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Smart Money

Credit Cards for Pensioners

Last updated

Pauline Hatch      

 

 

There is a chance that you’ll find it more difficult to get a credit card when you retire. Here’s what you need to know about boosting your chances of approval, the types of cards to look for and what could get you knocked back.

Technically, credit providers can’t discriminate based on age. But, the ‘twilight’ season of life could make you look higher risk to credit lenders since your source of income is likely superannuation payouts (which is a diminishing lump sum), fixed government pension payments or income from investments.

If you’re retired, it’s a good idea to do some research before you apply for a credit card, since there’s a little more to it once you’re out of the working world.

Why can seniors find it harder to get a credit card?

I hear from retirees who say they have excellent assets, savings and multiple income streams from investments but were declined a card. It’s tough to pinpoint precisely why, since lenders generally don’t give a reason. But, it’s possible an income outside of a reliable PAYG salary or self-employed income could put you into a slightly different risk category with lenders, making it tougher to get an approved application.

Since 2019, lenders have had to weigh up credit eligibility and limits against a 3-year rule that says you need to be able to pay your credit limit off using savings from your income within 3 years. Seniors on a fixed pension or superannuation payment may not have the margin to meet the 3-year criteria.

Lenders and banks are also under increasing regulatory pressures that may be forcing them to be more careful about who they lend to.

What kind of card should you apply for as a retiree?

There isn’t any way to know which lender will look at your application more favourably as a senior. Credit lenders keep their assessment criteria very close to their chest.

So, as a retiree, your best bet is to:

Choose a card that fits your income and ability to repay

Check the card’s eligibility criteria

Make sure you have all the supporting documents

Make sure your credit report is good and – where possible – that debts are cleaned up

Choosing a card when no minimum income requirement is listed in the eligibility criteria
Many lenders no longer include a minimum income on their credit cards. Instead, most say you simply need “good credit” and have not applied for too many credit cards recently. It’s a good idea to look at cards that have lower fees, fewer perks and low interest rates, since they generally have lower eligibility criteria. We’ve compiled credit cards that could suit retirees for you to compare.

If the lender is open about the minimum income requirement, you’ll find it at the bottom of each card review when you click a card.

To help you get started, here’s a snapshot of the pension and retiree application requirements for some of the bigger banks.

Eligibility requirements for retirees applying for credit cards

American Express

Amex doesn’t give specifics on its requirements for pensioners. It says you’ll need to provide financial information that includes:

  • Annual household income
  • Monthly living expenses
  • Details of other credit card, loans and outstanding balances
  • Employment details and status if retired
  • Other sources of income

ANZ

If you’re on a pension or other government benefits, you’ll need to provide ANZ with proof of:

  • Age pension and government benefits
  • A letter or statement from Centrelink showing benefits
  • Your most recent bank statement showing government payments for 3 consecutive months

If you’re a retiree with superannuation, pension or annuity income, you’ll need to supply:

  • A copy of your Annual Investment Statement
  • Your most recent bank statement showing 3 consecutive months of income

 

Bankwest

If you’re on a pension or retail/industry superannuation fund, you’ll need to provide Bankwest with proof of:

  • The most recent statement of your super balance, including evidence of regular and ongoing payments. If payment amounts aren’t shown, you’ll need three months’ statements showing the credits to your bank account.
  • Your most recent pension statement showing current payments.

If you’re a retiree with a Self Managed Super Fund, you’ll need to supply:

  • Your most recent SMSF member benefit statement
  • A letter from your financial planner or accountant that confirms you’re receiving payments from the fund, and shows your balance, minimum payment amount, tax and tax-free components, and pension status.

 

Citi

Citi says retirees and self-funded retirees will need to provide one of the following documents:

  • A letter from Centrelink showing your name and the Permanent Government Pension amount
  • Three most recent bank statements showing your regular Centrelink payments
  • An annual superannuation statement that includes an indexed pension amount
  • One most recent Self-managed Superannuation Tax Return less than 15 months old

NAB

NAB says you can verify your superannuation income with these documents:

  • your latest bank or superannuation fund statement from the last 90 days, showing regular payments from your superannuation investment over the past three months
    financial statements or an equivalent (e.g. self-managed superannuation fund tax return)
  • A letter from your financial planner or advisor detailing regular payments from your superannuation investment

If you have other assets that generate income, you can verify your income with:

  • A shareholding certificate, current dividend statement or notice
  • A managed fund current statement or notice
  • your latest bank statement, showing at least two direct credits as investment income
  • A share registry advice
  • A term depository certificate
  • A letter from a financial planner with the NAB Group
  • Your most recent tax return

Westpac

If you’re applying for a Westpac credit card as a retiree, you’ll need to supply one of the following documents:

  • Bank statements covering the last 3 months showing superannuation/annuity/investment deposits received (including Commonwealth Superannuation)
  • A copy of your SMSF’s Annual Investment Statement that’s less than 18 months old
  • Your most recent ATO Notice of Assessment (less than 18 months old)
  • Your most recent Superannuation Annual Investment statement

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Pauline

Pauline Hatch

Pauline is a personal finance expert at CreditCard.com.au, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger.

Recently Asked Questions

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Ask Pauline a Question

Hi, I’m a personal finance expert who loves to help you out! I’ll answer your question within a business day. Pinky swear.

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44 comments (showing the latest 10 Q&As)

Katrina Rinkin

Katrina Rinkin

11 April 2024
Hi I’m on fulltime carers pension and allowance and needing a credit card asap please I also own my car
Theodore petrizza

Theodore petrizza

4 November 2023
Hi, I have been on A DSP FOR 13 YEARS MY INCOME FROM SERVICES Australia is $ xxxxx per fortnight I have only $120 gone out off the Amount showing were would be the best bank that would expect me for a credit card for say,2,000 or 5,000 thanks THEO
    Pauline - CreditCard.com.au

    Pauline

    15 November 2023
    Hi Theo, it can be tough for people on pensions to get a line of credit. Many banks count government payments as income, but it will still depend on your credit score and other assets like savings. You would likely be best off looking at low annual fee cards that have a lower eligibility requirements. We’ve compiled a list of credit cards that might suit pensioners here. I hope that helps Theo, all the best.

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