From status symbols to convenience, credit cards today play an integral role in maximizing personal finance. The biggest reason for that is stiff competition between banks, claiming to offer Singapore’s best credit cards.
In the past, banks offered credit cards categorized by the degree of perks and benefits. Since then, they have come up with other schemes to target niche markets. For example, credit cards offer more savings or rewards for petrol, shopping, travel, dining, and more.
Once you start shopping around for a new credit card, one thing becomes clear. It is incredibly challenging to find the best credit card for you. More often than not, if you are to buy into the marketing pitches, the chances are high that you end up with a less-than-ideal credit card.
With so many banks, each offering several types of credit cards, how do you know which one suits your needs, spending habit, and lifestyle?
We tell you.
What Is the Best Credit Card in Singapore for Your Overall Spending?
|Credit Card||Minimum Annual Income Requirement||Annual Fee||Interest Rate||Minimum Monthly Repayment||Cashback |
|Late Payment fee|
|Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Credit Card||$30,000 (Locals and PR) |
$60,000 (Foreigners with employment pass)
|$192.60 (waived for the first 2 years)||26.9%||$50 or 1%, whichever is higher||1.5% on all spend with no cap||$80|
|Citibank Rewards Credit Card||$30,000 (Locals and PR) |
$42,000 (Foreigners with employment pass)
|$192.60 (waived for the first 2 years)||26.9%||$50 or 1%, whichever is higher||10x Rewards for (4 Miles) on online shopping and purchases||$100|
|American Express True Cashback Card||$30,000 (Locals and PR) |
$42,000 (Foreigners with employment pass)
|$171 (waived for the first year)||26.9%||$50 or 3% whichever is higher||1.5% unlimited Cashback on all purchases||$90|
|Citi PremierMiles Credit Card||$30,000 (Locals and PR) |
$40,000 (Foreigners with employment pass)
|$192.60 (waived for the first year)||26.9%||$50 or 1%, whichever is higher||$1 = 2 Citi Miles |
10,000 Bonus Miles on card anniversary
No Miles expiry
|HSBC Visa Platinum Card||$30,000 (Locals and PR) |
$40,000 (Foreigners with employment pass)
|$192.60 (waived for the first 2 years)||25.8%||$50 or 3%, whichever is higher||5% rebate on groceries, dining, and fuel |
Earn 1 reward point for every dollar spent
1. Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Credit Card
Best for Unlimited Cashback
Standard Chartered offers a generous 1.5% cash rebate on qualified purchases – no minimum spend, no monthly cap. Additionally, you can increase the rate to 3% by linking it to an Unlimited$aver account. No doubt, the Unlimited Cashback Card is one of the best cashback credit cards in Singapore.
You should know beforehand that the Unlimited$aver accounts need to have a S$100,000 balance to earn the bonus 1.5% rebate. Furthermore, the bonus rebate has a S$100 monthly cap.
Earning rebates with this card is easy as rebates for transactions on supplementary cards get credited to the primary card. Incidentally, you can get up to 5 additional cards with no annual fees.
- Citibank gives up to S$120 cashback plus six months Disney+ subscription to new cardholders who make one eligible spend.
- As an option, apply for the Unlimited Cashback Credit Card and Credit Card Fund Transfer to receive 0% interest cash plus 100% rebate on the processing fee; and S$120 cashback upon activation of the card.
2. Citibank Rewards Credit Card
Best for Shopping Rewards and Promotion
The Citi Rewards Card provides up to 10X reward points (4 miles) for every S$1 spend, making it one of the top choices for a rewards card in Singapore.
The 10X rewards apply to online and shopping spending, ride-hailing apps such as Grab and Gojek, online food delivery, and groceries. For travelers, you may also avail of complimentary travel insurance. Best of all, there is no minimum monthly spend required to earn reward points.
- Upon activating the card, you may receive up to 30,000 Citi ThankYou points by spending S$3,000 within the first three months.
3. American Express True Cashback Card
Best For Cashback and Complimentary Passes
AMEX may not be as widely accepted as a Mastercard or VISA card. Nevertheless, it is one of the best cashback cards. There is no minimum spend required to earn a 1.5% rebate and no monthly cap to limit how much you can save.
One key advantage of the AMEX True Cashback Card is the additional 1% rebate on foreign currency spend and selected essential bills. Moreover, this card provides free travel inconvenience and accident insurance when used to pay for airfare.
- During the first six months from card activation, receive 3% cash back on up to S$5,000 spend.
- Until September 30, 2021, receive up to S$100 CapitaVouchers by spending at least S$500 within the first month.
- From August 2 to December 31, 2021, apply to receive 30 bonus chances to win a Tesla Model 3.
4. Citi PremierMiles Credit Card
Best for Frequent Travelers
Citibank switched from Citi PremierMiles VISA Card to Mastercard. Even so, it still offers some of the best privileges on the market. Through Citi Pay, you can earn 1.2 miles on local spend, 2 miles on overseas spend per S$1.
With the PremierMiles Card, you can avail of discounts and promotions on travel and accommodation. Not only that, but you can also use complimentary lounge access at airports worldwide and up to S$1 million travel insurance.
- Citi Miles never expire. Upon application, you become eligible for these welcome bonuses:
- 10,800 miles earned from S$9,000 spend (1.2 miles per S$1 local spend) within three months
- 34,200 miles earned upon paying the annual fee and meeting the qualifying spend requirement
- 4,800 miles earned from a minimum spend of S$4,000 (1.2 miles per S$1 local spend) within three months
- 13,200 miles earned upon meeting the spend requirement
5. HSBC VISA Platinum Card
Best For Rebates and Promotions for Essential Goods
For family expenses, HSBC Platinum Card is one of the best credit cards in Singapore.
- 5% cash rebate on eligible categories such as dining, groceries, and petrol
- Exclusive discounts at Shopee Mum’s Club
- 1 reward point per S$1 local spend or overseas spend
- No annual fee
The requirements to receive rewards are easy to meet. You only need to spend a minimum of S$600 per month in a calendar quarter. There is a cap of S$250, however, per calendar quarter.
- Receive up to S$200 cashback for spending
What Are the Different Types of Credit Cards?
A credit card lets you – the cardholder – borrow money from the issuer to pay for goods or services. You pay back the debt in whole or in installments. Aside from the principal, you will also have to pay the interest – the cost of borrowing that sum of money.
The most common credit card form is a plastic card issued by a bank or another financial institution. Since the advent of e-commerce, virtual credit cards also came to be and are now a popular payment option.
In Singapore, some of the most common issuers:
- American Express
Credit Card Types
As mentioned, credit cards can help you maximize your money. One reason is the variety of credit cards, each offering distinct perks and benefits. Categorizing the types of credit cards, though, is not easy as there are no standards.
One way to do that is by issuers such as banks, credit unions, co-branded, and store credit cards. But the best way to do so is by purpose and benefits.
1. Standard Credit Card
These are general-purpose credit cards that allow you to make purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. Usually, these cards do not come with annual fees. For that reason, they only offer basic perks and benefits and are thus suitable for casual spenders.
2. Premium Credit Card
As its designation suggests, premium credit cards offer luxurious lifestyle perks and benefits. These include VIP lounge access in airports, limousine services, complimentary hotel stays and green round fees, concierge services, and more.
Although the initial year is free, you have to pay high annual renewal fees in subsequent years. As such, these cards are more suitable for high spenders.
3. Business Credit Card
One reason for getting two or more credit cards is to separate or categorize expenses. Business credit cards, for example, let cardholders separate personal or household expenses.
In reality, any type of credit card can function as such. Some banks, however, provide business credit cards offering perks that typical business owners and executives may appreciate. Usually, these would include travel benefits, hotel and resort accommodations, internet connection, and more.
4. Student Credit Card
It would be hard for college students to apply for a credit card without a track record. Hence, banks and credit unions provide student credit cards daily and school expenses. Usually, the requirements are not strict and do not require a credit history.
Besides the convenience of paying for education-related expenses, students can also use it to start building excellent credit scores, which has far-reaching effects in the future. At any rate, this type of card provides standard rewards plus extra benefits for having good grades.
5. Travel Credit Card
For people who frequently travel overseas, travel credit cards are excellent companions. Among its benefits are higher air miles or points earned from travel-related expenses. Furthermore, the privileges include complimentary travel insurance, lounge access, hotel stays, golf green fees, and more.
6. Cashback Credit Card
These credit cards give you back a percentage of eligible percentages. The cash rebates or statement credits are savings that, when accumulated, can be worth hundreds to thousands of Singaporean dollars annually.
Cashback cards differ in their cashback rate. Some offer higher rates on specific categories, such as dining, food delivery, petrol, groceries, or travel.
7. Rewards Credit Card
These cards offer points or air miles each time you make an eligible spend. You can then redeem the rewards for merchandise, gift cards, shopping vouchers, hotel stays, airline fares, and more. Many rewards cards also offer cashback benefits.
8. Balance Transfer Credit Card
Instead of paying high-interest credit card debts, you have the option of paying down the debt. By transferring the debt to a balance transfer card, you can take advantage of introductory 0% APR ranging from 15 to 21 months, as many issuers offer.
Some banks, however, require a 3% to 5% upfront balance transfer fee. Regardless, you still save more money due to zero or lower interest rates.
9. Secured Credit Card
Most credit cards are unsecured, which means the issuer does not require collateral when you make purchases. On the other hand, secured credit cards require cardholders to deposit to receive a line of credit.
Getting this type of card is easy as there is almost no risk for the issuer. On why people may choose this card, one reason is bad credit history. Another is to ensure they do not overspend.
10. Charge Credit Card
Typical credit cards let cardholders pay back expenses in monthly installments – if they so choose. Not for charge cards, though, as the debt has to be paid back on the due date in full. Its single most significant advantage is that there is no interest charge. Failure to pay on time, however, results in stiffer penalties than typical credit cards.
How do Credit Cards Work?
For both on-site and online payments, credit cards follow the same payment principle.
- The merchant’s bank receives your credit card details.
- In turn, the bank sends those details to the Credit Card Network to process the transaction.
- Upon receiving an authorization from the Credit Card Network, the card issuer verifies the cardholder’s information and either approves or declines the transaction.
- If approved, the bank credits the payment to the merchant.
- The issuer then reduces the cardholder’s credit limit by the transaction amount.
- Towards the end of the billing cycle, the card issuer sends a statement to the cardholder detailing all transactions, previous balance, new balance, minimum payment, and due date.
Credit cards give cardholders a grace period covering the transaction date to the payment due date. If this amount is paid in full, the issuer does impose any interest charge.
Carrying over the balance month to month, on the other hand, results in the issuer charging interest. How much the issuer charges depends on the APR.
The inability to pay on time, particularly if a cardholder exceeds 60 days, results in high penalty charges.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Credit Card?
1. The convenience of Not Carrying Cash
Having at least a small amount of cash is practical. In some situations, though, you may need to make a significant purchase. Instead of carrying thousands of dollars and risk getting robbed, you can pay using a credit card to avoid any misfortune.
There are also other circumstances in which a credit card comes in handy. For instance, some services such as hotel accommodation and car rental may require you to provide credit card details to book a reservation.
Lastly, there are circumstances in which the only way to make payments is through credit cards. Shopping online is one example.
2. Access to Emergency Funds
On personal finance, one of the most important goals is to save emergency funds. However, not everyone is fortunate to be blessed with wealth. In Singapore, 2 out of 3 people do not have enough savings to last them six months.
In this regard, the available credit limit on credit cards can be the emergency fund – except it needs to be paid back.
3. Flexible Payment Terms
“Buy Now, Pay Later” is a common theme everyone sees in commercial centers. During certain holidays, card issuers may have zero-interest promotions. Even without these pitches, it is evident that one of the benefits of credit cards is allowing one to make a purchase and paying back in monthly installments.
Unlike loans with fixed monthly dues, credit cards require only the minimum payment. It is up to the cardholder to pay more or in whole.
4. Earn Rewards
Credit card issuers today no longer sell convenience. Instead, they market perks, benefits, privileges, rewards, and cashback. Huge savings and fantastic promotions are a huge draw for consumers – and that is not a bad thing at all.
5. Build a Good Credit Score
By paying on time, at all times, credit cards help you build a good credit history. Its far-reaching implications include getting favorable interest rates on future mortgages, car loans, and other types of loans you may need. Click here to read more on how you can achieve a high credit score in Singapore.
6. Fraud Protection
Criminal activities related to credit cards are at an all-time high. Financial institutions, however, have been diligent in taking proactive measures to prevent theft. Even if someone managed to charge an illegal transaction to your account, there are remedies in place to protect you from incurring losses.
7. Helps You Manage Finances
For one, having separate credit cards allows you to separate expenses – personal, household or family, business, and more. How you purpose a credit card is up to you. Also, the monthly statement details all transactions to help you track your expenses.
1. Overspending and Accumulating Debts
Every single person in the civilized world gets bombarded with marketing blitzes. It is, therefore, natural to have the desire to possess merchandise or avail of a service. For people who have poor spending habits, it is easy to spend borrowed money. In time, debts may accumulate.
2. High-Interest Rates
In Singapore, most credit cards charge a 26.9% interest rate. That does not include other fees. While the monthly installments make major purchases manageable, you are still spending much more money because of the interest.
3. Annual Fees
Most credit cards require you to pay an annual fee, beginning the second or third year. Although you can offset this from the rebates or points, it is still an expense. For premium cards, the annual fee is easily over S$500.
4. Need to Monitor Expenses for Possible Fraud or Theft
Even with state-of-the-art securities in place, hackers may still be able to steal credit card information. Although troublesome, cardholders need to track details of transactions to ensure none are unauthorized.
5. Late Fees and Penalties
Missing payment dates, mainly overdue by 60 days or more, result in the issuer charging you atrocious penalties.
6. Late Payments Impact Credit Score Negatively
The importance of good to excellent credit rating can never be overstated. Each time you miss a payment, it impacts your credit history.
7. Reduces Your Discretionary Income
About poor spending habits, having credit card debt means lower discretionary income. The more debt you accumulate, the less your extra cash.
What Are the Differences Between Debit and Credit Cards?
In a nutshell, a credit card allows you to borrow money from the issuer to pay for an expense. How much you can spend depends on the credit limit of the card.
A debit card, on the other hand, is linked to a bank account. Whenever you make a transaction, the funds are deducted from the checking or savings account. If there are not enough funds in the bank account, then you cannot make a purchase. In short, a debit card only allows you to spend money you already have deposited in your account.
What Are Cashback, Miles, and Points?
There is a ton of credit cards being offered by banks and other financial institutions. Regardless, there is a common theme, and that is you get back something for spending. Typically, these are cashback, miles, and rewards.
A cashback is essentially a cash rebate or a percentage of transaction amounts you make. Once the cashback has been credited to your account, you can use it to offset the cost of your next purchase.
|Get cash rebates for all eligible purchases||Requires minimum monthly spend to earn cashback|
|High rebate rates for some categories such as dining, grocery, shopping, and petrol||Has a monthly cap on cashback|
|Receive your cashback every month||A limited number of eligible merchant categories|
|No redemption process required|
For frequent travelers, travel credit cards are perfect. Typically, these cards reward cardholders with miles per dollar spent instead of cashback or points. When enough miles are accumulated, they can be used to redeem flights, accommodation, and more.
|Earn miles on local spend and overseas spend||The miles needed to redeem for flights require a lot of spending|
|It does not require a minimum spend||Not all travel card issuers have plenty of airline frequent flyer partners|
|Does not have a monthly cap on miles you can earn||Most travel cards have an expiry date on the miles earned|
|Travel benefits such as complimentary insurance, limousine transfers, VIP lounge access, and more|
Rewards credit cards are popular because they give you points for all eligible purchases. You can use the accumulated points to redeem merchandise, gift cards, vouchers, and others from the issuer’s rewards catalog. Some cards let you convert points to miles.
|Can redeem for cash vouchers that you can use at participating restaurants, grocery stores, and petrol stations||The merchandise you are eyeing may no longer be available by the time you have enough points to redeem|
|The flexibility of converting points to frequent flyer miles||The rewards catalog is limited|
|Points to miles conversion fee|
How to Choose the Best Credit Card for You?
Singapore is one of the countries where people love credit cards. In some estimates, there are fives times more credit cards in circulation than its population.
The average number of credit cards a Singaporean owns are:
- 25.1% own 1 to 2 cards
- 31.2% owns 2 to 4 cards
- 21.4% owns 4 to 6 cards
The reason for having multiple cards is simple. No one card is best for everyone or all purposes. With this in mind, the following is a general guideline on determining the best Singapore credit cards.
Step 1. Know your spending habits
Before obtaining a credit card, it is best to review where the money you earned goes. As you might surmise with the variety of cards on the market, some cards excel in specific categories. In contrast, others excel in other types of spendings.
For example, if you tend to shop online frequently, you should get the best credit card for online shopping. While at it, you can further break it down to specific niches such as apparel, food delivery, and other online spend. That is because you want a card that gives you the most cash back or rewards on categories where you spend the most money.
Step 2. Choose the type of reward or benefit that you want
Mainly, there are three choices – cashback, miles, or points. By now, you should be aware of how much you spend monthly. That is because each of the three types of cards comes with conditions to earn rewards. Besides the merchant category (the type of transactions you do), the rebates or miles/points are usually bound by minimum monthly spending.
Another factor to consider is the perks or privileges offered by credit cards. For example, as a businessman who travels overseas, a suitable credit would be a business or travel credit card.
Step 3. Pick the best credit card that gives you the most in returns
Suppose you decide to get a credit card for dining. The task of finding the best credit card for dining becomes easy. All you have to do is round up the best credit cards for this category and choose the one that gives you the most benefits. It could be a cashback card, a miles card, or a rewards card. Regardless, it is the one you decided on in step 1.
Consider, too, the minimum income requirement and other eligibility conditions. Assuming that you qualify, you can narrow down your choice by looking at the best credit card deals. These include promotions, a welcome bonus, options for an annual fee waiver, and more.
Remember to factor in any conditions that may prevent you from getting maximum returns. Two of the most significant factors are the monthly minimum spend and cap.
Tips on Credit Card Use and Safety
Keep these things in mind to avoid unnecessary hassles and ensure safety.
- Keep a close tab on your credit card bills. You can do this once or twice a week to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions. If you notice a payment made that you are not aware of, notify the card issuer asap.
- Avoid making online payments when using a public internet connection to reduce the risk of being hacked. Also, make sure that you only make transactions with reputable and secured sites.
- Always bring some extra cash. There is no telling when there might be a problem using a credit card.
- Be diligent in credit card bill payments. If you could pay in full, do it. Otherwise, make sure that you pay monthly on time to avoid penalties and dragging down your credit history.
- Read the terms and conditions to understand the requirements for earning and redeeming rewards fully.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How do you apply for a credit card?
The most convenient way to apply for a credit card in Singapore is online. Some banks may offer a bonus for applying using SingPass through MyInfo. Other than that, the traditional method is to walk into a bank to submit the required documents and fill up the application form.
2. Can you increase the credit limit?
After getting card approval, the bank will often determine the credit limit. Note that having supplementary cards does not increase this limit. If it is not enough, you can contact the issuer to request a higher ceiling.
3. Can you use your credit card for international purchases?
Once you receive your credit card, you can make international transactions. If it does not work, you have to contact the issuer to request that option.
4. Can you change your credit card?
The simplest is to apply for a new card and take advantage of any ongoing credit card promotions and other credit card deals.
5. Are there any charges for cash advances?
Typically, banks charge cash advance fees. The interest on cash advances can range from 0.082% per day or 26.9% to 28% plus a S$15 fee.
There Is a Best Singapore Credit Card for Every Category
No single credit card is the ultimate card. The best credit cards for you are those that maximize your spendings. If you frequently travel, for example, then travel cards should be your best choice. In essence, you choose a credit card based on the purpose of use.
- Credit cards offer you the convenience of not carrying a lot of cash, especially when making a significant purchase.
- Credit cards are excellent for sudden or emergency use.
- Each time you spend, you can get a cashback, miles, or points that can be redeemed for merchandise or other perks.
Despite all the advantages of using credit cards, there are also disadvantages. Missing payment due dates, for instance, results in high penalties and poor credit scores. Poor spending habits may also lead to debt accumulation.
At any rate, as long as you carry credit card balances, you are paying high-interest fees – typically 26.9% per annum. In comparison, personal loans can be lower than 10%. With that being said, you might consider taking out a personal loan to pay off all your credit card debts.
Although you are merely replacing one form of debt with another, the lower personal loan interest rates result in paying less on interest. You can request up to three free quotes on InstantLoan – a site dedicated to helping you find the most favorable loan rates from the country’s top licensed moneylenders.