Woman making payment with credit card

An expats’ guide to credit cards in Singapore

More than just a tool for payment, a credit card in Singapore is your passport to privileged memberships, frequent flyer programmes, and even helps earn money back on your purchases. Here’s a run-down of the various features to look out for.

The miles card

If you have a chronic case of the travel bug, a miles card allows you to earn miles based on your spending. With card issuers building a comprehensive lifestyle around their cards, you could be enjoying frequent jaunts to resorts in the region with additional benefits such as complimentary global airport lounge access, 24-hour butler service possibly all around the world, travel accident insurance coverage for you and your family members, and a higher earning rate for your miles when you spend overseas.

Woman in the pool of luxurious resort

Not all cards are the same though, so you should check on the following:

  • Are the points earned easily converted to your preferred Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP)? For most cards, tie-ups or alliances with major Asian carriers are common, so it might be tough for you frequent Virgin flyers.
  • Would you incur a high conversion rate when you transfer your hard-earned points over to your FFP? The aim here is to pay less, or none at all, for a ticket rather than be nickel-and-dimed by layers of charges and fees.
  • Do the points expire? There are few things more galling than to have your points vanish from your monthly statement.

Certain spending categories earn you more miles, so do match your spending patterns to identify the right plastic for you.

The cashback card

Payment with POSB card

Or perhaps you prefer to keep your feet planted firmly on the ground. If so, a cashback or rebate card  deserves consideration. The smart saver will appreciate all the rebates and cashbacks you can get, even for spending on daily necessities. Some even earn you exclusive rebates if you use your card to pay the bills for your mobile line, internet, utilities or even your petrol. Like mile-earning cards, you should have a fair idea of how much you’re spending across different categories and pick the appropriate card that gets you the most bang (or rebates) for your dollar. Consider the following:

  • Are the rebates or cashback capped at a relatively generous amount each month?
  • Is the earn rate for rebates relatively simple to understand, or do you feel like you need an advanced degree to work it out?
  • Based on your spending categories, will you be able to maximise your rebates?

The rewards card

Looking to be rewarded with a whole host of experiences and discounts? Then there’s definitely a credit card waiting out there with your name embossed on it. Within this category of cards, you earn points with your monthly spend, allowing you to redeem from a whole host of rewards, from spa sessions to recover from your shopping jaunts, to feasting on a range of dining options, or even good ol’ shopping vouchers.

For the unabashed shopaholics among you, hop onto the exclusive “black-wagon” with a DBS Black Card. This sliver of plastic offers up to 3X DBS points on your purchases at preferred partners, and even lets you shop guilt-free with interest-free payment plans.  

Lifestyle mobile app

Whether you choose a miles, cashback or rewards card, paying with a credit card often entitles you to various discounts and promotions all year long. A handy way to keep track of these offers is by using an app like DBS Lifestyle. Enjoy rewards and deals, manage your spending and have total control at your fingertips.

How to apply for a credit card

To apply for a DBS/POSB credit card, you’ll need to be above 21 years of age, and earning an annual income of at least S$45,000 (for foreigners). Simply submit your application online or through the DBS/POSB digibank app, together with scanned copies of your passport, employment pass and proof of salary record.

Whichever card you pick, remember that the same rules of financial prudence apply – make prompt and in-full payments to avoid getting hit by late-payment charges, rolling interest rates, or your credit worthiness getting dinged. Pro-tip: Seamless payment from your bank account through to your bills is possible, through GIRO. So you’ll be able to live more, worry less.

See also: DBS Expat Programme

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