Alternatives to high cost credit

High cost credit is a loan offered by fringe lenders with high fees and interest rates. These high cost loans are promoted as a way of solving your financial problems, but are more likely to keep you in a never ending debt trap.


Centrelink also provides financial support on top of regular entitlements, from a special benefit and crisis payment for people experiencing severe financial hardship, a pharmaceutical allowance to cover the cost of prescription medicines or rent assistance and telephone allowance.

Go to the Centrelink website or call 13 10 21 for more information.

No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS®)  

The ‘No Interest Loans Scheme’ offers loans at no interest on essential household goods and medical equipment. A typical NILS® loan is for $600–$1,200. NILS® are run by local community groups like Neighbourhood Centres or charities. Call 1800 509 994 or visit the NILS website for more information or visit the no interest loans scheme page.

Credit unions

Credit unions offer loans for as little as $200 with terms starting at three months. They look at your repayment ability and lend to those on welfare benefits.

StepUP Loans

NAB and the Good Shepherd Microfinance offer the StepUP loan.  It’s a safe credit alternative which has a fixed low interest rate and no fees and charges. You can borrow between $800-$3000 to purchase items like second-hand cars, household items, computers, vocational education and medical expenses. StepUP loans are specifically for people who:

  • hold a current Centrelink Health Care Card, Pension Card or receive Family Tax Benefit A; and
  • have lived at their current address for more than three months.

Go to the StepUP website or call 13 64 57 for more information and to find your nearest StepUP community provider.


The Salvation Army can provide assistance to families with:

  • cash/cheques
  • food vouchers/ food parcels
  • clothing
  • furniture and other household items
  • accommodation vouchers
  • housing cost
  • electricity, gas, rates and other bills
  • public transport fares
  • medical and educational expenses
  • other forms of help  appropriate to the individual.

To find your local Salvation Army Community Service Centre call 1300 363 622.

Other charities that can also provide assistance are:

  • The Smith Family, tel: 9895 1233
  • Red Cross, tel: 9229 4111
  • St Vincent de Paul, tel: 9560 8666
  • Barnados, tel: 1800 061 000

Financial counsellors

Over-reliance on credit can cause serious hardship. Community financial counselling services provide help if you’re experiencing problems with debt. They operate throughout NSW and provide free, confidential advice on financial matters.

After assessing your financial situation, trained counsellors will:

  • prepare a full financial assessment and provide options for change and improvement
  • detail the availability of any government assistance
  • negotiate, advocate and mediate with credit providers and government agencies
  • assist with information on debt recovery, bankruptcy and other paralegal matters
  • refer you to other sources of assistance, for example Legal Aid, personal counselling and government services.

Financial counselling is a valuable community service that helps you regain control of your financial affairs.

Visit the Financial Counsellors' Association website for more information or call 1300 914 408.

Other resources

Credit and Debt Hotline

Free financial counselling information, advice and referral.

Tel: 1800 007 007

Community Legal Centres NSW

Tel: 02 9212 7333

Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA)

Provides information on bankruptcy and its alternatives.

Tel: 1300 364 785

Legal Aid

Provides a free 15-minute interview where they’ll provide advice on credit/debt problems, and determine if you qualify for further assistance.

Tel: 1300 888 529

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