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    Credit Card in Singapore

    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.

    What are Credit Cards?

    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.

    Features of credit cards

    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:

    1. Easy to obtain: You don’t have to put up any security with the bank to get a credit card. Most banks will approve your credit card request instantly. The approval is dependent solely on the veracity of your documents, your income level, and credit score. The card might even be delivered to you on the same day of getting approval, though some banks may take up to 7 working days to process your application and dispatch the card.
    2. Credit limit: Credit limit is the maximum amount of money you can borrow through your credit card. For example, let’s say your card has a credit limit of S$6,000. Once you have spent S$6,000 on your credit card, you won’t be able to use it any more until you repay some of the amount. If you spend S$1,000 in a particular month, with no past dues, the credit limit at the end of the month would be S$5,000. The repayment you make every month adds liquidity back to your credit card. So if you pay the complete bill of S$1,000 before due date in that month, your credit limit will stay intact. If you’re paying S$500, then the credit limit will be S$5,500. If you pay S$2,000 instead of S$1,000 on the bill, then your credit limit will increase to S$7,000. You can get temporary credit limit hikes from the bank in case of overseas travel or personal emergencies. You can even get a permanent credit limit increase if your salary has gone up considerably.
    3. Effective Interest Rate (EIR): EIR is the actual cost of owning a credit card. It is the interest rate per day on your outstanding payments. Credit card issuers in Singapore advertise the EIR rather than the APR, because the effective interest rate is a better reflection of how much the card will cost you if you do not pay your bills on time. The EIR for credit cards in Singapore ranges from 15% to 27%.
    4. Grace period: This is the number of days you get to save interest on your bill. If pay your bill within the grace period, even if it is after the due date of the bill, the bank will not charge an interest on the outstanding amount. So if your credit card’s grace period is 21 days, and your billing date is 5th February, 2017, then you have time until 25th February to pay your bill and avoid interest charges.
    5. Security: All credit cards in Singapore are equipped with EMV-compliant electronic chips. EMV is a credit card safety standard developed by Europay, MasterCard and Visa, which ensures global acceptance and security while using. EMV chips make it almost impossible for fraudsters to hack into your personal and financial information, thereby preventing credit card hacking or cloning, and identity theft. This feature ensures that today’s credit cards are many times safer to use at point of sale (POS) devices, than the earlier magnetic stripe cards. Apart from this, one-time passwords (OTPs), 3D secure sign-in passwords, and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) make sure that your credit card is as safe as possible.
    6. Credit card statement: Unlike personal loans where you only get bank intimation on balance and upcoming payments, credit card companies send out bills on a monthly basis. This bill will contain your personal and card details, all your card transactions done during the period, the outstanding amount, the payment you made the previous month, the charges applicable on the balance, the due date for bill payment, credit limit balance, the rewards you have earned through your transactions, among other relevant information. You can get a physical copy of the bill sent to your personal or official address, but most Singaporeans prefer their bills sent to their registered email id as it is faster and easily accessible.

    Benefits of Credit Cards

    Let us now look at some of the benefits and privileges offered by credit cards in Singapore:

    • Easy and convenient use: No one can deny that credit cards are easy to carry around and use. It allows you to make purchases as you want and whenever you want. You can use it online as well as at stores. You can buy both an item for S$1 and something costing S$1,000 with a credit card.
    • Useful in emergencies: If you come face to face with an unexpected expense, wherein you cannot arrange alternative funds quickly, you can depend on the credit card. If your card’s credit limit does not allow you to spend as much as you need, you can contact the bank and get a temporary credit limit increase to help you tide over the situation.
    • Rewards & bonus points: Each credit card has its own way of rewarding your transactions. Credit cards in Singapore offer a variety of perks such as cashback, cash rebate, reward points, and air miles. This means that for each purchase you make, you are getting a small percentage of it back in one form or another. Bonus points are given if you make purchases with specific partner outlets, or if you spend more than a certain amount every month, etc. Many credit cards also come with welcome gifts such as luggage and cashback, and welcome bonuses such as 15,000 air miles or 10,000 reward points.
    • Discounts & perks: Credit cards also give us exclusive discounts at various online and offline merchants, special offers that change annually or quarterly, and promotional deals during festival seasons.
    • Complementary insurance: Many credit cards offer free travel insurance on charging the flight tickets to the card. Other insurance products that are complimentary with a credit card include e-commerce protection, and card loss protection. Some cards also give discounts on insurance purchases and premium payments made through them.
    • Concierge services: Many high-end credit cards allow you to use concierge services for travel planning, hotel bookings, table reservations, event and show bookings, and other conveniences.
    • Cash advance: If you are in urgent need of money, you can withdraw money from your credit card. This will be an extension of your unsecured loan. You can only withdraw as much amount as your credit limit permits. The interest rate for cash withdrawal is higher than the interest on your credit card, and could go up to 30%. There is also a cash advance fee of 5% to 6% of the borrowed amount.
    • Instalment Payment Plans: Credit cards also allow you to reduce your costs by buying goods and services on zero-interest instalment. This means that instead of paying the whole amount for your purchase on the spot, you can pay it to the bank in Equated Monthly Instalments (EMI) for a fixed period of up to 3 years. Each bank has a different kind of instalment payment and flexible payment plans.
    • Balance transfer: If you are not satisfied with the rewards and services of your current credit card, you can transfer the balance to another credit card. Essentially, you’re allowing another credit card company to buy out your current debt. Banks offer attractive 0% interest balance transfer plans to help you manage your debt.

    Credit Card Rewards Programmes

    Different credit cards have different ways of rewarding your transactions. Let us look at the most common rewards among credit cards in Singapore:

    • Rewards points: Under the rewards points system, the card will give you a certain number of points for each transaction you make. These reward points can be accumulated and exchanged for vouchers and products from the bank catalogue. Some banks have reward points that do not expire ever, while other have a validity of 2 to 3 years from the date of accrual. For example, the Citibank Rewards Card gives you 10 Reward Points for every S$1 spent on clothes and bags both offline and online, and at department stores. Customers can redeem the points for any product or service from the Citi Thank You Rewards list or for instant discounts on purchase.
    • Cashback or cash rebate: Cashback or cash rebate refers to a percentage of the transaction amount which comes back to your credit card every month or every quarter. Cashback cards are very popular in Singapore because getting money back is seen as more lucrative than getting voucher discounts for future purchases. An example of a cashback card is the Standard Chartered Manhattan World MasterCard which gives you up to S$800 as cashback per year based on your spending each month.
    • Air miles: Air miles are reward points accumulated and converted into payments for flight and hotel bookings. Miles cards are popular among frequent travellers as it allows the cardholder to redeem the points for discounts on the frequent flyer programmes of various airlines, depending on which airline your credit card has a tie-up with. With miles accrual, depending of course on how much you spend using your card every month, you can fly for free to Bali or Australia at least once a year for free.

    Credit card promotions in Singapore 2017

    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.

    Credit Card Interest Rates in Singapore

    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

    How to Calculate Credit Card Interest Rate in Singapore?

    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 Card Fees & Charges

    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:

    • Annual Fee: Annual fee is the maintenance fee or administrative fee of a credit card. The annual fee is determined by the bank according to the privileges and perks afforded by each card. There are cards with zero annual fee, cards with an annual fee of S$150, and even cards that cost more than S$750 per year. Some banks may give annual fee waiver for the first year, or 2-3 years. Many banks also allow an annual fee waiver if you spend beyond a particular amount in a year. Annual fees are applicable to both primary and supplementary cards, and supplementary card fee is generally half of the annual fee for the principal card. Additionally, Goods and Service Tax (GST) is also applicable on this fee. Credit card maintenance being a service provided by a bank, the banks have to charge service tax on this component. For example, the annual fee for OCBC Frank card is S$80 for the primary card and S$40 for the supplementary card, while Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card costs S$350 for the primary and S$175 for the supplementary.
    • Supplementary annual fee: It is a yearly fee charged for the supplementary or add-on cards. Some banks offer up to 2 supplementary cards for free i.e. no additional annual fees are charged for these cards.
    • International Transaction Charges: They refer to the charges associated with using the credit card at foreign locations (i.e. transactions completed at foreign locations).
    • Foreign Currency Conversion Fees: This is the fee charged when you use your credit card overseas or for online shopping from non-Singapore sites. The bank and the payment system (Visa/MasterCard/American Express/UnionPay, etc.) both impose a percentage of the transaction amount as administrative or handling fees. Foreign currency fee consists of currency conversion fee and administrative fee. Currency conversion charges are applicable because you will be paying for an item or service in the currency of the country you are in, and not in Singapore dollars. If it is a non-US dollar currency then the Singapore dollars are first converted into US dollars and then into the other currency.
    • Dynamic Currency Conversion Fee: Some merchants have payment machines equipped with dynamic currency conversion. If you’re using this, your bill will contain a dynamic currency conversion fee, which is charged only by your payment system. With this, you can pay in Singapore dollars and the merchant will convert as per the day’s conversion rate between the currencies, and not through conversion via US dollars.
    • Cash Advance Fees: Withdrawing money from your credit card attracts not only a high interest rate but also a cash advance fee. This fee is applicable on the amount that you withdraw. The usual cash advance fee charged by banks in Singapore is 5% to 6% of the withdrawn amount. For instance, if you withdraw S$1,000, a cash advance fee of S$50 to S$60 will be added to your credit card bill.
    • Late payment charges: If you do not pay at least the minimum amount required on your credit card bill by the last date for payment, the late payment fee will be charged. Most banks charge a flat rate of S$60 to S$80 as late payment charges. Even if you pay just 1 day late, and even if you pay the whole bill amount a day late, this fee will be charged.
    • Over-limit fee: If you spend more on your credit card than the credit limit approved for you, then banks charge an over-limit fee. This fee could go up to S$50 or 5% of the over-limit amount.
    • Finance Charge: It refers to the fees, interest and other charges associated with using the credit card.
    • Other fees: There are several other fees applicable on credit cards – always check the cardmembers’ agreement or the pricing sheet of banks to know all the fees relevant to your card. Some of these fees are:
      • Reward redemption fees: Applicable if you convert your reward points into miles or vouchers.
      • Card replacement fee: Applicable if you lose your card and need a new one.
      • Termination fee on 0% IPP and other flexible payment plans: Applicable if you pay off all your instalments without waiting for the chosen tenure to end.
      • Returned cheque charges: Applicable if you pay the credit card bill via cheque and the cheque bounces due to lack of funds in your account.
      • Sales draft or statement retrieval fees: Applicable if you ask for a physical copy of your sales draft or credit card statement.

    Various Types of Credit Cards in Singapore

    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:

    • Cashback Credit Cards: These cards allow you to get back a certain percentage of the amount you spend.
    • Rewards Credit Cards: These credit cards give you reward points for your purchases. These reward points can be converted into discount vouchers for various goods and services, cash rebates on bills, or air miles.
    • Travel Credit Cards: These cards give you rewards in the form of air miles, free travel insurance, and discounts on flight tickets, hotel bookings, taxi bookings, etc. These cards are also known as Air Miles Credit Cards.
    • Dining Credit Cards: These credit cards give special deals, discounts, and extra cashback or reward points on dining out at restaurants, hotels and fast-food joints or cafes.
    • Shopping Credit Cards: These cards give promotional offers, discounts and additional cashback or reward points on shopping for clothes, bags or shoes, buying items from department stores and e-commerce sites, etc.
    • Petrol Credit Cards: These credit cards give higher rebates and rewards on purchase of petrol from certain fuel stations.
    • Groceries Credit Cards: These cards give more discounts and rewards on transactions for groceries – either at any store registered as a grocery or supermarket, or at specific stores.
    • Entertainment Credit Cards: These credit cards give additional perks on entertainment avenues such as movie tickets, theme park tickets, entry into clubs, pubs and bars, free drinks, etc.
    • Lifestyle Credit Cards: These cards combine the features of entertainment credit cards and of cards that allow benefits in luxury shopping, travel and lifestyle.
    • Utilities Credit Cards: These credit cards make energy bill payments cheaper by giving extra cash rebates or rewards on recurring bill payments.
    • Golf Credit Cards: These cards allow its users to get privileges in golfing, such as green fee waiver and free golf insurance.
    • Student Credit Cards: These credit cards are for students, and have perks such as no minimum income requirement, zero or low annual fee, and higher rewards on common expenses made by students.
    • Insurance Credit Cards: These cards give cashback, rewards or benefits on insurance premium payments. Some insurance cards may also give free travel, medical or personal accident insurance.
    • Business Credit Cards: These credit cards are for businesses and companies. Business credit cards offer savings on bulk credit card orders for the staff, allow you to track and monitor how finances are used in the company, and might extend loans at easier terms.
    • Invitation-Only Credit Cards: These cards are exclusive, premium or elite credit cards that can only be obtained if the bank invites you to try it out. These invitation-only cards come with high-end privileges such as personal concierge and endless miles and reward points.

    Credit Card Balance Transfer

    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.

    Credit Cards for Foreigners

    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.

    Credit Cards for Overseas Spending

    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.

    How to Avoid Credit Card Debt?

    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:

    • Pay your bills regularly: You must never skip a credit card payment. If you do not pay your bill on or before the due date, you will attract late payment fees and high interest charges. Moreover, it will be considered as a default and marked down in your credit report.
    • Pay as much outstanding balance as possible: Try to pay as much of the bill – fully if possible – every month. This will help decrease the interest you pay to the bank as well as keep the debt within your means of paying off.
    • Never pay just the minimum amount every month: If your credit card bill says that the minimum amount you need to pay is just 3% of the outstanding bill, it does not mean that is the only money you need to pay. The minimum amount merely keeps your card active – it does not reduce your costs. In fact, it increases your debt burden heavily, as interest charges are added to your outstanding amount each month.
    • Do not spend more than you earn: Credit cards are a boon when you want to buy a costly item that you could otherwise not have been able to afford with your monthly salary. However, constantly making large purchases on your credit card will lead to an enormous bill that will, within a few months, become more than what you can pay back. Make a budget for your monthly expenses and stick to it. Of course you can buy an occasional big-ticket item, but don’t make it a habit.
    • Do not make cash withdrawals unless absolutely necessary: It is very convenient to withdraw cash from your credit card in times of need, but cash advances attract very high interest rate (over 30%), in addition to a cash advance fee of 5% to 6% of your withdrawal amount. It would be better to opt for a credit line or personal loan, which comes at a comparatively lower interest rate.
    • Go for credit card balance transfer if the current card is too costly: If you are unable to manage the debt on the current card, shift to a lower-interest credit card through the balance transfer option. This will help consolidate your debt and reduce your repayments in the long term.
    • Do not own multiple credit cards: One credit card is necessity, two are useful, but 3 or more are a luxury. Unless your usage is low or your repayment capacity is very high, do not apply for more than 2 credit cards. The more the cards, the more likely you’re to spend, and the higher the eventual debt would be.
    • Prioritise bill payments: If you have more than one credit card, always pay the maximum amount of the card that has a higher interest rate. This will help reduce your eventual debt burden.
    • Don’t overshoot the credit limit: Your credit limit is decided based on your monthly income and repayment capacity. In ideal situations, you should be using not more than 30% of your credit limit. So if your credit limit is S$5,000, you should keep your balance lower than S$1,500. This will ensure that you will never be burdened with a debt that you cannot manage. Moreover, over-shooting the credit limit attracts an over-limit fee. Also, you will not be able to use your card until you pay off the outstanding amount and bring down your credit limit.

    How to choose a Credit Card?

    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:

    • Annual fee: Don’t buy a credit card that charges a high annual fee unless you can really afford it, and you will be using the services of the card that warrant the need for a high annual fee, such as concierge services and other privileges.
    • Interest rate: High interest rates will mean a burgeoning debt, so be wary of the interest rate of the card you get. Higher-rate credit cards are all right if you are sure that you would pay back the full balance amount every month.
    • Rewards: Do you like cashback, or do you prefer reward points? Are you a travel aficionado that likes accumulating miles? Your credit card rewards should reflect your needs and spending pattern.
    • Credit card type: Based on how you would use your credit card, you need to decide which type of card you need. If you are a frequent traveller, you need to choose a travel credit card. If you are a shopaholic, find a shopping credit card. If you dine out often, go for a dining credit card. If you spend a lot on groceries and household needs, get a grocery and utility credit card.

    Relation between Credit Score & 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 Card vs. Debit Cards

    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

    Why should you choose Credit Cards over Personal Loans?

    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.

    Loan on Credit Cards

    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.

    How to apply for a Credit Card?

    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.

    Why BankBazaar.sg for Credit Cards?

    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:

    • Apply directly: Now you can apply for your favourite card directly from BankBazaar.sg – you don’t even need to go to the bank’s website. We will take care of your application and processing while you sit back and slurp that cup of coffee.
    • Choices: Every credit card available in Singapore is listed and explained in detail.
    • Save time: You can get all the information you need about any credit card in Singapore from the site. You don’t have to search across the internet individually.
    • Compare and review: You can compare all the cards and choose the one that suits you the best.
    • Be prepared: We also tell you the eligibility criteria, the required documentation, and the fine print of credit cards. Everything you need to be prepared for a credit card application is on BankBazaar.sg.
    • Second opinions: Apart from the main website, there is also the BankBazaar.sg Blog that gives you reader-friendly material. You can also read reviews from other users to help you decide what is best for you.
    • 24x7 support: Have a query? We are just an email, phone call or chat-box away.
    • 100% safe: All your personal and financial information is treated with maximum care and caution, and you can rest assured that no mismanagement or misappropriation happens.

    Credit Card Do’s & Dont’s

    Do Don’t
    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.

    Credit Card Terms

    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:

    1. Primary Card: It is the principal or main credit card offered to the individual applicant.
    2. Supplementary card: It is the additional card (add-on card) offered to children, parents or spouse of the primary cardholder. Most banks offer up to 4 supplementary cards along with the primary credit card.
    3. Payment due date: It is the date by which the cardholder should make the payment of the outstanding credit card balance.
    4. Outstanding Due Payment: It refers to the outstanding balance of the card. The outstanding amount due is the sum of all the transactions completed with the card and the fees charged till date, minus the sum of all the payments made to the card.
    5. Rewards: Rewards points are offered for transactions completed with the card. Cardholders can earn reward points for most of the transactions they complete with their card.
    6. Offers: Cardholders can avail lucrative offers on dining, online shopping and so on with their credit cards.
    7. Cancellation: The cardholders can cancel their credit cards if they no longer want to use it. They will still need to pay off the outstanding balance of the card.
    8. Replacement: If the card is lost, stolen or damaged, then cardholders can request for a replacement card.
    9. Credit balance: This is the amount of credit limit left with you at the end of each month. For example, if your credit limit is S$6,000, and you have made payments worth S$1,283 at the end of the first month of use, your credit balance will be S$4,717. You can increase your credit balance by making regular payments to the credit card.
    10. Annual Percentage Rate (APR): APR is the annual interest rate in percentage, which is applicable on credit card use.
    11. Credit card fees: Apart from interest rate, a credit card typically has a host of fees and charges for various services and offences. The most important credit card fees are annual fee, late payment fee, over-limit fee, and foreign exchange transaction fee. We will discuss this in detail later in this article.
    12. Credit card billing cycle: This is period for which you get the credit card bill. The billing cycle is usually one month long, but it is not dependent on a calendar month. The billing cycle starts from the date you received the credit card. For example, if you applied for a credit card on 1st January, and received it on the 8th, then your billing cycle would be 8th January to 7th February. Most banks allow you to alter your billing cycle to suit your needs.
    13. Minimum payment: This is the minimum amount you need to pay on your credit card bill to ensure that the card is active and usable. Most banks need you to pay 1% to 3% of your total bill as minimum payment, with a minimum of S$50.
    14. Card payment network: A bank issuing a credit card has to be connected to the general payment network in order to ensure that all transactions go through. Some of the popular payment networks are: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, UnionPay, Plus, and Cirrus.
    15. Annual fee waiver: This refers to the cancellation of annual fee either for the first year or few years of getting the card, or reversal of annual fee if you meet a specific spending requirement set by the bank in a year.
    16. Concierge services: Many travel credit cards and high-end credit cards give you concierge services. A concierge is a caretaker or a personal assistant. A credit card concierge is a person assigned to you by the credit card company to take care of your travel plans, bookings and other personal needs which you are too busy to do yourself.
    17. Charge card: A charge card is just like a credit card, allowing you to buy things without actually paying for them on the spot. However, the key difference between a credit card and a charge card is that the balance of charge cards has to be paid off every month. Charge cards have no interest rate, but only late payment charges if you fail to pay the entire bill in a particular month.
    18. Credit history: Credit history signifies your borrowing and repayment pattern. Your credit history is saved on credit reports, which are a collation of your financial data recorded with various certified institutions. Credit reports come with a credit score, which is a number that tells lenders whether you are worth lending money to or not.
    19. Introductory period: This is the first 3 to 6 months of your credit card – that is, the initial months after getting a new card. Many credit cards offer special benefits in the introductory period.

    Credit Card Payment Mode

    You can pay your credit card bills through any of the following payments modes:

    • Internet Banking
    • Cash payment at the branch
    • Interbank GIRO
    • Auto debit from current or savings account

    Importance of Credit History in Application Process

    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.

    The Impact of Current Credit Card Debt when Applying for New Card

    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:

    • Foreign transaction charges: This is one of the key differentiators among the payment networks. American Express typically charges around 2.5% as foreign transaction fee, while Visa and MasterCard charge only between 0.8% and 1%. Coupled with the bank’s administrative fee, foreign transaction charges on American Express cards would be significantly higher than that of the other two networks.
    • Acceptance: All 3 payment networks claim a vast network of merchants and payment terminals. MasterCard reportedly has among the highest acceptance rate – in around 210 countries, followed by Visa in over 200 nations and American Express in just over 140 countries.
    • Contactless payments: All 3 networks allow you to make contactless payments. Visa has payWave, MasterCard has PayPass and Tap & Go, and American Express allows you to link with Apple Pay. American Express’s Contactless cards have not yet been launched full-fledged in Singapore.
    • Benefit tiers: Visa has standard-level, Signature-level and Infinite-level privilege programmes. MasterCard also offers 3 tiers – standard, World and World Elite. American Express does not have a defined tier separation. The higher your tier, the more your luxury privileges and access to exclusive offers.
    • Price guarantee: MasterCard’s World and World Elite cardholders are eligible for e-Commerce Purchase Protection and Wallet Guard insurance covers, which will protect your online purchases from price instability, and your wallet from theft or loss. American Express offers Purchase Protection on selected cards such as the American Express Gold Charge Card.
    • Concierge services: All networks offer concierge services. Visa Signature and Infinite customers get travel concierge services, and so do MasterCard World and World Elite customers. American Express offers concierge services to its Platinum customers, and these services are among the best in the industry.
    • Independent card issuance: Visa and MasterCard do not offer any credit cards on their own, but American Express does. A Visa and MasterCard credit card is always issued in collaboration with a bank, but American Express issues cards itself as well as has cards issued in association with banks.

    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.

    Explore Credit Cards through our Blog:

    1. Top 5 credit cards for destination travel

      Be it business or leisure, travelling is definitely one of the best ways to unwind. If you love travelling, you should check out these 5 credit cards that vow to keep you company while you are travelling and make travelling much easier for you.

    2. Events to watch out for in Singapore in 2017

      A new year brings new experiences. Singapore is always packed with concerts, performances, exhibitions, and other events.Find out what’s in store for Singaporeans in the year 2017.

    3. Are you using the ANZ credit card offers cashback advantage this christmas?

      The season of joy is finally here and ANZ knows it too! This Christmas, enjoy the amazing cashback offers on ANZ credit cards!

    4. The best credit cards for wedding lunches!

      If there is something that can make people never forget a wedding, it is the glowing bride and the amazing food! Ensure that your guests get nothing but the best with these amazing weekend wedding lunch venues!

    5. Best places to celebrate New Year's Eve in Asia!

      Say goodbye to the last year and welcome the new year in style this December! If you are planning to ring in the new year in Asia, you should definitely check out these top 5 places where you can celebrate this New Year’s Eve!

    News About Credit Cards

    • Virtual payment scheme by UOB will be available for local businesses

      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

       
    • People in Singapore can now use Mastercard to pay for public transport

      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

       
    • Post-Christmas sales and back-to-school sales bring in more crowds

      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 Top-Up CEPAS Cards using Credit and Debit Cards starting from January

      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

       
    • How Singapore will be affected by US Federal Reserve rate hikes

      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

       
    • Singapore Commuters: MRT Fare Cards Could be Replaced by Facial Recognition

      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

       
    • Popular mobile apps promote seamless on-the-go online transactions

      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

       
    • Bankbazaar pumps in Rs. 5 crore investment in Singapore Subsidiary

      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

       
    • UnionPay cardholders spent more during the Great Singapore Sale

      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

       
    • Now, transfer funds through your mobile number!

      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

       

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