pensioners

Research conducted by CreditCard.com.au asking whether or not a pensioner is eligible for a credit card with the biggest banks in Australia has come back with interesting results.

Credit cards are a vital aspect of modern life but they aren’t all that easy to apply, especially if you’re a pensioner, there are unfortunately many issues facing pensioners wishing to obtain a credit card. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s high risk. Where loans and credit cards are concerned, lenders consider pensioners to be high-risk borrowers. The biggest issue for any credit card company will be the lack of regular monthly income to pay off purchases and interests.

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Best Credit Cards for Pensioners

Most lenders will consider pensioners but despite legislation that prohibits age discrimination, pensioners remain restricted as to what personal finance they might be considered for. So it is often not a question of what is the best credit card for pensioners but rather what is available.

After consulting with a representative of four major Australian banks – Commonwealth Bank, St George, Westpac and National Australian Bank – CreditCard.com.au has discovered that, even without income from employment, it is entirely possible for a pensioner to apply for a credit card.

Overall, the most important question concerning pensioners who wish to apply for a pensioner credit card in Australia is this – will they be able to honor monthly repayment commitments within the agreed limit? Many low interest rate credit cards only require a minimum income of $15,000, so if this is already covered by monthly pension or superannuation payment then an application for a retired person should be approved.  We’re lead to believe a basic lifestyle average pension payment is $20,000, so the $15K mininum income level includes the average pensioner. Where it is made available, we list the minimum income requirement underneath each card featured on creditcard.com.au, so you should see which cards carry a low income requirement quickly and easily.

Here’s what the banks had to say about the criteria needed for pensioners wishing to apply for a credit card.

Commonwealth Bank

The Commonwealth Bank spokesperson told CreditCard.com.au that the bank holds a “no age discrimination” policy when it comes to pensioners wishing to apply for a credit card. Eligibility is deduced on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not the pensioner applying for the card will be able to “manage” paying off the card. The bank considers various factors – income, assets and liabilities. The spokesperson claimed that the Commonwealth Bank offered a selection of credit cards to cater to the needs to the pensioner, and an online application can be made for a credit card with the Commonwealth Bank or over the phone or by visiting the branch – free of charge.

What sets the CBA apart of the 3 other major banks is that it often runs online promotions. This can be an introductory rate on purchases, say 0% for a few months, or a cashback offer similar to the one that was running in early 2013. It is worth monitoring the comparison tables to see when these offers are on.

St George Bank

The representative for St George Bank stressed the importance of the pensioners ability to afford repayments. “We seek to lend only what our customers can afford to repay,” a spokesperson told creditcard.com.au. With a strict consideration criteria, St George Bank takes into account a customer’s credit score, conducts credit reference agency checking and does an affordability verification to make a full assessment of a person’s capability to repay.  This applies to all of St George’s customers and not just pensioners, so it seems there is no strict policy against pensioners applying for St George credit cards.

Westpac

Westpac offer a low interest rate credit card option which is available to pensioners – according to reader feedback (you can see below this article) – the minimum income requirement is $15,000.

Westpac is often seen as the least popular of the four major banks in Australia so it might be of no surprise that they do not market credit cards specifically to pensioners. With a strict “minimum of $50,000 per year” income requirement, Westpac Bank online offers savings accounts and debit cards to its pensioners.

National Australia Bank

Like the Commonwealth Bank, NAB adopts a “no age discrimination” policy when it comes pensioners applying for credit cards.  After explaining that there are a range of cards that can cater to the needs of each retiree, an NAB representative also mentioned that the bank offers two reward earning credit cards for the pensioner wishing to travel. With two programs that specifically cater to the travelling pensioner – the Velocity Program and the Qantas Frequent Flyers Program, the spokesperson for NAB explained the pensioner can select from a MasterCard, Visa, Amex, etc. as each card earns points differently. Applying for NAB credit cards can be done online, over the phone or by visiting your closest NAB branch.

Like the Commonwealth Bank and St George, a pensioners’ ability to obtain a credit card is based on his or her assets.

ANZ Bank

ANZ do not offer specific credit card products for pensioners, but pensioners are eligible to apply for an ANZ credit card if they are receiving an income of at least $15,000 per year. This works out at $1250 per month. Four of ANZ’s credit cards require a minimum income of $15,000, the other four platinum options all require a minimum income of $50,000 per year.