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Should I get a credit card in Singapore?

A credit card doesn’t just mean greater spending power, but it’s also a nifty way to get free flights and shopping cashback

Pailin Boonlong
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Pailin Boonlong

Not everyone’s well-versed in the language of finance. It’s a tough world out there – you’re trying your best to manage your money responsibly while sifting through endless finance buzzwords. But the question, asked by both fresh grads and mid-career millennials is this: should you get a credit card in Singapore? It entirely depends. Having a credit card might seem like a no-brainer for some, but it’s a common dilemma that many might face. Read on to see if getting a credit card is suitable for your lifestyle and spending habits. 

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Requirements of getting a credit card

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Before even signing up for a credit card, you’ll need to know if you’re eligible for one. This depends on the bank you’re applying for, but these restrictions are the norm in most financial institutions in Singapore. While each application is judged on a personal basis, it should take roughly five to seven working days for your credit card application to go through. 

Age and income restrictions

First things first, if you’re applying to be the main cardholder, you need to be at least 21 years old. They take your gross annual income into consideration too: at least $30,000 if you’re Singaporean or $45,000 if you’re a foreigner. In some instances, if you’re slightly short of the required income, banks do accept a fixed deposit as collateral.

Of course, they do have student credit cards which have no income requirements. These are open for you once you turn 18, but typically have a more restrictive credit limit and lower interest rates.


Credit limit

For many debating on getting a credit card, the main concern is going beyond your spending means – basically, going full gung ho on a shopping spree and not being able to responsibly pay off your bills. And that’s why all banks and financial institutions implement a credit limit, based on MAS regulations.

If your annual income is:
$30,000, your credit limit is two months’ income
$30,000 to $120,000, your credit limit is up to four months’ income
$120,000 and above, congrats – you have an unlimited credit limit

Major perks of getting a credit card

Instead of carrying a thick wad of cash, it’s best to use a credit card. All the more if you’re splurging on a high-ticket item – not only is it more convenient, but paying with your credit card opens the door to various lifestyle perks, discounts and cashback. If you use it smartly, you could even score free flights, shopping vouchers and daily cashback. 

If you’re saving up for your first home and you need a bank loan, it’s also a solid way to showcase a good credit score. 

Building a good credit score
Image: Time Out Singapore

Building a good credit score

Once we’ve left the nest, a good credit score is key to successfully adulting with sound financial goals in mind. Think: buying a home, applying for bank loans, or even saving up for the far-off future – your kids’ education, parental care or even retirement. In any case, if you do make your credit card payments on time, you’ll improve your credit score in no time. 

In Singapore, your credit score ranges from 1000 to 2000 – with the latter being the best score you can possibly get. 

Best credit cards in Singapore for shopping, F&B and travel discounts
Photograph: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Best credit cards in Singapore for shopping, F&B and travel discounts

Best credit cards in Singapore for shopping, F&B and travel discounts

Depending on what you spend your money on, there are different credit cards that’ll best suit your lifestyle. These are, namely, best for: 


These cards offer cashback on everything you buy: groceries, luxury goods or online shopping – whatever it is that you’d spend your cash on. Some of the more popular ones include UOB Absolute Cashback with 1.7% cashback, Citi Cash Back with 1.6% cashback, and Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback with 1.5% cashback. I would take a proper look at each, since they come with various sign-up bonuses and welcome offers.  

Reward points

When getting reward points, these credit cards would have their own redemption system – 50,000 UOB UNI$ will have a drastically different worth to the equivalent number of DBS points. You can consider the Citi Rewards for online shopping, which covers food delivery and groceries, the Standard Chartered Rewards+ for daily spend, or the OCBC Titanium for online and retail spend. Ultimately, you can redeem these points for NTUC vouchers, F&B dining, or even staycation packages. 


This one’s a favourite of many Singaporeans, and yes, it’s because you can score free flights to far-flung destinations. Travel might not be on the agenda for many yet, but by the time you’ve racked up enough credit card miles, you could very well be taking a first class flight to Europe – for free. The best cards in Singapore are DBS Altitude, Citi PremierMiles, and KrisFlyer UOB

Is it risky to get a credit card?

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There’s a bevy of advantages to getting a credit card in Singapore. Yet, it’s perfectly acceptable to not want or have a credit card – it’s a way to make sure that you stay debt-free. We’ve all heard horror stories about a friend of a friend having to pay off jaw-dropping sums in credit card interest. 

Before signing up for one, make sure that you’ve considered the following:

Personal spending habits

There’s no hard and fast rule on how you should spend your money. But if you’re not one who’s fussed about savings or a rainy day fund, make sure you’re spending within your means. It’s easy to get yourself into credit card debt, especially if you have multiple cards. 

Avoiding credit card traps
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Avoiding credit card traps

Don’t treat your credit card as a monthly handout. If your finances look healthy, you should be paying off your credit bill in full – not just the minimum payment. The minimum payment is exactly how it sounds: the bare minimum you’ll need to pay off to avoid any late fees and penalties, but you'll still be charged interest fees.

It’s also wise to think twice before paying steep medical bills or other high expenses by credit. While tempting at first, remember that maxing out your credit card equals to a higher credit utilisation ratio. Sounds technical, but it just means you’re fully using your credit limit – which is a no-go for a good credit score. 

If you, for any reason, believe that you might rack up debt at any point, it’s also worth making sure that you have a low-interest credit card. Otherwise, you’ll be finding yourself in a vicious cycle of credit card debt. 

Another huge trap: never take a cash advance using your credit card. Meaning, no matter how tempting it might be, do not withdraw cash from an ATM via your credit card – it’s the equivalent of taking a short-term loan against your credit limit. Interest rates for cash advances are sky-high and there’ll also be a cash advance fee. This is typically 15 percent of the loan or $15 – whichever is higher.

Annual fees and other credit card charges

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Just remember that banks and credit card companies are just that: companies, and they all still need to make a profit. So yes, you do have to fork out an annual fee for most credit cards. As a sign-up bonus, some credit cards offer an annual fee waiver for up to two years. You can also try your luck and call them up, after the waiver period is over, since they’ll typically be nice enough to waive your annual fees. 

All in all, it’s up to you whether a credit card suits your spending needs. Whatever it is, remember to spend responsibly while keeping aware of any credit card risks. 

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