Not sure if a credit card is right for you? Read on to explore the ins and outs of credit cards, including balance transfers, interest-free periods and repayments.

What exactly is a credit card?

A credit card is a way to borrow money, or get ‘credit’ from a bank. The official term is ‘revolving line of credit’. In normal speak it’s a card with a set amount of funds (called a 'limit’) you can borrow at any time. This limit is set when you apply for a card.

Where accepted, you can use a credit card to buy things without cash, and pay for purchases online or over the phone.

Like all debts, you need to repay the credit card. Credit cards have interest rates, which apply to amounts that you haven’t paid back, there’s a minimum monthly repayment, and most cards have an annual fee.

You should apply for a credit card only if you can afford the repayments.

Who can apply for a credit card?

To apply for a credit card you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don't have to be an Australian citizen.

How to apply for a credit card

You can apply for a NAB credit card online, over the phone or at any NAB branch. We’ll ask you to give us details about your occupation, spending habits, income, debts and assets. You’ll also be asked to set a limit for the amount of credit you want. You may also have to supply some documents, like payslips. Approval for a credit card depends on our credit assessment criteria.

If your application is approved, it’s then subject to verification. If you meet the verification criteria, you’ll receive your credit card in the mail within 5 working days. Once you activate it, you can start using it straight away.

How credit cards work

Your credit limit

Your credit limit is the amount you can borrow. When you apply for a credit card you can either set your own credit limit or the bank will set the maximum credit amount, based on the information you supplied about your financial situation. The bank will also set a minimum card limit, which depends on the type of card you apply for.

Interest rates

When you apply for a credit card you’ll be told which interest rate applies. This is an annual percentage that you pay, and it applies to any outstanding amount not paid off by the required due date. The amount of interest you’ll pay will differ each month. It’s determined by how much you spend, how much you repay, and when you repay it. For example if the interest rate is 18% per annum, and you have $100 outstanding on your balance, you will be charged 18% per annum of $100, or approximately $1.50 per month.

Interest-free periods

Most credit cards have ‘up-to-44 days’ or ‘up-to-55 days’ interest-free periods on purchases.1 This means interest on amounts you owe doesn’t start to build up until the statement due date.

Interest-free periods usually start on the first day of your billing cycle, not when you make a purchase. For example, if your credit card has an interest free period of 44 days, this means you have 44 days from the day of your statement to pay off the credit card. After this, you will be charged interest. You won’t receive interest-free days on purchases while you have a balance transfer.

Repayments

Once you have a credit card, like any debt, you need to pay it back. Your bank will send you statements each month which will show you the total amount you have borrowed, any payments you have made, the interest rate, any interest or charges that have accrued, as well as the minimum amount you have to pay.

To avoid paying interest, make sure you pay the closing balance in full by the due date each month. If you don’t pay the full amount of the closing balance, you will need to pay at least the minimum payment amount shown on your statement. If this amount isn’t paid by the due date, you may have to pay late fees or missed payment fees, as well as interest.

What is a balance transfer?

A balance transfer is a way to move some or all of what you owe (your balance) on one or more credit cards to a new one. The debt you move to the new card usually has a much lower interest rate (or often no interest) than what you were previously paying, for a period of time. This is known as a promotion period and it’s usually between six months and three years. After this period, any unpaid balance transfers will attract the standard cash advance rate. Find out more about balance transfers.

Annual fees

Most credit cards have an annual fee, which is payable every 12 months. Generally, the more features a card has like rewards points and complimentary insurances2, the higher the annual fee.

Late payment fees

Most credit cards will charge a fee if your payment is late or missed. Learn more about how to avoid late payment fees.

Types of cards

Low rate cards

These credit cards have the lowest interest rates, but generally don’t have reward schemes or complimentary insurances attached. Find out more about NAB’s Low Rate Cards.

Low fee cards

These cards have the lowest annual fees, and may have complimentary insurances included. Find out more about NAB’s Low Fee Cards.

NAB Rewards cards

With a NAB Rewards card you can earn points3 when you make purchases using your credit card and redeem them for a range of product and experiences at the NAB Rewards Store. Find out more about NAB’s Rewards Cards.

NAB Qantas Rewards cards

With these cards you can earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Points4 when you use your card to make purchases. And redeem points for flights, products and vouchers from the Qantas store. Find out more about NAB’s Qantas Frequent Flyer rewards cards.

What’s the difference between Visa and Mastercard?

Most banks partner with either Visa or Mastercard to provide credit cards. These companies only provide the technology for making the payments, and there are only subtle differences between the two. When you pay your credit card bill, the money goes to your bank, not Visa or Mastercard.

See all our credit cards

Important information

1Interest free days on purchases

Interest free days on purchases applies if you pay your account in full by the due date each month. You won’t receive interest free days on purchases while you have a balance transfer.

2Insurances

A qualifying purchase is required to get the benefits of the complimentary insurance. See terms, conditions and exclusions of the complimentary insurances specified in the NAB Card Insurance Policy Information booklet and in the NAB Purchase Protection Insurance Policy Information Booklet and may be amended. The complimentary insurances are issued by QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited ABN 78 003 191 035 to NAB. Access to the benefit of cover under the NAB card insurances is provided to eligible NAB cardholders by operation of s48 of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth).

3Earning Points

Points are earned and redeemed in accordance with the NAB Rewards Terms and Conditions. These terms describe the purchases not eligible to earn points. You must have an open and active NAB Rewards credit card account to earn points.

4Qantas Points

Points are capped at $3,000 spend per statement period. Qantas Points will be allocated on a tiered basis over each statement period.

To earn and redeem Qantas Points using one of NAB’s Qantas Frequent Flyer rewards cards, you must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program and have provided your valid membership number to NAB. Points are offered in accordance with the NAB Qantas Credit Card Account Reward Terms and Conditions. If you are not already a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, the membership joining fee will be waived if you apply and receive one of NAB’s Qantas Frequent Flyer rewards cards and join through qantas.com.au/joinffnab. Membership and the earning and redemption of points is subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program Terms and Conditions, available at qantas.com.au/terms.

You will earn 1 Bonus Points for every dollar charged to your Card Account for the purchase in Australia of the following services directly from Qantas (ie. where Qantas, and not its agent, is identified as the merchant on the credit card transaction):

· Qantas flights

· Qantas Club and Qantas Frequent Flyer memberships, and

· purchases from 'Qantas Travel' customer shopfronts.

Unless otherwise notified, Bonus Points will not be earned in relation to purchases from:

· Qantas Freight

· Qantas Holidays Ltd

· Qantas Business Travel Pty Ltd

· other businesses or franchisees of Jetset Travelworld Ltd

· Qantas Staff Travel

· Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd

· other Jetstar-branded businesses, or

· for goods or services supplied by Qantas Frequent Flyer program partners.

MasterCard® and the MasterCard brand mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated.

Fees and Charges

Credit Card Terms and Conditions available here. Fees and charges are payable. Approval and credit limit are subject to NAB's credit assessment criteria. Information, including interest rates and fees are subject to change. Correct as at 24 September 2018.

Credit cards issued by National Australia Bank Limited. ©2018 National Australia Bank Limited ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 230686.

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