Discover and compare the banks that offer credit card alternatives for people under 18.
No Australian banks currently approve applicants under the age of 18 as the primary cardholder. Some banks, such as Westpac and St.George, allow people aged 16 and older to use a credit card as an additional cardholder. If your child requires their own card and aren’t eligible for a credit card, a prepaid card could be a useful alternative.
Rather than a line of credit, prepaid cards allow you to load funds onto the account and spend up to the amount available on the card. As your funds run low, you can load more money on your card. Whether you need a credit card for an overseas trip, to manage everyday costs or to help pick up budgeting tips, a prepaid card could be useful alternative to a credit card for teenagers, or anyone else.
Like a credit card, though, prepaid cards come with varying fees, features and benefits, so it’s important to compare a few options before applying. To make things easier, this guide outlines the different types of prepaid cards available, the important factors you need to consider and how you can apply.
Prepaid cards that teenagers can use
In Australia, your options mainly include prepaid MasterCard and Visa cards for everyday use, prepaid travel cards, and prepaid store gift cards. We’ve compared the following options below so you can pick which one is right for you.
Prepaid MasterCard and Visa cards for everyday use
Prepaid cards can be loaded and sometimes reloaded with cash that you can spend at participating retailers, or wherever MasterCards and Visa cards are accepted. However, these cards may come with fees for issuing, reloading funds, making transactions and for ATM withdrawals.
|Card||Age limit||Maximum load amount||Reloadable||ATM withdrawal||Fees|
|Woolworths Money Visa Prepaid Gift Card||None||$500||No||No|
Only cash or EFTPOS can be used to purchase it at any Woolworths outlet. No proof of ID required.
|Commonwealth Bank Prepaid MasterCard Gift Card||None (card can be gifted)||$500||No||No||Since 2013, this card can only be obtained via the Commonwealth Awards program, either online or by calling 13 16 61. You can redeem a $100 MasterCard gift card using 20,000 rewards points.|
|Coles Reloadable MasterCard||Over 16||$1,000 (can increase to $10,000)||Yes||Yes (ATM operator fees apply)|
No reload/monthly/annual fees.
This card can be purchased online, flybuys membership is compulsory.
|Load&Go Reloadable Visa Prepaid Card||None||$999||Yes||Yes (Maximum weekly withdrawal $250; fees apply)|
Prepaid travel cards
These cards are designed for use abroad, and come with the ability to load and spend money in several supported currencies. They offer safety while travelling, and give you the ability to lock in exchange rates when you load funds on the card. Prepaid travel cards can generally be used wherever MasterCard and Visa is accepted. These cards can come with issue fees, reload costs and ATM withdrawal charges, but you can avoid currency conversion fees if the local currency is supported and loaded on your card.
|Card||Age limit||Maximum load amount||Reloadable||ATM withdrawal||Fees|
|ANZ Travel Card||None (ID required)||$10,000||Yes||Yes|
|American Express Global Travel Card||Over 16||USD 30,000, GBP 16,000, EUR 24,000||Yes||Yes|
|Qantas Cash||Over 16||$20,000||Yes||Yes|
Prepaid store gift cards
These cards are typically preloaded with store credit to be used in the issuing store. Some cards can be used in a specific group of stores. For example, WISH gift cards are accepted at any Woolworths Group store and Coles Group and Myer gift cards are accepted at participating Coles Group stores. These cards usually have limited life spans and are useful if your child shops regularly at the store.
|Card||Age limit||Maximum load amount||Reloadable||Fees||Validity|
|Woolworths WISH Gift Card||None||$500||No||None||12 months|
|Coles Group & Myer Gift Card||None||$500||No||None||24 months|
What to consider when comparing prepaid cards
- Age limits. Most of these cards still have an “at least 16 years of age” requirement. If you need a card for a younger child, your options may be limited to kids bank accounts that offer ATM or debit cards.
- Additional cards. This might not be absolutely necessary, but some travel cards come in pairs for good reason. When the first card is lost or stolen, the second card serves as a back-up. Some travel card providers will replace lost cards at a cost, but there may be a wait time for that replacement. Prepaid gift cards on the other hand, should be “treated like cash”. If this phrase is included in the terms and conditions, it means the card provider disclaims all liability for replacing or refunding lost or stolen cards. In such cases, a lost card equals lost money.
- Loading times. Funds can take between 2-5 business days to be processed and to show up on the prepaid card. So you should reload yours or your child’s card well before you run out of funds.
- Multiple currencies. If your child is travelling overseas, make sure that the card you’re looking at supports the local currency. If not, then a currency conversion fee may apply.
- Rewards. Some prepaid cards also allow you to earn rewards while using them. The Coles Reloadable MasterCard lets you to earn 1 flybuys point for every $2 you spend on it. The Qantas Cash card earns you 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent in foreign currency, and 1 Qantas Point per $2 spent within Australia. The Velocity Global Wallet also earns one Velocity point with each $1 spent overseas and 1 point per $2 spent in Australia, with up to 11 currencies (including AUD). The Velocity Global Wallet is only available to over-18s though.
- Fees. As mentioned above, these cards can come with issue fees, annual or monthly fees, reload fees and transaction fees. Check the product disclosure statement before applying to make sure you know exactly what you might have to pay and how you can avoid these fees.
- Card expiration. If your card expires with funds on it, those funds are essentially lost. Most cards generally have a shelf life of one to three years, and you should make sure to spend your prepaid funds before that expiry date.
- Card acceptance. Store gift cards are obviously limited to the particular issuing store. If your prepaid credit or travel card is a MasterCard or Visa option, it is usually accepted wherever MasterCards and Visa are accepted. However, prepaid MasterCard and Visa gift cards sometimes come with exceptions. For instance, the Woolworths Money Visa Prepaid Gift Card and the Commonwealth Bank Prepaid MasterCard Gift Card both stipulate that their cards cannot be used for ATM withdrawals or gambling services. Woolworths also states that their card cannot be used for direct debits or recurring payments, nor at merchants where card transactions are completely manual. Most Product Disclosure Statements will have a disclaimer saying that some merchants don’t accept MasterCard gift cards or Visa prepaid cards and may decline them or impose fees if you use them.
How to apply for a prepaid card
Unlike credit cards, getting a prepaid card is not a stringent process at all. Credit checks are not necessary, and sometimes you won’t even need to provide identification. You can apply for most cards online these days. Some cards will be delivered to your doorstep, while some may require that you collect them from a branch in person with proof of ID. Where needed, common eligibility requirements are an Australian residential address and two proofs of ID like a driver’s license, passport, or Medicare card. Requirements differ by card type and card so you will need to check your chosen card’s eligibility requirements and follow its specific application process.
Before you decide on which prepaid card best suits you or your teenager, make sure that you’ve compared as many options as possible. Carefully read all the terms and conditions and try to find the best value for the lowest fees. It is also important to know when, where, how and how often you or your child will be using the card so you can find the one that will be of most value.Back to top