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Student Credit Cards

Students can establish credit and learn to manage debt with low-fee credit cards geared specifically toward them.

Receive a $50 credit when you apply online, are approved and spend $750 on your new Card within the first 3 months. Conditions apply.
Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs to your Smartphone (Conditions apply)
Works with Apple Pay.

For university students, having no credit history and no consistent employment means they’re ineligible for most standard credit cards. However, plenty of banks want to build brand loyalty – and potentially some high-yield debt – specifically with students, and offer cards designed to attract them. Student credit cards typically come with no annual fees and low spending limits to protect new users against bad spending habits. In addition to having a new option for payment, a credit card is a student’s quickest way to establish some credit history – but to ensure that this history isn’t ruined, the debt on these cards should be carefully monitored, particularly since the purchase rates on such cards are frequently higher than regular cards.

There are, of course, restrictions on who can obtain a student card. It requires the applicant to be an Australian citizen over 18 enrolled in an accredited school; it also requires a co-signer such as a parent or guardian to guarantee the debt repayment. Frequently, an applicant also has to have a savings account with the issuing bank in order to get the bank’s credit card.

Like other plastic, student credit cards can come with introductory offers, such as waived annual fees or low or zero purchase rates. Some cards also do instant approval (or rejection, as the case may be).

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purchase rate
annual fee
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Westpac Low Rate Credit Card Exclusive Offer
APPLY BY 28 jun 17
EXCLUSIVE OFFER
0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers.
Low balance transfer revert rate of only 13.49% p.a.
An annual fee of $59 p.a.
More info
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13.49% p.a.
ongoing
$59
ongoing
$500
$0 p.a. Annual fee for the first year, then $30 p.a.
An easy to manage credit limit from $500 will mean you can’t build up a lot of debt.
Manage your account on the go 24/7 with ANZ’s goMoney app.
More info
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19.74% p.a.
ongoing
$0
1st year
then $30
$500
The American Express Essential® Credit Card
5 reviews
Receive a $50 credit when you apply online, are approved and spend $750 on your new Card within the first 3 months. Conditions apply.
Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs to your Smartphone (Conditions apply)
Works with Apple Pay.
More info
Add to comparison
14.99% p.a.
ongoing
$0
ongoing
$2,000
$0 p.a. annual fee.
One low 11.99% p.a. rate on purchases.
Up to 55 days on purchases if you pay your balance in full each month.
More info
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11.99% p.a.
ongoing
$0
ongoing
$1000
NAB Low Rate Card
APPLY BY 31 may 17
77 reviews
0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months.
Make purchases with NAB’s lowest interest rate card and longest interest-free period.
Low $59 p.a. annual fee.
More info
Add to comparison
13.99% p.a.
ongoing
$59
ongoing
$500
NAB Low Fee Card
APPLY BY 31 may 17
57 reviews
0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months.
Low $30 p.a. ongoing annual fee.
Complimentary purchase protection insurance.
More info
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19.74% p.a.
ongoing
$30
ongoing
$500
0% p.a. for the first 16 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee. Reverts to 21.74% p.a.
Low 12.49% p.a. ongoing rate on purchases.
Low Annual fee of $58 p.a.
More info
Add to comparison
12.49% p.a.
ongoing
$58
ongoing
$1,000
0% p.a. for the first 16 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred. Reverts to 21.49% p.a.
Low Annual fee.
Up to 44 days interest free on purchases when you pay your account in full each month.
More info
Add to comparison
19.74% p.a.
ongoing
$30
ongoing
$1,000
Westpac Low Rate Credit Card
APPLY BY 28 jun 17
43 reviews
0% p.a. interest on purchases for up to 6 months.
0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
No balance transfer fee.
More info
Add to comparison
6 months
0% p.a.
then 13.49%
$59
ongoing
$500
St.George Vertigo Visa
APPLY BY 20 sep 17
28 reviews
No annual fee for the first year.
0% p.a. for 14 months on balance transfers.
Cheap ongoing purchase interest rate of 13.24% p.a.
More info
Add to comparison
13.24% p.a.
ongoing
$0
1st year
then $55
$1,000
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa
APPLY BY 20 sep 17
11 reviews
No annual fee for the first year.
0% p.a. for 14 months on balance transfers.
No balance transfer fee.
More info
Add to comparison
13.24% p.a.
ongoing
$0
1st year
then $55
$500
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Q&As about Student Credit Cards from Customers

Q: What are the benefits of a student credit card?

A student credit card is a good opportunity to learn to use a credit card responsibly in a fairly low risk way – the credit limit is kept intentionally fairly low, meaning you can only overspend so much before your card maxes out. Student credit cards are also affordable – they typically have $0 or very low annual fees. It’s also great for building credit history – if you pay off your debts on time, it shows future credit card companies that you can be trusted with a more powerful card because you’ve been faithful with the last one you had.

Q: Are there drawbacks?

Unfortunately, yes. Even though the credit limits are low, any credit card can open the door to building up debt. And student cards often have high interest rates, making debt even easier to accrue. If a student doesn’t fully understand how interest works and isn’t organised enough to make their repayments punctually, they could easily get themselves in trouble.

Q: What features should I look for?

You want a card with low or no annual fee, low interest rates and, if you have debt elsewhere, a balance transfer option. The card should also have basic security features.

Q: How can I best manage my finances and use my student credit card?

Here are a few basic tips to keep you out of trouble:

  • Have some life goals – This is a great starting point because it will motivate you to keep out of debt more than anything else. If you want to buy a car or house one day, you’ll have the incentive to live conservatively for the sake of the greater goal. Whatever money you get, try to put a little of it aside every week toward your goal, no matter what.
  • Make a budget and stick to it – Be realistic when you budget and include recreational spending because this is normally where the money gets blown. If you know what you’ve got to spend, you’ll be more likely to stick to it. Break it down into a monthly and weekly budget. Get some help from a friend or online if you’re stuck.
  • Live within your means – That’s right, everyone else might be accumulating debt, but you’ll be so much better off spending only what you have or what you know you can pay off in full at the end of the month.
  • Have an emergency fund – Most people rely on their credit card for emergencies. You’ll do yourself a favour if you set aside some money in an emergency savings account. Then, when an emergency comes (which is inevitable), you won’t have to go into debt amidst an already stressful time.
  • Pay in cash as much as you can – Paying for things in cash means you’re paying for things with your own money. It’s much easier to lose track when you pay for everything with a plastic card.
  • Use your card as little as possible – Sometimes you need a credit card for online purchasing or other needs, but because student cards don’t generally have any rewards programs, and because they have low credit limits, you’re not doing yourself any favours by using it for the sake of using it. Keep it for when you have no other option.
  • Pay off your balance in full each month – You want to build up a good credit rating and stay out of debt. Paying off your balance and covering anything you’ve spent that month will accomplish that.
Q: What happens if I can’t make a payment?

If you don’t make your monthly repayments on a credit card, you’ll get charged interest. If you just let the debt sit there without paying it down, it will automatically grow astronomically. Additionally, if a credit provider sees that you’re not paying down your debt, they can even increase your interest rate and you’ll be in even more trouble. In addition to accumulating overwhelming debt, you will damage your credit rating. This will affect any future credit card applications and can even hinder you getting a rental property or loan of any kind, including a car or home loan. If you want to keep your options open in the future, do not go down this track. If you’re in trouble and need help, there are a wealth of resources online, in local libraries and in credit centres everywhere.

Q: Should I go with a credit or debit card?

Debit cards function very similarly to credit cards except for one major difference. Debit cards use money you already have, credit cards use money you don’t have (and can put you into debt unless you manage your account). Unless you have to spend money you don’t have, a debit card is more than fine for pretty well anything you’d use a credit card for, including online shopping. The best part is it eliminates the risk of losing track of spending and getting into debt. If you’re worried about needing funds in an emergency, start putting aside some money each week for that very purpose now.

Still need help? Ask us a question

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We welcome your questions but we cannot help if you need personal financial advice or if have lost your card or need to resolve a dispute with your bank.
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