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Get your head around credit cards

No tricky financial lingo here. Just simple articles on complex topics.

FEATURED

3 October 2016
How to pick the best credit card?

When it comes to credit cards, all of them pretty much do the same thing and perform the same way. This is why today’s credit cards come with so many added features, each issuer trying to outdo the others to say that their credit cards are the best credit cards in the market.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Why should I get a credit card?

Credit cards are a convenient way for you to pay for that designer handbag you’ve been eyeing for or even a weekend getaway in Bali. Bear in mind that credit cards are not the same as debit cards. You are effectively borrowing money when using your credit card and when used unwisely, you could build up an unwanted debt. Nonetheless, Malaysia has its variety of banks that offer its banking services with numerous promotions that applies to their credit cards. 

Having a credit card is convenient as it allows you to go cashless when making purchases in shops, restaurants, and even online sellers. With that being said, there is an increasing number of establishments that accept credit card payment now. 
Just a swipe of your shiny plastic card, you can get your bills paid. Of course, you need to settle those debts, but you can defer paying those to a later time (subject to some limits) if you’re willing to let the balance grow per month until the time you can manage to pay. 
GoBear has done the legwork for you by simplifying the terms, features, and benefits of any credit card in Malaysia, so you are able to make comparison within seconds on which credit card provides the best cashback and airmiles you can gain based on your monthly expenses.

Q: Am I eligible to apply for a credit card?

When you apply for credit cards, your bank looks into your age, salary, employment details, and contact information. Just about every provider of credit cards will require you to reach a certain age (usually 21 years old, though a few banks allow 18-year-olds to apply) and salary level (as low as RM24,000 per year for most basic credit cards, as high as around RM150,000 for the most exclusive premiere-tier credit card) to be able to gain a certain card.

Bear in mind, the salary requirement can vary depending on whether you are employed or self-employed, and that some credit cards are not applicable for foreigners who want to apply for a credit card in Malaysia. In addition, some banks state that the salary requirement will be up to their discretion.

An applicant is also usually required to have at least one or two years employed or self-employed. Other possible requirements include having a landline number, holding an existing credit card, or residing location.

Q: What are the different types of credit cards available?

A bank or credit card provider in Malaysia usually offers between four and 13 kinds of cards, each one catering to different customers depending on their income, interests, and needs. A good way to look at the type of cards that banks offer is via their rewards system, which is usually in the form of points, cashback or airmiles.

TYPES OF CREDIT CARD

•  Points

•  Cashback

•  Airmiles

•  Business

•  Co-Branded

There are other types of credit cards, like the secured credit card, which allow you to deposit a certain amount as a savings account with a bank. The deposited amount serves as collateral for the card and determines your credit limit.

There is also the idea of a prepaid credit card, which allows for cashless transactions but without the debt, in addition to other benefits attached to credit cards. The cardholder just needs to load the card with a certain amount of money, which will later be used by the card to pay for things at shops that accept Visa MasterCard and others.

Q: What are the credit card features and benefits I need to know about?

The main feature of the credit card is instant access to money for cardholders, who can pay in full or in installments. But card providers also offer different perks for clients of credit cards, most of which are not offered to debit card holders, such as:

•  Waived membership fees on cards for the first year of use. Through this, banks are encouraging cardholders to use their cards without thinking much about fees.

•  Bonuses such as free airmiles and rebates depending on how much a cardholder has spent.

•  Rewards points that can be exchanged for free items and perks.

•  A balance transfer feature you can use when you want or need to transfer your credit card debts from one card you own to another card with a lower interest rate. Take note that you can only take advantage of this feature for a few months, after which the rates go up again on balance transfer credit cards depending on a bank’s terms.

•  Zero-interest charges on some purchases. You usually see this offer in appliance, furniture, and gadget stores.

•  The ability to advance up to a certain amount of cash, subject to cash advance fees that may make you think twice about doing that. Best used in cases of emergency.

•  A companion virtual credit card facility connected to your existing card. This feature, which serves like a supplementary card with numbers different from the original card, allowing you to safely shop online using your credit card without the fear of leaving your account details vulnerable to fraudsters.

•  Free travel insurance for certain credit cards which is either converted to airmiles points or Air Asia BIG Points.

Q: What are the credit card fees and charges I need to know about?

Owning a credit card subjects a cardholder to a variety of fees and charges, commonly known as interest charge, imposed as a percentage of the amount of debt you have by the end of a billing period. The finance charges are between 15% to 18% per annum.

Another essential credit card fee, the membership fee, is the annual payment for card ownership (although that fee is waived for the first year and can be passed over further depending on the bank). Other fees and charges include the separate interest rates for cash advance, balance transfer, and expenses on specific items such as gambling.

Q: How does GoBear compare credit cards?

Our goal is simple: to show you the most transparent and unbiased comparison that suits your needs, not anyone else’s.

Here is how:

1. Search by reward types

What to be gained in return is generally what credit card users concern most – GoBear gets it! Start your search by selecting your preferred reward type: cashback or air miles.

2. Calculate annual rewards based on your spending needs

To help you find your best credit card, you are asked to input your monthly spending amount with an option to break them down into categories like dining, entertainment, fuel, general, groceries, online shopping, shopping, as well as telco and town council. Refer to What is definition of each spending category and what is included in your rewards calculation? for details of shopping categories. With your input plus what we call the GoBear Rewards Converter, we will calculate your estimated annual earnings on cashback and air miles based on your monthly spending over a period of one year. How we do it is basically by converting the different credit card reward points based on average cash values or actual air miles you can redeem. Please refer to Which airline miles do you use in your total air miles calculation? for more details on air miles

3. Compare reward earnings vs other benefits, features and fees

To give an all-rounded comparison, we also showcase a directory of other features, benefits and fees each credit card introduce.

Q: What are other items I should take note of when comparing credit cards?

Annual Fee

Most cards waive their annual fees for the first year, some credit card issuers may waive it for multiple years or even perpetually. Keep in mind that if spending per year on the card doesn’t reach the minimum spending set internally by the credit card issuers, you may be charged the full annual fee the following year. However, often you will be able to convince a bank to waive your fee even if you did not reach the minimum spending. No harm to try we say!

Interest Rates

Interest rates on outstanding credit card balances range from around 8% to around 15% in Malaysia. Almost all cards have an interest-free period, which means you have some time to pay off your outstanding balance before interest kicks in.   Not all cards have the same interest rates, if you are often late in paying your balance it would be wise to choose a card with a lower interest rate and save yourself hundreds of ringgits per year.

Minimum Monthly Repayment

The minimum monthly repayment is approximately 5% of the outstanding balance or at least RM50. Best is to avoid outstanding balances altogether to reduce the interest “surprise”. See details from Interest Rates.  

Cash Advance

All credit cards allow advanced cash withdrawal from an ATM, however, you will pay an initial fee that could range between RM15-25 or 5% of the withdrawn amount. Also, the interest rate on cash advances could be higher than the standard interest rates. Refer to Interest Rates. Cash advance is different from payment and it also is subject to a higher interest rate than what you spend on retail. GoBear’s advice: do not use your credit card at an ATM unless absolutely necessary.

Q: There are other comparison sites, why should I use GoBear to compare credit cards?

Four words: transparent, unbiased, personalised, coverage. GoBear credit card comparison is displayed based on your personal input and selections. We don’t “pre-rank” the card listing and indirectly tell you which card to pick.

You also find no advertisement on our site unlike other comparison websites. We currently also cover the largest range of credit cards to give a thorough comparison. Click on our sitemap to view a full list of the cards available.