When Can I Apply for a Credit Card?

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 13 May, 2024

Ready to step into the glitzy world of credit card rewards? Here’s when you can apply for a credit card, and how to know if you’re ready for one. 

Credit cards are undoubtedly advantageous in many ways. They generate rewards as you use them so you get better value from your money, come in many different varieties so you can pick ones that are best suited to your lifestyle and preferences, and provide you with perks and privileges that help you enjoy life just a little better. 

A useful financial tool, credit cards can help you manage your cash flow with interest-free instalment plans. In a pinch, you can even take a cash advance to help you out, such as when you’re stuck overseas and require cash urgently.

If you’ve been dreaming of earning free plane tickets to your favourite holiday destination, or getting an instant discount on everything you buy, you might be chomping at the bit to get your very first credit card. 

Table of contents:


When can I apply for a credit card?

Getting a credit card isn’t terribly complicated or difficult, as there are only two requirements to fulfil. These are age, and annual income. As long as you can clear these two hurdles, you can start applying for a credit card. 

Credit card minimum age

The minimum age to qualify for a credit card is 21. This applies for all retail credit cards that provide a full range of features and benefits, and have a credit limit up to approved levels. 

However, there are subcategories of credit cards that come with a lower minimum age of 18. These are supplementary cards which are tied to a main credit card, and student or low-limit credit cards that offer reduced rewards and a maximum credit limit of S$500. 

Credit card salary requirement 

You’ll also need to fulfil the salary requirement when applying for a credit card. 

The vast majority of credit cards require a minimum annual income of S$30,000 for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. If you’re a foreigner, the salary requirement will be higher, typically S$45,000 per year or more. 

Premium credit cards come with even higher salary requirements; you’ll need an annual income of at least S$120,000 to be eligible. 

Back to top


What if I don’t meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a credit card?

If you do not meet the salary requirement for a credit card, you can try applying for a secured credit card instead. This will require you to maintain a minimum of S$10,000 in a fixed deposit account for the duration of your credit card use. 

If you do not wish to apply for a secured credit card, you can try increasing your income by switching to a better-paying job or starting a side hustle. Remember, it’s your total annual income that counts, not just your salary. 

Besides, for the purposes of credit card applications, non-employment income such as rental income can be included, according to MAS rules. 

For those who are 55 and above, you may apply for a credit card if you meet any one of the following criteria:

  • Annual income of at least S$15,000
  • Total net personal assets exceeding S$750,000
  • A guarantor whose annual income is at least S$30,000

What to do if my credit card application is rejected?

The bank has sole discretion over whether to grant or deny your credit card application. Simply fulfilling the requirements doesn't mean your card application will automatically be accepted. If you have a poor credit score or are heavily indebted, your application could be rejected. 

If your credit card application is rejected, you should contact your bank to find out why. There may be some missing documents or information, which can be easily remedied by submitting the required documents.

However, if your application is rejected because of a poor credit score or because you have exceeded your borrowing limits, you will have to remedy the situation by paying off your debts and repairing your credit score. 

Only when your credit score is high enough, and your debt levels have been sufficiently reduced, will you be able to apply for a credit card again. 

SingSaver's Exclusive Offer: Receive the following rewards when you sign up for an Amex True Cashback Card:

AMEX_TCB_BLOGARTICLE_800x250 (4)

Receive S$150 Cash via PayNow when you apply for an Amex True Cashback Card and make a min. S$500 spend within 1 month of Card approval. Available to new-to-American-Express card members only. Valid until 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Back to top


When should I apply for a credit card?

Going by the annual salary requirement of at least S$30,000, that means you should apply for a credit card once you start your first job that pays at least S$2,500 per month, correct? 

Well, things may not be so straightforward, You see, credit cards do give awesome rewards, but only if used the right way. Specifically, credit cards reward retail spending, which can range from necessities such as groceries, food, transport and petrol, to discretionary expenses like movies, coffee, dining out and travel. 

If you have not yet established good money habits and have a tendency to overspend, getting a credit card can be a bad idea. You may be tempted to spend beyond your means while rationalising that the rewards you’re earning will make up for it (it never does!). 

This can cause you to start racking up credit card debt, which can be more difficult to pay off than you may realise. 

Rather, it may be better for some to wait till they have established an emergency fund, or start earning a higher salary so there’s more room for discretionary spending.

Having said that, there’s no harm in getting a credit card as soon as you become eligible – early as long as you use it wisely. For example, you can restrict your credit card usage only to sporadic expenses you have already saved up for. This will ensure your ability to pay your credit card bill on time, which is essential in healthy credit card use. 

Back to top


When is the best time to apply for a credit card?

The best time to apply for a credit card is during a sign-up campaign. You will be able to receive bonus points, air miles or exclusive giveaways like luggage cases when you sign up during the promotional period, giving you a nice boost at the start. 

However, signing up for the card is just part of the story. You will also need to satisfy the promotion requirements such as spending a certain amount within a certain time period of getting your card, in order to claim your sign-up rewards. 

So if you find a sign-up promotion that you can comfortably fulfil, that would be the best time to sign up for your credit card. 

But even if you can’t fulfil the promotion requirements, go ahead and sign up anyway. You won’t get the bonus rewards, but you can still get your credit card and start spending on it to earn rewards. 

When is the best time to apply for a supplementary credit card?

You’re unlikely to find sign-up promotions for supplementary credit cards, so there’s no “best time” to apply for one. 

Instead, you can consider getting supplementary cards for your spouse or children when it becomes appropriate. For instance, you may want to get a supplementary card for your daughter going to study overseas to fund her living expenses. Or you might want to give your 18-year-old a supplementary card for practice purposes, while also collecting rewards from his transactions. 

Citigold_Tactical_52_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Get 40,000 Max Miles (worth a one-way Business Class to Japan/Korea) or S$800 Cash when you successfully apply for a Citigold Account and make a S$250,000 deposit within 3 months of account opening and maintain these funds until gift fulfilment. Also, apply through SingSaver and enjoy 3.0% p.a. on a 6-month SGD Time Deposit. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Plus, get additional welcome rewards on top of the above offer (T&Cs apply):

- Get additional S$100 Cash Reward from Citibank when you complete an Investment Risk Profile and Fact Find
- Get additional S$100 Cash Reward from Citibank when you hold a valid Primary Citibank Credit Card
- Get additional S$500 Cash Reward from Citibank when you apply for a Citibank Mortgage loan with min. loan size of - S$800,000 within 3 months of account opening
- Get additional S$250 Cash Reward for every S$50K purchase of investment and/or insurance from Citibank

Back to top


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the earliest you can get a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card on your own as soon as you turn 21 and have an annual income of at least S$30,000.

Otherwise, you can try applying for a student credit card at age 18. These cards have reduced rewards and benefits, and come with a maximum credit limit of S$500. 

How many months of salary do you need for a credit card?

Credit cards require an annual income of at least S$30,000. This can include salary, as well as non-employment income such as rental income. 

Can I apply for 2 credit cards a day?

Technically, there are no limits to how many credit cards you can apply for in a day. As long as you fulfil the eligibility requirements, you can apply for as many credit cards as you wish. 

However, it is not advisable to apply for multiple credit cards within a short period of time. The repeated credit lookups can cause your credit score to be temporarily flagged for heightened credit risk, which may impact your applications and cause some to be rejected. 

 

Read these next:

The Only Credit Card Guide You Need in Singapore 2024: Cashback, Miles, Rewards

5 Logical Reasons to Stop Being Afraid of Credit Cards

Credit Cards 101: How Does A Credit Card Work?

How to Apply For a Credit Card in Singapore

How to Check My Credit Card Application Status?

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

FINANCIAL TIP:

Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

Sign up for our newsletter for financial tips, tricks and exclusive information that can be personalised to your preferences!