There are hundreds of credit cards out there in the market, so how do you know which one is the best one for you?

When looking for the best credit card for you, it’s important to compare products against your own financial situation and budget before sealing the deal. Credit cards offer a range of features but also may come with costly fees, so it’s up to you and a little bit of research to decide which card type best suits you.

Find and compare Australia's best credit cards

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

0.00%

for 17 months then 20.24%

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Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $87

Late Payment Fee

$20

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

12.99%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$59

Late Payment Fee

$15

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$30

Late Payment Fee

$20

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$375

Late Payment Fee

$20

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

19.74%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

44

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$30

Late Payment Fee

$15

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$425

Late Payment Fee

$20

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

16.99%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$125

Late Payment Fee

$20

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Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

19.99%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$129

Late Payment Fee

$30

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More details
Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $30

Late Payment Fee

$20

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More details
Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$95

Late Payment Fee

$20

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More details
Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

20.24%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

55

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$95

Late Payment Fee

$20

Go to site
More details
Purchase Rate

Purchase Rate

8.99%

Interest Free Days

Interest Free Days

45

Annual Fee

Annual Fee

$0

for 12 months then $59

Late Payment Fee

$15

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More details

Learn more about credit cards

Which is the best credit card in Australia?

There is no one-size-fits-all credit card as there is a variety of options to choose from that suit different financial situations. The best credit card for you will depend on your budget and spending profile.

  • Habitual spenders - you use your credit card like a debit card and are constantly racking up interest on your outstanding balance.
    • Suggested cards - low rate credit cards, low fee credit cards
  • Impulse spenders - you use your credit card as a helpful financial tool and don't rely on it for everyday spending. You're only bringing it out for large purchases you otherwise couldn't afford in one go, in emergencies, or just when travelling/shopping online on overseas websites, and pay back this debt over time.
    • Suggested cards - low rate credit card, low fee credit card, travel credit card
  • Everyday spender - you use your credit card every day for purchases like groceries or to pay bills, but, different to the habitual spender, you ensure your credit card balance is always paid in full each statement period.
    • Suggested cards - low rate credit card, low fee credit card, rewards credit card, frequent flyer credit card, travel credit card
  • Big spender - you are a high income earner and put over $5,000 a month on your credit card. You may use your credit card for convenience or to try and earn rewards points and game point hacks. You are strict about paying off your balance in full to avoid interest charges.
    • Suggested cards - platinum credit card, rewards credit card, frequent flyer credit card  

What different types of credit cards are available?

As mentioned above, there are a range of spending profiles for each different credit card type. But what are the different types of credit cards available in Australia? 

  • Visa, Mastercard or AMEX - first and foremost, each credit card in Australia will either be a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card. Each card type has its own advantages and disadvantages, as well as individual rewards offered to customers.
  • Low rate credit cards - as the name suggests, these are credit cards offering low interest rates below the average purchase rate (generally around 16-18 per cent). These are typically ideal for cardholders who find themselves always being charged interest. 
  • No annual fee credit cards - again, as the name suggests, these credit cards either will not charge an annual fee or keep their ongoing fees very low. 
  • Rewards credit cards - whether your perks and rewards are linked to a standard rewards program, a frequent flyer program (like Qantas frequent flyer) or a store rewards program (retail gift cards and discounts), you are able to turn your everyday spending into handy extras. Bonus points are earned via spending on earned on eligible purchases. You may also enjoy perks like cash back, complimentary insurances such as travel insurance, concierge services and airport lounge access.
  • Travel credit cards - ideal for avid adventurers, travel credit cards typically suit those planning overseas travel or those who shop online on international websites. They may not charge any foreign transaction fees, and may come with complimentary travel insurance and other perks like airport lounge access. 
  • Balance transfer credit cards - When cardholders have an outstanding balance they're struggling to pay off, they can transfer this balance to a new card that has an interest-free period. The balance transfer offer may be a few months, or even years. You may be charged a balance transfer fee/balance transfer rate upon opening the new card account, which is generally a small percentage (1-3 per cent) of your balance. 
  • Platinum credit cards - Designed for big spenders, platinum credit cards are a type of premium card that carries all the bells and whistles of rewards cards, along with higher credit limits, additional perks and protections like purchase protection. You typically will need to meet a harder eligibility criteria, such as having a higher income than the average Australian. Platinum credit cards may also come with higher annual fees and purchase rates, but it's assumed the cardholders can afford these costs. 
  • Business credit cards - ideal for business owners, business credit cards are issued to a company with an Australian Business Number (ABN). They easily allow for the ordering of new cards and approving additional cardholders for various staff members. 

What are the pros and cons of having a credit card?

Unsure whether to switch from the humble debit card or savings account to a credit card? There are a few things to weigh up. 

Credit cards can be a handy asset when:

  • You don’t have a lot of cash with you;
  • You're travelling overseas; and
  • You want to earn bonus points for your everyday spending.

Keep in mind that credit card providers make money mostly by charging you interest on purchases you make when you don't pay your balance in full each statement period. They also may charge interest on money you withdraw and sting you with costly ongoing fees, such as annual fees, late payment fees and foreign transaction fees. 

That's not to say that credit cards aren’t worth getting - you just need to make sure you use them sensibly. But that convenience can also come with a cost. You might find yourself spending more when using a credit card than when using cash if you aren’t a disciplined spender.

RateCity tips for new cardholders

Be aware of the interest-free period. Remember that the interest-free period is for a limited time only. You may only have a window of no interest for the first year of the card. If you still have an unpaid balance on your credit card when the offer ends, you will be charged interest on the amount you owe. It’s best to pay off the debt before the interest-free period expires.

Credit card fees and charges

When deciding on the best credit card for your budget, a general rule of thumb is to aim for one that keeps fees and charges down. These costs can add a lot to your bill, and may result in you accumulating debt. Here are some of the main fee types you could be facing:

  • Annual fees
  • Late payments fees
  • Cash advance rate
  • Fees for exceeding your credit limit
  • Foreign transaction fees

However, not all credit card fees are considered bad. In fact, if you opt for a credit card with a rewards program, it's generally accepted that you will pay a little more in annual fees or interest rates for the benefit. These costs help to pay for the rewards, and may be unavoidable for this type of card.

  • For a full breakdown of any potential fees, read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and terms and conditions linked to your credit card. It's crucial that you’re aware of these charges so that you can budget accordingly. The PDS will also have a breakdown of the earn rate on rewards programs.

How do I find the best credit cards?

The best way to find the right credit card for you is to use comparison tools, such as tables and calculators. 

Comparison tables allow you to compare apples with apples. You can filter down and sort from the options shown based on what you're looking for, such as card type, purchase rate, number of interest free days, and annual fees. This will help you to find the best credit card for your needs from RateCity's top pics. You'll also get a clear indication of any features and perks linked to the new credit card. 

Once you've narrowed down your search, it’s worth making a short list of potential cards and carefully looking at each card's PDS, key fact sheet or equivalent document. 

Once you've settled on a choice, triple check the eligibility criteria set by the credit card provider before you begin your card application. If you don't meet the card issuer's criteria, you may not get card approval and be rejected. This can seriously hurt your credit score and will be noted in your credit history. 

Also, keep in mind that credit cards can be a helpful financial tool but when misused are very capable of growing credit card debt. Maxing out your credit limit and having too much credit card debt will also hurt your credit score.

Frequently asked questions

Should I get a credit card?

Once you've compared credit card interest rates and deals and found the right card for you, the actual process of getting a credit card is quite straightforward. You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at a bank branch. 

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.

What's the best credit card for rewards?

There is no one-size-fits-all best rewards credit card. It's best you research what type of rewards program you'd like, as well as the fees, interest rate and conditions associated with those types of cards before making a choice. 

Rewards credit cards can also come with high annual fees that may end up nullifying the rewards, so think how often you use the card to decide whether the benefits outweigh the extra cost for you. A card with a lower annual fee might require a lot of spending to get any useful rewards, while another card with a higher annual fee might need fewer purchases to get a reward. 

Can a pensioner get a credit card?

It is possible to get a credit card as a pensioner. There are some factors to keep in mind, including:

  • Annual income. Look for credit cards with minimum annual income requirements you can meet. 
  • Annual fees. If high fees are a concern for you, opt for a card with a low or $0 annual fee. 
  • Interest rate. Make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises on your credit card bill. Compare cards with a low interest rates to minimise risk.

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.

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.

How do you cancel a credit card?

It’s important to cancel your old cards to avoid any additional fees. Unless you’re doing a balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance before you cancel your credit card. If you’ve opted for a card with reward points, make sure you redeem or transfer the points before you close your account. To avoid any bounced payments and save yourself an admin headache, redirect all your direct debits to a new card or account. Once you’ve done all the preparation, call your bank or credit card provider to get the cancellation underway. Once you receive a confirmation letter, destroy your card and make sure the numbers aren’t legible.

How does credit card interest work?

Generally, when we talk about credit card interest, we mean the purchase interest rate, which is the interest charged on purchases you make with your credit card.

If you don’t pay your full balance each month (or even if you pay the minimum amount), you are charged interest on all the outstanding transactions and the remaining balance. However, interest is also charged on cash advances, balance transfers, special rate offers and, in some cases, even the fees charged by the company.

The interest rate can vary, depending on the credit card. Some have an interest-free period, otherwise you start paying interest from the day you make a purchase or from the day your monthly statement is issued. So avoid interest by paying the full amount promptly.

How to make a credit card online

If you’re wondering about how to make a credit card online application, here are some steps to follow:

  • Test the market. Many credit card options are available online. Compare providers by fees, interest and perks to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Complete the application. Once you’ve selected a card, head to the provider’s website and complete the online credit card application form. Forms vary by providers.
  • Provide details. Most cards require you to meet age, residency, income and credit status condition, and you need to provide details like a bank account statement to prove this.
  • Review details. Ensure the information you’ve entered is correct.

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.

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.

Which credit card has the highest annual percentage rate?

The credit card market changes all the time, so the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate is also liable to change.

Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are expressed as a yearly rate, or annual percentage rate (APR). A low APR is generally good but also consider:

  • There can be different APR's for each feature of the card (e.g. purchases may have an APR of 14 per cent, while cash advances on same card could have an APR of 17 per cent.
  • Credit cards with a variable rate can change throughout the year, affecting your APR, so check the full details.
  • If you pay your balance in full every month, having the lowest APR is not as important as the other fees associated with the card. However, if you carry a balance from month to month, then you want the lowest APR possible.

How to get a free credit card

There's no such thing as a free lunch. All credit cards come with associated costs when used to make purchases, even if it’s simply the cost of making repayments.

However, many lenders offer incentives for customers such as a $0 annual fee or 0 per cent interest on purchases during an introductory period. Additionally, paying off your balance in full during an interest-free period means you could only have to pay back the cost of purchases without interest. You could also be eligible for additional rewards such as cashback during that time, saving you more money.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your 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.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

How to get money from a credit card

You can get money from a credit card, but generally it will cost you.

Withdrawing money from a credit card is called a cash advance, as it operates more as a loan than a simple cash withdrawal. Because it is a loan, you may be charged interest on your cash advance as soon as you make the withdrawal. Interest rates are also usually much higher for cash advances than standard credit card purchases.

In addition to the interest rate, you may also be charged a cash advance fee. This could be a flat rate, or a percentage of your total cash advance. If you are considering a cash advance, make sure to add up how much it will cost you before committing.

How to calculate credit card interest

Credit card interest can quickly turn a manageable balance into unmovable debt. So being able to understand how interest rates translate into dollars is an important skill to acquire.

The common mistake people make is focusing on the credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR), which often sits between 15 and 20 per cent. While the APR does provide a rough idea of how much interest you’ll pay, it’s not entirely accurate.

This is because you actually accrue interest on your balance daily, not annually. So, you need to work out your daily periodic rate (DPR). To do this, divide your card’s APR by the number of days in a year (e.g. 16.9 per cent divided by 365, or 0.05 per cent). You can then apply this figure to the daily balance on 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 is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. 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. If your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card. 

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.

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.