A guide to credit cards for part-time workers

You might think you need to work full-time or earn a certain amount to stand a chance of being accepted for a credit card, but that’s not true. You can get a credit card if you work part-time. Our guide will explain everything you need to know.

6 min read
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Can I get a credit card if I work part-time?

Yes, it’s still possible to get a credit card if you have a part-time job. It’s more likely you’ll get a credit card with a lower limit than if you worked full time, as providers look at your income to assess how much you can borrow and how much you’re able to pay back. Some also set a minimum income for their credit product, while some may be less willing to accept your application if your wage varies month to month, like it does with a zero-hour contract.

With the Ocean Credit Card, we give you the chance to find out before you apply if you’re likely to be accepted. QuickCheck is a quick and easy tool designed to put you in the know. You could find out in 60 seconds if you can get credit up to £1,500 – without affecting your credit score.         

What if I’m a student and working part-time? 

As a student, it won’t be a surprise if you don’t have a high credit score. You might not have a credit score at all. You can only apply for credit once you turn 18, so university could be the first time you find yourself doing so.

The cost of university life can soon add up and you might take on part-time work to make ends meet in between receiving your loan instalments. Even then, you may want access to credit for an emergency or to start building your credit history. But applying for a credit card with no credit score and low income is tricky. 

Thankfully, there are providers who will offer credit cards to students. They have smaller limits to reflect your current situation – but having part-time work that gives you an income has the potential to improve your chances of being approved.        

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39.9% APR
Representative (variable)

Intelligent Lending Ltd (credit broker). Capital One is the exclusive lender.

Part-time workers in the UK

A recent survey revealed that there are about eight million part-time workers in the UK, which is nearly a quarter of the workforce. While a full-time employee will typically work 35 hours or more a week, someone with a part-time job will work fewer hours. And, for some people, this can be really beneficial. It means being able to earn a regular income, while also balancing other commitments thanks to the flexibility it brings.

With a part-time job, you get the benefit of regular cash coming in each month. But as it’s not the standard 9-5, Monday to Friday, there can be downsides to working part-time – like not having as much income as a full-time employee.

Factors to consider if you’re a part-time worker looking for a credit card: 

What’s your credit history like?

Your credit score is as important as your income when looking at credit products, so before you apply it’s worth checking your credit report is up to date and has no mistakes. 

  • make sure all the basics are sorted - such as your name and address being up-to-date and being registered on the electoral roll
  • it's also a good idea to see if you’re still “financially linked” to someone you shouldn’t be – such as an ex-partner or a previous university flatmate. For more tips, check out our guide to improving your credit score and give yourself a better chance of getting accepted in the future
  • to boost your chances of being accepted, also ensure your payments elsewhere are up to date, this will look positive on your credit report so you’re more likely to be approved.

What do you need the credit card for?

Figure out exactly why you want a credit card before you start looking. Card types include products that are great for balance transfers and others that are specifically designed to help improve bad credit ratings. Factors to consider are if you’re transferring existing debts, if there is something specific you want to buy or if you’d like a credit card on hand for emergencies. The more you narrow down the product you’re after, the less applications you’ll have to make. 

Should I avoid applying too many times?

It doesn’t matter if you have a part-time job or a full-time one, you should always try to keep the number of credit card applications you make as low as possible. Every time you apply for credit, a provider will run what’s known as a hard credit search.

This leaves a mark on your credit file and too many applications in a short period of time makes it look as if you’re desperate for credit. It can also suggest you’re in a lot of debt. And it’ll lower your credit score too – which can be especially unhelpful if you have a poor or non-existent credit history.

With Ocean, you can find out if you’ll be accepted for the Ocean Credit Card before you hit the send button on your credit card application. There’s no hard credit search and no marks left on your file – just a decision in 60 seconds based on your current situation.

How can the Ocean Credit Card help?

The Ocean Credit Card is another way to improve your credit score. It’s designed specifically for people with lower incomes, like part-time workers, or those with less-than-perfect credit. It gives you the credit you need while making it easier to take control of your borrowing. 

It has a lower credit limit to start with, which means you shouldn’t be able to borrow more than you can afford to pay back. By borrowing small amounts on the card and paying it back on time, whether in full or just the minimum each month, it shows you to be someone lenders can trust. 

Stick to your repayments over time, don’t exceed your credit limit and it could help improve your credit score, which, in turn, might make it easier to access credit in the future. 

How much are the fees and rates?

The Ocean Credit Card has an interest rate of 39.9% APR representative variable, with an initial credit limit of up to £1,500. Your limit is based on your credit score, but don’t panic if it’s not as much as you first hoped or expected.

By using it responsibly within your initial limit and paying it back in full each month, you could be offered up to two limit increases per year (remember though that a bigger balance could take longer to pay back and increase the interest you’re paying). To find out a bit more about the Ocean Credit Card or to sign up, you can always apply online – using Ocean QuickCheck to see if you’ll be approved first.