Credit cards are great: Not only is payment a breeze (just tap and go!), but you also get rewarded with exclusive perks like discounts, rebates and air miles for spending money on dining, groceries, online shopping… The list goes on.
But did you know that not everybody is eligible for a credit card?
Contents: Best student credit cards in Singapore | Best retiree credit cards in Singapore
Minimum income for credit cards in Singapore
If you’ve been comparing credit cards on GoBear, you may have realised that most credit cards list a minimum annual income requirement of $30,000.
This is actually mandated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Assuming you’re age 55 and under, for a bank to issue you a credit card, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:
Annual income of at least $30,000 (can be non-employment income, like rental yield).
Total net personal assets of at least $2 million.
Total net financial assets of at least $1 million.
Now, most of us aren’t millionaires, so we must earn at least $30k per year to be eligible.
So what can you do if you’re still in school or above age 55? Here are the best credit cards for students and retirees in Singapore.
Best student credit cards in Singapore
|Student credit card
||Other things to note
|DBS Live Fresh Student Card
||0.3% on all spend, 5% cash back at McDonald’s, McDelivery, Starbucks, Golden Village, Netflix and Spotify
||Cash back capped at $35 ($20 for all spend, $15 for eligible merchants).
|Maybank eVibes Card
||1% cash back on everything
||No cash back cap
|CIMB AWSM Card
||1% cash back on dining, entertainment, online shopping and telco
||No cash back cap
|BOC F1RST Card
||0.5% cash back on everything
||$500 credit limit
|Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card
||0.25% cash back on everything
||$500 credit limit
|Citibank Clear Card
||1X reward for every $1 spent
|BOC Qoo10 Platinum Mastercard
||Earn 0.3% to 10% in Qmoney rebates
||Qmoney is awarded 1.5 months after the spending calendar month
DBS Live Fresh Student Card - up to 5% cash back
The DBS Live Fresh Student Card has the best benefits of the seven. You get a base 0.3% cash back on all your expenses (capped at $20), and a whopping 5% cash back for selected merchants. “Selected merchants” may sound iffy, but you’re actually likely to maximise the benefit because they are actually popular student haunts like Mac’s and Starbucks, and includes Netflix and Spotify subscriptions, which most of us have.
Maybank eVibes Card - 1% cash back on everything
Next is the Maybank eVibes Card, which gives you 1% cash back on everything. 1% is decent, especially considering there’s no minimum income and spending requirement. You also won’t have to rack your brains thinking about which spending categories your purchases fall into because the rebate is applied to all your expenses.
CIMB AWSM Card - 1% cash back on most things
Similarly, CIMB AWSM Card gives students 1% cash back, but on selected categories only: dining, entertainment, online shopping and telco. It’s slightly more restrictive than the Maybank eVibes Card, but those categories are quite comprehensive and should cover most students’ expenses.
BOC F1RST Card - 0.5% cash back on everything
The Bank of China (BOC) F1RST Card is a student credit card that rewards you with 0.5% cash back on everything. There is no cap to the cash rebates you can earn, but your spending is limited at $500 per month. Assuming you spend the maximum, that’s only $2.50 per month.
Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card - 0.25% cash back on everything
The Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card also caps students’ spending at $500 per month. However, the cashback is even less than the BOC F1RST Card - it’s 0.25%. That’s $1.25 monthly.
Citibank Clear Card - 1X reward for every $1 spent
If you think the above cash back incentives are not good enough, consider a rewards card - specifically the Citibank Clear Card. You’ll earn 1X rewards point for each dollar spent. With these points, you can redeem merchandise, vouchers and even cash rebates, although those will be expensive (4,400 points for $10). Check out the Citi Rewards catalogue here.
BOC Qoo10 Platinum Mastercard - earn Qmoney rebates
Finally, if you’re a hardcore Qoo10 fan, you may want to consider the BOC Qoo10 Platinum Mastercard. Instead of earning cash rebates or rewards points, you earn Qmoney, which you can use exclusively on the Qoo10 marketplace. If you have use for Qmoney, the rebates are not bad: 3% for Qoo10 transactions and selected categories (transport, fast food, entertainment, online and overseas), 10% on public transport and 0.3% on everything else.
Best retiree credit cards in Singapore
For those above age 55, MAS has a different set of rules for credit card issuance. You must fulfil at least one of the following:
Annual income of at least $15,000 (can be non-employment income, like rental yield).
Total net personal assets of at least $750,000.
A guarantor whose annual income is at least $30,000.
If you don’t meet any of the above requirements, you can consider getting a secured credit card instead.
How do secured credit cards work?
Usually, when people mention “credit cards” they are referring to unsecured credit cards. Although you have to jump through hoops when applying for one, there is no collateral involved. The bank simply assesses your income and credit rating and decides if they would like to lend you money or not (which is essentially what spending on credit is).
Secured credit cards are the opposite - because there is no “assurance” in the form of income or net worth, you pledge a fixed deposit of $10,000 as collateral to secure your credit facility. Usually, your credit limit will be the same as your collateral, so in case you’re unable to pay your bills, the bank can deduct it from there.
Secured credit cards are also great for those who have a bad credit rating (perhaps from a previous debt), and need to slowly rebuild their credit score.
| Read more: Maintain or better yet, improve your credit score? Here's how |
Remember, use your credit card wisely
Credit cards come with a lot of perks and benefits, and it can be exciting to get one. But remember, spending on credit is essentially “borrowing” from the bank, and debt can be a scary thing if left to spiral out of control.
If you’re just a student who wants to begin managing your own finances, go ahead and test the waters with a student credit card. Learn to keep track of your expenses, but we recommend starting off with a lower credit limit first to make sure you don’t accidentally spend money you don’t have. And it goes without saying to always pay off what's in your statement. Credit card debt incurs very high interest and can snowball to cause you be knee-deep in debt!
Once you’ve graduated and your income meets the requirement, you would probably be ready for a “real” credit card. If you’ve instead realised that you struggle with financial discipline, that’s okay - you can consider a debit card.