How to use a credit card
Credit cards are easy to get and easy to use. They let you carry
less cash and buy things over the phone or online. But keep track
of your spending and make sure you can pay off what you owe.
How do credit cards work?
Credit cards allow you to borrow money up to a certain limit as
long as you make regular minimum repayments. Most credit cards have
an annual fee.
Credit card interest rates explained
Credit cards tend to have higher interest rates than other forms
of credit, and the rate can vary depending on what features the
card offers. You are charged interest on all
outstanding transactions if you don't pay your full balance each
If you have a credit card without an interest-free period, you pay interest
either from the day you make a purchase or from the day your
monthly statement is issued.
Unless you use a card that is interest-free and fee-free, buying
items with a credit card will always cost you more than if you pay
Credit card minimum repayments
If you make only the minimum repayment on your credit
card each month, you will pay more in interest and it will
take longer to pay off your balance. Your monthly statement must
give you information about how long it will take to pay off the
entire balance by making minimum repayments.
Use our credit card calculator to find out how much you can save
by paying more than the minimum repayments.
Credit card calculator
Stopping unsolicited credit card offers
By law, credit card issuers cannot send you invitations to
increase your credit limit without first getting your
agreement. This applies to both new and existing credit
Even if you do agree to receive credit limit increase
invitations, you can change your mind at any time by
contacting your card issuer and asking them to stop sending credit
Whether you decide to opt in or out of receiving credit
offers, you can ask your card issuer for an increase to your credit
limit at any time.
You could also end up spending more than you can repay if you
get a higher credit limit than you need.
Credit card PIN only changes
From 1 August 2014 you must enter a PIN to authorise
transactions on credit card and debit card purchases
when you are buying a product at a point of sale. Your
signature is no longer accepted as authorisation for the
This change only affects transactions where you're physically
present at the point of sale and if the credit card you're using
has an embedded smart chip. You'll continue to sign when using
chip-less cards with a magnetic strip at the back.
This change does not impact
online shopping, telephone purchases or
contactless card transactions such as Visa's payWave and
MasterCard's PayPass where you wave your card or tap and go.
Problems with your credit card PIN
Forgot your credit card PIN?
If you forget your PIN, contact your bank or card issuer
to organise a new one. Your PIN should be difficult to guess and
not associated with any known information about you.
Using a credit card with a disability
If you have problems remembering a PIN or have a
disability that makes signing your credit card difficult, contact
your card issuer to discuss your options.
If you have questions about the security of using a PIN,
speak to your card issuer.
unauthorised and mistaken transactions if
you have purchases on your card that you cannot account
Using a credit card overseas
Be aware that your PIN might not work when you use your credit
card overseas. Depending on the overseas merchant, you may still
need to use a signature to authorise purchases.
How to choose a credit
See how to choose a credit
card for tips on how to decide which credit card is right
See smart ways to use your
credit card for tips on how to make your credit card work
better for you and avoid costly fees and interest. You can also
find out how to pay off
multiple credit cards.
If you're worried about spending too much, a debit card
might suit you better.
Remember to check your credit card statements carefully to make
sure you are being charged correctly. Contact your credit provider
immediately if you find any transactions you didn't make. See unauthorised and
mistaken transactions for more details.
Shop around for a credit card that's right
for you, and remember to check the fine print.
Last updated: 19 Feb 2015
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