis.
  • Any missed payments will affect both account holders’ credit scores, because you are both equally responsible for paying off the card balance, regardless of who incurred the charges.
  • Disagreements over the card can cause problems in a relationship. If both partners are not on the same page about how much to spend or who is making the payments, then tension and stress can arise. A spender combined with a saver can be a relationship disaster.  A joint credit card only works when both parties are prepared to be responsible for each other's spending. 
  • If your relationship with the person you have the joint card with changes, such as the case with a breakup or divorce, you will need to close the account or work out how to handle it. There is a risk one may use the card to hurt the other by spending more than they can afford. So if your ex isn’t paying the debt, you are still liable. 
  • And for credit card rewards chasers, you could be missing out on the opportunity to get double the sign-up bonus points which you could get by both applying for your cards individually.

Will a joint credit card affect my credit score?

Yes, it can. For some, this could be a positive thing, for others it won’t be so good. So it depends whether you are starting with a lower score or if your score is excellent.

The first thing to mention is that you don’t ever have a joint credit score or a joint credit history. Each individual has their own credit score and a joint account is listed on each person’s individual credit file as a joint applicant and cardholder.

From the time when you first apply for a joint card, if you or your partner happen to have a really low credit score then your application could be declined. Since you and your partner are being assessed jointly, a bad score could outweigh an average or good one. When you are rejected for credit this will appear on your credit report and can reduce your score. Check out for free what your current score is before you apply for a loan. The moral of the story is, make sure you are both aware of your scores before you apply!

For those with a score on the lower side, a joint account can help to repair your credit score over time. If the account is kept in good standing and payments are made on time, your score can lift as time passes. So it can be a useful tool to establish creditworthiness for someone who needs it.

The actions you and your partner take with joint loans and credit cards may affect your score. Because you both share legal responsibility for the account if payments are missed by the due date, both scores could be affected.

Won’t I miss out on the chance for more points if I don’t have a joint card?

By now you might be weighing up whether a joint card is worth it. It can sound appealing to both earn points to help you reach your goals sooner. But there is an alternative option that could get you there just as fast.

The middle ground may be to apply for a credit card on your own and add a supplementary or additional cardholder. There is sometimes an additional fee for doing this, but other cards come with free supplementary cards. With two people spending on the card you’ll double your rewards earning potential.

Most credit card issuers offer this option and it means you’ll become the primary account holder, and your partner will be a secondary cardholder. But you’ll be the only person responsible for managing the account and redeeming rewards. The authorised user has no liability for the debt owing on the card. But because the secondary cardholder is able to spend on the card, you need to make sure you are only giving a card to someone you trust completely.

But, as mentioned above, by applying for separate credit cards you can both individually take advantage of any sign-up bonuses on offer.

Should we apply for a joint credit card?

That’s something you’ll need to weigh up depending on how responsible you are with credit. There isn’t anything wrong with sharing a card with someone you trust. It can be a great way to boost your rewards points and have transparency in your financial life.

However, a joint credit card brings with it a number of risks in having two people being jointly liable for any debt. But if one of the joint applicants has a lower credit score or would find it hard to get credit on their own, it can be a worthwhile option where available.

So the middle ground of one person having their own card, with the other person as a supplementary cardholder, may be appealing. The main consideration is choosing a card that suits your financial needs. 

How can I apply for a credit card?

You can apply in person at a branch of the credit card provider (e.g. at a bank), by mail or by telephone. But the easiest and quickest way to apply is online, which you can do right here by clicking the ‘Application’ button next to your chosen card.

Annual fee

The amount charged once every 12 months, on the card anniversary, as an account-keeping fee.

APR

Annual Percentage Rate. The interest rate applied to carried-over credit card balances, or to new purchases where there is an existing balance, or to cash advances, expressed as an annual rate (although it is calculated daily and charged monthly).

Balance transfer

An amount of debt transferred from an existing credit card or store card to another card held by the same cardholder.

Balance transfer fee

A fee charged by a card provider when transferring a balance from a card issued by another card provider onto a card it has itself issued. This fee is sometimes waived.

Cash advance

Withdrawal of cash from a credit card account, either over-the-counter or at an ATM. Buying foreign currency or traveller’s cheques, and in some cases gambling transactions, will be considered a cash advance.

Charge card

A payment card that works like a credit card in many ways, except that there is no fixed credit limit and no option to carry a balance from month to month – it must be repaid in full every month.

Credit score

A numerical expression of a person’s credit history, based on the information in a credit report collected by a credit bureau. The higher the number, the better the score.

First purchase bonus points

A large number of rewards points or frequent flyer points granted as an incentive to a new cardholder in return for meeting a spending target within a specified period (e.g. $5,000 in the first 90 days of holding the card).

Frequent flyer points

Air miles or points earned on credit card purchases if the card is eligible for the airline loyalty program. Points can be exchanged principally for flights and seat upgrades, but also for, for example, merchandise from an online catalogue, gift cards, cashback, travel and accommodation, movie tickets and other entertainment experiences.

Interest-free days

The days that elapse between the date of a purchase transaction and the date on which repayment must be made before interest charges are levied, where the card account is not carrying an unpaid balance from the previous month.

Introductory interest rate

A low or zero interest rate on balance transfers or purchases, offered for a specified number of months as an incentive to new cardholders.

Minimum payment or Minimum repayment

The lowest amount accepted by the card provider each month as a repayment, usually expressed as a percentage of the balance (e.g. 2%) or a fixed amount (e.g. $5), or both (i.e. whichever is greater).

Penalty fee

An amount charged by the credit card provider in the case of a missed payment, or a late payment, or a transaction which causes the cardholder to exceed their credit limit.

Rewards points

Loyalty points earned on credit card purchases if the card is eligible for the rewards program. Points can be exchanged for, for example, merchandise from an online catalogue, gift cards, cashback, frequent flyer points, travel and accommodation, movie tickets and other entertainment experiences. Some rewards points come directly in the form of frequent flyer points.

Sign-up bonus points

A large number of rewards points or frequent flyer points granted as an incentive to a new cardholder in return for making an approved card application.

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