Adulting with CardsPal: How to apply for your first credit card in Singapore
Just started your first job, and looking for a suitable credit card to treat yo-self on payday? Or perhaps you have been living on debit cards and cash for the longest time, and decided it’s high-time to leverage the rewards and cashback of credit cards.
Whatever your reason for applying your first credit card, CardsPal is here to guide you!
1. Find out if you are eligible
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With the exclusion of credit cards for students, where the minimum age requirement is 18, most banks would require main card holders to be at least 21 years old.
For Singaporeans or permanent residents, you’ll need a minimum annual income of at least S$30,000, while the benchmark is at S$40,000 for foreigners.
2. Identify cards for your lifestyle
People come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve got foodies, shopaholics, miles and reward junkies, the list goes on. To get the most from the cards, it’s important to choose a card that matches your priorities.
In Singapore, there are 3 main types of cards available – cash back cards, rewards cards and miles credit cards.
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Up next is cash back. Cash back cards tend to be a huge favourite as the amount earned redeemed can be used to offset your next bill. The cash back cap and minimum spend vary from card to card.
Here are some cards with no minimum spend AND no cash back cap, for your reference:
Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Credit Card
- Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible spend
Citi Cash Back+ Mastercard
- 1.6% cash back on eligible spend
American Express True Cashback Card
- 3% cash back (welcome offer, min. Spend of S$5000 in 6 months)
CIMB World Mastercard
- 2% unlimited cash back on wine and dine, entertainment and recreation, automobile and DFS purchases
One drawback of cards without cash back cap is modest rebate rates (Imagine the loss banks would make if high cash back rates were paired with unlimited cash back rates! Let’s let them earn too.).
As such, these cards would be suitable for card holders with high monthly expenditures, whereby a small cash back rate would still amount to a sizeable cash back amount.
In the same vein, credit cards with high minimum spend can afford to reward their card holders with high cash back rates. For example, the UOB One card offers up to 10% rebate on Shopee, Dairy Farm Group, Grab, SP and more, but would require a minimum spend of S$2,000 per month.
Looking for exceptions? Here are 2 for you. The POSB Everyday Card, which offers up to 8% cash rebates on dining and online shopping with a minimum spend of just $800. The Maybank Family & Friends Card offer up to 8% cashback on groceries, dining and petrol, and require a minimum spend of just $800 as well. It’s a friend indeed.
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These cards allow one to earn reward points based on spending. The more you spend, the better the rewards you are entitled to. These rewards range from gift vouchers to merchandises and even air miles.
Stressed up about hitting the minimum spending requirement?
Don’t fret, they usually don’t apply for these cards. Spending a lower amount than required just means you won’t get the reward.
Some of the best reward cards are:
Citi Lazada Credit Card (9.9 sale is coming!)
- 10X reward points on Lazada
- 5X reward points on dining, travel, entertainment and commute
- Up to 4 free shipping rebates per month on Lazada
Standard Chartered Rewards+ Credit Card
- S$1 on foreign currency spend = 10X points
- S$1 on local dining spend = 5X points
- 1 point = 0.29 miles
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature
- S$1 on dining, petrol, taxi and hotel bookings on Agoda = 8X points
- S$1 on air tickets, travel packages and foreign currency spend = 5X points
- 1 point = 0.25 miles
These types of credit cards allow you to accumulate miles from your purchase. These miles can then be redeemed for flight tickets (your big chance to snag a first-class seat for free).
Miles cards don’t usually have minimum spend requirements or miles cap per month, in a bid to encourage people to use the card more.
There is a caveat, however. Unlike credit card points that don’t expire as long as your account is active and balances are paid off, miles don’t always last forever. For some cards, they expire within 12 to 24 months from your “last account activity”.
The definition of this term could mean the purchase of points or miles to take a flight, purchasing of flight tickets. It’s thus important to read the fine print regarding the lifespan of your miles, and requirements to keep them valid.
Need some inspiration? Consider these cards –
Citi PremierMiles Card
- S$1 local spend = Up to 1.2 miles
- S$1 foreign currency spend including retail and online = Up to 2 miles
- S$1 spend on selected online hotel and flight bookings = Up to 10 miles
DBS Altitude Card
- S$1 local spend = 1.2 miles
- S$1 overseas spend = 2 miles
- S$1 spend on staycation bookings = 10 miles
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
- S$1 online spend and contactless payment = 10x points
- S$1 all other spend = 1x point
- 1 point = 4 miles (rewards to miles conversion for selected airline partners)
3. Zoom in on the T&Cs and requirements
The devil is in the details, so they say. Always read up on the terms and conditions hidden from plain sight, such as the annual fee, how many years you could waive them, interest rates, hidden charges and more.
Some of the most common credit card fees include:
- Annual fee
- Interest charges
- Late payment fee
- Foreign transaction fee
- Balance transfer fee
- Cash advance fee
- Over-the-limit fee
- Returned payment fee
The credit card payment method is another area to note. Some may choose to automate their annual credit card payments via GIRO.
However, one drawback is that the payment may proceed before you make time to check the accuracy of billing details. In the event of inaccurate deductions, contacting the bank would require one to wait on the line for a customer service agent, and complete various procedures to get your moolah back (Read: troublesome).
If you choose to pay manually every month, set an alarm to help you remember paying for your bills on time.
4. Leverage promos and apply through 3rd party portals offering sign-up freebies
Sites like MoneySmart and SingSaver often run promotions with banks, rewarding new-to-bank folks with attractive prizes. These gifts include cash credit, cash via PayLah, and a myriad of gifts like electronic gadgets (iPad, Nintendo Switch Lite, etc), luggages, home equipment, and more. For the gamers out there, SingSaver is now rewarding new-to-Citi Bank users with a Nintendo Switch (U.P $499)!
Upon clicking apply, you will be prompted to fill in your particulars. This would include your name, date of birth, IC number, address, the usuals.
Other information you should have handy:
For Singaporean/Permanent Residents:
- Employment Contact Information (including address and term of employment)
- A photocopy of your NRIC/FIN or Passport
- Proof of Income: Latest original computerised payslip OR Income Tax Notice of Assessment OR last 12 month’s CPF statements
- A copy of your passport and work permit (with min. 6 months validity)
- A copy of your In-Principal approval (IPA) if EP expires in less than 6 months
- Latest original computerised payslip OR Income Tax Notice of Assessment
- Proof of residence: utility bill, telephone bill or bank statement showing your residential address
For the self-employed:
- Income Tax Notice of Assessment
- Proof of income, or rental income via bank statements
- Company-specific information (ACRA registration)
We hope you have a clearer idea about how to apply for your first credit card now. Need more help? Simply use the CardsPal app to compare credit cards and find the best one for you.
The app compares credit cards side by side, to give you a clear assessment at a glance. With the Cardculator function, you’d also be able to see the recommended cards to use at your favourite brands. That may give you a better idea of cards most suitable for you.