Credit Cards for First Timers

No idea where to begin? These cards have low fees or low interest rates and should give you a good starting point to build up your credit history.

77 reviews
0% p.a. for 6 months on purchases.
Make purchases with NAB’s lowest interest rate card and longest 55 days interest-free period.
Low $59 p.a. annual fee.
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Terms and Conditions apply.
minimum credit limit
purchase rate
annual fee
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$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.
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$1,000
11.99% p.a.
ongoing
$0
ongoing
0% p.a. for 6 months on purchases.
Make purchases with NAB’s lowest interest rate card and longest interest-free period.
Low $59 p.a. annual fee.
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$500
6 months
0% p.a.
then 13.99%
$59
ongoing
0% p.a. for 13 months on purchases.
Minimum credit limit of $1,000
0% p.a. for 13 months on balance transfers. (2% balance transfer fee applies).
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$1,000
13 months
0% p.a.
then 12.99%
$79
ongoing
$0 p.a. annual fee.
Smartphone Screen Insurance for up to $500 for screen repairs to your Smartphone (Conditions apply)
Eligible for use with Google Pay™, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
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$2,000
14.99% p.a.
ongoing
$0
ongoing
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
Apply by 31 mar 19
16 reviews
0% p.a. for 14 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee.
No annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter).
Enjoy a low purchase rate of 12.99% p.a.
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$6,000
12.99% p.a.
ongoing
$0
1st year
then $99
0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers. (2% balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to cash advance rate.
Low $30 p.a. ongoing annual fee.
Complimentary purchase protection insurance.
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$500
19.74% p.a.
ongoing
$30
ongoing
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa
Apply by 23 jan 19
11 reviews
0% p.a. for 16 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
$55 p.a. annual fee.
Low ongoing variable purchase interest rate of 13.74% p.a.
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$500
13.74% p.a.
ongoing
$55
ongoing
BankSA Vertigo Platinum Credit Card
Apply by 23 jan 19
0% p.a. for 26 months on balance transfers. Reverts to cash advance rate. (2% balance transfer fee applies).
No annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter).
Low ongoing variable purchase interest rate of 12.74% p.a.
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$6,000
12.74% p.a.
ongoing
$0
1st year
then $99
St.George Vertigo Visa
Apply by 23 jan 19
29 reviews
0% p.a. for 16 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate.
Low ongoing variable purchase interest rate of 13.74% p.a.
$55 p.a. annual fee.
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$500
13.74% p.a.
ongoing
$55
ongoing
Bendigo Bank Low Rate First Mastercard
Low 11.99% p.a. purchase rate.
Cash advance rate of 13.99% p.a.
Use with Google Pay™, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay.
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$500
11.99% p.a.
ongoing
$29
ongoing
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Mastercard
No annual fee for the first year ($45 p.a. thereafter).
Low 11.99% p.a. purchase rate.
Minimum credit limit $500.
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$500
11.99% p.a.
ongoing
$0
1st year
then $45
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Prefer to play it safe?

How Lauren from the Gold Coast found her new card

Lauren is not into credit card rewards. She doesn’t have the appetite to understand complicated frequent flyer programs. She values simplicity and playing it safe.

The main reason to get a card is for everyday convenience. If she ever carries a balance from one month to the next at least she won’t be paying much interest. Low interest rates equate to low risk and low stress. No surprises.

She easily finds a card on Credit Card Compare that gives her a low interest rate and the lowest possible annual fee too. She applies, gets approved and uses the card for day to day spending. Well played Lauren.

This case study is intended as a representative example.

Q&A's about Credit Cards for First Timers from customers

Q: What is a credit card?

A credit card allows you to borrow money from your bank to make purchases.

Q: What do I need to know?

There are a few things,

Application Assessment

When you apply for a credit card, the bank will need to take into consideration a few things before they approve your application. They want to know what job(s) have you had in the past, how much money you earn per year, whether you are a student or pensioner, your credit history and so on.

Credit limit

Think of it like Internet bandwidth. When you apply for the credit card, you can request a limit of how much you would like to borrow or the bank will do so based on your income. For example, if you are a student, you probably only need a credit card with a low 'maximum credit limit’. This limits how much you can spend a month.

Purchase rate

This percentage is applied to all your spending on the card, like buying groceries or buying things for yourself! If a credit card has a low purchase rate, this is an attractive offer.

Cash advance rate

The cash advance rate is the interest rate that is applied to the amount that you withdraw. Usually it is around 20% p.a. which is not cheap. And unlike making a normal purchase, the cash advance interest rate is applied to the amount straightaway – which means there’s no 55 days interest free days.

Balance transfer

A balance transfer is when one bank pays off the outstanding debt at your old bank and transfers it to a new account with them. Since this is likely your first credit card, there is no need for a balance transfer from another credit card. However, you may be interested in transferring a balance from a personal loan, which is something that some of these cards can facilitate.

Q: Why do I need a credit card?

A couple of reasons why.

Convenience

Being able to pay for purchases using a credit card instead of cash is convenient, especially with the option to pay via Apple Pay or Google Pay™.

Cash flow control
Being able to put lots of payments onto a card to then pay it all off in 44 or 55 days really helps to smooth out short term cash flow issues.

Building your credit score

Even though there are multiple ways to build your credit score, this is by far the fastest way. If you want to buy a home someday, getting a credit card, using it and paying it off helps. This will build a good credit score within the year.

Safety net

Let’s be honest, life most of the time is unpredictable. Credit cards sound like a taboo subject, but if you are smart, it can be a lifesaver. Travelling overseas, your car needs to get fixed or your pay has not cleared in time, use your card in the meantime but remember to pay it back as soon as your funds come in.

Q: How can I know what is the right card for me?

For someone who has never dabbled in credit cards before, or knows very little about borrowing money. here a few things to look for!

Low minimum credit limit

For your first card, you don’t want to bite off more you can chew. Grab yourself a card with a low credit limit so you don’t go overboard.

Low purchase rate, or 0% for a period of time

You want to make purchases, but you don’t want to be in tremendous debt! Finding a card with a low purchase rate is a good step in the right direction.

Low, or no annual fee

You don’t want to pay a fee every year for your card, do you? See if you can find a card with no annual fee or at least a low one!

Trust other banks

We have a wide selection of cards and offers from banks and other financial institutions. If you are with a certain bank, don’t be scared to try a new bank if they have the best offer as it could save you a lot of money.

Read the onsite reviews!

Other people have selected with these cards before, see what they think about when comparing. If they align with what your needs are, then your golden!

Q: What is a no annual fee card?

No annual fee credit cards are a great choice for people who want to reserve their card for emergencies; those who spend regularly but always pay their monthly balance in full; or cardholders who do not require the extra features associated with credit cards with annual fees.

There are different types of no annual fee credit card, so make sure the one you apply for best1 suited to your personal needs. ‘No annual fee for life’ cards have no annual fee for as long as the account is open. This may seem like the most attractive offer, but you should always check the terms and conditions to see if there are any other extra charges applied to the card. Other cards feature no annual fee for an introductory period such as the first year. The best1 cards feature a low fee when the promotion expires. When searching for a card with no annual fee always compare how the lack of a fee is balanced with low interest rates on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers and other features to find the best1 deal. It may work out cheaper for you to pay a small annual fee and lock in a low interest rate.

Q: How closely will the banks look at my credit card application?

All banks and credit card lenders will check out your personal financial situation in order to figure out if you should be approved or not. They want to make a decision that is fair, transparent and works out best for you. The bank will want to verify your age to make sure you are over 18 years old, verify your income, check your residency status, and also check your credit rating to calculate how likely you are going to repay your card each month. Some banks have stricter credit rating scorecards and require you to have no history of bad credit. Make sure you check the eligibility criteria for the credit card you’re interested in before you apply.

Q: What should students look for in a new card?

Studying at university can be one of the most exciting times of your life, but also one of the most financially challenging as you learn to manage your own money, often on a tight budget. A student credit card can be a useful tool in managing your finances and covering the expenses of studying such as books, field trips and the everyday costs of accommodation and food. Many Australian credit card providers offer cards aimed at students – finding the best1 one for you is a case of comparing the cards’ key features.

Student credit cards should feature low interest rates and a low (or preferably no) annual fee. The application qualifications should have low criteria for minimum income since students are unlikely to be earning big salaries during their studies and typically haven’t had time to build up a credit history. The card should also have a low credit limit so monthly payments are more manageable and you can avoid getting into debt. If you are a student and are concerned about getting into debt, the best1 choice for you could be a prepaid card or debit card, both of which give you the peace of mind that you only spending your own money.

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