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Learn more about credit cards

If you have bad credit score, applying for a credit card can be a difficult and stressful process, but it’s not impossible.

If you think you may have bad credit and you’re in the market for a credit card, it’s important to compare all your options and do your research first, especially around your credit score. This can help ensure you’re getting the most competitive product and not further negatively impacting your credit rating. 

Here’s what you need to know about getting a credit card if you think you have a bad credit score in Australia. 

Warning - don't apply just yet!

Every time you apply for a credit card, or any financial product, the lender will perform a ‘hard’ inquiry on your credit report. If you are rejected, this will negatively impact your credit score and show up on your credit history for up to 12 months. Read on to learn how to best avoid hurting your credit score further... 

Can I get a credit card with bad credit?

Short answer - yes, but it can be a difficult process as it depends on each credit card provider’s eligibility criteria. As your credit file is checked every time you apply for a credit card, a bad credit score can affect your chances and can complicate the process. 

Are there credit card providers who don’t perform a credit check?

In Australia, it’s not currently possible to get a credit card from a lower-risk provider without a credit check. However, there are ‘no credit check’ providers out there – also known as payday lenders

While this may seem inconvenient, it’s in your best interest if you’ve got bad credit. If you are rejected by a credit card provider this can negatively impact your credit score. Making an application for a credit card when you have bad credit, and then being rejected, may make matters worse. 

Instead you could look to lenders or platforms that perform ‘soft’ checks (pre-qualifications showing your chance of approval) that won’t show up on your credit history, and try to apply for credit cards that better suit your financial situation. 

How can I get a credit card with bad credit?

To help improve your chance of approval and decrease your risk of negatively impacting your credit score, you should utilise comparison tools to find credit cards that suit your financial situation i.e. targeted to low income earners, people with bad credit etc. 

RateCity.com.au’s credit card comparison table allows you to search, filter and compare competitive credit card options that suit people with bad credit. Use this tool to search through credit card interest rates, as well as read product reviews, who the credit cards are suitable for and what minimum income requirements could be. 

Who offers credit cards for bad credit with guaranteed approval?

Guaranteed approval is impossible to come by in Australia, and there is no universal definition of bad credit. Each lender will have their own criteria around bad credit classifications, and how this determines your eligibility and chance of approval. 

How do I get approved for a credit card for bad credit?

There are a few things you can do to improve your chance of approval when applying for a credit card with bad credit. 

  1. Pay your debts

When a lender assesses your credit card application, they’ll look at your repayment history on any other cards or loans you have. If you can show that you’ve been consistent with meeting your repayments and paying off more than the minimum monthly credit card repayment, you may have a better chance at improving your credit rating, and therefore being approved. 

If you have multiple sources of debt (personal loan, credit card etc.) you should focus on one debt at a time and budget to pay it off. Once you know how much you owe, you should set money aside to pay one debt off at a time, starting with the debt with the highest interest rate first. If you have any additional cash left over at the end of your pay cycle, put it towards the debt as well. Learn more about how to repair your credit score here.

  1. Wait until you can afford the repayments

In Australia, a lender can’t legally give you a credit card unless you have enough annual income to meet the card’s minimum repayments. If you don’t have a regular income or can’t prove your income, it’s best to hold off applying for a credit card until you’re in a better position. 

Alternatively, you can compare credit card options for those with low annual income here.   

  1. Go through your credit history

It’s not uncommon for credit reports to contain mistakes. One of the most common errors can involve your name being credited with the debt of a family member or stranger with a very similar name to yours. You can also add positive information to your credit report that shows stability in your personal and financial life, such as a full-time job, being married, owning a home and living at one address for a number of years. 

Working on clearing your bad credit rating can make applying for a credit card in the future a much simpler process.  

  1. Get saving

Lenders will go through your bank statements to determine your eligibility, so if you’re able to show that you have some savings, you’ll demonstrate that you can stick to a budget and have self-control with your finances. 

What other options are available?

If you're not confident that a credit card is the right choice for your financial needs, you could consider other financial products, such as personal loans. Learn more about applying for a personal loan with bad credit here. 

Do you need financial counselling?

If you’ve got bad credit and you find yourself in a dire financial situation, it may be wise to seek financial counselling before applying for any further loans or credit cards. 

A professional financial counsellor can help you work through a debt consolidation plan and help facilitate smarter choices to clear your bad debt. If you know you’ve got bad debt and you’re struggling to make repayments, contact your lender. A proactive approach may help put a plan in place before it’s too late. 

To find your nearest financial counsellor, or for more information, please visit ASIC’s MoneySmart website.

Related pages:

Frequently asked questions

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

Should I get a credit card?

Credit cards are a personal responsibility, so the reasons behind getting a credit card should also be personal.

You should always consider all the pros and cons of taking out a credit card before you sign on the dotted line.

For example, pros include the fact that credit cards can be a good way of paying for purchases, earning rewards points and building a credit history.

But there are also cons – credit cards can be expensive and put a lot of financial pressure on you.

You need to consider your personal finances and your lifestyle choices. Do you need a credit card? What options are out there for me? Can I handle the repayments? Why am I getting a credit card in the first place?

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

Do you need a credit card to get a loan?

You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.

If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset, such as a retail loan for goods.

Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for, but you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset by providing evidence you have stable income through a full-time and secure job, an unblemished debit card history and regular monthly saving. The loan, however, may come with higher interest rates and repayments.

Can a pensioner get a credit card?

Pensioners can get credit cards with certain banks – if they can convince the bank they’re credit-worthy. Here are some points to consider if you are a pensioner looking for a credit card:

Annual income: Look for a credit card for which you easily fall within the minimum annual income requirements. This can be from the pension, superannuation or any other sources.

Annual fees: If high fees are a concern for you, opt for a card with a low or $0 annual fee. You want to make it as easy as possible to fit a credit card into your current lifestyle and spending habits.

Interest rate: Make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises on your credit card bill. Choose a card with a low interest rate to minimise risk (to both yourself and the bank – and this will help your application).

What should you do when you lose your credit card?

Losing your credit card is a serious situation, and could land you in financial trouble. Here is a simple guide detailing what to do when you lose your credit card.

Lock you card – Contact your provider and inform them about your lost credit card. From here lock, block or cancel your card.

Keep track of transactions – Look out for unauthorised credit card transactions. Most banks protect against fraudulent transactions.

Address recurring charges – If your card is linked to recurring charges (gym membership, rent, utilities), contact those businesses.

Check credit rate – To ensure you’re not the victim of identity theft, check your credit rating a month or two after you lose your credit card.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

What happens if I have a bad credit score?

What happens if I have a bad credit score?

If you have a bad credit score, you might encounter two main problems. First, the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to be rejected when you apply for a loan or any other credit product. Second, if your application is accepted, the less likely you are to qualify for the lowest interest rates.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. Designed to incentivise customers to switch banks, a balance transfer credit card generally has a 0 per cent interest rate for a set period of time. When you roll your debt balance over to a new credit card, you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest-free period to pay your credit card debt off faster without accruing additional interest charges. Applying for a balance transfer credit card is relatively straightforward. When your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card. There are plenty of balance transfer offers available on the market with 0 per cent interest rates available from six to 24 months.

How long does it take to get a credit card?

There are a few stages you need to go through to get a credit card; each one takes a different length of time.

Applying for the card online, over the phone or in person is the fastest step. This usually takes around 15 minutes, provided you have all of your documents handy.

After submitting your application, it usually takes between one to 10 business days for the lender to assess your eligibility. Some lenders offer instant approval, although you will need to send supporting documents before it is official.

Once your application has been approved, expect to wait between one to 14 days to receive your card in the mail. Keep in mind that delays can happen during busy periods, such as if the lender has launched a special deal.

How do I apply for a credit card online?

To make applying for a credit card as straightforward as possible, most lenders offer plenty of online prompts to guide you through the process.

Once you’ve decided on the product you want, follow the link on the lender’s website to start your application. Most lenders will list the documents and information you will need before you begin – for example, identification documents, employer details, your income, regular expenses. It helps to have these handy when you start.

Once you’ve entered all the necessary information, you’ll have an opportunity to review your answers and check everything is correct. You’ll also receive an immediate response from the lender once you submit your application – usually with a reference number so you can track your application’s progress.

How to get cash with just a credit card number

If you don’t have your wallet available but need cash, you might be wondering how to get cash with just a credit card number.

Banks and merchants usually will not allow you to access cash without a physical card, because doing so would open up opportunities for fraudulent activities. Even most non-cash credit card transactions (such as shopping online) require you to know the expiry date and CVV on your credit card in addition to the card number.

However, some banks offer cardless cash for transaction accounts – meaning you can access your cash without having a card. Using a secure app installed on your mobile phone, you can log onto an ATM and withdraw the money you need. This could be a practical and secure solution if you don’t have a card and need cash.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. One way is to pay via BPAY. This means you can make your credit card payment on the phone or via the internet.

You can set up an automatic payment from an Australian bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.

Different Australian banks will also allow you to pay off credit card bills in person at one of their branches.

Some credit card companies also allow you to pay your credit card via an app whenever each statement is due.

What is CVV on a credit card?

If you’ve recently used your credit card to pay for something over the phone or online, you would have been asked to provide a CVV number. CVV stands for ‘card verification value’, and is also sometimes referred to as a CVC or card verification code.

A CVV code is usually needed when the card is used online or over the phone as an anti-fraud measure. Without the cardholder being physically present to sign or verify the purchase, the CVV provides an extra layer of protection.

If you’re using Mastercard or Visa, the CVV is usually three digits and is located on the back of the card. If you’re using an American Express, the CVV is usually four digits and is on the front of the card.

How to get rid of credit card debt

Credit card debt can cripple your finances. If you’re wondering how to get rid of credit card debt, here are a few steps to get you back in the black:

Calculate your debt – Knowing the magnitude of your credit debt is important. Online credit debt calculators make it easy to determine the debt size, and repayments required.

Work out a repayment plan – Take some time to formulate a credit repayment plan. Consider increasing your income, scaling back your lifestyle or refinancing.

Talk to your credit provider – If you’re still struggling with your debt, talk to your credit provider. You may be able to come to a new arrangement.

How is credit card interest charged?

Your credit card will be charged interest when you don’t pay off the balance on your credit card. Your card provider or bank charges you the individual interest rate that is associated with your card, which is usually between 10 and 20 per cent. 

The interest will be added onto your bill each month or billing period if you don’t pay off the balance, unless you are in an interest-free period.

You will be charged interest on anything that hasn’t been paid for inside the interest-free period. Usually you will receive a notice on your bill or statement saying you will be charged interest so you have some form of notice before you’re charged.