The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. TheĀ information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Meeting priority needs using the BasicsCard


The BasicsCard is a personal identification number (PIN) protected card that operates through the existing EFTPOS/XPOS infrastructure and can be used at approved BasicsCard merchants. The BasicsCard is considered a stored value card under the SS(Admin)Act section 123YE.

The BasicsCard is governed by the BasicsCard terms and conditions.

The BasicsCard provides a secure way for people to receive their income managed funds. The BasicsCard is protected with a PIN and people are advised to keep their PIN secret and secure. The BasicsCard has the person's name printed on the front and does not enable signature authorisation for any purchases. Where an income managed person has a payment nominee, the payment nominee's name will be printed on the front of the card.

Every person who is income managed is offered a BasicsCard to access priority goods and services such as food, clothing and basic household items. An amount of income managed funds is allocated to the BasicsCard periodically, as agreed between the person and Centrelink. People may request additional amounts (subject to availability in their income management account) to be allocated as needed.

People are not allowed to purchase excluded goods. The BasicsCard does not permit people to withdraw cash from EFTPOS terminals or from ATMs.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 123YE Stored value cards-general

Lost or stolen BasicsCards

In cases of loss or theft, cards can be immediately cancelled and a replacement card issued, although this may take some time in remote locations. A person whose BasicsCard has been lost or stolen will have their BasicsCard account suspended until their replacement card has been issued. If a person reports that their BasicsCard is lost, the balance is transferred when they receive their replacement BasicsCard.

BasicsCard balance enquiry mechanisms

People may check the balance on their BasicsCard by:

  • calling 1800 057 111, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • calling the freecall number 1800 132 594
  • attending a Centrelink office
  • using the online BasicsCard balance-enquiry service
  • using the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app
  • using a Centrelink online accounts through myGov
  • using the Centrelink online BasicsCard money balance enquiry service
  • using an ATM at one of the 4 major banks (Westpac, CBA, NAB or ANZ), without charge, or
  • using a BasicsCard kiosk, available in some locations in the Northern Territory.

There may also be other options for checking a balance on a BasicsCard, such as phones hot-linked to the income management line located in stores in remote communities. People can find out what is available in their community by contacting Centrelink.

BasicsCard merchant approval framework

To be eligible to apply to become a BasicsCard merchant, a merchant must sell a majority of priority goods and services and prevent the sale of excluded goods and services. Sales in terms of dollar value of excluded goods and services must be less than 50% of total annual turnover.

BasicsCard merchant approval framework provides guidelines for the policy, service delivery and compliance framework for the approval process and ongoing management of approved BasicsCard merchants. Approved merchants must adhere to merchant terms and conditions, including agreeing not to sell excluded goods to people using the BasicsCard, and to issue itemised transaction records of all purchases (receipts). These are in addition to any terms and conditions the merchant has with its acquiring institution.

Merchant terms and conditions are in line with the electronic funds transfer code of compliance. Store owners are not allowed to keep a persons' BasicsCards or PINs. This ensures that the persons' details are private and secure.

There are approved BasicsCard merchants across Australia. However in some areas where income management has not been applied, there may be only a small number of stores approved for BasicsCard. It is recommended that before travelling, people should contact Centrelink in order to determine how to access their income managed funds while they are travelling. Centrelink can provide alternative payment mechanisms to access funds such as stored value cards which can be used at most major retailers while travelling. Centrelink can also provide a list of merchants to income-managed people for their information.

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