Can you get a credit card with a low income?
Yes, you can get a credit card with a low income, but your choices will be limited.
As with most financial products, a higher income means more options. So, while you probably won’t have a lot of options, you should be able to find a beginner credit card that suits your needs. Just know that these credit cards don’t usually come with many frills or rewards.
What is the minimum income required for a credit card in Australia?
An annual income of $15,000 is commonly considered the minimum income for a credit card in Australia, but there’s no widespread industry standard.
All banks and credit card products have their own application, income and document requirements, and these tend to differ greatly from bank to bank and between cards.
What’s most important is that you are working and earning. It helps if you’re working full-time, but you can still secure a credit card if you’re a casual or part-time. Banks really just want to make sure that their customers can responsibly repay the debt.
Examples of standard income requirements
Here are a few examples of requirements you might encounter:
|NAB StraightUp card
|No set minimum, but proof that applicants “receive a regular income” is required.
|Westpac Low Rate card
|$30,000 annual income required.
|CommBank Low Rate card
|No set minimum, but applicants cannot be currently bankrupt. Proof of income may be requested.
|ANZ Low Rate card
|No set minimum, but proof of income is required.
|AMEX Low Rate card
|No income requirement, but applicants cannot have a history of bad debt or payment defaults. Proof of income may be requested.
Note that the cards offered by the Big Four are geared towards beginners, yet the specific eligibility requirements differ. Showing proof of income (as well as expenses, assets and liabilities) is consistent across all lenders and credit card companies.
Should you get a credit card on a low income?
Whether or not you should get a credit card when you have a low income will depend on your circumstances. Low-income applicants should take great care to weigh up the pros and cons of using credit cards.
Credit cards offer fraud protection and emergency access to cash, making them a convenient way to pay for goods, services, and bills. Responsible credit card use — like paying your balance in full and on time every month — may help improve your credit score. That could increase your chances of approval when applying for another credit card or even a home loan in the future.
However, if you take on credit you can’t manage, the negative consequences will be more immediate and impactful. You’ll quickly find yourself in credit card debt by spending more than you can afford. Credit card misuse can also damage your credit history, making it much harder to achieve your financial goals.
If you’re not in a situation where you can confidently apply for a card that you want, it’s worth waiting until your circumstances change. While a delay might not be ideal, your best chance of securing a credit card on a low income is increasing your income — work on that first.
Types of credit cards for low-income applicants
Low-income applicants have limited choices, but some types of credit cards tend to be more accessible:
- Low-rate credit cards
- Zero-interest and interest-free credit cards
- No-annual-fee credit cards
- Student credit cards
- Travel money cards.
If you can’t meet the eligibility requirements on your own, you could try to get a credit card with the help of a family member, partner or close friend.
- You can become an authorised cardholder to an approved account. This differs from a joint credit card, where each cardholder has equal responsibility. Instead, it’s an arrangement between a primary cardholder and an additional cardholder. As an additional cardholder, you’ll have your own credit card (linked to the primary account number). CommBank requires additional cardholders to be at least 16 years of age.
- You can also add a co-signer to your application, who will act as a guarantor and make repayments on your behalf if you cannot.
Credit card features to compare
It’s great to be loyal to your bank, but consider looking at all lenders to find the most competitive credit card for low-income earners.
While reviewing options, consider the following:
- The bank and its reputation
- The welcome offers
- The interest rates
- The length of the interest-free period
- Fees, including monthly and yearly charges
- Minimum and maximum credit limit
- Any hidden fees or terms you don’t understand.
How to apply for a credit card on a low income
Applying for a credit card with a low income is the same process as any other card. You apply online directly through the bank.
Before you apply, make sure you check the eligibility requirements. If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible, call the bank to discuss your situation. Doing this before you apply online is smart because unsuccessful applications can negatively affect your credit score.
Then, get your documents ready to avoid delays. Standard proof of income documents include recent payslips, bank statements, tax returns or an employment verification letter.
Once you find the credit card you like (and are eligible for):
- Check the specific documents you need and have them next to you. For example, applicants need at least two forms of ID, recent payslips, government statements, rental income proof, and a list of all current debts for the Westpac Low Rate card.
- Click the ‘Apply Now’ button once you are ready to fill out your application.
- Double-check the critical details (fees, interest rate, credit limit, etc.)
- Read through all the information, including the fine print.
- Keep your phone alongside, as you may need to do an SMS code check to prove your identity.
Frequently asked questions about low-income credit cards
No. Banks need to know your income to determine the credit card limit. Proof of income typically refers to documents like recent payslips, bank statements, tax returns, and an employment verification letter.
Yes, but you’ll have fewer options. Getting approved for a credit card is very difficult if you have a bad credit score.