In order to find out more, we chatted to four of the major banks in Australia (the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, St George and NAB) to discuss their take on the matter. We wanted to find out whether these banks offer credit cards to pensioners, and what you as a pensioner could do to improve your chances of getting approved.
What’s the problem?
Before we look at ways to increase your chances of approval, we’ll have a quick look at why you may find it difficult to get approved. As a pensioner, you don’t fit the salary-earning mould of standard applicants. With those applicants, credit providers can easily see how much they earn, and work out how risky it would be to provide them with a credit card.
If you are a pensioner, some credit providers may think of you as a high risk applicant. They may not take into account the income you earn from super or elsewhere, and would only see the risk that you may not be able to pay back your credit card spending and interest.
Not a pensioner? Check out our resources page to find credit cards that suit YOUR lifestyle.
Best Credit Cards for Pensioners
Despite legislation that prohibits age discrimination, pensioners can often be restricted as to what personal finance they are considered for. Sometimes, it is not a question of what is the best credit card for pensioners, but rather, what is available.
So, how do you find the right credit card for you? One of the most important things to think about when applying for a credit card is the minimum income requirement. This will tell you the minimum amount you should earn each year in order to be eligible for that card.
Whether that income comes from a salary or a pension should not concern the credit card provider, as long as you can show that you will be able to repay your credit card spending and any interest that accrues.
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.
Many low interest rate cards only require a minimum income of $15,000, so it could be worthwhile checking your options when comparing credit cards. Where it is available, we list the minimum income requirement underneath each card featured on creditcard.com.au, so you can see which cards carry a low income requirement without too much hassle.
Applying for a credit card as a pensioner
If you want to improve your chances of being approved, you will need to prove that you are eligible. First up, be able to provide documentation that proves your income. This could be income from super, from investments and shares, from assets, or from the government.
If you own your own home and have a good credit history, it may also be easier to get approved. Try speaking to your own bank to see what they can offer you. They may be more willing to offer you credit if you have been a long-standing customer and they understand your situation.
In order to improve your chances of approval, it’s a good idea to do some research into which card providers are willing to lend to pensioners. You may find it easier to get approval from a smaller bank or a credit union, so be sure to take into account those options when comparing credit cards.
And the bigger banks? Here’s what they had to say.
The Commonwealth Bank told us that they have a “no age discrimination” policy. Eligibility is decided 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.
CommBank says it considers various factors when assessing a credit card application, including income, assets and liabilities. According to the spokesperson, CommBank offers a selection of credit cards catering to the needs to the pensioner, and an application can be made for a credit card with the Commonwealth Bank online, over the phone, or by visiting the branch.
Similar to the other big banks, CommBank often runs online promotions, such as cashback or vouchers, or an introductory rate on purchases or balance transfers. It is worth monitoring the comparison tables to find out more about which offers are available and when.
St George stressed the importance of the pensioner’s ability to afford repayments. “We seek to lend only what our customers can afford to repay,” the St George spokesperson told us.
With strict consideration criteria, St George Bank takes into account the applicant’s credit score by conducting credit check, and does an affordability verification to make a full assessment of the applicant’s ability to repay. This applies to all of St George’s customers and not just pensioners, which suggests pensioners applying for St George credit cards receive equal treatment in their applications.
The following St George credit cards each have a low minimum income requirement:
- St George Vertigo (minimum income requirement: $15,000 p.a.)
Westpac offers the Westpac Low Rate Credit Card as an option for pensioners, with a minimum income requirement of $15,000 p.a.
Applicants who meet the card’s eligibility criteria may want to go into a branch to speak to a teller, or apply online or over the phone.
National Australia Bank
Like the Commonwealth Bank, NAB adopts a “no age discrimination” policy, and a pensioner’s ability to obtain a NAB credit card is based on his or her assets. NAB said that there is a range of NAB cards that can cater to the needs of each retiree, as well as two rewards 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 Flyer Program – pensioner applicants can choose from a MasterCard or Visa, and an Amex, with each card offering different points-earning potential. Applying for NAB credit cards can be done online, over the phone or by visiting a branch.
ANZ do not offer specific credit card products for pensioners, but pensioners may be eligible to apply for an ANZ credit card if they have an annual income of at least $15,000. This works out at $1250 per month. The following ANZ credit cards each have a minimum income requirement of $15,000 p.a.: