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Best Credit Cards For Immigrants In Australia

Updated on Sep 27, 2021
AUS Credit Card

There are several reasons for wanting to apply for credit cards as an immigrant in Australia. Firstly, it is really important to start building a credit score when you move to a new country, you can do this by availing a credit card. With a good credit score, it will be easier for you to take out a loan for a home or a car if you decide to stay longer in Australia. 

A local credit card in Australia can be useful when you are short of money but need to meet quick expenses. It is super convenient for making purchases and there are exciting perks and rewards when the card is used responsibly. 

Compared to a credit card from your home country, having an Australian credit card while living in Australia saves you from paying foreign transaction fees whenever you make a purchase. You do not have to be at the mercy of the exchange rate fluctuations which is not the case when using your home country credit cards. 

Getting approved for an Australian credit card when you are a temporary resident or non-citizen is not always easy but fortunately, there is a wide range of options. You simply need to find the one that suits your circumstances and needs. 

Why Is It Difficult To Get Approved For A Credit Card As A Temporary Resident?

Technically, a credit card is a type of loan you take from a bank or a lender that you need to pay back with interest. You can avoid paying the interest if the monthly outstanding is paid in full on or before the due date. 

Before approving a credit card application, lenders need to assess the risk of lending the money to the loan applicant. For this, they need to check the applicant's income, employment status, credit history, transaction history, etc. to determine whether the applicant has the capacity to pay back the loan. 

The loan application is likely to be rejected if the applicant has a bad credit record in the past or if approved, the interest rate is way higher than the normal rates. So lenders are very cautious to whom they issue a credit card. 

If you are a newcomer and starting from scratch in Australia, it is very difficult to provide credit history to the card issuers. Your credit score in your home country is generally not considered. Without such information, it is hard for lenders to determine your risk profile. Hence, the eligibility requirements are more stringent than for Australian Citizens/Permanent Residents.

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Which Visa Type Is Most Likely To Get Approved For A Credit Card In Australia? 

There are different types of visas that are listed on the webpage of the Department of Home Affairs of the Australian government. These include visitor/holiday visas, student or training visas, family or spouse visas, working and skilled visas, special various visas, refugee and humanitarian visas, and many more. 

Temporary residents with working visas have a higher chance of being approved for a credit card. Such visas include Temporary Skilled Work Visa (subclass 457) - this has been replaced by Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) - subclass 482 in 2018. 

Other accepted temporary visas include 408, 403, and 400. Holders of Temporary Graduate Visa (subclasses 476 and 485), student and training visas (subclasses 500, 590, 407), and refugee and humanitarian visas may also apply for an Australian credit card.

Non-citizen permanent residents (Resident return visas-subclasses 155 and 157) may have the same eligibility as the Australian nationals. 

Those with a working holiday visa (subclasses 417, 462) are not eligible for any cards. Other short-term special purpose visas holders, transport crew, bridging or visitor and transit visas are unlikely to be eligible. 

Family or spouse visa holders may find it harder to get approved for a credit card because of the unavailability of a stable source of income due to work restrictions among other reasons. They may be eligible as supplementary cardholders. Keep in mind that the credit card holder will solely be responsible for the repayment of the total account balance on such supplementary cards. 

Temporary Residents With TSS Visa-Subclass 482

482 visa, which was previously known as 457 visa is a type of temporary visa issued to skilled foreign workers in a particular work (and their immediate family members), when sponsored by an Australian employer, in absence of suitably skilled Australian workers in that field of work. They can stay up to a maximum of 4 years in Australia. 

Those who have been in Australia for a while may still hold 457 visas. In case you find 457 visas still listed as a requirement for credit card application, the 482 visas should work. 

Temporary residents with a 457/482 visa are offered credit cards by major Australian banks such as Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, NAB, plus American Express and other overseas banks operating in Australia once they meet eligibility requirements. 

If you don't have a 457/482 visa but have other temporary resident visas, talk to the banks or credit card providers of your choice and discuss your options. 



Eligibility Requirements For Credit Card As Temporary Residents 

Though each credit card providers have their own eligibility criteria for the approval of your credit card application, given below are the general requirements:

Valid Visa and Visa Length

Visa is the most important document you need when you apply for a credit card as a non-permanent resident. Also, banks expect your visa to be valid for 9 months to 2 years from the date of application depending on the visa type.   

Income

All credit card providers have a minimum income requirement to be eligible for credit card approval.

When you apply for a credit card as a temporary resident, the minimum income requirement usually starts from $50,000 per annum. This is way higher than what most Australian citizens need to earn to apply for a credit card (as little as $15,000 per year). This may be because you lack a credit history and are deemed risky to extend credit. 

Credit History

You may be asked to provide your credit history to get credit card approval. To increase your chances of being approved, maintaining a good credit score is crucial. If you have just arrived in Australia and haven't had the time to build a credit history, other supporting documents such as payments of utility bills, taxes, and others can help establish your credibility. 

What Is A Good Credit Score In Australia?

Credit scores differ depending on the credit rating agency. As a thumb rule, the higher the number, the better your credit score. In our case, we have used an Experian credit score; a score above 625 out of 1000 is considered good. 

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Age And Residency 

Should be 18 years of age and should have proof of residence in Australia (utility bills, bank statement, etc.) 

ID Requirements

  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (page with personal details)
  • A copy of the Australian visa page in your foreign passport (card issuer can check online via the VEVO system to confirm. VEVO or Visa Entitlement Verification Online stores visa information of individuals holding Australian Visas)
  • A photocopy of your foreign birth certificate/citizenship certificate 
  • A photocopy of your Australian driver's license
  • A photocopy of your employment contract (if applicable)

Things You Should Know Before Applying For A Credit Card In Australia

Credit Limit

A credit limit is the maximum amount of money that a lender allows you to spend on a credit card. The limit is determined by several factors including your income and overall financial situation. Spending over the limit may come with a penalty. It is crucial that you only borrow what you can afford. 

When you first apply for a credit card, the credit limit offered to you is likely to be low based on your credit history or income. But as you use the credit card responsibly by paying the bills on time and staying within the limit, you may eventually get approved for a higher credit limit. 

Interest Rates

You must look at the interest rates the card issuer charges you. It is a type of fee that you are charged for borrowing the credit. Interest is charged only if your outstanding balance is not paid in full. You don't have to pay the interest on your credit if the monthly balance is paid in full by the due date. 

The interest rates of credit cards are represented as the annual percentage rate (APR). For example, the interest rates can range from 9.99% pa (per annum) to 21.99% pa depending on the card type, transaction type, and card provider. 

There can be different types of interest rates such as: 

  • purchase interest rate (when used for regular purchases online or in retail outlets)
  • cash advance interest rate (ATMs withdrawal or cash equivalent transactions),
  • balance transfer interest rate (transferring the balance from an existing credit card to a new card) or 
  • promotional interest rate (time-bound offer to new customers). 
  • Card issuers also offer interest-free periods (usually 30-55 days).

Fees

A credit card comes with a lot of fees if the credit extended to you is not managed efficiently. Make sure you are aware of the various fees that can add up to a significant amount if you are not careful. There are annual fees, late payment fees, foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, and fees for spending over the credit limit. Being aware of such fees can help you reduce the charges or avoid paying them altogether.

Repayment

Repayment is paying back the money you owed to the credit card provider and is usually done monthly. Making regular and timely monthly payments is the way to build a credit score if you are just starting. If you are not able to pay the full balance by the due date to avoid the interest, you can at least pay the minimum payment to not incur late fees. However, there will be interest charges on the remaining balance. 

Here Are Top 5 Credit Cards For Immigrants In Australia:  

Let's compare them side by side based on the minimum income required, purchase rate, balance transfer rate, annual fee, credit limit, and offers.

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Takeaway

Always compare your options before applying and know what you are looking for. Do you want a no annual fee credit card or the one with a low-interest rate, or a card that comes with cashback rewards? Once you decide the one you need, check the eligibility criteria of the card, and interest rates, fees, and other features. 

The good news is that many Australian banks or credit card providers provide credit cards to immigrants with no credit score or history as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. Once a credit card is issued, you can build a good credit history for building your life in Australia. 

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