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Credit cards allow you to spend on your purchases today and make payment in the future, when it’s time to settle your monthly bill. If you miss the monthly payment, you will be charged a hefty interest rate of around 25% p.a.
The main draw about credit cards is that they help ease cash flow – you don’t have to suffer an immediate outflow of money as you’re spending ‘future money’. Besides being able to spend before you receive your pay, credit cards also reward you for your spending in the form of cashback, miles or reward points.
You can apply for a credit card online or using physical forms available at banks. Fill up the personal details required, submit the relevant documents (such as your NRIC and payslip or latest CPF statements), and wait for the application to be approved.
Most banks also offer the option of applying via MyInfo using SingPass. Applying via MyInfo speeds up the application process as most of the information required would have been pre-filled in for you. Sometimes, there are promos where you get rewarded cash gifts by applying with MyInfo.
When using a debit card, the money you spend is immediately deducted from the bank account linked to the debit card. You cannot spend more than the amount you currently have in your account.
On the other hand, credit cards allow you to spend on credit. This means that you do not actually make the payment for the purchase until you receive your credit card statement at the end of the statement or calendar month.
There are three main types of credit cards: cashback, miles and rewards cards. The credit card you choose would depend on your spending habits and personal preference. You can read this article to find out which of the three types is best for you.
If you are looking for a credit card for a specific spending type, you can check out these articles to find the best credit cards for:
Visa, Mastercard and American Express are different credit card payment networks. Most credit card providers offer one or two of the card networks for their credit cards. For example, for DBS Altitude, you can get either the DBS Altitude Visa Signature or DBS Altitude American Express. UOB PRVI on the other hand, offers all three options — UOB PRVI Miles Visa UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard and UOB PRVI Miles American Express.
From a cardmember’s standpoint, the payment in general does not differ, although there are a handful of places that might not accept American Express cards. The perks offered by these card providers do make a difference, in terms of dining promotions, airport transfers, lounge access, hotel benefits and more.
The most common fee you’ll incur with a credit card is the annual fee. This annual fee typically falls just under S$200 each year, although it differs from card to card. If you’re not keen on paying this annual fee, you’ll be glad to know that some credit cards come with a free annual fee waiver, while others waive your annual fee when you spend a certain amount each year.
Other credit card fees include:
There is a minimum monthly payment you have to make for your credit card bill. This is the amount you would have to pay in the event you are unable to pay your credit card bill. The minimum monthly payment is typically 3% of the total balance or S$50, whichever is higher. But note that the outstanding balance would incur interest charges that are applicable on a daily basis until the full payment is received.
To avoid credit card fraud, you can set up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your bank accounts. You should be mindful to keep your passwords, PIN code and One-Time Password (OTP) to yourself. During correspondences with your bank or credit card provider, always check the source of the message or email to ensure it is genuine.
You can also read this article to get tips on how to prevent cyber attacks and safeguard your money.
If you’ve decided on the credit card to apply for, you can check out the promotions available on SingSaver. These promotions are a further incentive for you to sign up for the credit card, with rewards that range from cash via PayNow to free gifts such as wireless earbuds or GrabFood vouchers.
Here’s what you should look out for when signing up for a credit card promotion:
When does the promotion expire? Be sure to sign up for the credit card before the promotion deadline.
Need to know
Existing cardholders can earn 4 miles per S$1 spent online (up to the first $1,000 online spend each month).
Compare more credit cards on SingSaver
Air miles, also known as just miles or frequent flyer miles, serve as a customer loyalty program for passengers of an airline. Airlines reward you with points each time you fly with them; you may eventually build up enough points to redeem for incentives, such as free or discounted tickets or seat upgrades.
Some credit cards also offer miles as a reward for spending on the card, enabling you to get more out of your credit card spend by accumulating miles.
A miles credit card converts your credit card spend into miles, or points that can be exchanged for miles. Every dollar you charge to your air miles credit card earns a certain number of miles or points. This works like a rewards points system and in this case, the rewards are air miles. These miles can then be used to redeem a free flight or help you to partially cover the cost of your air ticket.
You can consider getting a miles card if you travel frequently, whether for business or pleasure, as miles credit cards are specially designed to reward frequent flyers. Miles credit cards make it easy to rack up miles or points with overseas spending and in some cases, spending with travel-related merchants and on specific airlines.
If you love to travel, earning miles on your everyday spend could be a way to earn your next flight ticket, especially if you have enough miles to redeem a luxurious first-class flight.
The two important questions to consider are these:
a) how often do you travel;
b) can your spend earn enough air miles to redeem free flights?
If you love to travel or travel frequently, especially medium to long-haul flights, a miles credit card is a great idea. Of course, your cumulative spend should allow you to convert your air miles points into flights.
If it doesn’t, you could be better off with a cashback card where the savings can be used to offset the cost of a flight ticket anyway. Do keep in mind that cashback cards often have a minimum monthly spend required to earn higher cashback rates.
Read this article on cashback vs miles vs rewards to find out which type of credit card suits you best.
If the miles you earn from your credit card are directly credited into a frequent flyer programme, you can directly log into the airlines’ website to view your miles. For example, if you earn KrisFlyer miles, you can log into your KrisFlyer account to view the miles you have accumulated and subsequently redeem the miles when purchasing an air ticket on the site.
In the case of reward points, when you've collected enough reward points on your card, you can exchange these for air miles by making the redemption online, over the phone or via other methods specified by the credit card provider. Credit card providers often allow conversion of points into miles in conversion blocks, such as blocks of 10,000 miles. This would require you to accumulate sufficient points before you can make the conversion.
Once your points have been converted to miles, you can view and redeem your miles on the frequent flyer website.
One way to compare miles credit cards is to compare the miles earn rate (A.K.A. miles per dollar, or mpd). It refers to the number of miles you can earn for each dollar spent. To put things into perspective, you can expect a 1.2 mpd earn rate to be the average for local spends, while a 4 mpd earn rate is considered to be high.
You can also compare based on other factors such as the annual fee, frequent flyer programme partners or whether it can be used for public transport with SimplyGo.
First-time miles chasers can read this article for a comparison of the popular miles cards on the market.
When selecting a miles credit card, you should look out for features such as: