Apply for a credit card as a temporary resident
You have to be a permanent resident to apply for most credit cards here in Australia. But, you may be able to apply if you hold the right type of visa and meet certain conditions. Compare the options here on CreditCard.com.au, and check out our guide to find out more about what you need to apply as a temporary resident.
Credit Cards for Temporary Residents
As a temporary resident, the visa you hold determines the types of activities you are legally allowed to do during your stay here. That means, depending on the classification of your visa, you may be able to study or work, as long as you abide by certain guidelines. Your visa may also specify how long you can stay in Australia before you either have to leave the country, or apply for another visa or an extension.
What about the financial side of things? While it’s easy enough to open a bank account as a temporary resident, things can get a bit tricky when you want to apply for credit. So, what can you do if you want to apply for a credit card and you are not a permanent resident or citizen? Fortunately, there are some card providers that accept applications from temporary residents, but to be eligible, you may need to meet certain conditions to be approved.
In this guide, we will look at the all the important stuff you need to know about applying for a credit card as a temporary resident. Covering everything from what you need to know before you apply, to what to look for when comparing your options, we have all the essentials covered, right here.
Why is it more difficult to get approved as a temporary resident?
There are two major factors at play here, but they are both rooted in risk. Let’s take a look.
As a temporary resident, you have no credit history.
When you apply for a credit card, your card provider wants to know how responsible you are with credit. By looking at your credit history, your card provider can see how well you have dealt with credit in the past, and from there, make a reasonable assumption regarding how well you will deal with it in the future.
If your credit file shows you have late payments or defaults, it suggests that you may not be very responsible with credit. This may mean your application gets declined. If you have a good credit history, on the other hand, your application is more likely to be approved.
When you apply for a credit card as a temporary resident, your credit history is limited. That means there is no way for your card provider to assess how responsible you are with credit. Even if you have exceptional credit history at home, Australian card providers cannot access this information, and will not take it into account.
As a temporary resident, you may leave at any time.
Another potential risk for card providers is the fact that, as a non-resident, you may choose to leave Australia at any time. If you happen to leave the country with debt owing on your credit card, that may make it difficult for your card provider to retrieve what you owe. If it’s too time-consuming or expensive to retrieve those funds, the card provider would have to write off the loss.
How do you get approved for a credit card as a temporary resident?
While these factors may make it more difficult for temporary residents to get approved for a credit card, that doesn’t mean getting access to credit is impossible. Card providers willing to offer credit cards to temporary residents may be willing to overlook the above risks if the applicant is able to meet an expanded selection of application criteria.
Depending on the card provider, that may mean:
- You must hold a certain type of visa. Card providers that allow temporary residents to apply may specify the type of visa you must hold to be eligible. If you are unsure whether your visa is accepted, ask your card provider to confirm the details of what is acceptable before you apply.
- Your visa must be valid for a certain period of time. Card providers may also stipulate how much time you have left on your visa before it expires. This may be a period of one or two years, but if you are unsure, it’s a good idea to ask.
- You must have a certain amount in savings. Some card providers ask that temporary resident applicants have a certain amount in savings when they apply. This may mean simply showing proof of that amount, or holding it in an account with the provider.
- You must have an ongoing source of income. Your card provider may require you to have an ongoing source of income. In some cases, you may need to make more than a certain amount per year. Other providers may ask that you have worked in Australia for at least three months, and have completed your probation period.
- You must have an Australian residential address. Most providers ask that you have an Australian residential address. Typically, this cannot be a hotel or hostel.
When you apply as a temporary resident, you may not be able to do so online. Some card providers require non-residents to apply either in person at a branch, or over the phone. You may also have to provide proof of the necessary eligibility requirements. This may mean handing over your passport and visa documents, your employment agreement or your last two payslips.
However you choose to apply, and whatever information your card provider asks of you, you need to remember that each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. That means your card provider may ask for further documentation, and even if you meet all eligibility requirements, your application still may not be approved.
Credit Cards for Temporary Residents - Frequently Asked Questions
While your choice may be restricted as a temporary resident in Australia, there is still a good range of cards available to you. Check out a selection of options here on CreditCard.com.au, to find rewards cards and premium cards, cards with low annual fees and interest rates. You may be able to find options with intro offers on purchase rates, rewards points and balance transfers too.
With all that in mind, you still need to meet the card provider’s eligibility requirements in order to be approved. Let’s take a look at the cards available to temporary residents in Australia, and what each card provider expects from applicants to approve their application.
- American Express: To be eligible for an American Express credit card, you must have a 457 visa, you must earn at least $40,000 per year (this varies according to the card), and you must meet all other eligibility requirements as outlined for each individual card. Some cards issued by American Express available to temporary residents include:
- American Express Essential Credit Card
- American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
- American Express Velocity Platinum Card
- American Express Velocity Escape Card
- American Express Qantas Premium Card
- American Express Qantas Discovery Card
- American Express Qantas Ultimate Card
- David Jones American Express Card
- ANZ: To apply for an ANZ credit card as a temporary resident, you will need your passport, your permanent/temporary resident visa or working permit, and your employment agreement with at least six months remaining. Take note, ANZ reserves the right to decline requests for credit at its own discretion based on applicants’ non-resident status. The entire range of personal ANZ credit cards is available to non-residents, as long as they meet all eligibility requirements.
- Bankwest: To be eligible for a Bankwest credit card, you must hold a valid 457 visa and provide a copy of your visa with the expiry date, your passport (this needs to be sighted in a Bankwest branch), and your last two payslips. The entire range of personal Bankwest credit cards is available to this type of visa holder, but the applicant must meet all eligibility requirements for the card, and any further requirements set out by the bank on a case-by-case basis.
- Bank of Melbourne: If you have a 457 visa, you may apply for a Bank of Melbourne credit card if you have a regular income, and your visa is valid for a minimum of two years at the time of applying. Applicants here on other temporary resident visas may be assessed by the bank on a case-by-case basis. The entire range of personal Bank of Melbourne credit cards is available to those applicants who meet eligibility requirements.
- CommBank: You may be eligible for a Commonwealth Bank credit card as a temporary resident if you have applied for a Commonwealth Bank transaction account, you have established full time permanent employment in Australia with a confirmed Australian income of more than $50,000 per year, and you have an eligible visa (a 457 visa, Permanent Resident visa, or temporary business visa) or hold an Australian/NZ passport. Some cards issued by CommBank available to temporary residents include:
- Commonwealth Bank Low Rate Credit Card
- Commonwealth Bank Low Rate Gold Credit Card
- Commonwealth Bank Low Fee Credit Card
- Commonwealth Bank Low Fee Gold Credit Card
- Commonwealth Bank Awards Credit Card
- HSBC: If you have a valid 457 visa, an employment contract for at least two years, and a minimum income of $50,000 per year, HSBC will consider your application. The entire range of HSBC personal credit cards is available to temporary residents who meet all eligibility requirements.
- NAB: If you have been working in Australia for a minimum of three months, and have completed any probationary period at work, NAB will consider your credit card application as a temporary resident. The entire range of NAB credit cards is available to temporary residents who meet all eligibility requirements.
- St.George: You may be eligible for a St.George credit card as a temporary resident if you have a St.George transaction account, you have confirmed employment in Australia with an Australian taxable income, and you have a valid visa valid for at least two years. You may only apply for a credit card with St.George as a temporary resident by visiting a branch or calling customer service. The entire range of St.George credit cards is available to temporary residents who meet all eligibility requirements.
- Valid sub-class visa numbers accepted by St.George are: 100, 103, 115, 119, 120, 121, 124, 132, 134, 136, 138, 143, 151, 155, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 175, 176, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 405, 457, 475, 487, 489, 801, 835, 855, 856, 857, 858, 885, 886, 887, 888, 890, 892, 893.
- Westpac: As a temporary resident, you may be eligible for a Westpac credit card if you have a minimum fixed salary of $50,000 per year, OR a minimum deposit of $250,000 in a Westpac account, OR an ongoing source of income after arriving in Australia. You must also have an employee sponsored visa, a Skilled Permanent or Skilled Independent Regional visa, a Business Skills, Investor or Talent visa. You must also have an Australian residential address (excluding hostels and hotels), and be moving to Australia within six to eight weeks of submitting your application. Some cards issued by Westpac available to temporary residents include:
- Westpac Altitude Credit Card
- Westpac Altitude Gold Card
- Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
- Westpac 55 Day Credit Card
- Westpac 55 Day Gold Card
- Westpac 55 Day Platinum Card
- Westpac Low Rate Card
Every credit card has eligibility requirements. While these requirements may vary according to the card provider, it’s important to make sure you meet each and every one before you apply. This is especially important as a temporary resident, as requirements for eligibility tend to be stricter. Here are some eligibility requirements you may be expected to meet:
- Age: You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card in Australia.
- Employment: You must have employment in Australia, or proof of upcoming employment in Australia when applying. You may be required to supply details of previous employers. It’s a good idea to get official, written confirmation of your employment contract, including details of your salary to verify these details to the card provider.
- Income and assets: With a job generally comes an income. You must have a regular, Australian taxable income to apply for a credit card. You will find minimum income conditions apply for many cards. For some cards, you may also be required to have a specific amount of Australian dollars in an Australian bank account.
- Passport: You will have to supply your passport number. You may also have to provide a certified copy of your passport.
- Visa: To apply, you must have a valid, eligible visa, often with a minimum amount of time left on the visa before expiry.
- Address: You must have a residential address in Australia to apply for a credit card.
- Australian bank account: You must have an Australian bank account to get a credit card.
While these eligibility requirements may vary according to the card provider and the credit card you are looking to apply for, it’s important to remember that the provider may ask you for further information as well. Be prepared to provide this information as needed, and know that for some card providers, applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Depending on the type of visa you hold, you may find it more difficult to get approved. If you’re here on holiday, if you are on a bridging visa, a spousal visa or a student visa, your chances of approval are lowered by the fact that your eligibility for employment tends to be restricted. Without a steady income, it would be hard to prove to card providers that you could repay your credit card debt.
As long as you meet eligibility requirements, you can improve your chances of being approved by spending time to compare the options, to then find the right card. Read the small print and speak to the card provider if you are unsure. You may have to visit a branch rather than apply online. You may also have to provide extra info, such as references and utility bills.
You may have to start with a lower credit limit than you are used to, but over time, you should be able build up that credit limit over time, as long as you deal with your card responsibly. If you are here on a partner visa or any other type of visa that makes you ineligible to apply, you may be able to apply to be an additional cardholder on your partner’s credit card account.