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How to apply for a credit card when you’re self-employed

Am I eligible to apply for a credit card if I am self-employed?

If you’re self-employed, you can still apply for a credit card, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. However, you may need to submit different documents than if you are retired or employed by a company. You can use this guide to compare credit card issuers who consider self-employed applicants and the documents you need to provide to apply.

Credit card providers that consider self-employed applicants

The following credit card issuers consider applications from self-employed people. We’ve listed the information that you may need to provide with your application below.

ProviderWho can apply and the documents you need
American Express
  • You must have been trading for 18 months. If you are an existing Amex customer, this is 12 months. Your accountant or tax agents details are required.
  • If you work for one company, they need to view 2 years’ worth of tax summaries. If you have multiple contracts with different firms, you need to talk with the ANZ Business Banking team.
  • They require bank statements for at least 3 months as proof of your income.
  • If you do not bank with BNZ, you need to provide proof of earnings, i.e. an IR3. If you already bank with BNZ, then they check your bank statements to confirm your earnings.
  • They require evidence of at least six months of consistent earning to prove you can service the debt.
  • TSB requires you to be an existing customer and provide your end of year tax information. If you become a customer, you need to have at least a 6-month history of banking with them.
  • Each application is assessed on a case by case basis. You need to provide 2 years of financial history.

What to consider before applying for a credit card when you’re self-employed

When you’re comparing credit cards for business or personal expenses, here are some of the factors you should consider:

  • Business or personal card. If your business is in its early stages, if you don’t have a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) yet, or you’re a sole trader with no employees, a personal credit card may be better. Plus, a personal card might be better if you plan to use it for personal and business expenses. If you have a registered company and multiple employees, you may want to consider a business credit card that offers a larger credit limit, more additional cardholders and accounting features.
  • Card features. If you use a credit card regularly and pay it off each month, you could reward your spending with an Airpoints credit card. If you need a card to free up cash flow and plan to carry a balance from month to month, you could consider a card that charges a low-interest rate.
  • Eligibility requirements. Many credit cards require you to meet a minimum annual income to apply. You need to provide recent bank statements, tax returns and your accountant’s information to demonstrate your income. Some banks only consider self-employed applicants if they’ve been in business for more than a year. If you’re unsure if you meet the criteria, get in contact with the card issuer before applying to check if you’re eligible.

Mistakes to avoid

Applying without researching

If you’re self-employed, you need to provide additional documents and meet special eligibility requirements to receive approval. Rejected applications harm your credit file, so you need to conduct the necessary research to improve your chances of acceptance in the first place.

If you’re unsure what you need to provide, see the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or contact the provider to confirm the terms and conditions you need to meet.

If you do your research to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements and have the necessary documents, you increase your approval chances.

Applying for several cards in a short time period

If you applied for a card and it was rejected, don’t apply for another one immediately, as this also puts a dent in your credit file. Instead, do some research to establish why you weren’t accepted. If you didn’t have all the correct documents, make sure you have the most recent versions when you apply again in a few months. If the rejection was because of your credit history, you could start improving your credit file, which increases your chance of approval next time.

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