Applying for a credit card only takes a few minutes, but there’s more to it than submitting your information. Present as someone capable of handling credit by taking the time to prepare and improve your approval chances.
How to apply for a credit card
How to Apply for a Credit Card So You’ll Get Approved
Check your credit score
The bank will check your credit score when you apply for a new card. Banks do their due diligence to ensure you’re capable of handling the line of credit and are currently in a position to do so.
You can access a free credit report every three months from any or all of Australia’s three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Illion. You can access a free credit report every three months. While it’s a good financial practice to do this once or twice a year, it’s even more crucial if you’re applying for credit or focusing on increasing your score.
There are options available for consumers with a low (or no) credit score, it’s better to give yourself time to boost your creditworthiness by building good financial habits.
Make corrections and improve your credit
If your score needs some work, aim to get it in the green before applying for credit card products.
- Make payments on time.
- Keep balances low on existing credit cards.
- Avoid new debt.
For Equifax, credit enquiries, applications, and repayment history account for over 75% of the score, so focus on those straightforward steps to boost your approval odds. If you can, wait a couple of months to let those positive habits reflect on your score.
Alternatively, maybe you spotted a mistake that needs fixing, or there are behavioural changes that need to occur to increase your score. If so, contact the credit reporting agency to correct any errors on your credit report.
Prepare for the questions you’ll be asked
When you apply, you’ll be asked similar questions no matter which company is issuing the card.
Similar to a credit report, you’ll need to share confidential personal information to prove your eligibility, providing at least one form of ID such as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or passport. And because credit scores don’t reflect your income, they’ll ask for proof that you can make payments.
Get all your supporting documents together to help the bank best assess your situation. These additional documents include:
- Employment details or other acceptable income types.
- Payslips and most recent tax return.
- What you own (assets) and owe (debts).
- General living expenses.
Compiling all your information and completing the online application is relatively straightforward. The preparation leading up to the application is most important, so give yourself enough time.
Consider card options strategically
If you have bad credit, you may not get approved for a card with a large sign-up bonus and lucrative rewards. Each credit card application can temporarily ding your credit scores, so consider types of credit cards that offer ‘soft’ credit checks or pre-qualification.
You can also call the card issuer and ask about a specific card’s requirements.
Research banks, cards, and current offers
Get clear on what features are most important to you. Is it a low interest rate, fewer fees or more rewards? Knowing this will help direct your search.
You might like or have experience with one bank, but this doesn’t mean they have the best credit card options for your needs. Beyond the ‘big four’, there are plenty of other smaller banks and financial institutions.
Australians rate Bendigo Bank, ING, St.George Bank, Suncorp Bank, Bankwest, and many others higher than the big institutions. You have options. Consider the banks, the credit products and offers.
Call your top two banks for deals
Once you’ve shortlisted a couple of products you’re interested in, call the banks. Yes, you can apply online — as the banks will encourage you to do — but talking to someone on the phone can provide more clarification and confidence in your choice.
Banks want you as a customer, and they’re more likely to offer better deals over the phone — much like a representative from a telecommunications company can. This is the step most people skip or simply do online, but you’ll make more informed decisions by speaking to people who know these products inside and out.
Clarify your credit strategy
How long will you keep this credit card? Are you signing up with an offer that will only last 12 months? Or, have you found the ideal product that you plan to keep for years to come?
Keep your strategy front of mind. Know when and how you’ll use your new credit card, how long you plan to keep it, and your ideal limit. You might be eligible for a higher limit, so be conscious of how much you’re comfortable repaying.
Choose a card and apply
Complete the online application for the best credit card for you. Avoid applying for more than one product at a time. This will damage your credit score and erase all the good work you’ve done to increase it. You don’t want to have a red mark against your name with separate lenders either, as this could hurt you in the future.
Don’t request a huge credit limit straight out of the gate. Apply for a reasonable limit that you know you can handle. Once you’ve been a customer for some time with a positive track record, you can increase the limit. The lower the limit, the higher your chances of approval.
What to expect from a credit card application
NAB, one of Australia’s ‘big four’, looks at your creditworthiness and takes the appropriate steps to ensure a credit-consumer match. This means they review your credit history, income, employment, assets, and expenses.
Most banks will require applicants to be:
- 18 years or older
- Receiving a regular income
- An Australian resident for tax purposes
- An Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
Avoid rushing this process and applying anywhere and everywhere. While it might seem harmless to fill out a few online applications, you don’t want a scattered approach to damage your chances of getting the credit card of your choice.
Create a scenario where you’re fielding multiple offers for credit cards, not the other way around. Put yourself in a position of control, with a little preparation. Credit is an important part of your financial life, so it pays to invest the time to learn about it. Put aside time every month to review how it’s working for you.