Most Singaporeans who are eligible to apply for credit cards will own multiple cards. Different cards give different benefits and a savvy consumer will want to own a few cards in order to optimise for the variety of perks available.
In Singapore, the three main types of credit cards are Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Most people do not differentiate between the three types of cards since they pretty much perform the same major function we expect them to do, and that is to provide us with a convenient way of paying.
Why American Express Is Different From Visa & MasterCard
While both Visa and MasterCard are technology companies that provide payment solutions – meaning they work with banks who are ultimately the institutions issuing the credit cards, American Express is different in the sense that they can issue credit cards on their own.
Here’s a simple illustration.
|Card Name||Institution Issuing The Credit Card||Payment Technology Provider|
|CIMB Visa Signature Card||CIMB||Visa|
|Standard Chartered Unlimited Card||Standard Chartered||MasterCard|
|American Express Krisflyer Card||American Express||American Express|
Visa and MasterCard both work with banks to issue credit cards. American Express being its own entity, issue credit cards, authorise payments and settle with both consumers and merchants on its own.
As consumers, we don’t really care about these things. We want practical reasons why we should own at least one American Express card. Here are some reasons why.
# 1 Quality Dispute Service
The biggest reason in our opinion is customer service when disputing a charge.
There is a common perception among consumers that American Express (Amex) is the only credit card issuer that provides a service for its customers to dispute charges made by merchants. The statement is partially true.
The truth is that all card-issuing institutions in Singapore are required to provide such a service to its customers. As a user, if you believe that unfair deductions have been made on your card, you can request for the card issuing companies to dispute the purchase on your behalf.
That said, Amex is the only company that talks about providing a service to allow customers to dispute a questionable charge. Most other banks will try to avoid having to do so because settling a dispute claim takes time and is a costly matter that they would rather avoid unless it’s fraudulent in nature.
We like to stress that a dispute claim is not the same as a fraudulent claim and that banks are required (upon your request) to help you in both.
Here’s a simple hack you should remember. If you are making an overseas payment (e.g. car rental) or accommodation reservation (e.g. an AirBnb booking), as far as possible, use an Amex card especially if you are not 100% familiar with the other party providing the service.
The reason is simple. If you encounter any disagreement with the other party – for example, they want to charge you for damages incurred though you know it wasn’t your fault, Amex is the preferred partner you want to help you dispute any charges or pending charges to be made. This is particularly useful for overseas charges, where you are no longer in the country and have limited capacity to get involved.
# 2 Travelling Perks For Credit Cards
Generally speaking, Amex cards are known for being useful for traveling. Aside from being able to quickly dispute any unfair charges that are made on your card, you enjoy other useful perks as well.
For example, the American Express Krisflyer Card provides free travel inconvenience and travel accident benefits when you purchase your travel tickets using the card. It also gives you preferential rental rates for overseas Wi-Fi router at Changi Airport with rates starting at just $4.65 per day for countries like Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. That’s a price that would be hard to beat.
These perks are on top of the usual Krisflyer miles that you get whenever you charge a purchase to your card.
# 3 Not Tied To Banks
As they are not tied to any banks, you don’t have to worry about getting pesky phone calls or marketing materials as the bank attempt to cross-sell you other products that it has.
# 4 It’s Free Anyway…And You Get Free Perks For Signing Up
As with all credit cards in Singapore, signing up is free and comes with it free perks.
For the American Express Krisflyer Card, you get a welcome bonus of 5,000 KrisFlyer Miles for the very first time you charge to your card. If you spend $2,500 within your first 3 months, you also get an additional 5,000 miles, on top of the usual 2,750 miles that you get for spending on the card (1.1 miles for every $1).