The Noob AF Guide: How to Apply for Credit Cards in Singapore
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The Noob AF Guide: How to Apply for Credit Cards in Singapore

Kenneth Fong
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Are you still paying for everything in cash?

Tired of walking around with stacks of money and wondering if people are going to rob you?

Money Suit Meme

Ever wonder why people are always going on about looking for the best credit card to pay for something?

Are you finally ready and wondering how to apply for a credit card?

Well… Welcome to the noob AF guide on how to apply for a credit card.

How am I qualified to write this guide?

Er… Because I applied before and have one? Heh heh.


TL;DR: How to Apply for Credit Cards in Singapore

Written in a way which ACTUALLY answers the questions you have about credit card application:


What Are the Requirements to Apply for a Credit Card?

Almost anyone can apply for a credit card.

But to successfully get one, you’ll need to fulfil some requirements.

How Old Do I Have to Be?

This varies from bank to bank, and card to card.

For most banks and credit cards, you should be at least 21 years old before you can apply as the main cardholder.

But if you’re looking at credit cards for students, the age requirement can drop to at least 18 years old instead.

What Is the Minimum Income Requirement?

If you’re under 55 years old and want to get a credit card, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) stipulates that you need to meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • An annual income of at least S$30,000
  • Total net personal assets of at least S$2 million
  • Total net financial assets of at least S$1 million

Considering that most of us don’t qualify for the last two, you should only really be concerned with the following.

If you’re a Singapore Citizen or Singapore PR, the minimum income is usually at least S$30,000 a year in order to apply as the main cardholder.

If you’re a Foreigner, the minimum income is usually at least S$40,000 a year.

For both cases, some banks also allow a fixed deposit collateral of at least $10,000 instead.

What is a Credit Limit?

A credit limit is the maximum amount which you can charge to your credit card OR cards.

I know what you’re thinking…

What if you have more than once card? Does that mean you have different credit limits for different cards?

No.

Even if you have more than one credit card from the same bank, they’ll ALL share the same credit limit.

This is based on MAS’s regulation:

Annual IncomeCredit Limit
S$30,000Up to 2 months' income
S$30,000 to $120,000Up to 4 months' income
$120,000No limit

But ultimately, your credit limit is still up to the bank’s discretion.

So… How Do I Get a Credit Limit Increase?

The most obvious way is to prove to your bank that your income has increased.

How?

Download a credit limit review or income update form from your bank’s website.

Fill it up and submit it along with your income documents like your:

  • recent payslips (usually within the last two months)
  • latest CPF contribution history statement
  • latest Income Tax Notice of Assessment

For foreigners, you might need:

  • company letter certifying employment and salary (in Singapore dollars)

Alternatively, you can also request a temporary credit limit increase.

This is usually granted for:

  • funeral
  • hospitalisation
  • travel
  • medical
  • wedding banquets

And is usually valid for only a month.

If you pay your bills on time and have a good credit score, the more likely your request for a credit limit increase will be approved.


How to Choose the Best Credit Card?

TBH, there’s no such thing as one best credit card for everyone in the world.

Every card out there has its pros and cons.

And finding the best one for you will really depend on what you want out of the credit card as well as your spending habits.

1. Visa or MasterCard?

The main credit card operators in Singapore are Visa and MasterCard.

Visa Mastercard Logo

This might come as a surprise to some of you, but neither company issues the credit cards which you use.

For example, the POSB Everyday Card is a MasterCard credit card that is issued by POSB.

Whereas the UOB One Card is a Visa credit card issued by UOB.

To put it simply, both Visa and MasterCard are merely the payment networks which make sure that any money exchanged between you, the merchants which you buy stuff from, and the banks are done so correctly and safely.

If you’re wondering which is better, well…

They’re both very close competitors as they

  • are widely accepted all over Singapore
  • can be used for contactless payment
  • provide 2-factor authentification for online transactions

You’ll also notice that some banks offer the same credit cards from different payment networks.

A good example would be the UOB PRVI Miles Card which comes in a Visa, MasterCard, and… an American Express version.

Which brings us neatly to the myth about American Express not being commonly accepted in Singapore.

What About American Express?

American Express Logo

While it is true that there are some small merchants or shops which do not accept American Express.

It is a card that is generally accepted in Singapore.

Otherwise, CapitaLand wouldn’t issue an American Express CapitaCard and there wouldn’t be American Express KrisFlyer Ascend card right…

However, I don’t know of anybody who would leave home without a Visa or MasterCard as a backup. #justsaying.

2. Miles or Cashback? Or Rewards?

You know how Singaporeans have this ongoing debate over East vs. West and which is the best side?

This is the equivalent of it but in credit card terms.

In the credit card world, there are three types of cards you can get:

Miles Credit Cards

Air miles credit cards earn you air miles for every dollar spent.

There’s usually no minimum spending requirement and no cap on how many air miles you can rack up in a month (read: the idea is to get you to spend more to earn more).

These cards usually have a sign-up bonus which gifts you air miles.

Or you can earn air miles by paying annual fees — yep, you need to do the math to see if this works out in your favour.

Best For: 

Individuals with high incomes and high monthly expenditure (usually).

Or miles enthusiasts who plan on optimising ALL of their expenditure to get that free First-Class seat to (insert dream destination).

Cashback Credit Cards

These cards give you a cash back for spending.

This can come in the form of cashback which you can use to offset your next bill.

Or a rebate which is stored in your credit account until you choose to use it to offset a future purchase.

These cards come with minimum spending requirements (can’t be you don’t spend money then get money right…) if you want to qualify for higher cashback tiers.

And there’s usually some kind of cashback cap on how much you can get.

Best For:

Those with a lower monthly expenditure.

Or if you’re a cartoon crab who loves money.

Mr Krabs I Like Money
Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | giphy

I digress.

C’mon, who the hell doesn’t love free money?!

Rewards Credit Cards

As the name suggests, you earn rewards points on your expenditure.

Unlike cashback credit cards, there is usually no minimum spending requirement.

You only get rewards if you spend.

However, you will need to meet certain spending requirements in order to qualify for higher or better rewards.

You can use these points to redeem anything from abalone during Chinese New Year to air miles.

Best For:

Pretty much anyone, unless you die die also must earn miles or cashback.


How to Apply for Credit Cards in Singapore?

Blue Computer With Submit Button

The process is pretty simple.

First, you head to Seedly Reviews to find out what kind of credit cards are available in Singapore.

Seedly Reviews Credit Cards

You can sort the cards based on the ‘Most Reviewed’ or even by the ‘Highest Rating’ given by our Seedly Community.

Seedly Reviews POSB Everyday Card Product Page

If you’re the naturally sceptical type, then you’ll be pleased to note that these are unbiased reviews left by real community members.

Meaning these are everyday Singaporeans who ACTUALLY use the cards and love them.

Or… hate them and want the whole world to know — if there’s one thing we Singaporeans do best, it’s complain.

Seedly Reviews POSB Everyday Card Reviews

If you have questions, you can just scroll down and either get the information from questions asked by other users.

Or ask your own questions and get answers.

And if you’re wondering which is the best credit card for (insert type of rewards, miles, or points), just head over to the Seedly X MileLion Community and the community of credit card miles junkies and points enthusiasts!

Seedly Milelion

Once you’ve decided which card to get, just head over to the respective bank’s website to sign up for one.

Submitting an Online Credit Card Application

For most banks in Singapore, your application process is much shorter if you’re a SingPass holder as you can retrieve your MyInfo profile which pre-fills your application form with details like:

  • Title
  • First and Last Name (as per NRIC/FIN)
  • Alias (if applicable)
  • Mobile number
  • Email
  • Citizenship
  • NRIC/FIN number
  • Date of Birth
  • Employment Status
  • Monthly Income (in S$)
  • Address
  • Employment Contact Information (including address and term of employment)

You’ll also need to submit other documents such as:

  • A copy of your NRIC/FIN or Passport
  • Latest original computerised payslip OR Income Tax Notice of Assessment OR last 12 month’s CPF statements

If you’re a foreigner, you’ll usually need:

  • A copy of your Passport and work permit (with minimum six months validity)
  • A copy of utility OR telephone bill OR statement with your name and address
  • Latest original computerised payslip OR Income Tax Notice of Assessment

Can I Apply for a Credit Card If I’m Self-Employed?

If you’re self-employed, you can still apply for most credit cards.

As long as you meet the bank’s eligibility requirements, of course.

And most importantly, if you can prove that you have a steady stream of income.

The rationale is simple: the banks will only want to extend a line of credit to individuals who intend to pay back what they use on time.

Whether you’re self-employed or not, having a good credit history means that you’re more likely to be approved for a credit card.

A better credit score also usually results in lower interest rates and a higher credit limit.

You’ll usually need to meet and prove that you have a minimum annual income of S$30,000 (or higher, depending on the bank and the credit card you’re applying for).

To do that you’ll need to submit documents like:

  • Income Tax Notice of Assessment (usually the last two year’s worth)
  • Latest bank statements (for proof of income, or rental income)
  • Company-specific information (ACRA registration)

How Do I Activate My New Credit Card?

Blue Credit Card

Once you receive your credit card in the mail, you need to activate your credit card before you can use it.

As with everything in life, there are a myriad of ways to do so.

Depending on how annoying you wish to be, here are your choices:

Credit Card Activation via SMS or Card Activation Hotline

This one’s pretty straightforward.

On the letter enclosed with your brand new credit card, you’ll find a number as well as information on how to activate your credit card via a verification SMS or a phone call (usually through a 24-hour automated hotline).

For some banks, they’ll have this information on a removable sticker on your credit card.

Here’s an example of what it’ll look like:

Credit Card Activation Sticker

Once you’ve activated your credit card, you can remove it.

Just in case you can’t find the information — for whatever reason — I gotchu fam:

BankVia SMSVia Hotline
CitibankSMS to 72484:
ACT[space]Last four digits of your card number
6334 2484
CIMBSMS to 76888:
ACTVCARD[space]Principal Cardmember's NRIC or Passport No.[space]16-digit CIMB Credit Card number
(65) 6333 6666
DBS/ POSBSMS to 77767:
Activate[space]Last four digits of your card number
6327 2265
HSBC-1800 227 6868

6227 6868 (overseas)
MaybankSMS to 79899:
CDAC[space]16 digit card number[space]Date of birth is this format DDMMYYYY
1800 629 2265

6533 5229 (overseas)

OCBCSMS to 72323:
ACT[space]NRIC or Passport[space]Last four digits of your card number
1800 773 6437

6530 5930 (overseas)
Standard CharteredSMS to 75722:
ACT[space]Name on Card[space]Last four digits of your card number
-
UOB-1800 386 8188

Chances of Annoying Someone Else

Zero.

Unless you ask your husband to do it for you because you’d rather just lie in bed while you add nice things into your shopping cart.

Credit Card Activation via Mobile Banking

If you’re a millennial or younger and abhor the idea of making a phone call.

Or do not understand why telcos insist on packaging 1,000 free SMS with your mobile plan when they could’ve just given you an extra gigabyte of data…

You can download and use your bank’s mobile app to activate your credit card instead.

Citibank Mobile App Homepage

For Citibank, for example, tap on the ‘Profile’ menu.

Under ‘Credit Card Settings’ tap on the card which you want to activate.

Enter the One Time Pin (OTP) of the Citi Mobile token PIN.

And then enter the CVV of your new credit card.

These steps are pretty much the same for all the other banks and their respective mobile banking application.

Chances of Annoying Someone Else

Zero.

Unless again, you get your husband to do it for you because you can’t remember what your password is and need to get it reset.

Credit Card Activation via the Bank’s Online Website

If you prefer activating your credit card on a larger screen, you can also do so on your tablet, laptop, or personal computer.

Just open your favourite browser (side note: I WILL pretend to not know you if you use Safari or Bing) and navigate to your bank’s website.

Login to your account and activate your card.

For Standard Chartered, for example, click on ‘Help & Services’.

Standard Chartered Website Credit Card Activation

Select ‘Credit Card Activation and PIN Set’ and follow the instructions.

Chances of Annoying Someone Else

Potentially one.

That is if you ask your husband to do it for you because you’d rather be reading than wasting time on mundane things like this.

Credit Card Activation via the ATM

If you find yourself next to your credit card’s issuing bank’s ATM, you can also use that to activate your brand new credit card.

People Withdrawing Money From Various ATMs
Source: Straits Times

For DBS, for example, insert your new credit card and key in your pin.

Select ‘More Services’, select ‘Cards/PIN/iBanking/Phonebanking’, and select ‘Activate Card’.

Follow the instructions on the screen and complete your activation.

Chances of Annoying Someone Else

EXTREMELY HIGH.

Because you’ll hold up everyone else in line behind you, who just want to withdraw some money to buy their @#$%ing bubble tea.

Seriously.

To the people who take 5 million years at the ATM doing I-don’t-know-what: Insert, Press, Dispense, and Move.

For everything else, there’s always mobile banking!!

.

.

.

Okay.

End of rant.


How to Use My Credit Card?

Hand Holding Credit Card

Now that you’ve activated your credit card, you can finally use it.

With restraint, of course.

How Do I Use My Credit Card?

Before you hand your card over, always ask if there’re any preferred credit cards or credit card promotions which you can take advantage of.

This one small step could be the difference between you paying full price for a buffet.

Or you slapping yourself when you could’ve enjoyed a 1-for-1 buffet promo by paying with the correct credit card.

If your card allows contactless payment, all you have to do is put place your card close to the payment reader to make your payment.

If your signature is required, then please make sure that your signature matches the one behind your card.

How Do I Use My Credit Card Online?

To shop online, you’ll need these three pieces of information:

  • Credit card number (a 16-digit string of numbers)
  • Credit card expiry date
  • Credit card CVV (a three-digit security code found on the back)

You’ll usually need a 2-factor authentication (2FA) through SMS or your mobile banking app to approve the purchase.

This acts as a form of deterrence should your card fall into nefarious hands…

And also a physical check where you ask yourself, “Do you really need to buy that 4,532nd pair of sneakers?”

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About Kenneth Fong
Editor of Seedly's blog. Owner of a 4-room HDB BTO and married to a financial clutz. Probably the closest to an adult you can find on the Seedly team.
You can contribute your thoughts like Kenneth Fong here.

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