Courtney Allan

Money & Banking

Why it’s so hard for seniors to get a credit card

Why it’s so hard for seniors to get a credit card

Although the minimum age for getting a credit card for most banks and providers is 18 years old, there’s little said about the maximum age.

Many banks look at a variety of factors including income and whether or not that person is in any kind of employment, but what are retired people supposed to do in order to get a credit card?

The question was posed to Noel Whittaker, who used his lengthy experience on personal finance, to answer the question on The Age.

The question he received is below.

“We have just spent the entire afternoon on the phone to the ANZ bank with whom my husband has a credit card with a $39,000 limit and I have a supplementary card. I would also like a credit card in my name in case his gets stolen when we are overseas. We own our home and have over $500,000 in super (in his name) and I cannot get a credit card! Tried the advocate - they didn’t want to know,” the anguished writer said. 

They went onto explain that they were tired of being treated like a “second-class citizen”.

“Tired of being a second-class citizen and non person! Worked all my life and paid taxes! Also got turned down by ING because I am 68 years old and don't have an income other than a $333 pension. There must be thousands of us out there who cannot get a credit card. How do I get a credit card if my husband dies? I don't have an income!”

Whittaker had a simple solution for the question asker and acknowledged their pain.

“I accept the fact that obtaining a credit card has become extremely difficult for people who are retired. However, the simple solution is a debit card which has no annual fee and can still be used to make purchases,” Whittaker wrote.

“The good news is that you can never get a shock when the credit card statement comes in because all a debit card can do is access money already held in your bank account. The only bad news you won’t accrue any points but these have been devalued so much in recent years that it’s not worth worrying about.”

Whittaker was also careful to address the question asker’s concerns about losing a credit card overseas. 

“I appreciate that you may need a credit card for hotel bookings but you can often get around that by using a travel agent, and prepaying your travel costs. I reckon there is a big opportunity here for a lending institution to offer a credit card with the criteria is based on merit.”