It is not too far-fetched to say that Singapore runs on credit cards. The sheer numbers and types of credit cards available in Singapore is astounding, not to mention the wide variety of rewards available on those cards.
As such, it is not surprising that the banks of Singapore offer expats/foreigners a number of excellent credit cards to choose from. These cards make spending for those earning and living in Singapore an easier bargain.
Credit Card Considerations for Foreigners in Singapore
Many credit card options are available exclusively for foreigners in Singapore. This makes the task of selecting the best ones a difficult one. However, there are a number of features or points of consideration that can help us in the task of choosing the right credit card. Some points to consider before getting a Foreigner Credit Card in Singapore are:
Credit Limit: A cardholder obviously seeks to get a credit card with a higher credit limit. But that depends on the income range of the cardholder and the type of card applied for.
Annual Fee: Some Singaporean banks charge a higher annual fee for credit cards to foreigners than to resident Singaporeans. One must weigh in the pros and cons of getting a costlier card, or alternatively find a less expensive one.
Income Cutoffs: Banks usually require a higher income range for foreigners for a a credit card to be issued to them. Before applying for a credit card, one must make sure that they satisfy the eligibility criteria.
Interest Rates: Banks usually do not charge extra interest rate for foreigners. However, like any other finance product, interest rates levied on credit card expenses is an important point of consideration for getting a credit card.
Reward Points: Different cards have different points accumulation system. Applicants need to find the ones that accumulate points quickly without much expenditure.
Promotional Offers: Some banks have more promos running at a single point of times than others. It is better to opt for credit cards from such banks as they offer a better chance of savings.
Free Airmiles: Mostly travel credit cards offer free airmiles as credit card benefits. Foreign applicants can compare which cards offer the most free airmiles for the least amount spent to accumulate more airmiles, which come in handy for visits to their native country once in a while.
Sign-up Bonus: Most banks offer some kind of joining bonus on signing up with their credit card program. Foreigners can check up on the different offers on the cards before settling for one.
Shopping Privileges: Many credit cards come with exclusive discounts and reward points for shopping. If shopping is the main requirement, foreign applicants need to choose a card that provides the most in terms of shopping privileges.
Travel Privileges: Most travel credit card offer special privileges on travel bookings, whether it be hotels, flights, holiday packages, tours, transportation etc. These cards come with many travel related benefits like concierge service, offshore assistance, travel insurance etc.
Lounge Privileges: Many credit cards in singapore come with special lounge access or priority service at affluent clubs. Foreigners too can enjoy the benefits of such privileges on carefully selecting their credit card.
Foreign Exchange Rates/International Expense Fee: A major point of consideration would be whether a card charges extra for expenses made overseas or has steep foreign currency exchange rates. Being a foreigner, the chances of request foreign travel (home visits) also increases and foreigners should choose a credit card which does not make them pay extra every time they visit their native land.
Credit Card Eligibility for Foreigners:
Foreigners usually have a separate set of criteria for credit card eligibility. These criteria also differ from bank to bank and card to card. The main points in consideration by the banks when a foreigner applies for a credit card are:
- Age of the applicant.
- Annual Income.
- Additional financial assets like Fixed Deposits in the bank.
- Employment pass.
The usual documents required to be provided by a foreign national/expat to the banks to secure a credit card for themselves are:
- Copy of Passport (front and back) valid for almost 6 months.
- Copy of Employment Pass (front and back) valid for at least 6 months.
- Computerized payslips for the last 3 months.
- Latest Income Tax NOA (Notice of Assessment).
- CPF Contribution History of the last 12 months.
- Employment Letter/Proof of Employment.
- Copy of any utility bill with residential address.
Eligibility for Foreigners (bank wise)
HSBC Credit Card - HSBC Bank offers credit cards like HSBC's Revolution credit card, Visa Platinum Credit Card and HSBC Premier MasterCard to foreigners earning more than S$40,000 annually. Anyone above the age of 21 years and above can apply.
OCBC Credit Card - OCBC Bank offers a comprehensive list of credit cards to foreigners like OCBC BEST Denki Credit Card, OCBC Great Eastern Cashflo Credit Card and OCBC NTUC PLUS! Credit Card. The minimum income requirement is S$45,000 for foreigners and the minimum age requirement is 21 years.
Citibank Credit Card - Citibank offers some basic cards to foreigners like Citi Cash Back Credit Card and Citibank Rewards Card with a annual income of S$42,000 and upwards.
Citibank also offers cards like Citibank Clear Platinum Card and Citibank Business Card to foreigners with an annual income of at least S$60,000. The age requirement is usually 21 years and above for all the cards.
Standard Chartered Credit Card - Standard Chartered Bank offers premium cards like Standard Chartered Visa Infinite and other basic cards like Platinum Visa Credit Card, Manhattan World Mastercard etc. to its foreign customers.
The minimum income requirement is S$60,000 per year. But Standard Chartered grants credit cards only to foreigners with P1, P2 or Q Employment Passes with a minimum validity of 1 year remaining on the pass. Anyone above the age of 21 years is eligible to apply for SCB credit cards.
Bank of China Credit Card - Bank of China offers some credit cards to foreigners like the BOC Shop! Card, BOC Travel Card, BOC SCCCI Great Wall Affinity Card Platinum etc. with a minimum income of S$60,000.
Some cards like BOC F1RST Card are available at no minimum income requirement to foreigners who are in Singapore only in the capacity of students.
The age requirement for most cards (except those for students) is a minimum of 21 years.
Maybank Credit Card - Maybank has credit cards like the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card and Maybank Family & Friends Card to foreigners earning more than S$60,000 per year, and who have been in employment for at least 1 year.
Cards like Maybank DUO Platinum MasterCard and Maybank Manchester United Platinum Visa Card are made specially available to foreigners of Malaysian origin at a minimum income requirement of S$45,000.
The minimum age requirement is 21 months, as in the case of most banks offering credit card services.
American Express Credit Card - American Express Bank also has a long list of credit cards available for foreigners. Some of them are American Express True Cash Back Card, American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card and the American Express Rewards Credit Card.
Foreigners over 21 years in age and with more than S$60,000 as annual income can apply for these cards.
UOB Credit Card - Credit cards like the UOB Lady's Platinum Card and UOB JCB Platinum Card have a requirement of minimum S$40,000 income per year for foreigners.
UOB also has cards like UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Credit Card, Singtel UOB Platinum Card and Professionals Platinum Credit Card which foreigners can apply for if they have a Fixed Deposit of at least S$10,000 value in the UOB Bank as collateral.
Then there are cards like the UOB PRVI Miles Platinum American Express Card that has a minimum income requirement of S$80,000 or a Fixed Deposit with UOB of at least S$30,000 for both foreigners and resident Singaporeans.
POSB/DBS Credit Card - DBS bank has a long list of credit cards that foreigners can apply for including DBS Live Fresh Card, DBS Black Card, DBS Altitude Card, DBS Takashimaya Cards, etc. All these cards have an income eligibility criteria of S$45,000 per year for foreigners and expats.
With DBS-PSOB merger, PSOB now offers only 1 credit card under its brand name, that is the POSB Everyday Card. This card is available to foreigners as well, on the same terms as DBS credit cards.
Best Credit Cards for Foreigners in Singapore
- Joining Bonus: This card is offering a waiver of annual fees for 2 years, S$140 cash back for new customers and S$40 cashback for existing ones.
- Rewards: This card lets you earn 5x rewards points (or 2 air miles) on spending S$1. It also gives 5x Rewards points on online transactions, local dining and local entertainment spending.
- Annual Fee: S$150 p.a. excluding taxes.
- Loyalty Bonus: This card lets you earn 20,000 loyalty miles each year on spending S$50,000 within the year.
- Rewards: This card earns you 6 miles for every S$1 spent on major airlines and hotels, 2.4 miles for every S$1 spent overseas and 1.4 miles for every S$1 spent in Singapore.
- Annual Fee: S$256.80 p.a. including taxes.
- Joining Bonus: This card offers 5,000 KrisFlyer miles upon charging your card for the first time.
- Rewards: The card gives 1.2 KrisFlyer miles for every Singaporean dollar spent and 2 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1 equivalent in foreign currency spent overseas between June and December.
- Annual fee: S$337.05 p.a. including taxes.
- Joining Bonus: Applicants can get a 2-Piece Delsey Belfort 4-Wheeler Trolley Case, of dimensions 70cm and 76cm, worth S$798 on applying for 2 Maybank Credit Cards.
- Rewards: This card offers 3.2 air miles with every Singaporean dollar spent on petrol, dining, taxi fares and hotel bookings via Agoda.com. Cardholders also earn 2 air miles per Singaporean dollar spent on travel packages, airline tickets and transactions in foreign currency.
- Annual Fees: S$150 p.a. excluding taxes.
Credit Card for Low Income Foreigners in Singapore
Foreigners with income as low as S$40,000 per annum can apply for and get credit cards in Singapore. Some credit cards which are available to foreigners with comparatively lower incomes are:
- HSBC Premier MasterCard: Minimum income required S$40,000 p.a.
- UOB JCB Platinum Card: Minimum income required S$40,000 p.a.
- Citibank Rewards Card: Minimum income required S$42,000 p.a.
- OCBC Great Eastern Cashflo Credit Card: Minimum income required S$45,000 p.a.
- DBS Altitude Card: Minimum income required S$45,000 p.a.