Credit cards for temporary residents

If you are a temporary resident of Australia, you may be eligible to apply for a credit card. Compare some of your options here.

By   |   Verified by David Boyd   |   Updated 16 Feb 2024

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Comparing credit cards for temporary residents

Bankwest Breeze Mastercard

On website

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

12 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$49.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months (2% BT fee, 12.99% p.a. thereafter).
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
  • Up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
  • New customers only. Limited time. Other fees and charges, T&Cs apply.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases.
  • Up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.

Cons

  • There are no rewards on this card.
  • There is a 2% BT fee.
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card

On website

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

23.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • $0 annual fee in the first year, saving you $195.
  • Earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations.
  • Enjoy $200 to spend on travel each year that can be used on eligible flights, hotels, or car hire when booked through American Express Travel.

Pros

  • $0 annual fee in the first year, saving you $195.
  • Receive $200 to spend on eligible domestic and international flights, hotels, or car hire with American Express Travel.
  • Smartphone Screen Cover for smartphone screen repairs up to $500.

Cons

  • The ongoing purchase rate of 23.99%.
American Express Explorer Credit Card

On website

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

23.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$395.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points when you apply, are approved, and spend $4,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Amex Card Members only.
  • Receive a $400 Travel Credit each year towards any flights, hotels, and car hire when you book online with this card.
  • Includes complimentary domestic & international travel insurance.

Pros

  • The 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points when approved and reach spend requirement within the first 3 months.
  • Receive a $400 travel credit every year.
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on purchases except for government bodies in Australia where you will earn 1 point per $1 spent (uncapped).
  • Get two complimentary entries per year to The Centurion® Lounge.

Cons

  • The $395 p.a. annual fee.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard

On website

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

12 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12 months at 0% p.a.

Annual fee

$69.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months (2% BT fee, 12.99% p.a. thereafter).
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
  • Up to 55 interest-free days.
  • New customers only. Limited time. Other fees and charges, T&Cs apply.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • There is no rewards program on this card.
  • There is a 2% BT fee.
American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

On website

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

23.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$450.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Receive 100,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply by 2 April 2024 are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.
  • Get 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations each year.
  • $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year (conditions apply).

Pros

  • Earn 100,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria.
  • Excellent earn rates on everyday spending. Earns points on payments to the ATO.
  • Access to The Centurion® Lounge. after your first card spend on the card for Qantas products and services each anniversary year.
  • 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations each year.
  • Add cards for up to four family and friends at no cost.

Cons

  • The annual fee of $450.
  • There is no concierge service, even though it's a high end card.
  • Balance transfers are not possible.
  • Transactions in a foreign currency attract a fee.
Qantas American Express Discovery Credit Card

On website

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

23.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 p.a. ongoing

Highlights

  • Earn 1.75 Qantas Points on eligible Qantas products and services.
  • Earn 0.75 Qantas Point 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.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • Up to 4 Additional Cards for family members or friends with no extra fee.

Pros

  • $0 Annual Fee, a rarity among rewards credit cards.
  • Earn 0.75 Qantas points per $1 spent and 0.5 Qantas points per $1 for government spend.
  • No cap on the number of points you can earn.
  • Add up to 4 additional cards for family members or friends with no extra fee.
  • Complimentary Card Purchase Cover and Card Refund Cover.

Cons

  • There is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • Lacks complimentary travel insurance.
  • There is no access to a concierge service.
NAB Low Rate Card

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

32 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 32 months with no balance transfer fee. Reverts to variable cash advance rate of 21.74% p.a. after the promotional period.
  • $0 first-year annual card fee ($59 p.a. thereafter).
  • Get a response in 60 seconds.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 32 months.
  • No balance transfer fee.
  • The waived annual fee for the first year.
  • Additional credit card is free.

Cons

  • No rewards program for this card.
  • No insurance coverage.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

N/A

Purchase rate

20.24% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Earn $250 cashback when you spend $1,500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months from approval. Terms and Conditions apply.
  • Up to 55 days interest-free on purchases when you pay your account in full each month.
  • No annual fee for the first year. A standard annual fee of $87 p.a. applies, thereafter.

Pros

  • Earn a $250 cashback when you meet the spend criteria.
  • $0 annual fee in the first year, $87 p.a. thereafter (terms and conditions apply).
  • Comes with Personal Concierge service,
  • Complimentary insurance covers include international travel insurance, purchase protection insurance, and extended warranty insurance.

Cons

  • There is no rewards program on this card.
  • No balance transfer offer.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

12 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

19.99% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Avail of the 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months with a 2% balance transfer fee.
  • Enjoy the first year with no annual fee, then it's $149 per year afterward.
  • Earn 2 Reward Plus points per $1 spent on overseas eligible purchases and 1 Reward Plus point per $1 spent for all other eligible purchases.
  • $6,000 minimum credit limit.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year.
  • Enjoy 2 airport lounge passes every year.
  • Benefit from HSBC Instant Savings with exclusive dining and shopping discounts.
  • Includes complimentary travel and purchase protection insurance.
  • Choice of points transfer partners (Asia Miles, KrisFlyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer).

Cons

  • The balance transfer rate reverts to 21.99% p.a. after 12 months.
  • 2% balance transfer fee.
  • The 10,000 points cap per statement period.
ANZ Low Rate Credit Card

Temporary resident

Yes

Balance transfer

28 months at 0% p.a.

Purchase rate

12.49% p.a. ongoing

Annual fee

$0.00 for 1st year

Highlights

  • Choose between these 2 introductory offers: 0% p.a. for 28 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee (reverts to 21.24% p.a.), or get $250 cash back when you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months from approval. Terms and Conditions apply.
  • No annual fee for the first year ($58 thereafter).
  • Low 12.49% p.a. ongoing rate on purchases.
  • Up to 55 days interest-free on purchases when you pay your account in full each month.

Pros

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers up to 28 months or earn $250 cash back.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year ($58 p.a. thereafter).
  • Take advantage of the low purchase interest rate of 12.49% p.a.
  • Add up to 3 additional cardholders at no extra cost.

Cons

  • No purchase or travel insurance included.
  • No rewards program.

Temporary resident credit card benefits

If you’re in Australia on a working or study transfer for a limited time, or are a temporary resident hoping to apply for permanent residence, there are lots of reasons why you’ll want to apply for an Australian credit card.

1. Avoid exposure to currency fluctuations

If you use an overseas-issued credit card to make purchases in Australian dollars, your card issuer will convert the individual Australian dollar amounts into the native currency of your card, which could be, for example, US, NZ, Canadian or Singapore dollars, British pounds, euros or Japanese yen. You will need to make a payment in your foreign card’s currency each month in order to clear the balance once it has been converted from Australian dollars.

There’s a secondary problem too. The exchange rate used by your card issuer is unlikely to be the most competitive available on the day of the transaction, especially if you opt for Dynamic Currency Conversion, which looks good on the surface (you know instantly how much you will be charged in your card’s native currency), but could work out to be very expensive (the exchange rate may be a rip-off).

This means that every Australian dollar purchase transaction exposes you to foreign exchange rate fluctuations between the relative value of the Australian dollar and the currency of your card. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose, but you’ll never know in advance what’s going to happen and it’s an unnecessary risk. It’s much better to match the currency you’re purchasing in with the currency you’re paying in.

2. Avoid foreign transaction fees

Every purchase you make in Australian dollars on your foreign credit card will register as an overseas transaction as far as your card issuer is concerned. It is very likely that you will incur a fee on each transaction, levied as a percentage of the transaction amount once it has been converted into your card’s native currency.

For credit cards issued in the US, for example, this fee is commonly 3% of the converted US dollar amount.

You can avoid this fee by using an Australian-issued card for your everyday transactions incurred in Australia – and there will be many of these since you’re living here.

3. Make the monthly repayment process easier

Paying off the monthly balance on an Australian credit card is easy, provided you also have an Australian bank transaction account (which most non-citizen residents will need to have, in any case). You just transfer the payment from your transaction account to your credit card, using internet banking or a phone app.

But repaying the balance on your foreign credit card is a little more complicated, unless you are also maintaining a bank transaction account in your country of citizenship, with a regular overseas income which can be used to cover your expenses incurred in Australia.

However, in most cases, foreigners resident in Australia will also be earning their income in Australian dollars, paid into an Australian bank account.

In order to pay off their foreign credit card balance they will need to go through a more lengthy online payment process, involving an IBAN (recognised International Bank Account Number format), and a SWIFT or BIC code (to identify the branch at which the beneficiary account is held – not easy for a credit card).

To make matters worse, online overseas fund transfers usually involve hefty fees, plus the possibility of a second fee chargeback by the beneficiary (your foreign credit card issuer).

This complicated process, with the accompanying high fees, can be avoided if you have an Australian credit card.

4. Build up a credit score in Australia

For Australian residents, there are many benefits to be derived from establishing a good credit history in Australia, so that you can earn a high credit score. This will be important if you need to rent somewhere to live, sign up with utility providers and perhaps take out a car loan or lease. If you decide to stay in Australia for the long term, perhaps applying for citizenship, you may need a housing loan or a personal loan. All these facilities require the applicant to have a good credit score.

If your credit score result is disappointing, it could be because your credit history in Australia is limited by the fact that you are using a foreign credit card to pay all your Australian bills. While lenders may be able to see that you’ve paid your rent and utility providers on time, there’s a whole lot of good information missing because it’s difficult, if not impossible, for them to see how you’ve conducted your foreign credit card account. Owning an Australian credit card, and operating the account responsibly, can help you build up a good credit history in Australia.

Australian banks that accept temporary residents

All of the Big Four Australian banks (ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB, and Westpac), plus American Express and some of the lesser or overseas-owned banks, are prepared to issue credit cards to holders of the visa type ‘Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482)’ (or ‘TSS visa’). You’ll be able to choose from a variety of interest rates, rewards programs, complimentary benefits and annual fees, whether you’re looking for a Visa, Mastercard, or American Express card.

What kind of visa do you need to get a credit card?

The Australian government’s Department of Home Affairs has a web page listing all current and former visa types, with links to an explanation of each one.

Current visas listed include visitor visas, studying and training visas, family and partner visas, working and skilled visas, refugee and humanitarian visas, ‘other visas’ (special purpose visas) and repealed visas.

  • Visitor and transit visas of the type granted to tourists are not accepted.
  • Bridging, transport crew, medical treatment and other short-term special purpose visas will almost certainly be ineligible.
  • Working holiday visas (subclasses 417 and 462) are not eligible for any of cards.
  • Student and training visas (subclasses 500, 590, 407) may also make the holder eligible for a few credit cards.
  • Family and partner visas, of which there are many, vary in whether or not they allow the holder to work, and whether the stay is temporary or permanent. Some of these visas are for minors or for aged and dependent relatives, who would not qualify for a card in their own right but might be eligible as a supplementary cardholder.
  • Temporary graduate visas (subclasses 476 and 485) allow the holders to work and should be OK.
  • Refugee and humanitarian visas allow the holders to work and stay either permanently or for several years, so should be acceptable.
  • Resident return visas (subclasses 155 and 157) are for non-citizen permanent residents of Australia, and should confer the same eligibility as Australian citizenship where credit cards are concerned.

The most common type of working visa are working and skilled visas, and are the most likely to grant credit card eligibility for temporary residents. Among the most accepted are:

  • Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457), no longer available to new applicants.
  • Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) (subclass 482), which has replaced subclass 457.
  • Other temporary work visas (408, 403 and 400).
  • Business visas, talent visas, skilled visas, investor visas and employer nomination visas (many subclasses).
  • Temporary Work (International Relations) Visa (subclass 403).

Many Australian credit card issuers still mention the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457) when referring to the type of visa most commonly accepted for credit card purposes. This type of visa is no longer issued to new applicants, although you may have one of these if you have been in Australia for a while.

More recent arrivals can safely assume that the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) (subclass 482) is identical to sub class 457 for the purposes of making a credit card application.

Note that not all banks will accept all visa types, and some may accept only a limited number of visa subclasses. Contact the card issuer if you are unsure before you make your application. You may also find that banks require you to have a specified minimum amount of time left on your visa before it expires, when you make your card application.

Required documentation

As well as your valid visa, there is other documentation you will need to assemble before you begin your application.

Passing the 100-point check

Australia has a compulsory personal identification system for financial institution customers, called the ‘100-point check’. When you first open an account with a new bank, you need to produce documents proving who you are and where you live. Many of the point-scoring documents, such as utility bills or a Medicare card, are issued only in Australia, and temporary residents or recently-arrived applicants may have difficulty in producing them. Fortunately, a foreign passport alone will usually score 70 points, an Australian driver's licence or tertiary student identity card will add another 40 points, while a foreign or international driver's licence will add 25 points. You may find it easier to apply for a credit card issued by the bank where you have your everyday banking transaction account, to avoid going through the 100-point check procedure twice.

For applicants who are not Australian citizens, card issuers may possibly have more stringent ID requirements. The documents most likely to be asked for are:

  • A photocopy of the personal details page of your foreign passport
  • A photocopy of the Australian visa page in your foreign passport, so that the card issuer can check it online via the VEVO system
  • A photocopy of your foreign birth certificate or citizenship certificate
  • A photocopy of your foreign driver’s licence (if you haven’t supplied an Australian driver’s licence)

Documents in a language other than English may need to be translated by a certified translator.

As well as the above documents, you will also need to supply your current Australian address and possibly your previous overseas address. The bank will need details of your employer and your income. They will have little else on which to base their assessment of your creditworthiness. However, if you have been in Australia for a while, it’s worth checking your credit score to see in advance what the bank will know about you.

You will also need to provide details about your employer and your income, and the bank will almost certainly want to verify this with your employer since they will have little else on which to assess your creditworthiness. Other documents you could be asked to produce include your foreign birth certificate or citizenship certificate and your foreign driver’s licence. Some card issuers may also want to know not just your current address but your last overseas address as well.

Minimum income requirement

One drawback of applying for a card as a temporary resident is that the card issuer may require you to demonstrate a higher level of income when compared with the conditions relating to Australian citizens or permanent residents. This is because there may be difficulties in obtaining your credit history information from overseas, meaning that your income and assets are the only basis on which to assess your creditworthiness.

Since there is a minimum income threshold for workers granted a TSS visa (the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold), currently set at $53,900, an annual income of at least this amount should be sufficient to qualify for many credit cards. Even if you’re allocated a fairly restrictive credit limit to begin with, you may be able to apply for a higher limit once you’ve established some credit history in Australia.

Alternative (if you have family in Australia)

Many types of Australian visa holders can bring family members with them to live in Australia, and the family members of primary visa holders can also usually work in Australia if they wish to do so. This means that they could apply for their own credit card account.

However, it may be easier (and less expensive) for family members to simply have a supplementary card on a credit card account belonging to the primary visa holder. Supplementary cardholders can make purchases and take cash advances (which are charged to the primary cardholder’s account) with their card, view the account via internet banking and organise account repayments. But supplementary cardholders can’t apply for a credit limit increase, close the account, or spend any rewards points which may have been earned.

The primary cardholder is also wholly and solely responsible for the debt represented by the credit card account balance, regardless of which card or cards attached to the account contributed to it.

Learn about credit cards for temporary residents

Can temporary residents get a credit card and does your immigration status make you eligible for one?

  • FAQs

  • Glossary

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

Who is a temporary resident?

A temporary resident is someone who is allowed to reside in Australia, usually for work, education, diplomatic activity or training, for a period of up to four years. For example, someone could be in Australia on a working holiday visa for up to a year. Another common example would be someone on a skills shortage entry visa, sponsored by an employer who wishes to recruit skilled people from overseas for a stay of up to four years.

What are the eligibility requirements for a temporary resident credit card?

Eligibility requirements vary, depending on the card issuer and the specific card.

For example, ANZ say that they will accept all temporary working and business visa sub-classes, except working holiday visas. They also say that they may ask you to provide:

  • A current copy of your employment contract (if applicable)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport
  • A copy of the Australian visa page or confirmation of your electronic visa from the Australian Department of Home Affairs
  • Proof of the income required for the specific card you are applying for

Westpac has a similarly long list of acceptable visa types.

What credit cards can I apply for as a temporary resident?

Your choices are may not be as wide as those for Australian permanent residents or citizens. However, all of the Big Four Australian banks (ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac), plus American Express and some of the lesser or overseas-owned banks, are prepared to issue credit cards to holders of the visa type ‘Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482)’ (also known as ‘TSS visa’), as well as to holders of some other visa types.

Mastercard, Visa and American Express cards are all available. The cards listed on this page are a selection of some of the cards open to temporary residents. 

Is it more difficult to be approved for a credit card if I'm a temporary resident in Australia?

Yes. The requirements for proving your identity, residency status and income are more stringent than the standards applied to permanent residents or citizens of Australia, since it may be difficult for the card issuer to get access to your overseas credit history. However, if you can prove your residency status using your Department of Home Affairs visa documents (or via the VEVO electronic visa verification system), establish your ID and prove that you meet the income requirements, then it is possible for a bank to approve your application.

Why is it a good idea to use an Australian credit card while I’m in Australia?

There are several good reasons for applying for an Australian credit card:

  • It’s a much more convenient payment method than cash or cheques.
  • It’s better than using a debit card because you can get up to 55 days interest-free credit with a credit card. With a debit card you pay with your own money on the day of the transaction.
  • Using an overseas-issued card in Australia means that you will probably incur foreign currency transaction fees, which can be very expensive.
  • Using an overseas-issued card in Australia will put you at the mercy of currency exchange rate fluctuations.
  • By using an Australian credit card you build up a local credit history, which may come in useful if you need to apply for a loan, or decide to become a permanent resident.

Do I need to apply for a credit card issued by the bank where I already have an everyday transaction bank account?

Not necessarily. You can apply for a card issued by a different financial institution if you wish. However, if you want to avoid having to repeat the compulsory ‘100-point check’ identity verification required for financial institution customers, it may be easier to stick with the same bank.

Can I get a credit card for other members of my family who are with me in Australia?

You may apply for a supplementary card on your account for your spouse or other family members. But remember that the responsibility for repayment of the total account balance, including any purchases they may make using their supplementary card, rests solely with you.

Family members accompanying the primary visa holder may also work in Australia, without restriction as to the type of job or employer; that is, they do not need to be sponsored, and can change jobs. Therefore they may have their own income and could on that basis apply for a credit card in their own name.

100 point check

An identity document scoring system used by Australian government and financial institutions to establish a person's identity for legal, financial and other purposes. Different types of documents are allocated a score (e.g. 70 points for a current passport), with the target score being 100 in order to establish identity by providing several different documents.

Credit history and credit score

Your credit history in Australia is a record of all your credit transactions, including credit cards, bank loans and utility bill payments. It includes both positive information (timely payments, accounts of long standing, mix of credit types, low credit utilisation ratio) and negative information (late payments, defaults, insolvency, bankruptcy, enquiries about your credit history from potential lenders). The information is sent by lenders to the three Australian credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and illion), who record it in your credit file and use it to calculate your credit score, a numerical expression of your creditworthiness.

Foreign transaction fees

A surcharge placed by banks on the value of credit card purchases made from a merchant whose processing centre is located outside the country where the card was issued. The surcharge is typically calculated as a percentage of the purchase cost after conversion to the card's home currency, and may be anywhere between 1% to 5% of the cost depending on the card's terms.

Temporary resident

Someone who is allowed to reside in Australia, usually for work, education, diplomatic activity or training, for a period of up to four years.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482) ('TSS visa')

A type of visa issued to business professionals and skilled workers (and their immediate family) for stays of up to four years, when sponsored by an Australian employer. It replaced the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457) in 2018.

Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457)

A type of visa previously issued to skilled workers for stays of up to four years in Australia when sponsored by a business. It was replaced by Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482) in 2018.

Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system

An Australian government online service allowing visa holders, employers, education providers and other organisations to check visa conditions.

Convenience

Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in Australia. It's a convenient way to pay, especially now that you can pay using your phone. You'll find life as a temporary Australian resident much easier if you have a credit card.

Less expensive than using an overseas credit card

Once you have an Australian credit card you can avoid potential foreign transaction fees that would apply to all purchases made in Australia with a card issued by your home country bank. You'll also be protected from currency fluctuations, since your card account balance will be in Australian dollars and you can pay it in Australian dollars.

Build Australian credit history

Having a credit history and score is an important factor when you need to borrow money, perhaps for a car loan, or even a home loan if you decide to stay here for longer. Unfortunately, it's very difficult for lenders to access your overseas credit history, so you'll be starting from scratch when you arrive here. Fortunately, Australian credit card providers will still issue cards to temporary residents with no local credit history, provided you can tick all their other boxes, and your new credit card, used responsibly, becomes your tool for establishing a good credit history.

Tip: You can check your credit score for free here on Finty.

Unfamiliar card types and benefits

Every country's credit cards are slightly different, so it make take a while to get your head around the card types available in Australia.

Secured credit cards for example, common in some countries, are not currently available in Australia. There are fewer cards in Australia offering cashback and point-of-sale discounts than you might expect. Different brands of rewards points are difficult to compare because they operate like separate floating currencies rather than being tied to a dollar value.

Take your time and do your research to familiarise yourself with the local card market.

Potentially high interest rates

Although there are low interest credit cards available, Australian credit card interest rates for premium rewards cards can be much higher than you're used to seeing.

Low credit limit

The credit limit you are given when you first apply for a card may be lower than you'd expect based on your income and past credit history overseas. This is because the bank can't easily access your overseas credit history, and has to rely on your income alone, and possibly your payment record on utility bills during the brief period since you arrived. It's not much to go on, so your starting limit may be low, but after a few months of using your account responsibly you can apply for a limit increase.

Do research and compare your options

You don't need to settle for second best just because your options are more limited. Consider which features are most suited to your specific needs. Are you looking for a low or no annual fee card, a rewards points card (often with a higher annual fee), or a card with a relatively low interest rate in case you cannot repay your balance in full every month? Once you have chosen the most suitable card, check that you satisfy the card’s eligibility requirements. You can then apply for the card directly from this page if you wish.

Australian card terms and conditions may be different

Don't assume that the terms and conditions governing Australian credit cards will be identical to those you are familiar with in your home country. Before you make your final decisions it would be a good idea to read the card's fine print to familiarise your self with details like:

  • Interest rates on carried-over purchases balances and cash advances
  • Interest-free days allowed on purchases
  • How interest is calculated
  • Minimum monthly payments
  • The order in which payments are allocated to the balance owing
  • Additional fees for cash advances, late payments and foreign transactions
  • How any points are earned and redeemed, and if points expire
  • Eligibility and activation for any complimentary benefits

Kiwis count as honorary Australians

New Zealand citizens don't need to jump through the same hoops as temporary residents from other countries. In most cases they can apply for Australian credit cards on the same basis as Australian citizens.

Tip: We have a detailed New Zealand credit card comparison here.

Visa subclass 482 has replaced subclass 457

If you see a visa type called Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457) listed in a card's eligibility qualifications, you can safely assume that the new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) (subclass 482) will also qualify. The card issuer may not have updated their website. Subclass 482 has replaced subclass 457, but you may still have a 457 visa if you've been in Australia for a while.

You'll need to have a few months left on your visa

Most banks will want to see a minimum amount of time left on your visa's validity before it expires, probably at least nine months. Check your visa's expiry date and the bank's requirements before you apply.

Contact the card issuer if you don't see your visa type listed

If you don't see your particular visa type listed among the acceptable visas for your chosen card, phone the card issuer to ask if you qualify. It may just be that their website information is incomplete or not updated.