Credit cards are a godsend that most Singaporeans can access nowadays. Besides using them to build your credit score, most credit cards would come with perks like sweet reward points, cash back, dining promotions, air miles and other travel-related benefits. It all sounds fine and dandy but most people would hesitate to sign up for a credit card once they hear the words: annual fee.

If you’re adamant about not paying the annual fee for a credit card, you’re well within your rights to sign up for one that doesn’t charge any. However, let’s be frank, banks aren’t charities so providing credit card services should come at a certain price. Some may argue that credit cards with annual fees may even have more perks.

| See also: Credit card myths every Singaporean needs to stop believing |

Why should I pay annual fees?

As mentioned before, credit cards are a massively convenient tool when it comes to payment. No need to bring stacks of cash or change when you’re out and you can earn points, rewards and cash back when you shop, eat or play. Additionally, there are administrative costs to maintaining your credit card such as credit card replacement in the case of loss, damage or if it’s stolen and the annual fee pays for this – convenience and maintenance.

When should you pay annual fees

There are credit cards that reward you for paying your annual fee such as the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card, which grants you 10,000 air miles with every annual fee payment. An interesting thing to note is that Citi Miles never expire so these can be accumulated to post Covid-19 times when you can make full use of these air miles.

Citibank’s Rewards Card’s annual fee of $192.60 (waived for one year) gives 10x rewards points for when you shop online (not including travel-related transactions). This is perfect for users who use Grab frequently, order food delivery online and are regular customers of online shopping platforms like Zalora and such. For the shopaholics, the annual fee might not matter in the long run as you can redeem shopping vouchers from using your credit card too.

For married couples or those who want something for their daily household expenditures, the Citi Cash Back Card would be a great option as it requires a minimum spending of $888 per month with 8% cash back on dining, groceries and petrol – roughly translates to $300 spending in each category a month.

Waive it bye-bye

If you’re a new credit card user, it might seem a little much to straight up ask for an annual fee waiver. Thus, choosing a card with a first-year waiver and subsequent years’ waiver with minimum spending would be the next best thing.

HSBC Advance Credit Card’s $192.60 (waived for first year) is a good choice for larger households or big spenders who spend over $2,000 a month. This is because after the first year, the subsequent years’ annual fee is waived with a minimum of $12,500 charged to the card for the whole year. Otherwise, if you’re not sure if you can spend that much on the credit card, just open a HSBC Advance account and make this one of your main cards for the perpetual members’ fee waiver with no minimum spending required.

For fuss-free spending, HSBC Revolution Credit card doesn’t charge any annual fees, doesn’t have a spending limit and offers 10x points on dining, travel, online and contactless Visa PayWave and Apple Pay services.

| See also: How many credit cards should I have? |

How to ask for an annual fee waiver

If you find that your annual fee isn’t worth paying, asking for an annual fee waiver is not difficult and usually done over the phone with the credit card’s issuer. Speaking in a polite and friendly tone may help your chances because at the end of the day, the representative at the other end of the line is human and appealing to them is easier than appealing to an unfeeling robot.

Call up your bank or credit card issuer’s hotline and mention that you’d like to cancel your card and account. When the representative asks why, say that you saw a card from another bank offering better benefits without annual fees. If the representative doesn’t get the hint or doesn’t ask why you’d like to cancel your account, do mention that you’d still like to continue as a cardholder and customer but want to know if there are any incentives for you to stay. This is when you can ask for a fee waiver but take note that asking for it directly might not improve your chances compared to the indirect method. After all, banks need to make money for providing the services you enjoy so the representatives are usually trained to only give out waivers as a last resort to retain a client.

Don’t be disheartened though if you can’t get the annual fee waiver as there may be other additional perks that they can offer you in the form of rewards or points.

Conclusion

Always check the terms and conditions for any credit card you sign up for. Some credit cards may only waive the annual fees for the first year but need a minimum amount spent annually in subsequent years. If you’ve been a good customer and would like to hold onto your credit card for longer but want to waive the annual fee, it doesn’t hurt to ask (politely). If you don’t get the waiver, there may be some alternative rewards given that might be worth the annual fee; just pick up the phone and ask before the next fee payment date.

HSBC credit card promo

Aaron Tan

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