Applying for Credit Cards in RetirementThere are plenty of things to look forward to in retirement, but better access to credit cards is unfortunately not one of them. Senior Australians often find it difficult to apply for new credit cards as most retirees do not earn a steady wage… in the traditional sense, at least. This is unfortunate, as new credit cards often come with generous sign-up bonus points. But there are some ways to improve your chances of being approved for new credit cards in retirement.

One member’s credit card application was recently knocked back due to their income not meeting the bank’s requirements. Yet this member believes they are in a better financial position now, in retirement, than they have ever been.

I have platinum VISA credit card and ordinary gold Amex. Recently I tried to go for one a next level CC for the extra points (can’t really recall which). I am now retired, I own my own home which is worth in excess of a million, own two cars and owe nothing to anyone. I pay off my monthly cc bills each month, usually with a 3-5 k spend. However I got knocked back in the online application process because I don’t have a high salary.

This is a relatively common problem. But some retired members have been able to find solutions. If your partner earns sufficient income to meet the bank’s requirements, one option is for them to apply for the card. You can then become a supplementary cardholder. It’s also worth remembering that American Express allows couples to list their combined income when applying for a new Amex card.

We’re both retired on government pensions, which are certainly not in the high income bracket. However this year we applied for an AMEX Qantas Ultimate card each when they were on 100,000 sign-up points (plus referral bonuses). We used our combined income in the applications.

It can be worthwhile applying for a new credit card in person at your local bank branch. Your local bank staff may have a little more flexibility.

This is one of those occasions where you need to be face to face with your bank, and hint that you may need to change banks if they’re not going to accommodate you.

Ultimately, applying for new credit cards in retirement does involve jumping through a few hoops. But if you do have the required income – even if it’s not a traditional salary – some banks will likely accept your application.

I’m retired and don’t have a massive income. I’m a credit card deadbeat, as is my wife. We’ve both had 3 platinum CCs this year and collected sign-on bonuses of 410k. My fee outlay for 225K points was nil while hers was $150… Not all CCs require the applicant to have large incomes, however as a defined benefit SFR I had to jump through a few hoops on my last application.

Thankfully, the banks are slowly beginning to better understand the financial needs of retirees…

I think they are changing their mindset with self funded retirees, as a friend was refused about 18 months ago, the banks must now realise we are not a credit risk just because we are not eligible for a pension!

…But this process will take time. For now, you should expect to hold on to your existing credit cards in retirement for some time.

Yes, I advise anyone who is retired to hang on firmly to the cards they have. If your retirement income is from several sources and/or goes into different bank accounts, your application is very likely to be cnsidered too hard – they are used to dealing only with pay-slips.

Read more tips and join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: High end card for points vs being retired


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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