Did you recently apply for a credit card only to be turned down because of your credit rating? There are many reasons your credit rating can drop, and not all of them are under your control. Maybe you recently were out of a job for a few months or even longer, or perhaps you went through a foreclosure or a divorce that cost you your financial stability.
Now that you are getting back on your feet, though, and you have a reliable income, you may very well find yourself in want of a credit card. In fact, getting a credit card and paying off on your credit card bill regularly and reliably is one of the best things you can do to fix your credit. But aren’t you stuck in a catch-22? How do you get a credit card to repair your credit when your credit is too low to qualify you in the first place? Here are 5 tips to help you get a credit card in Australia, even if your credit rating has dropped.
1. Provide an explanation
If your credit rating is bad because of a one-time misfortune, as opposed to a habit of paying late (or not paying at all), you are a far more viable investment than a customer who simply does not care about paying his bills. See if you can provide an explanation on your credit report. You may be able to add a short statement which will be available to any creditor who pulls your records up. If you are applying for a credit card in person, see if you can add an explanation on your credit card application, or even try to explain to someone in-person what has happened and what you are doing now to make improvements in your score.
2. Apply for a secured credit card
If you have a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars you can set aside for now, you may be able to qualify for a secured credit card. This is the easiest way to get a credit card in Australia when you have a bad credit score and deposits are around $500 for each card. A secured card is secured by cash collateral. In short, you hand several hundred or thousand dollars over to the bank, and they hold it in trust for you until your credit rating goes back up. You are given a credit card to use which has a limit that is generally equal to the amount of your collateral. If you fail to pay up, the bank seizes your collateral. If you pay on time and in full each month, your credit rating gradually goes back up, and when you have finally fixed it, you may be able to qualify for an unsecured card and get your collateral back.
If you are applying for cards, stay away from cards that you are unlikely to qualify for. Be prepared to pay a higher interest rate or provide collateral. If you apply repeatedly for cards you are turned down for, that will reflect negatively on your credit report. Narrow down your search and only apply for cards you may be approved for.
3. Get a co-signer on your credit card
Some credit cards issuers will allow you to have someone co-sign on your credit card account who has better credit than you do. This person is essentially fulfilling the same role as the collateral in a secured card situation. If you fail to pay your dues, that person has to pay them for you.
4. Consider a subprime credit card
If you are struggling to get a credit card in Australia and you do not have the collateral for a secured card (and nobody to co-sign for you), you might consider looking into subprime credit cards. These cards are offered by lenders who are willing to take on the risk of a customer with poor credit in return for higher profits. These cards are expensive. They typically have a lot of processing fees and monthly fees, and the interest rates on them are very high. As such, you should only consider getting one as a last resort if you cannot get a secured card or provide an explanation and receive a card.
Another reason that you should steer away from this option unless you have no others is that not all lenders who offer subprime cards are trustworthy. Since you are vulnerable and in need, you may find yourself encountering scammers who want to take advantage of your situation. If a company asks you to pay money before you are even given a card, you should walk away.
5. Take care of your existing debts
Finally, one more step you can take is to square away your existing debts. If you owe money to lenders that you have not yet paid up in full, it is time to start paying off those debts. If you need to get on a payment plan, get in touch with your creditors and talk about what you can afford to pay each month. Once you start paying on time each month, this will begin to reflect positively in your credit report. Of course, if your debts are already paid off and your rating is still low, this will not really help you.
You may also want to consider seeking advice from a professional credit counselor. A credit counselor can help you make arrangements to pay your existing debts and boost your credit score. He or she can also provide additional advice to help you get a credit card, secured or otherwise.
When you are trying to get a credit card again after your credit rating has suffered, it can feel like doors are being slammed in your face at every turn. A lot of people have seen their credit scores crash in recent years, however, and there are opportunities out there to raise your score again and qualify for a credit card in Australia. Watch out for scams, seek professional advice if necessary, and work on accumulating collateral which you can provide in return for a secured card.