We Singaporeans are already plastic-savvy, with each person estimated to have at least 2 credit cards. We definitely need at least one credit card in our wallet, right? As we move towards a cashless society, credit cards become an important mode of payment. Credit cards are popular because they can be used online and offline, they are convenient to use, easy to carry, and they allow us to buy something that may not exactly fit within our monthly budget limits. Another reason for credit card popularity is the way they reward our purchases. You can get reward points, air miles or cashback on all eligible transactions. You get welcome gifts and bonuses. You get discounts and promotional offers on your card, which make luxury affordable. It’s beyond simple concessions – it’s like someone is giving us money to spend and rewarding us for it.
Credit cards are a type of unsecured personal loan in which the only guarantee is your monthly income. You don’t have to provide any collateral security or pledge to the bank to get a credit card. The banks allow you to use a credit card up to a certain fixed spending limit. Bills are generated every month to let you know how much you owe the bank on your credit card transactions that month. If you pay your entire monthly balance by the due date, you will have to bear no extra charge, but if you pay partially, you will have to pay the bank an interest rate on the balance. Any rewards you get during the month are credited to your account, and you can redeem them within the specified time period.
Here are all the key features offered by credit cards that define the financial system and make it easier for both the bank and the customer:
Let us now look at some of the benefits and privileges offered by credit cards in Singapore:
Different credit cards have different ways of rewarding your transactions. Let us look at the most common rewards among credit cards in Singapore:
Along with the reward programs, credit cards in Singapore also offer promotions. These are generally announced in association with specific merchants. Such promotions can be categorised into segments like shopping, dining, electronics, lifestyle etc. What they do is to offer you a discount on the services that specific merchants are offering. For example, you may have dining credit card and it might be offering a discount of 20% on all the a-la-carte orders at specific restaurants, or you may have a lifestyle credit card that offers a 15% discount on gym memberships at specific gyms.
One thing to keep in mind with these promotions is that they are subject to certain terms and conditions. This means that there could be an expiry date for the promotions. There could also be a condition that says that these promotions are valid only if you use the credit card to pay for the goods or services. They could also be available only for specific products being sold and not all the products available with the merchants. So, before you go and buy anything with your credit card, it is always a good idea to check with the available promotions for your card to see if there are any promotions that you could take advantage of.
Interest rate is the amount charged by the bank as a service charge on the money you borrowed. This interest rate is applied to credit card balance only if you fail to pay the whole amount by the due date or by the end of the grace period. Interest on credit card is charged on a daily basis for the number of days that you keep the payment pending. So if your credit card bill is S$1,200, and you pay S$1,000 before due date, then you will have to pay interest rate only on S$200, until you make the next payment.
Retail interest rate: It is the annual or monthly interest rate charged on the card and is also known as the prime rate. The interest rate is charged on cash advances and on outstanding balances i.e. the balance amounts that are not paid in full within the due date.
Cash Withdrawal interest rates & charges: They refer to the interest rates and charges applicable on cash withdrawn using the credit card. For cash withdrawals, interest is charged on the withdrawal amount from the time of withdrawal till the amount is paid in full.
Check out the top Credit Card options available in Singapore. Kindly note that these numbers are applicable when the applicant’s monthly income ranges from S$2,000 to S$3,500.
|Credit Card||Annual Fees for Principal Card||Minimum Annual Income for Singaporeans|
|Amex Singapore Airlines PPS Club Credit Card||S$551.05||S$30,000|
|BOC Shop! Credit Card||S$150||S$30,000|
|CIMB Visa Signature Credit Card||Nil||S$30,000|
|Citibank Dividend Credit Card||S$192.60||S$30,000|
|DBS Live Fresh Visa Credit Card||S$128.40||S$30,000|
|HSBC Revolution Credit Card||S$150||S$30,000|
|Maybank Family & Friends Credit Card||S$80||S$30,000|
|OCBC 365 Credit Card||S$192.60||S$30,000|
|POSB Everyday Credit Card||S$128.40||S$30,000|
|UOB Lady's Credit Card||S$406.60||S$30,000|
Credit card interest is not calculated the same way as that of other loan products. Since repayments are different every month and variation in the borrowed amount each month, the way interest is calculated varies accordingly. Additionally, each card will have interest-free days or grace period until when no interest is levied on the outstanding balance. The easiest way to calculate credit card interest rate is:
Credit card balance x (EIR/number of days in the year)
So let’s assume that your credit card balance after paying the current month’s bill is S$500. The EIR is 25.92%. Then for the next month’s bill, the interest charged will be:
500 x (25.92 / 365) = 500 x (0.071) = 35.5
The interest charges depend on the amount you spend every month, the total balance from the previous month, the total payment made each month, and compound interest on the interest and other charges levied the previous month, among others.
Interest rate on credit cards is always higher than most other financial products. This is because a credit card is not only an unsecured short-term personal loan, but also a frequently used product. Since there are few terms governing how much interest a bank can charge on credit cards, each bank will apply its own varying effective interest rate on its cards. Credit card interest rates in Singapore vary from 15% to 30%. For example UOB charges an interest rate of 25.9% on its cards, while Maybank charges just 15% on its Platinum MasterCard. Interest is also levied on the cash withdrawals made by you using your credit card. The cash advance interest rate is usually around 3% more than the EIR levied on credit card balance. Before applying for a credit card, ensure that you check with the bank on how much the EIR is.
Credit cards are subject to various fees and charges. Many of these charges are not well known. Let’s look at the key fees you need to know about:
Credit cards are of different kinds, in terms of their utilisation purpose. Let us look at some of the common classifications of credit cards in Singapore:
If your current credit card is not working out for you for any reason – its interest rate is high, or it has high annual fees, or it does not reward your purchases as you want – then you can transfer your credit card balance from one card to another within the bank, or from one bank to another.
Many banks offer credit card balance transfer plans under which you can spread out your current credit card balance into 6-month or 1-year payment schedule at a low interest rate. This will help you in debt consolidation and reducing your outstanding debt. When you choose a card to transfer your current credit card balance to, ensure that you’re selecting a credit card that is more suitable to your spending patterns and needs, without being too costly in terms of interest rate and annual fee.
All the credit cards available in Singapore are easily obtainable for Singapore citizens and permanent residents, than for foreigners living in Singapore. Though credit cards for foreigners are not impossible to get, they are difficult to get. Foreigners are persons who live in Singapore or have come for a short or long visit to Singapore, but do not have any identification documents issued by Singapore, except perhaps work permit and other related papers.
To get a credit card from a Singapore bank, foreigners have to have a higher income than Singapore citizens and permanent residents, and a different set of documents are required. Each bank and credit card will have its own set of minimum income requirements from a foreigner. For example, a Singapore citizen or permanent resident can get a an HSBC Revolution Credit Card if they have an annual income of S$30,000 or more, but for foreigners to get this card, they need to earn at least S$40,000 or equivalent in another currency per year.
One of the best things about credit cards is that you can use it as well inside Singapore as abroad. But, not all credit cards are good for use outside Singapore. This is because of the foreign currency transaction fee levied on credit cards. With a foreign currency transaction fee, you will end up spending more for every purchase you make overseas. If your card charges a foreign currency fee of 2.5%, for example, then your purchases worth S$1,000 in Australia would actually cost you S$25 more.
So those who anticipate a lot of overseas transactions must go for a credit card for overseas spending. This could be credit cards that do not charge any or part of the foreign currency transaction fee, or cards that give higher rewards on overseas payments. More rewards mean more savings, and a chance to reduce or nullify the burden imposed by the extra fees.
Credit card debt trap occurs when your credit card outstanding balance is very high and you do not have the means to pay it off in the near future. Because credit card interest rates are high, and there are several other fees and charges payable on a card, some of your credit card usage habits increase the chances of you getting into credit card debt. Let us look at the financial discipline needed to avoid credit card debt:
You should always choose a credit card that is most suitable to your needs and repayment capacity. Here are some things to consider when you get a credit card:
Credit report is a document which lists your credit history and analyses it to come out with a credit score that reflects your repayment capacity and risk level as a borrower. Lenders refer to your credit report and credit score each time you apply for a new loan. Credit cards are an important part of your credit report. Credit cards are the easiest way to build a credit history, as you tend to use a credit card very frequently through the month. However, misuse or improper use of credit cards can as easily damage your credit score. Non-payment of dues will count as instances of default on a credit report, while over-shooting your credit limit will increase your credit exposure. All negative factors of your credit history will bring the credit score down. A low credit score means that you will not be able to get a new loan – say, a home loan – when you really need it. Cautious and conscientious use of credit card, on the other hand, will help you build a good credit history and give you an acceptable credit score.
Credit cards are loan instruments while debit cards are an extension of your monthly earnings or savings bank balance. Credit cards allow you to spend more than you have, while with debit cards you can only spend what you have in your savings account. Credit cards reward all your purchases in some way or the other, while debit cards don’t always offer rewards for transactions.
Read More on Credit Card vs Debit Card difference
One of the biggest benefits of credit cards is that credit card bills are easier to manage than personal loans. Credit cards give you flexibility in repayment while personal loans have a fixed monthly repayment schedule. Even though credit cards have a higher interest rate, it is easy to avoid credit card interest rate through on-time payments and full payments. Personal loan interest rate cannot be avoided as Equated Monthly Instalments (EMIs) are determined after factoring in the interest rate. You can pay off a credit card bill in full and start afresh, but if you wish to pay a personal loan in full, you may have to bear pre-payment charges. Also, credit card annual fees are much lower than the processing fees charged on personal loans. Last but not the least, credit cards come with discounts, promotional offers and rewards, while personal loans have no incentives associated with them.
If you have a credit card, you can also get a personal credit line from the same bank. Personal line of credit allows you to borrow when you want, as long as you repay regularly. Cash loan on credit cards are also easier to get and hassle-free compared to personal loans.
You can apply for a credit card either by going to the nearest branch of the bank that you want the card from, or by going to the website of the bank. If you are applying at the branch, ensure that you take all the required documents – NRIC, income proofs, and photographs – with you. If you’re applying online, you can either leave a message with the bank to call you back and explain the card terms, or apply directly. When applying directly, you need to fill an online application form and submit scanned copies of your documents. The bank will verify your details and check your credit score before approving your application. Online applications are more popular these days and banks give additional rewards on online applications.
BankBazaar.sg is not just a knowledge portal, but also a place where you can compare and apply for credit cards directly. The advantages we have are:
|Compare all the available options. (Either manually or using a third party comparison tool)||Settle for the card with the ‘shock’ value. (Short term offers will end, look at the long term)|
|Understand your requirement, big credit limits minus the need isn’t helpful later on.||Think of a credit card as an ‘easy’ resource for ready cash. It is, but you need to pay back too.|
|Keep a sharp lookout for the applicable interest rate, interest free period and hidden charges.||Believe everything the manual told you. Refusal to bring your detective skills to the fore.|
|Have a set repayment strategy on a month-on-month basis. Never be caught unprepared.||Go on a buying spree as soon as the credit card reaches you. Remember your need for the credit card, do not alter the original plan.|
|Utilize the card responsibly, thereby contributing to a strong credit history.||Maxing out the card, running up big repayments, all within a short time after getting your card.|
Once you have received your credit card, you will surely be excited about using it. However, before you start using your card for any expenses you should have a fair idea of some credit card related terminologies. Here is a list of the common terms associated with their credit cards and their meanings that you need to know:
You can pay your credit card bills through any of the following payments modes:
Your credit history will play a very important role in the application process. Before approving your application, the bank will check your credit history with the credit bureaus (CBS and DP Credit Bureau) to determine your credit worthiness. If they find that you have defaulted on payments in the past, they are most likely to reject your application. On the other hand, they are more likely to accept your credit card application if your credit history shows that you are very prompt in making payments.
Your current credit card debt affect your credit score and in turn it may affect the bank’s decision to approve or reject your card application. If you have a lot of unpaid debts on your existing card, you may not be able to get another card. Hence, you will need to pay off your credit card balances or at least reduce them significantly before you decide to apply for a new credit card.
Related Read: Common mistakes leading to heavy Credit Card Debt
The three most common payment networks used by Singapore banks in their credit cards are: Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Each credit card has its own set of perks and privileges, but some of those benefits are linked to the payment network and not the bank. When you choose a credit card, many banks might have two or three versions of the same card on different payment networks. For example, the Citi Rewards Card comes in Visa and MasterCard iterations, while the DBS Black Card is available in Visa and American Express networks. In such a situation, it helps to know whether there is any difference in the networks and if one is better or worse or the same as the others.
Let us take a brief look at the differences and similarities between Visa, MasterCard and American Express networks:
Customer service: When travelling overseas, all 3 payment networks offer medical emergency assistance, card loss and replacement services. Travel and purchase insurance is also available on certain cards.
Q. Do I qualify for a credit card?
A. To know whether or not you qualify for a credit card, you need to apply for it. Generally, banks will approve your card request if you meet all the eligibility criteria – minimum annual income and age – have all the required documents, and meet the expected credit score.
Q. What is the minimum annual income requirement to apply for a credit card in Singapore?
A. Most banks need you to earn at least S$30,000 per year to apply for a credit card, but some banks also give cards with low credit limit to people with an annual income of S$18,000 upwards.
Q. What should be the minimum income for foreigners and non-residents of Singapore to get a credit card?
A. In order to get a credit card in Singapore, non-residents and foreigners must have an income of S$40,000 or more per year.
Q. How long will my credit card application take?
A. This depends on the bank. Some banks process the application within the day if you meet all the eligibility criteria, some banks take 24 to 48 hours, while some even take up to 7 working days.
Q. Can I apply for more than one credit card?
A. Yes, you can. But approval for more than 1 credit card will depend on your repayment capacity, outstanding balance of other credit cards, and credit score.
Q. How do banks decide my credit limit?
A. Your credit limit depends on your monthly income, other existing loans and repayment capacity. Usually, it is 4 times the monthly income of an individual.
Q. How do I increase my credit limit?
A. You can get your credit limit increased under 3 circumstances:
1. Your salary has increased.
2. You have an emergency situation and need a temporary credit limit hike to get through it.
3. You are going abroad and might need additional funds to meet the expenses. Here again, you can get a temporary credit limit hike.
Q. What are different types of credit cards available in Singapore?
A. General purpose, private label (store) credit cards and co-branded credit cards are the three main types of credit cards available in Singapore. Other sub-categories include travel credit cards, cashback credit cards, rewards credit cards, dining credit cards, etc.
Q. What is the difference between Reward Points and Cashback?
A. In the case of reward points, every use of the card returns points that can be redeemed for gifts or other products/services that are stipulated by the credit card company. In the case of cashback, every time the credit card is used at a designated outlet, a part of the amount paid is deposited back to the cardholder. Cashback can be used to adjust against the repayment applicable on the credit card.
Q. Can I use credit cards for small payments such as S$5?
A. Yes, you can use credit cards for any amount of payment, subject to your credit limit.
Q. Do I have to pay interest on my credit card?
A. You have to pay interest on any amount that is outstanding after the due date is over. This interest rate is calculated on a daily basis until you pay the pending amount. For example, if on a bill of S$1,380 you pay S$1,000 in a particular month, you have to pay interest on S$380.
Q. What is effective interest rate (EIR)?
A. EIR is the total interest you have to pay on your card balance after the due date. Divide the EIR by 365 or 366 (number of days in the year) and you will get your daily interest rate.
Q. What is meant by Finance Charge?
A. The interest, fees and other charges that are associated with the credit card usage is collectively known as Finance Charges.
Q. What is a chargeback?
A. If any of the transactions made on the credit card is not actually done by the cardholder, the cardholder can file a chargeback demand with the bank. The bank will investigate the case, confirm whether the transaction was indeed not made by you, and pay you the money back. It is a kind of customer protection plan.
Q. In case of loss or theft of card, what should I do?
A. In case of loss, theft or damage of card, the bank can issue a replacement card. You need to inform the bank as soon as you discover the loss, and ensure that the right steps – such as filing an FIR if the card is stolen – are taken.
Q. How do I pay my credit card bill?
A. You can pay the credit card bills in various ways:
1. At AXS Stations
2. At SAM Machines
3. At ATM and cash deposit machines
4. through online banking
5. Using the bank’s mobile app
6. Through phone banking
7. SMS Pay by registering for this service with the bank first, and only if you wish to pay the minimum amount or the full amount
8. Fast And Secure Transfers (FAST) payment mode under Transfer Funds from Citibank or other banks
Q. What is balance transfer facility?
A. The act of transferring the outstanding balance from one credit card to another card issued by a different bank is known as credit card balance transfer. This is usually done to avail lower the interest rates as part of recurring offers that are usually promoted by credit card issuers in Singapore.
Note: Any and all rates mentioned above are subject to change as per the bank's policies. Please ensure that you check the latest rates applicable before applying.
United Overseas Bank (UOB), Singapore has launched a virtual payment scheme for local businesses to help them in managing their cashflow better. The scheme functions like a credit card. It enables small and medium businesses to pay immediately while the company buying the product will get interest-free credit for as long as 90 days.
The first company to use UOB virtual payment in South-east Asia is NEC Asia Pacific. The company along with its 18 SME suppliers will be a part of the trial period. Using the virtual payment option, NEC APAC has brought down the processing time from 60 days to fewer than seven days within which invoices are being received.
Finance director of NEC APAC, Sandra Kwok said that the company has received a good feedback about the scheme from their employees as well as their suppliers. The scheme has enabled them to pay with a credit card if their suppliers do not accept this form of payment. This has helped their finance team in cutting down the time spent on deciding the payment. It has also minimized the number of human errors as the process is largely done via computers these days, she said.
03rd March 2017
Come March and Singaporeans will get the facility to use their credit card for public transport. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has joined hands with Mastercard to start a trial of the account-based ticketing (ABT) technology.
The trial will begin on March 20 in Singapore. It will be the first city in Asia to get this service. This facility will be provided with contactless credit and debit cards that have been issued by Mastercard. The cardholder will have to tap the card on the reader before boarding the bus or a train instead of the regularly used EZ-Link cards.
The fares will be calculated every month along with the other purchases made on the same credit card. It will be added to your monthly credit card statement. You will also be able to view your ticket fare history and even track your travels with the help of the web portal or the mobile app. The facility is touted to woo at least 100,000 commuters and will help you in decreasing the burden of travelling with too many cards that are used for different purposes.
01st March 2017
After the long Christmas weekend, the crowds at most of the shopping malls in Singapore doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Rather, with the post-Christmas sale, and back-to-school sale, the overall customer traffic has increased. According to Sarah Lim, a Senior Retail Lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, the discounts were aimed at clearing old stocks to make way for new festivals like the upcoming Chinese New Year on 28th January.
Several shopping malls and stores reported an increase in sales following the Christmas weekend. Spokespersons from Tangs, Takashimaya Department Store, Orchard Gateway shopping mall, and Frasers Centrepoint Malls reported a positive increase in sales on 27th December. As per a survey conducted by SAP Hybris, an e-commerce solutions company, only 39% of shoppers prefer shopping at conventional stores with a physical presence. Out of the 68% of the shoppers who took the survey, most preferred stores with physical and digital presence, with digital transactions like card payments, and mobile wallets.
06th January 2017
Commuters can now use their local/foreign bank debit and credit cards to top-up their CEPAS or Contactless ePurse Application cards at GTMs (General Ticketing Machines) in MRT stations throughout Singapore as announced by Transit Link.
The CEPAS service will be applicable to NETS Flashpay cards and EZ-Link cards. Also, there will be no additional charges when local debit and credit cards are used for topping-up CEPAS cards. This includes mobile payment and contactless payment methods. In case of foreign cards used for top-ups, no convenience charge will be applicable. However, the prevailing foreign exchange rates levied by the issuing banks will continue to apply.
Furthermore, Transit Link also added that the daily payment limit will be increased from S$40 to S$100 per day, per card to provide greater convenience to commuters in a way that they do not have to top-up their CEPAS cards frequently.
04th January 2017
With the US Federal Reserve implying that it would raise its benchmark short term interest rate by 3 times in 2017, Singapore can expect weaker dollar and higher home loan and credit card interest rates.
Higher interest rates would attract investors to put money into the US dollar, reducing the value of Singapore dollar. If the Federal Reserve lifts the federal funds rates, bank rates for credit cards, home loans, and other loans would go up. If you are looking for a home loan now, it would be a good idea to go for fixed interest rates rather than floating or variable rates.
However, higher interest rates on loans also means a slightly higher deposit rates, which may be beneficial to customers with small savings such as fixed deposits.
The stock market is likely to see losses, making mutual funds and unit trust funds a less lucrative investment option. Apart from this, exports from Singapore to the US would become cheaper and the export business is likely to see a rise.
04th January 2017
According to The Strait Times, Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics is planning to introduce a facial recognition system at terminals. This system will be able to identify commuters who are passing through the gates and charge the fares to their credit cards, similar to the postpaid methods employed by other ride apps like Uber and Grab.
Commuters who wish to make use of this ‘Advance Gate System’ have to sign up for an account at the self-help terminal. They will also have their pictures taken at the terminal. Commuters will also be able to top up their fare cards, purchase tickets and interact with the customer service team using video conferencing at this terminal.
Currently, the traditional fare card tap system is able to process a maximum of 40 commuters per minute. The new system by ST Electronics can processes up to 1 commuter each second, according to the company.
If you do not want your face scanned or don’t want to rely on postpaid methods of payments, an alternative option will be to use radio frequency identification of the Advance Gate System. This system will allow you to continue using your fare card to make the payment but you do not have to physically tap it on the gate reader. This system will be powerful enough to detect your card even when inside a wallet, bag or pocket.
ST Electronics has said that this system is ready to be deployed.
16th November 2016
To cater to the relentless growth of mobile based transactions, the Singapore government is actively promoting platforms that are creating an enabling environment to support the changing trend. While the growth in mobile payments can be mostly attributed to convenience and ease of carrying out transactions on-the-move, that rate of mobile penetration is also a significant contributor. The popular mobile payment applications and mobile wallets are helping citizens make online payments in a swift and hassle-free manner. Popular apps include DBS Paylah and Dash while the prominent mobile wallets include Apple Pay and Android Pay.
03rd November 2016
Popular Indian based online financial marketplace Bankbazaar recently pumped an investment of Rs. 5 crore in its Singapore subsidiary to enhance its market footprint in the island city state. The recent fund infusion into its wholly-owned Singapore subsidiary has been designated to expand its workforce and technological operations. The company aims to start generating revenues through its operations from the next quarter as Singapore is expected to post a healthy growth of 10% from March next year, as reported by Deal Street Asia. Bankbazaar provides customers with customized interest rates on various financial instruments including loans and credit cards. The company has witnessed tremendous growth over the past few years and is currently focused on expanding its footprint in Singapore and other international markets while also concentrating on further expansion of its India operations.
20th October 2016
Despite the weak consumer confidence, the UnionPay cardholders spent 15% more than they did during the same period in 2015. More cardholders and merchants were accepting UnionPay cards and it was the official card of the annual Great Singapore Sale for the first time. The spending was boosted by the increased card usage by the local as well as the tourists. The local cardholders also used spent twice as much on their card compared to the same period in 2015 as more than 80% of the merchants were accepting UnionPay. The tourists from China, Macau, Hong Kong, Indonesia and South Korea also contributed to the bulk of the growth. The greatest boost was witnessed in the supermarkets and food and beverage businesses.
18th September 2016
The Association of Banks (ABS) in Singapore has collaborated with the Banking Computer Services (BCS) in order to map mobile numbers to bank account numbers. In case of business, the Unique Entity Number (UEN) will be mapped to the bank account number.They are also working to develop a Central Assessing Scheme so that payments can be made by using only the recipient’s mobile number, identity card number or UEN. The ABS is also helping to develop a unified point-of-sale (UPOS) terminal which can accept all major card brands.
05th September 2016