Getting a credit card at an early stage in your life could help you in emergencies, help manage your cash flow and build a strong credit score into your 20s.
Scroll down for more about the minimum age for credit cards in Australia, what other criteria you must meet to be eligible, options for people who don’t qualify for a credit card based on age, and how to choose your very first credit card.
There are advantages to having a credit card, but you need to be careful that it doesn’t end up damaging your credit score.
Damaging your credit score may negatively affect your financial future by doing so. So, first weigh up whether you can get by with a debit card or if you can handle the responsibility of a credit card.
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How do I qualify for a credit card?
You will need to meet the requirements required of the credit issuer and provide supporting documentation to indicate that you will be able to make monthly repayments. You can apply for a credit card online or at a branch.
You have to meet these criteria:
- Be 18 years or older.
- Be a citizen of Australia or hold a valid residence permit.
- Meet the minimum financial requirements for monthly income.
- Ideally be employed full-time.
- Have a clean credit history.
You can get your credit score for free with Finty.
Is there a credit card option for people under 18?
You have to be 18 years or older to be eligible for any credit card. An alternative option would be to share a credit card with one of your parents or guardians. This way, you become an additional cardholder with your own credit card. The minimum age requirement for this feature is 16 years.
As an additional cardholder, you may use the credit card, but your parents will be responsible for all transactions made.
Sharing a credit card like this may be a good learning curve for teens who want to experience financial freedom but also know that there is a limit to the amount of money they can spend.
How do I choose my first credit card?
You first need to think about your spending habits and what you usually spend your money on. Do you spend more than you earn? From this, you should establish which credit card suits you best.
There are various types of credit cards, including these.
- No interest. Introduced by the banks as an alternative to BNPL, this type of card charges a monthly fee (if you use the card that month) instead of interest. They have low credit limits and are relatively easy to get approved for.
- Low rate. This card type suits those who aren’t sure they cover their monthly repayments in full and so need a lower interest rate.
- Rewards. This card type is for those who can make monthly repayments and want to be rewarded for their spending to earn perks. These cards usually have a higher monthly fee and may have higher eligibility criteria.
When you have decided which card type suits your spending habits, you can then compare cards based on their fees, interest rate, number of interest-free days, rewards, and benefits, etc.
Finty offers a credit card comparison page dedicated to helping first-timers choose their credit card. The cards listed have low fees and rates to help you build a strong credit score from the start.
How do I apply for a credit card?
You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone, or in-person at the bank. The online application should take you only 15 minutes to complete.
Once you have submitted your application, the credit issuer will carry out a preliminary credit check on you. If they are satisfied with your credit history, they will ask you to upload supporting documentation to prove that you can pay off your credit card.
They will usually require the following documents:
- Australian driver licence number;
- Details of your monthly expenses (food, rent, travel, etc.);
- Information about your current employment status and income;
- Details of liabilities like other credit cards or personal loans.
Once you have applied for the credit card, it is up to the bank to decide whether you qualify. Depending on the bank, you should get an answer within a few days.
Many banks offer a decision within 60 seconds and several provide virtual cards that can be added to a digital wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Pay after approval for immediate use.
Read our ultimate guide to applying for a credit card for more on how to apply.
Applying for your first credit card is a significant milestone in your life. It’s a simple process, if you have all your documents in order.
Financial freedom is a big responsibility and, when used properly, can be a massive benefit to you. You can build a strong credit score early on for when you want to take out a loan to buy your first house. It all adds up in the end.