Credit cards for bad credit

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Updated 22 Aug 2023

Credit cards in Australia

Although it's not impossible to get credit card approval with bad credit in Australia, it is generally difficult to get approved.

If you've got bad credit and are thinking about applying for a credit card, scroll down for more about improving your chances of approval and more.

Key takeaways

  • It's possible, though difficult, to get credit card approval with bad credit in Australia.
  • There's no guaranteed approval. Each lender has their own criteria for bad credit classifications.
  • To improve your chances of approval, pay off debts on time and monitor your credit utilisation ratio.
  • Unlike elsewhere, there are no secured credit cards in the market.

If you have checked your credit score and it's bad, think carefully before applying for a credit card. A declined application will go onto your credit report and may make it more difficult to get approval in the future.

Can people with bad credit get a credit card?

Yes, getting a credit card with bad credit in Australia is possible. However, it is more difficult to get approval.

If your application is approved, the card's credit terms are unlikely to be as favourable as those offered to people with good credit. For example, the maximum credit limit extended may be significantly lower.

Can you apply for a credit card without a credit check?

No. Australian credit card issuers must, by law, perform a credit check.

Features of credit cards for people with bad credit

People with bad credit in Australia typically receive credit cards with lower credit limits than customers with good credit scores. The interest rate may also be higher. Cards that will approve an applicant with bad credit are highly unlikely to offer any perks or benefits, such as rewards and airport lounge access.

However, if used responsibly, a credit card can help you to improve your credit score and offer you the potential to get a better card or loan in the future.

How to apply for a credit card when you have bad credit

If you know you have a bad credit score and are in the market for a credit card, there are some actions you can take to improve your chances of approval.

Here are some tips:

  • Don't rush into it. If you can do without, then work on your financial profile before applying.
  • Pay your debts on time before applying. A lender will look at your repayment history on any other cards or loans you have. If you can show that you've consistently met your repayments and paid off more than the minimum monthly repayment on open credit card accounts, you may improve your chances of approval.
  • Reduce your credit utilisation ratio. Most banks consider applicants who use a lot of their available credit high risk. Try to reduce your balance before applying for a credit card. Check that this has been recorded on your most recent credit report (there is a lag in reporting).
  • Build an emergency fund. If you have some money set aside you are less likely to miss a payment in the run-up to submitting an application. Some money saved may also reduce your risk profile.
  • If possible, do a soft check before applying. Check your chance of approval before applying, and you can avoid damaging your credit score since soft checks have no impact on your credit history. This way you can apply for credit cards that better suit your financial situation. Unfortunately, this is not widely available in Australia.
  • Don't apply again if you've just been declined. Avoid the temptation. It'll only make your situation worse.

Pros and cons


  • Rebuild your credit score. Consistently making payments on time and maintaining a low credit utilisation ratio can help rebuild your credit score over time.
  • Get on the path to a better card. With responsible use and an improved credit score, you may qualify for better credit cards in future.


  • Lower credit limits. If approved, it's likely that you'll receive a low credit limit. Avoid carrying a balance since that will push your credit utilisation up, keeping your credit score low.
  • Uncompetitive interest and no perks. You won't be eligible for the best credit card offers whilst your credit is bad, leaving you with a limited choice of basic credit cards.
  • Getting declined can set you back. The bank's decision not to approve your application is recorded in your credit report for other banks to see.


If you've already been declined for a credit card or do not want to risk applying for one but still want or need access to finance, there are still options.

  • Buy now pay later services. For example, Afterpay does not perform a credit check. Note that some services do perform a credit check.
  • Personal loans. It's possible to get a personal loan with bad credit.