Credit card glossary

Bankspeak can sound like another language. We’ve put together a glossary of common credit card jargon to help you make sense of it all.

Guide to credit card jargon

Additional cardholder

You can ask to have an extra credit card for another person (like your partner) linked to your account. This person is called an additional cardholder. Remember, as the primary cardholder, you’ll still be responsible for any transactions they make.

Annual fee

This is a fee charged once a year on the anniversary of the day you activated your card. It covers the cost for us to maintain your card and will vary depending on the type of card you have - it might even be nothing.


Assets are the things you own - like your car, house or shares. We’ll ask you to tell us what your assets are worth when you apply for a credit card.

Balance transfer

This is when you transfer the money you owe on an existing credit card to new credit card with a different provider - usually to get a special, lower interest rate.

Balance transfer rate

This is the interest rate you’re charged when you transfer your existing credit card balance to a new provider.

Cash advance

If you withdraw cash from your credit card at an ATM or a branch, or if you use your credit card to buy cash equivalent items like travellers cheques, it’s called a cash advance. You’ll be charged interest (cash advance rate) and a fee (cash advance fee) when you make one.

Cash advance fee

This is the fee you’re charged to make a cash advance – it might be a flat fee or a percentage of the amount of the cash advance.

Cash advance rate

This is the interest we charge you for making a cash advance.

Closing balance

The total amount of money you owe on your card at the end of your statement cycle is called the closing balance. If you pay this, you’ll avoid purchase interest.

Credit limit

Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can spend on your credit card before paying some off.

Credit limit increase/decrease

You can apply to increase or choose to decrease your credit limit at any time, depending on your needs.


The three digit number on the back of your Mastercard® is the Card Verification Code (or CVC). It’s a security thing.

Direct debit

A direct debit is an automatic payment you can set up for your regular bills so you never miss a payment. Most people set up direct debits for things like rent, insurance or gym memberships.


When you apply for a credit card, we’ll ask about how much you regularly spend on things like rent, bills, food, entertainment, health and more.


During your application, we’ll also ask you to tell us about how much you earn. This includes things like your employment or rental income, Centrelink payments or share dividends.

Interest free days

Our credit cards have an interest free period of up to 44 or 55 days on purchases, depending on the card.

Your interest free period is the time between when you make the purchase and the payment due date on your statement (as long as you pay the full amount owing by the due date and don’t already owe money on your card from your previous statements).

Introductory rate

Some credit cards come with a special, lower balance transfer and/or purchase rate when you first open them. These are called introductory rates and last only for a set period of time – after any introductory rates end, you’ll roll on to the standard rate.


Liabilities are debts you have that you’re servicing. This includes things like home loans, the maximum limit on a credit card, personal loan or overdraft, and any student loans.

Minimum payment

This is the least amount of money you have to pay on your credit card each month and is determined by how much you’ve spent.

To avoid late fees, you’ll need to make the minimum payment by the due date - you’ll be able to find the date and amount on your credit card statement. But if you want to avoid paying purchase interest you’ll need to pay your whole closing balance.

Monthly payment

This is how much you pay towards your credit card for the month. It could be your minimum payment, the entire amount you owe, or somewhere in-between.

Monthly statement

We’ll send you a statement summarising your credit card account each month. It’ll show:

  • info about all your transactions during the statement cycle
  • any fees or interest charged
  • your closing balance
  • your minimum payment
  • the payment due date.

You can choose to get eStatements in our app or online banking, or paper statements in the mail.

Purchase rate

This is the rate charged to any unpaid balance each month.

Statement cycle

This is the time between your statement start date and end date.

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The information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to be nor should it be considered as professional advice. You should not act on the basis of anything contained in this article without first obtaining specific professional advice. Also to the extent permitted by law, Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL / Australian credit licence 234945, its related bodies corporate, employees and contractors accept no liability or responsibility to any persons for any loss which may be incurred or suffered as a result of acting on or refraining from acting as a result of anything contained in this article.