This article was written in collaboration with SingSaver. Views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg. SingSaver is also an affiliate partner of DollarsAndSense.sg.
If we had a dollar for every time someone asked us “which is the best credit card in Singapore”, we’d be busting our monthly credit limits without a second thought.
The thing about this question is that it’s often the people who are already financially savvy who ask it. The fact that these people are thinking about maximizing their credit card usage shows they understand the benefits of paying via credit cards over cash. This is in stark contrast to people who just see a good credit card as one that lets them spend the most amount of money now.
Despite the vast number of articles on credit cards already in existence online, many consumers, even savvier ones, still struggle to determine the best credit cards for them to apply for and use.
This uncertainty is similar to buying into most other financial products, what constitutes as the “best credit card” for one person need not be the best for another. Also, even an “average” credit card can be a really useful one if you use it in complement with other cards in your wallet.
In this article, we propose a method to help you find the best credit card(s) that suit your needs.
Step 1: Determine Which Cards You Are Eligible For
Most people tend to skip this (first) step, but we think it’s important to start here.
There’s really no point researching or asking your friends about the best credit cards they have if you are unable to apply for them in the first place.
For example, the Citibank PremierMiles Card may be one of the most popular miles cards in Singapore. However, it also requires users to have a minimum annual income of $50,000 before you can apply for it. Hence, if your annual income is below it, you don’t actually have access to the card, regardless of how good you think it might be. Instead, you should be researching and find out about the American Express KrisFlyer card instead, which has a lower minimum annual income requirement of $30,000.
Based on our observations of the credit cards offered on SingSaver, a comparison platform in Singapore, annual income requirement for credit cards are typically grouped in the following ranges.
|$0||Citibank Clear Card, Maybank eVibes|
|$18,000||BOC F1RST Card|
|$30,000||American Express Krisflyer, Standard Chartered Unlimited Card|
|$50,000||Citibank PremierMiles Visa Card, American Express KrisFlyer Ascend Card|
|$80,000||Maybank World Mastercard, BOC World Master Card|
|Above $80,000||OCBC Voyage Card ($120,000), Standard Chartered Visa Infinite ($150,000), HSBC Visa Infinite Card ($250,000)|
As your annual income increases, the range of credit cards available to you also expands. So be sure to review the cards that you currently own whenever your salary increases. You could find better alternatives to the cards already have in your wallet or even purposefully add to it.
Step 2: Understand Your Spending Habits
What works well for another person may not necessarily make much sense for you.
Key factors at play here include 1) how much you spend each month and 2) the type of spending that you charge to your credit card.
Firstly, many credit cards require you to hit a minimum spending before they truly become valuable. For example, the OCBC 365, a card that quite a few of us have, offer an attractive rebate of up to 6% for weekend dining. However, to qualify for this rebate, you first need to spend a minimum of $600 each month. Otherwise, you will only receive a flat 0.3% cashback.
Of course, there are some cards such as the Standard Chartered Unlimited Card that gives a cashback of 1.5% with no minimum or cap, which makes more sense if you are unable to hit the required minimum spending each month for other cards, even if they offer a superior rebate.
In general, most miles cards do not require a minimum spending in order for you to earn miles.
It’s important to understand what you tend to spend on. That’s because benefits such as cash rebates may differ depending on the kind of spending you make. For example, the OCBC 365 provides a rebate of 6% for weekend dining, while only offering a 3% rebate for online shopping and grocery shopping.
Step 3: Miles Or CashBack?
When it comes to benefits, most cardholders fall in two distinct camps – Miles or Cashback.
Miles are naturally the preferred option for frequent travelers. Accumulated miles can be redeemed for air tickets on your future travels.
Cash rebates are useful for those who are not likely to travel often. Rebates earned are automatically offset against future bills so there is no additional action needed to redeem these rebates.
You need to choose the benefit that is going to be useful for you. In general, if you are likely to travel to a faraway destination at least once every two years, we think optimizing for miles may be more useful. Of course, having a combination of both is perfectly fine as well.
Step 4: Apply, At The Right Time
Once you have shortlisted the cards that you wish to have, the final step would be to find an opportune time to apply for these cards.
You may be asking what’s an opportune time is. Broadly speaking, you should look out for either one of two occasions.
Periods where you are likely to charge a large sum of money to your card
Some credit cards give you very attractive sign-up benefits if you accumulate a minimum spend in the first few months of signing up.
For example, new Citi Credit Cardmembers can earn up to 42,000 miles through the Citibank PremierMiles Card if they spend $10,000 within their first three months of receiving the card. While $10,000 is no small sum, it can easily be attained if you are looking to pay for a big-ticket item, such as your wedding banquet, a European getaway, or new furniture for your BTO.
Periods where banks are offering enticing welcome promotions
In general, most credit cards would give some form of welcome offers. These include cashback, gifts or bonus miles. At times however, they may give additional promotions on top of the regular welcome offers.
Of course, you shouldn’t miss out on these attractive promotions either. To find out what these welcome promotions may entail, you can check out comparison platforms such as SingSaver, which automatically updates you with exclusive offers credit card sign-ups, whenever available.
Compare & Apply For The Cards That You Need…Online
Rather than to individually visit the website of each credit card company to check out the eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, benefits and whether there are any promotions, a much easier way to find the credit cards that you need will be to use a credit card comparison platform.
An example of such as a platform would be SingSaver.
With over 100 credit cards across all the major banks in Singapore, you can look at SingSaver as the Agoda of hotels.
Not only can credit card comparison sites help you assess cards across key criteria such as annual income, benefits and promotions, but you can also filter for credit cards based on your needs, be it whether you are first-timer, looking to optimise for big-ticket purchases or are frequent traveler.
Of course, it’s also imperative that you exercise prudent credit card usage –spending below your means and always paying your credit card bills on time. Otherwise, your credit card debts can quickly snowball and leave you in financial ruin.