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Published July 10, 2023

Student credit card 101

Student credit cards are designed for beginner borrowers and university students. They have lower credit limits as well as perks and discounts fit for uni life.

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University life is a rite of passage for many young Australians. It’s the marker of adulthood and a major life change. For new students, studies usually take priority over working and earning money. Most students can only work casual or part-time hours unless they attend a remote course. Banks and lenders recognise this and have a suite of student credit card options. 

If you’re a university student ready to apply for a credit card, here’s what you need to know. 

What is a student credit card?

Student credit cards aren’t a distinct category. Instead, they are simply credit cards suitable for beginner borrowers, like university students.

These types of credit cards have easier qualification requirements and lower credit limits. They also tend to have perks explicitly designed for students and young adults. 

Why use a student credit card

Student credit cards are for beginner borrowers, and using one is a smart strategy for building a credit score

When you get a student credit card, you’ll start with a small credit limit. That should help you learn how to use the card responsibly while building strong money management skills and healthy financial habits. Then, you can ‘graduate’ from that card and transition to a second one with a higher credit limit and enhanced benefits and perks. 

» MORE: 9 things to know before getting your first credit card

How to get a student credit card in Australia 

Student credit cards are supposed to be easily understood so that they can introduce cardholders to the world of revolving credit

As such, these credit cards are easier to get approved for than ones with rewards points and sign-up bonuses. However, there are standard requirements for applying for any credit card, regardless of the type of product.

General eligibility requirements 

To get a student credit card, you must be: 

  • at least 18 years old 
  • an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a visa holder 
  • able to show a form of ID, such as a passport or driver’s licence 
  • provide recent payslips or a tax return to show current income. 

Minimum income requirements on credit cards shouldn’t deter you. Low-income credit cards are available, though they likely come with a catch — usually a higher interest rate or substantial fees

Before applying for any credit card, always check the fine print. It’s also worth calling your bank (and a couple of others) to ask about the best offers available for students. 

Rewards, perks and possibilities 

Student credit cards are beginner products and won’t have elaborate rewards programs. So, don’t worry about points or perks like lounge passes and travel insurance. Instead, focus on getting the right base features — a lower interest rate and few (or no) ongoing fees.

If you’re committed to finding a student credit card with rewards, look into options that offer discounts or cash-back rewards on big purchases and the everyday items you already buy. Even if you save a few dollars, that money’s better in your bank. 

How to choose a student credit card

As with everything financial, take time to reflect on what you really need before you apply for a credit card. 

Do you want the lowest interest rate? Look at low-rate credit cards, which sits around 13.74%, compared to the 19.94% average. Do you want to avoid paying account fees? Prioritise credit cards that cut out ongoing fees and late charges. 

Are you taking out a card to strengthen your credit report? Having no debt doesn’t make you more creditworthy. Instead, use your card strategically to help your credit rating. Use your card, then pay it down on time, ideally within the interest-free period

Research different banks and credit card companies and the products on offer. Speak to them on the phone and navigate around their websites. Do you like the user experience? Are the customer representatives friendly? Which brands is your bank affiliated with? These are important details to consider, too. 

What about ‘secured’ credit cards? 

‘Secured’ credit cards, which require a security deposit, are offered in some countries as an option for those with limited credit history. However, this type of card is not available in Australia. Unlike in the United States, all credit cards in Australia are unsecured. So, if you’re approved for a card and don’t pay it off, the bank will simply cancel your card. 

As long as you can show some source of income and money in the bank and apply for a credit card with a small $500 to $1,000 credit limit, you shouldn’t have a problem getting approved as a student. 

» MORE: Can you get a credit card with bad credit?

Should you get a student credit card? 

Owning a credit card certainly isn’t mandatory, but building creditworthiness as a student is a smart financial strategy. A good credit score will set you up if or when you decide to take out a car loan, buy a house, start a business or support another significant life milestone. 


  • Student credit cards are easier to get approved for than other types of credit cards
  • You can use the card to demonstrate creditworthiness to future lenders on your credit report.
  • Sometimes provides access to discounts and deals for everyday purchases.
  • Credit cards have greater buyer protections than debit cards
  • Low credit limits reduce the risk of excessive spending beyond your means. 
  • You will have peace of mind knowing that you have a secondary source of cash. This is especially helpful if you can’t work or need to work less during exams and finals. 


  • Student cards don’t come with extensive rewards programs or attractive perks offered by rewards and travel cards
  • Since this is your first credit card, you may make mistakes that could hurt your credit rating (like missed payments, late fees or exceeding your limit) or get you into debt that you’ll need to pay off. 
  • You’ll need to watch out for interest charges.
  • You might need more than the lower credit limits on student credit cards. 

There’s a credit card for every season. You can hold onto your student credit card for a couple of years, then move on to the next one with more extensive features. A credit card is only one part of your finances — don’t rely on it or ignore it. 

Frequently asked questions about student credit cards

Can a student get a credit card?

Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria, which is standard across all major Australian banks.

Can an international student apply for a credit card in Australia?

Yes, international students who live and study in Australia can access a credit card. Check with your respective bank about their eligibility requirements. Westpac, for example, requires visa holders to have a minimum of one-year validity.


Guide to Student Loans and Financial Support in Australia

Guide to Student Loans and Financial Support in Australia

Australian students have access to interest-free loans, Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) subsidies, Centrelink payments, and other government programs.

Are There Zero-Interest and Interest-Free Credit Cards?

Are There Zero-Interest and Interest-Free Credit Cards?

Interest-free credit cards include lifetime zero interest credit cards and options with 0% promo periods on balance transfers and purchases.

Can You Get A Credit Card On Centrelink?

Can You Get A Credit Card On Centrelink?

Centrelink payments are considered a form of income and receiving them shouldn’t prevent you from getting a credit card.

What Is A Low-Rate Credit Card?

What Is A Low-Rate Credit Card?

No-frills option for people who can’t always repay their full balance each month.

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