Credit Cards for Pensioners

Compare credit cards available to pensioners, retirees, and seniors with Centrelink pension income.

By   |   Updated 10 Apr 2024

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Comparing credit cards for pensioners

Bankwest Breeze Mastercard

On website

Highlights

  • Benefit from 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for 12 months (with a 2% BT fee, then 12.99% p.a.).
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases (returning to 12.99% p.a.).
  • Enjoy up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.
  • Exclusive offer for new customers for a limited time. Additional charges, as well as terms and conditions, apply.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases.
  • Up to 55 interest-free days on purchases.

Cons

  • There are no rewards on this card.
  • There is a 2% BT fee.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard

On website

Highlights

  • Experience 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for 12 months (with a 2% BT fee, then 12.99% p.a.).
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases (reverting to 12.99% p.a.).
  • Benefit from up to 55 interest-free days.
  • Offer exclusively for new customers within a specified period. Additional charges, along with terms and conditions, apply.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months.
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • There is no rewards program on this card.
  • There is a 2% BT fee.
American Express Qantas Ultimate Credit Card

On website

Highlights

  • Acquire 60,000 bonus Qantas Points by applying before 28 May 2024, getting approved, and spending $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Exclusive to New Card Members.
  • Receive 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations annually.
  • Access a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year (conditions apply).

Pros

  • Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria.
  • Excellent earn rates on everyday spending. Earns points on payments to the ATO.
  • Access to The Centurion® Lounge. after your first card spend on the card for Qantas products and services each anniversary year.
  • 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations each year.
  • Add cards for up to four family and friends at no cost.

Cons

  • The annual fee of $450.
  • There is no concierge service, even though it's a high end card.
  • Balance transfers are not possible.
  • Transactions in a foreign currency attract a fee.
St.George Vertigo Visa

On website

Apply by 31 July 2024

St.George Vertigo Visa

Highlights

  • Benefit from a 28-month 0% interest period on Balance Transfers, accompanied by a 1% balance transfer fee. Afterwards, it switches to a cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • Enjoy a low variable interest rate of 13.99% p.a. on purchases.
  • The annual fee remains low at $55 p.a.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. for 28 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee.
  • 13.99% p.a. low variable interest rate on purchases.
  • Low annual fee of $55 p.a.

Cons

  • Balance transfer rate reverts to 21.49% p.a. after 28 months.
  • There are no rewards program for this card.
Bendigo Bank Qantas Platinum Credit Card

On website

Highlights

  • Accrue 0.6 Qantas Points for every $1 spent.
  • Benefit from 180 days of thorough travel insurance.
  • Comes with an extended warranty for eligible purchases and 90-day purchase protection for items stolen or accidentally damaged (terms apply).

Pros

  • Earn 0.6 Qantas Points per $1 spent.
  • Free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership.
  • 180 days of comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Up to 55 days interest-free.

Cons

  • There is no introductory balance transfer offer or purchase rate offer.
  • The 20,000 cap on reward earnings per statement period.
  • ATO spend does not earn points.
BankSA Vertigo Credit Card

On website

Apply by 31 July 2024

BankSA Vertigo Credit Card

Highlights

  • Receive up to $400 cashback on your supermarket purchase or benefit from 0% interest for 28 months on Balance Transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee. Reverts to a cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • Enjoy a low variable interest rate of 13.99% p.a. on purchases.
  • 55 days interest-free on purchases.

Pros

  • Get 10% cashback on your supermarket shop or 0% p.a. for 28 months on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee.
  • 13.99% p.a. low variable interest rate on purchases.
  • Up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.

Cons

  • Balance transfer rate reverts to 21.49% p.a. after 28 months.
  • There are no rewards program for this card.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa

On website

Apply by 31 July 2024

Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa

Highlights

  • Enjoy 0% for 28 months on Balance Transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee. Reverts to cash advance rate of 21.49% p.a.
  • 13.99% p.a. low variable interest rate on purchases.
  • Low annual fee of $55 p.a.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. for 28 months on balance transfers with 1% balance transfer fee.
  • 13.99% p.a. low variable interest rate on purchases.
  • Low annual fee of $55 p.a.

Cons

  • Balance transfer rate reverts to 21.49% p.a. after 28 months.
  • There are no rewards program for this card.
ANZ Low Rate Credit Card

On website

Highlights

  • Select from these 2 introductory deals: 0% p.a. for 28 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee (then reverts to 21.24% p.a.), or receive $250 cash back upon spending $1,500 within the initial 3 months from approval. Terms and Conditions apply.
  • First-year annual fee waived ($58 subsequently).
  • Continuous low rate of 12.49% p.a. on purchases.
  • Enjoy up to 55 days interest-free on purchases by settling your account completely each month.

Pros

  • Enjoy 0% p.a. on balance transfers up to 28 months or earn $250 cash back.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year ($58 p.a. thereafter).
  • Take advantage of the low purchase interest rate of 12.49% p.a.
  • Add up to 3 additional cardholders at no extra cost.

Cons

  • No purchase or travel insurance included.
  • No rewards program.
Virgin Money No Annual Fee Credit Card

On website

Highlights

  • $0 annual fee for the lifetime of the card.
  • Transfer balance at 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers (reverts to 20.99% p.a.).
  • 0% p.a. for 12 months on purchases (reverts to 18.99% p.a.).

Pros

  • No annual fee ever.
  • 0% p.a. interest rate for up to 12 months on balance transfers and purchases.
  • Up to 4 additional cards, also with $0 annual fee.

Cons

  • The revert interest rates for balance transfers and purchases are relatively high.
Coles Low Rate Mastercard

On website

Apply by 30 June 2024

Coles Low Rate Mastercard

Highlights

  • 0% per annum (p.a.) for balance transfers spanning 15 months. Afterward, it reverts to the cash advance rate of 19.99% p.a.
  • Enjoy a modest annual fee of $58 p.a.
  • Earn 1 Flybuys Point for every $2 spent at Coles Supermarkets.

Pros

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 15 months.
  • Complimentary access to your 24/7 local concierge.
  • Interest-free for up to 55 days.

Cons

  • There is a 1.5% balance transfer fee.
  • You can only earn Flybuys points at Coles Supermarkets.
  • No interest-free days while you have a balance transfer.

Credit card issuers declining older applicants is an issue. This is possibly because pensioners are less profitable since their spending habits are typically more disciplined. But it's still possible for pensioners to get a credit card.

"It is more challenging for a pensioner applying for a credit card when you rely on a pension as your primary source of income. The banks tend to consider pensioners to be similar to people on a low income or unemployed. Expect to have to present details of your assets and to have a low credit limit if approved."
David Boyd
CEO at Credit Card Compare

Types of credit cards for pensioners

  • Low rate cards: Suitable for pensioners looking to minimise interest costs on balances carried forward each month. May offer an introductory low or 0% interest rate for a specified period.
  • Rewards cards: Provide opportunities to earn frequent flyer points, cashback, or other rewards on eligible purchases. Can be used for everyday spending so long as you pay the balance off in full each statement.
  • No fee cards: A credit card with no annual fee typically has no frills or additional benefits. They are worth considering since there is no cost associated with keeping these credit card accounts open.

What to consider when choosing a credit card for pensioners

  • Interest rates: Select a competitive card, especially if you anticipate carrying a balance.
  • Fees: Consider annual fees, late payment fees, foreign exchange fees (on overseas purchases) and other charges associated with the card.
  • Rewards and benefits: Evaluate the rewards program and additional perks the card issuer offers. If you are unsure you'll use all the bells and whistles, don't apply.
  • Credit limit: Ensure that the credit limit aligns with your financial capacity to make repayments.
  • Eligibility criteria: Check the eligibility requirements, including age restrictions and income criteria.

"If you want to play it safe, look for credit cards with low fees, low rates, and no frills or additional benefits. Check your credit score before applying and address any issues it may raise."
David Boyd
CEO at Credit Card Compare

How to apply for a credit card as a pensioner

To apply for a credit card as a pensioner, follow these steps.

  1. Assess your financial situation: Review your income, expenses, and credit history to determine your borrowing capacity.
  2. Research: Compare various credit card options available for pensioners and select one that best suits your needs.
  3. Gather documentation: Prepare necessary documents such as identification, proof of income, and recent bank statements.
  4. Submit application: Complete the application form provided by the card issuer and submit it online or in person.
  5. Wait for approval: Allow time for the card issuer to process your application and notify you of their decision.

Note that the bank may try to contact you for more information before they can make a decision.

Help choosing a credit card for pensioners

Unlock the benefits of credit cards tailored for pensioners.

  • FAQs

  • Pros & cons

  • Alternatives

Can you qualify for a credit card with a small pension?

Yes, pensioners with a low income can still qualify for certain credit cards, such as low limit cards or basic entry-level cards. These options may have more flexible eligibility requirements and can help pensioners build or rebuild their credit history.

How can pensioners improve their chances of getting approved for a credit card?

Pensioners can improve their chances of credit card approval by maintaining a good credit score, demonstrating responsible financial behaviour, and providing accurate and up to date financial information when applying for a card.

Are there any credit cards designed for Australian pensioners?

While there are no specific credit cards exclusively designed for pensioners in Australia, pensioners can choose from a range of cards offered by various financial institutions that cater to different needs, preferences and financial circumstances.

If as a pensioner you are having trouble getting a credit card, try to select from among these types of credit cards to improve your chances of approval:

  • Low rate credit cards: Pensioners can save substantial amounts on interest costs monthly by opting for a low rate credit card. While they may be lacking in the variety of perks and benefits that regular credit cards offer, you can still enjoy some of the conveniences and benefits of having a credit card.
  • No annual fee or low annual fee credit cards: Applying for a low or no annual fee credit card can help pensioners save money while enjoying many of the benefits of a credit card.
  • Low income credit cards: Statistics show that the full pensions for Australians including supplements is lower than the income of an average Australia. Australian pensioners can increase their chances of credit card approval by applying for credit cards for low income groups.

Can a self-funded retiree get a credit card?

You may be able to get a credit card if you are retired, as long as the lender believes that you are able to make your monthly repayments and you fulfil all of their other lending criteria. It is important to note that each lender uses their own criteria, and they will take your individual circumstances into account.

Although not available in Australia, some countries allow people with insufficient incomes to get secured credit cards. These are credit cards backed by some collateral held with the issuer, such as a fixed deposit account.

Pros

Financial accessibility

Credit cards provide crucial financial access, enabling purchases, bill payments, and handling of unexpected expenses without the immediate cash outlay, thus offering a layer of financial flexibility and security.

Credit history maintenance

For pensioners looking to maintain or improve their credit history, responsibly using a credit card can help. Timely payments and prudent use of credit can positively impact credit scores, which is beneficial for any future credit applications.

Rewards and perks

Although it is more difficult, pensioners can be approved for credit cards offering rewards and lucrative perks such as complimentary insurance, travel credits, and lounge access.

Cons

Eligibility hurdles

Getting approved for a credit card as a pensioner can be challenging. Additional documentation as proof of income and assets may be required.

Risk of debt

The convenience of a credit card comes with the risk of accruing debt, particularly if used for non-essential spending or in emergencies without a clear plan for repayment.

Limited choice

While various credit cards are available for pensioners, there are none designed with the needs of pensioners specifically in mind.

Debit cards

Linked to your bank account, allowing spending only what is available in the account. This prevents debt accumulation and often comes with no annual fees.

Prepaid cards

You preload funds onto these cards, which can then be used for purchases up to the loaded amount. This helps in budgeting and controlling expenses without accruing interest.

Low-rate personal loans

For larger, specific purchases or consolidating existing debts, a low-rate personal loan can offer a structured repayment plan with lower interest rates than credit cards.

Reverse mortgages

A financial product designed for older Australians to draw on the equity in their homes for additional income, though it's important to consider the long-term implications carefully.

Seniors cards

Offered by state and territory governments, these cards can provide discounts on goods and services, reducing the need for credit card use for savings.

Centrelink advances

Eligible pensioners can receive advance payments of their pension, which is then repaid interest-free out of future payments, providing a cash flow solution without external debt.