Learning more about Credit Cards

Understanding how Credit Cards work is the first step towards financial health. This Credit Card guide provides information about what is a Credit Card and how is it different to a Charge Card, including information on how Credit Cards work with details about interest rates, fees, and the application process – to help you make an informed decision and use them wisely.

What is a Credit Card?


How does a Credit Card work?


A Credit Card allows you to pay for goods and services without using cash and could also be a practical way to borrow money and help manage cash flow in the short term.


This is because a Credit Card comes with a set amount of funds or a 'limit’ that you can borrow at any time and this limit is set when applying for your Card. You may also have the option of choosing your preferred limit amount, up to the maximum credit limit available.


In simple terms, it provides a convenient line of credit that allows you to pay the balance back later.


Like all debts, you’ll need to repay at least the minimum amount due each month to avoid late payment fees and prevent a negative mark on your credit score but be aware that interest will be applied to any balance outstanding.


If you pay off your bill in full monthly, you won’t pay interest on anything you’ve borrowed.


As well as providing a convenient way to make purchases, some American Express Credit Cards allow you to earn rewards as you spend.

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How do I apply for a Credit Card?

Applying for an American Express Credit Card online is easy and fast. Plus, you’ll get a response within 60 seconds.



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How do Credit Card limits work?

A credit limit is the maximum balance that you can have on your Credit Card at any time, including your purchases, interest charges, and fees.


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What fees do I pay?

When thinking about Credit Cards, remember some American Express Credit Cards charge an annual fee in return for rewards, features, and benefits. The amount varies from Card to Card.


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How do Credit Cards work differently to Charge Cards?

A Credit Card will have a set Credit limit. A Charge Card comes with no pre-set spending limit, which means your spending limit can vary depending on a variety of factors. With a Charge Card, you’ll also need to pay off the full balance each month.

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What is surcharging?


A surcharge is a fee passed on from a business to a customer for using a Card to make a purchase. American Express opposes surcharging.



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What’s different with how Credit Cards and Debit Cards work?

While both offer an easy and convenient way to pay for purchases, there’s a big difference between how a Credit Card works compared to a Debit Card. One works with the money you already have, whereas the other uses borrowed funds which you then pay back later.

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What about Credit Card Benefits?

As a Card Member you could enjoy purchase protection, boosted buying power and more. Whether you’re set on building your credit score, extending your cashflow or want to get more out of your spending, there may be an American Express Card to suit your lifestyle.


Discover the benefits (and disadvantages) of owning a Credit Card and how to enjoy purchase protection and boosted buying power.

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Make the most from Credit Cards

Make your Credit Card work for you. Manage your finances, earn rewards and build a positive credit history with these smart tips and ways to use your Credit Card.


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What is a Credit Score?

In Australia, there isn’t one unique, fixed credit score that’s available to consumers or credit providers, however, a good credit history will positively impact your credit score in and help show that you’re a reliable borrower.



Your Credit Card guide to useful terms

  • Statement period: The period in which the transactions reported on your statement relate to. Generally, your statement period will be every 30 days, the actual dates can vary slightly from month to month.
  • Interest: When you use your Credit Card, you will be charged interest unless you repay the full closing balance by the Payment Due Date shown on your statement. Interest will be expressed as an annual percentage rate.
  • Interest free days: Interest free days are the time from when you buy something using your Credit Card to when interest is applied to that purchase.
  • Repayments: When your statement arrives, you’ll need to choose how you want to make repayments. You can choose to repay the entire closing balance on or before the Payment Due Date shown on your statement, in which case you’ll avoid paying interest. You also have the option of paying the minimum payment, however you will be charged interest on the unpaid balance.
  • Closing balance: The amount you owe at the end of a statement period.
  • Credit Card limit: A Credit Card limit is set when you’re approved for a Credit Card and is the maximum amount of credit you can use on your Card. All Credit Cards have a maximum and a minimum Credit limit.
  • Annual fee: An annual Credit Card fee is a fee paid once per year to a financial services provider, in return for access to benefits and services on the Credit Card product you hold. Not all Credit Cards have an annual fee and American Express offers a range of no annual fee Cards. An annual fee is however charged on some Cards in return for richer rewards, features and benefits.
  • Balance transfer: A balance transfer is when you move an existing Credit Card balance onto another Credit Card. If you have a high interest Credit Card balance you’d like to pay off, a balance transfer to another Credit Card with a lower interest rate can help you keep on top of your payments.
  • Membership Rewards®: If you choose a Membership Rewards® points earning Card, you’ll earn Membership Rewards® points every time you use your Card through the American Express Membership Rewards® loyalty program. Membership Rewards® points that can be redeemed for your next travel adventure, a new outfit, concert tickets and more of the things you love.

Where can I use my American Express Card?

American Express is accepted at hundreds of thousands of places around Australia, including various shops, restaurants, hotels and more. Use it for your purchases to enjoy membership benefits and rewards more often.

What Credit Card is right for me?

Explore and compare our range of Cards and their benefits to find the one that best suits your needs.


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Life with Amex


From money-saving ideas to travel inspiration and daily life tips, get inspired to do great things and make your life more rewarding.

Shop with confidence

At American Express, we take your security seriously. That’s why we have measures in place to ensure you can shop with confidence.

Protection against fraud

Get more peace of mind through our Intelligent Security Systems, Secure Payment Process, and Fraud Protection Guarantee.

Protection on purchases

Damaged a purchase or having trouble getting a refund? With eligible Cards, you can rely on us to put things right with 90 days’ Card Purchase and Refund Cover.

Protection against phishing

We’re continually updating our online security features, but there are also some simple steps you can take to protect yourself.

Make payments with a swish of your mobile

No wallet, no problem. Add your American Express Card to a mobile wallet of your choice and use your phone or wearable to make swift, secure, and instant payments, just as you would your Card, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

Managing your Account is simple

Whether you’re just getting started, looking to pay a bill, use Membership Rewards points, or keep track of your spending, here’s how to get the most out of your Credit Card.

Live life to the fullest with American Express Membership

As an American Express Card Member, you get to enjoy travel benefits that take you further, points that are more rewarding, and services that open more doors around the world.