Planning to apply for your first credit card? Your first credit card is your ticket to building your credit history and opening a myriad of financing options. However, applying for a credit card can be a bit intimidating at first. But fret not, here is a simple guide to applying for and using a credit card in Singapore.
But before you submit your application, you need to know that different banks have different eligibility criteria. Most banks in Singapore require Singaporeans and Permanent Residents below 35 years old to have a minimum yearly salary of S$18,000. Those between 35 and 55 years old must earn at least S$30,000 yearly to qualify.
Foreigners living in Singapore can also apply for credit cards. However, they need to meet a higher minimum income requirement of S$40,000 to S$80,000 depending on the bank. Read on to find out more about how credit cards work, how to choose the best one, and tips for using them responsibly.
What Is a Credit Card and How Does It Work
A credit card is issued by a bank or a financial institution that allows cardholders to make purchases now and pay later. It is a form of credit that allows you to borrow up to the credit limit set for your credit card account. As such, the total amount charged to your credit card is called the outstanding balance.
Cardholders use a credit card to borrow funds to pay for goods and services under the condition that they will pay it back, plus any applicable interest, either in full or the minimum required amount by the billing date or over time.
Credit cards typically come with points accrual programs. You can exchange the points you earned for gifts and rewards in their catalog.
Types of Credit Cards
There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a credit card. In Singapore, the three most popular types of cards are air miles, rewards, and cashback credit cards. Take a look at how these three types of credit cards differ.
1. Air Miles Credit Card
This type of credit card is perfect for avid travelers. With this card, you can earn air miles for every dollar you spend. Accumulate as many air miles as you can to upgrade your seats or redeem free air tickets when you travel. Most air miles cards also offer higher rewards when you spend overseas or on foreign currency.
2. Cashback Credit Card
Want to earn savings from groceries or dining out? A cashback card may be a good option since this type of credit card will give back a small percentage of what you’ve spent.
Once you accumulate enough cashback amount, you can offset your next purchase or your bill cycle. Some credit cards offer rebates for every dollar spent on dining, gas, groceries, telephone bill, and more. Other cards offer bonus points in certain categories.
Note that most cashback credit cards have a minimum spending requirement. As such, if you don’t meet the minimum spend required, you won’t get your cashbacks.
3. Rewards Credit Card
If you want the flexibility of choosing the reward you want to redeem, then a rewards credit card is a good choice. Reward credit cards allow you to earn rewards points which you can use to redeem products or vouchers from partner companies. This type of credit card is perfect for everyday expenses.
Keep in mind that different banks have different reward programs and catalogues. That said, they also come with their own points-earning rate.
Aside from these three popular types of credit cards, there are also:
- Student credit cards are best for young people with limited credit
- Business credit cards are best for small- and medium-sized enterprises
- Secured credit cards are best for high-risk borrowers
The Benefits of Having a Credit Card
When used responsibly, credit cards are a great way to manage your finances. With the ability to pay for products and services now and pay later, having a credit card will open different financing options. Here are some of the advantages of having a credit card:
- Get Rewards While Spending: With responsible credit usage, you can get the most out of your spending. Depending on the type of credit card you use, you can earn credit card benefits, such as points and cashbacks, for every dollar spent.
- Build Your Credit Score: Proper and responsible use of credit cards will help build your payment history which is a key part of your credit score. When you keep your account in good standing, this will result in a good credit score, increasing your chances of approval for loans in the future.
- Higher Spending Limit: Each credit card has a set credit limit. For instance, your credit card may have a spending limit of S$20,000. As such, you can purchase anything that is within this limit with a simple swipe or tap of your card. While it is exciting to have that much purchasing power, it is important to spend responsibly. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for your outstanding balance. Failing to pay will lead to high interest rates and additional fees.
- Online Shopping Is Made Quick And Easy: Whether it’s online or in-store shopping, credit cards make purchasing anything quick and easy by tapping your card. You will receive your monthly statements via email to help you keep track of your spending.
- Emergency Line of Credit: Credit cards can also help you get through a tough financial situation when you don’t have enough cash or savings to cover unexpected expenses. Remember that you’ll have to repay everything so be smart in your expenditure.
- Complimentary Extras: Most credit cards offer features, such as free access to airline lounges, free checked bags, travel insurance, purchase protection, and more.
Best Credit Cards in Singapore 2023
Looking for the best credit card in Singapore? With plenty of options to choose from, it can be daunting to narrow down the best card that will suit your lifestyle. Here are some of the top credit cards in Singapore for cashback, groceries, retail spending, and more.
Type of Rewards
Minimum Monthly Spend
Citi Cash Back+ Mastercard
1.6% cashback on eligible spend
Online shopping and everyday spending
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Frequent travelers or those who are planning to travel
CIMB World Mastercard
No annual fee
Lifestyle and retail spend
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
No annual fee
Social spenders who shop online
DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card
S$2 per calendar month to be eligible for the promotion
Average spenders looking for a miles card
Which Credit Card Is Best for You?
Credit cards are not made equal. As such, the best card for you will depend on your needs, lifestyle, and spending habits.
For instance, if you frequently travel for business or for leisure, you may want to consider getting the DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card to earn higher miles rewards on local spend at a lower annual fee than the AMEX Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
However, if you’re looking for a credit card for your everyday spendings, such as grocery and bills payment, you will benefit more with a cashback card, such as Citi Cash Back+ Mastercard which offers a 1.6% cashback on online shopping and everyday expenditures.
How To Choose the Best Credit Card for You?
With plenty of options to choose from, choosing a credit card can be overwhelming. Each credit card has its own pros and cons; plus, most cards offer enticing sign-up promotions. Ultimately, finding the best credit card for you will depend on your needs and preferences.
That said, before committing to a credit card, here are a few factors to consider:
- Lifestyle and Spending Habits: Taking a look at your lifestyle and spending habits will help you understand what you spend the most money on. This will help you choose the right card that will complement your needs. Say you spend a lot on petrol. A credit card that offers an instant discount at Caltex or Shell can help you maximize the savings on your fuel expenses.
- Rewards: Are you a frequent traveler? You will benefit from earning air miles with a miles credit card. Do you spend a lot on petrol or groceries? A cashback credit card will help you earn rebates for every spend.
- Sign-up bonus: A lot of credit cards offer different promotions and bonuses for new cardholders who meet specific requirements. For example, new cardholders will enjoy 5,000 KrisFlyer miles the first time they use their AMEX KrisFlyer credit card.
Some also offer bonus air miles when you hit the minimum required spending in a given timeframe. If the sign-up bonus and promotions are enticing for you, make sure that you can comfortably meet the requirements during the promotion period.
- Fees: Aside from the interest rate, you also need to consider the fees associated with using your credit card, such as the annual fee. Most credit cards offer a first year annual fee waiver. Others also offer to waive your annual fee if you reach the minimum spend requirement.
- Terms and Conditions: If you have a list of credit cards you want to compare, you must look into the terms and conditions of the rewards, cashback, and air miles programmes. Take into account the expiry dates, exclusions, minimum spend, credit limit, and more.
How To Apply for a Credit Card in Singapore?
After narrowing down your choices, it’s time to get ready for your credit card application. But first, you need to check whether you meet the eligibility criteria of credit card issuers.
Note that the eligibility requirements will vary per bank or financial institution. However, these are the most basic requirements to watch out for:
- Must be at least 21 years old and above
- For student credit card, the applicant must be at least 18 years old and above
Minimum Annual Income:
- Singaporean or Permanent Resident: at least S$30,000
- Foreigners: S$45,000 onwards depending on the bank
Good credit history:
- Most banks will check your credit history and credit score before approving your credit card application.
The document requirements will vary depending on the bank or financial institution you have applied to. Here are some of the most basic documents you need to have ready:
- Copy of your NRIC (front and back)
- Latest 12 months’ CPF statement
- Latest Income Tax Notice of Assessment
- Latest bank statement
- Latest computerized payslip
- A valid passport and Work Permit or Employment Pass
- Proof of residency, such as a utility bill or telephone bill
- Latest Income Tax Notice of Assessment
- Latest computerised payslip
Steps to Apply
- Visit your chosen bank’s website or head over to the nearest branch to sign up.
- Simply fill up the application online or at the branch and submit the required documents.
- Await confirmation and processing of your credit card application.
- Once your credit card application is approved, you will receive a letter enclosed with your new credit card.
- Don’t forget to Activate your credit card via SMS, phone call, mobile banking app, or at the ATM.
Things To Watch Out for When Using a Credit Card
While credit cards are immensely helpful, they can also be dangerous if you don’t fully understand the common credit card fees and terms.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Credit Card Minimum Payment: Most banks in Singapore allow cardholders to pay a minimum sum – typically 3% of the outstanding amount or S$50 (whichever is higher)- on the due date.
- Annual Fees: This is a subscription fee for using a credit card. Banks in Singapore typically charge an average of S$192.60 annual fee for the principal card. Some banks may offer to waive this fee if you meet the criteria.
- Credit Card Interest: This is also called finance charges. It is charged when you fail to pay your bills in full. While you can pay the minimum amount, you will incur interest charges which can get expensive in the long run.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: This is a surcharge imposed on overseas purchases – online or overseas. Most banks charge between 1% and 3% foreign transaction fees.
- Late Fee: This is a penalty fee imposed by credit card issuers when you fail to make repayments on time.
- Cash Advance Fee: This is a fee imposed by banks when you withdraw money from an ATM using your credit card. Most banks charge 6% or S$15 (whichever is higher) on the amount withdrawn.
Tips for Using Your Credit Card Responsibly
With great spending power comes great responsibility. While a credit card gives you more spending freedom, it’s best to use it responsibly. Remember, you’ll have to pay for whatever amount you charge to your credit card account when the due date comes. That said, you need to understand and plan your payments to avoid incurring debt and interest.
1. Be Mindful of Your Credit Utilization
Borrow only what you can afford to pay back. Ideally, it’s best to pay your credit card balances in full every month. If you do carry a balance, make sure that your outstanding balance is less than 30% of your credit limit. A credit utilization rate of more than 30% will hurt your credit rating.
2. Pay Your Credit Card Bills On Time
Failure to repay your outstanding balances on time will lead to interest, late fees, and poor credit rating. That said, plan your payments so you’ll never miss the schedule.
3. Monitor Your Monthly Credit Card Statement
Never assume that what is listed on your monthly statement is correct. If possible, keep your receipts – especially from big-ticket items, and cross-check the date and amounts against your statement. Doing so will also help you check for possible fraud. Plus, it’ll help you stay on budget and maintain a low balance.
4. Don’t Forget To Use Your Rewards
As previously mentioned, most banks have a minimum spend requirement that you need to meet before you can redeem your cashback or rewards points. Note that some air miles and rewards points come with expiry dates. So make sure to accumulate, track, and use your points to maximize your credit card benefits.
5. Understand Your Billing Cycle
Every month, you will receive a credit card statement from your credit company. It will contain two dates:
- Statement Date: This is the last day you can make purchases for a single statement. After the statement date, all new purchases or transactions will go on the next month’s statement.
- Payment Date: The due date when you need to make payment for a particular statement.
6. Never Disclose Your Credit Card Information To Anyone
You must never provide the financial information on your card, as well as your personal details to anyone, including your family and friends. If someone reaches out to you and pretends to be from the bank or card issuer, do not entertain them. Block the number and immediately reach out to your bank or card issuer.
1. What Is the Difference Between Debit Cards and Credit Cards?
With a debit card, the funds you need to pay for the transaction come from your savings bank account or checking account. For credit cards, on the other hand, the amount is charged to the bank or credit card issuers and it becomes an outstanding balance that you’ll need to pay at a later time.
2. How Do I Increase My Credit Card Limit?
Regularly using your credit card and paying the balance on time will help you get a higher credit limit. Another option is to apply for a temporary increase in your credit limit. Lastly, you can also apply for a higher credit limit if you prove to the bank or credit card company that your income has increased.
If these options do not apply to you, you can also apply for a credit card with a higher limit.
3. What Is the Minimum Salary Required for a Credit Card in Singapore?
The minimum salary for credit cards in Singapore will vary per bank. Typically, you’ll need to earn at least S$30,000 a year if you are a Singaporean or Permanent Resident. Foreigners, on the other hand, have a higher minimum annual salary requirement of S$40,000 onwards.
4. How Long Does It Take To Get Approved for a Credit Card in Singapore?
Most banks can provide instant digital approval for credit card applications via MyInfo. For manual applications, you may have to wait at least 14 working days for processing depending on the bank.
Owning a credit card will help you purchase big-ticket items, maximize savings on everyday expenses, build your credit history, and more. However, it requires making responsible financial decisions. So practice healthy spending habits and charge only what you can afford.
- Credit cards allow you to borrow funds to pay for goods and services under the condition that they will pay it back over time.
- Credit cards typically come with points accrual programs.
- The most common types of credit cards in Singapore are miles cards, cashback cards, and rewards cards.
- The best credit card for you is the one that will suit your needs, lifestyle, and spending habits.
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