Updated March 2019
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The best credit card for you depends on your lifestyle and regular spending habits. Here are 3 steps to help you decide which credit card is best for you.
Think about your current lifestyle and spending habits. What are the things you spend the most money on? For example, if you’re a real foodie and spend a lot on dining out, then it makes sense to get a card with double rewards points for eating out and useful perks like 1-for-1 deals at restaurants.
Credit cards come with a whole plethora of benefits for cardholders. You’ll need to narrow things down by focusing on the benefits that you would actually use. Do you want to collect air miles and fund your upcoming travels? Or accumulate points for shopping vouchers? Or would you rather enjoy cash rebates? This is a deeply personal matter, so it’s worth considering how you like to be rewarded.
Now that you’ve got a shortlist of credit cards, it’s time to dig deeper into the details of the rewards or air miles programmes. Find out all you can about terms and conditions like expiry dates, exclusions, minimum spend, credit limit, etc. Be sure to ask a bank rep to clarify if you don’t see answers anywhere.
Annual fees aren’t the only type of credit card charges you might be paying. Many of these other common fees will impact the benefits you earn, so be mindful of them and actively monitor your spend.
Charged when you move a balance from one card to another, usually 2-4% of the amount transferred.
Some credit cards allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs, using your credit line. Be prepared to fork out up to 6% of the transaction amount, plus 2%+ daily charges on unpaid withdrawn balance.
Charged for transactions processed outside of Singapore, whether while you’re travelling or making an online purchase. This is usually 2.5% to 3% on top of the prevailing foreign exchange rate.
Because credit cards are effectively short-term loans, you are meant to pay off your bills in full every month. If you make only the minimum payment each month, you may accrue huge additional costs on top of your bill due to the credit card’s interest rate (typically 24%+)!
If you plan to apply for any kind of credit or loan (such as a housing loan or car loan) in the future, be aware that any “bad behaviour” with your credit card can come back to haunt you in the form of a bad credit score.
Check out our blog for more personal finance tips and insights.
A credit card is basically a way to borrow money from a bank to make purchases. Unlike a bank loan, a credit card “loans” money in smaller amounts and on a short-term basis, requiring you to pay the bank back monthly (or be subject to unpleasant penalties and interest fees). The biggest payment networks are MasterCard, VISA and American Express, but do note that merchants may not accept all types.
Simply fill out an application online or at a bank branch and submit the required documents such as proof of income. After approval, the bank will inform you about how much you are allowed to borrow and mail you your new credit card. You’ll need to activate the credit card as well as sign on the back.
Unlike credit cards, debit cards do not involve any borrowing. They are linked to your bank account, so purchases made on your debit card are paid for by deducting straight from your funds. You must have sufficient funds on hand to use your debit card. If you have a credit card, you can borrow the money for the time being and pay it back later.
There’s no sure-fire way to prevent credit card fraud, so unfortunately holding a credit card also means being vigilant about making sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Make use of credit card alerts, monitor your transactions closely, be wary of phishing scams and don’t make it easy for others to get hold of your credit card information.
It might not be the most fun thing to read, but it IS super important to understand your credit card statement. So don’t throw it away without checking it. Of course, after reading the statement you will have to pay your bill – typically through online banking, though some people use ATMs, SAMs, AXS machines or go to the bank in person.