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Published December 11, 2023
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Are There Credit Cards For Pensioners?

While pensioners can get a credit card, it’s not as simple as it is for someone on a full-time salary.

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Banks turning down credit card applications from older Australians is a well-documented and growing issue. The main reason being that banks can’t make as much money from retirees because they tend to pay before the due date to avoid interest charges – which is the smart way to use a credit card without being out of pocket. 

For retirees without a regular income anymore, getting approved for a credit card isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. 

» MORE: How do credit cards work?

Credit card options for pensioners and retired seniors 

There might be moments where the Age Pension, which is an income-tested government benefit, and a superannuation aren’t enough financial support and it might be necessary to apply for a credit card. Banks tend to think about credit cards for pensioners in the same way as they do for low-income earners or the unemployed – without a salary, there are few options. 

If you’re retired and in the market for a credit card, look for no-frills credit cards. The best pensioner credit cards are the low-fee, low-rate and low minimum limit. It’s easier to request a credit limit increase or update cards at a bank once you’re a customer. So, aim for a card that’s easier to obtain on your retired income. 

Pick a card that fits your income, is friendly to the pension and super as a form of income, and make sure your credit score is in good standing. 

» MORE: Types of credit cards in Australia

Requirements when applying for a credit card 

Check with the specific bank for the required documents list, as they differ between banks and credit card products. 

For example, if you’re applying for a NAB credit card, you’ll need all or a combination of the following documents: 

  • Most recent bank statement where your super was received 
  • Most recent superannuation fund statement from the past six- to 12-month period 
  • Financial statements for the last financial year 
  • Letter from financial planner or advisor detailing payments from superannuation investments 
  • Most recent bank statement showing three months of consecutive government payments 
  • Letter or statement from a government agency that has made a payment in the past 90 days. 

If you’re applying for a Westpac card, you can use the following evidence:  

  • Superannuation statement from the past 60 days 
  • Three recent monthly bank statements 
  • Australian Taxation Office Notice of Assessment 
  • An annual investment statement 
  • Letter from a government agency. 

» MORE: How to get a credit card in Australia

Tips for increasing your odds of approval 

Shortlist two or three suitable credit cards. Call each bank to double check you’re eligible and get all your documents ready before applying. While it’s likely banks won’t be able to offer individual financial advice, they can give you a better understanding of the available products so you can make an informed decision. 

Applying for a credit card as a retiree isn’t different to securing any financial product. Aim for a card within your means, with a manageable credit limit. 

What to do if you feel your application is unfairly denied 

Lenders are more stringent about who they provide credit to, including pensioners. Even with proof of income, assets and a solid credit history, some retirees are still being denied credit cards. 

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) advises individuals who have been denied unfairly to follow up with the lender to supply additional proof of financial status  – or go to another bank. It’s important to know your rights. Denying pensioners credit breaches the Australian Human Rights Commission age discrimination rules. Be prepared to advocate for yourself and go to the authorities if necessary. 

» MORE: How to apply for a credit card in 5 steps

Frequently asked questions about credit cards for pensioners

Can a pensioner be garnished for credit card debt? 

If a consumer falls behind on credit card repayments, they could be contacted by a debt collector. A creditor can get a court order for the debt to be paid by instalments directly from wages or a bank account until it’s settled. It’s possible to take a tax-free lump sum from a superannuation account from age 60 to clear debts. This could reduce assessable assets, which may boost Age Pension entitlements.

Is there an age limit for credit cards? 

Applicants must be at least 18 years old. There is no maximum age limit to apply for a credit card, but there are challenges for pensioners and retirees without a regular income. Lenders make money off interest charges, which are more common with younger consumers.


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