The cheapest and most expensive credit accounts in South Africa

 ·27 Jun 2022

South Africa’s major retail banks offer a wide range of credit options, from retail brand accounts to alternative options like American Express (Amex), Diner’s Club, or Voyager accounts.

With so many credit options to choose from, it can be confusing to know what you get out of each account, how much they cost, or even whether or not you qualify in the first place.

Although credit cards enable consumers to borrow money against a line of credit, the way they go about it can vary in price dramatically, with the majority of cards requiring that people earn a specific monthly salary to be eligible.

What is commonly shared amongst credit cards is:

  • A credit limit that is adjustable on request;
  • Up to 55 days interest-free period on select transactions;
  • A personalised interest rate.

Comparing various credit accounts is difficult as each account offers its own rewards, bundled options, transactional accounts and interest rates.

Interest rates are determined by each bank’s assessment of individual credit risk profiles. The maximum prescribed limit for interest on credit facilities is the repo rate plus 14% – currently 18.75%.

Outside of these, BusinessTech looked at common fees across banks – namely initiation fees, monthly fees and a minimum income requirement – for comparison.

Monthly fees for credit cards cost on average R131, while initiation fees are slightly higher at R225 on average when opening an account.

Holding the most exclusive position on this list is the Discovery Bank Purple Suite which requires a cardholder to have a monthly minimum income equal to more than R208,000 (or R2.5 million a year).

Discovery Bank, as one of South Africa’s newest banks having launched in 2020, has seen substantial growth over the past two years, with it recently reaching 1 million accounts. The two-year-old bank is now on par with some of the country’s oldest legacy banks, offering four distinctly different credit card accounts.

One of the most affordable credit cards only requires a monthly ‘allowance’ of R800 if the cardholder is a student. The Absa Student Credit Card offers South African students access to credit without transaction or monthly fees. Absa said that the card aims to encourage building a positive credit history among younger generations.

The table below shows the appropriate initiation and monthly fees associated with a credit account alongside the minimum income required to be an eligible cardholder. (Information is sorted in the descending order of minimum income):

Credit account Initiation fee Monthly fees Minimum income required (p/m)
Discovery Bank Purple Suite R150* R570 R208 333
FNB Private Wealth R175 R258 R150 000
Discovery Bank Black R150* R465 R70 833
American Express Platinum Credit Card (Nedbank) R180 R490 R62 500
FNB Private Clients R175 R133 R62 500
Absa Private Banking Signature R175 R185 R62 500
RMB Private Bank Credit Card R175 R258 R62 500
Standard Bank Platinum R180 R103 >R58 000
Diners Club Platinum (Standard Bank) R0 R98 R41 667
Discovery Bank Platinum R150* R130 R29 167
Nedbank Platinum R180 R90 R29 000
SAA Voyager Premium Credit Card (Nedbank) R0 R2 040** R25 000
Absa Premium R175 R92 R25 000
Standard Bank Titanium R180 R82 R25 000
Standard Bank World Citizen Credit Card R180 R199 R25 000
Diners Club Beyond Credit Card (Standard Bank) R0 R85 R20 833
FNB Premier R175 R92 R20 000
American Express Gold Credit Card (Nedbank) R670 R70 R17 000
Discovery Bank Gold R150* R80 R8 333
British Airways Credit Card (Absa) R175 R95 R8 000
Standard Bank Gold R180 R60 R7 500
Standard Bank Blue R180 R40 R7 500
FNB Aspire R175 R25 R7 000
SAA Voyager Gold Credit Card (Nedbank) R0 R700** R6 600
Nedbank Gold R180 R40 R5 000
Capitec Global One Credit Card R100 R45 R5 000
Absa Gold R175 R55 R4 000
TymeBank Credit Card R160 R40 R3 000
Absa Flexi Core R175 R44 R2 000
Absa Student R175 R0 R800
African Bank Black Credit Card R120 R50 n/a

* R150 if limit < R2000, otherwise R175

** per annum

Note: All FNB rates are in terms of each card’s FNB Annual Pricing Guide (1 July 2022 – 30 June 2023), and Capitec’s Credit Card minimum income is R10,000 for self-employed clients. 

Read: The tax scam to watch out for in South Africa this year

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