Credit cards are not all created equal. You may be able to apply online and get an instant decision about whether or not you’ve been approved. However, there are still certain requirements you must meet. Here is our recommended list for the easiest credit cards to get approved for.
What are the requirements to be eligible for a credit card?
Most credit card issuers require the applicant to be at least 21 years old.
For Singaporean and Permanent Residents, most credit card issuers will require a minimum income of S$30,000. However, for foreigners, it is usually at least S$40,000. These income requirements can go quite high, depending on how exclusive the card is. For example, the Maybank Business Platinum Mastercard requires a minimum income of S$200,000 for a Singaporean. That is a card I will probably never see in my lifetime! Some cards offer an alternative to the income criteria with a Fixed Deposit Collateral.
Banks and lenders want to see that you can repay what you charge. Having some type of employment, the longer the better, is taken into consideration. For example, DBS separates applicants into four categories: salaried employees, employees with a length of service of more than two months, employees with a length of service of fewer than three months, and variable/commission-based employees or self-employed persons. Of course, a steady salaried employee is a better applicant because they appear more financially stable. However, the other three categories can provide additional documents to make them more attractive during the application process.
Credit history is probably one of the most important factors to determine approval. It literally is an assessment of how good you will be with a credit card. This score evaluates and predicts risk and how likely you will default or miss payments on your credit commitments. The more exclusive the card, the higher the credit score needs to be. However, there are still credit cards for people with no credit history or beginners to the world of credit.
If you have other credit cards and loans, your lender may think that you have too much debt. This is especially true if you have a high credit utilization, or you have a lot of charges on your other credit cards. The less debt you have, the lower your debt-to-income ratio is, the more likely for credit card approval.
Here is our recommended list
Standard Chartered Unlimited Cash Back Credit Card
The Standard Chartered Unlimited Cash Back Credit Card has always been on my list for its solid cash back earn rate. Singaporeans and Permanent Residents require a minimum annual income of S$30,000. Foreigners with employment passes require a minimum annual income of S$60,000. If you are a salaried employee, you will need your last computerized payslip. If you are self-employed, you must be in business for a minimum of 2 years and provide your latest income tax notice of assessment. For commission earners, you will need your latest 3 months payslips.
Now about the card itself. The Standard Chartered Unlimited Cash Back Credit Card offers 1.5% cashback on all spending with no cashback cap. Furthermore, there is no monthly minimum spending requirement. This card also conveniently doubles as an EZ-Link card. The annual fee is S$192.60, which is waived for the first two years. I appreciate how this card sets clear criteria for employment other than salary employees.
Citibank Clear Card
The Citibank Clear Card is one of the few credit cards that do not have a minimum income for tertiary students. This card also has a lower minimum age qualification of 18 years old. If you are below the age of 21, a parent or guardian must consent to the application. There are a few restrictions as to who can apply. Tertiary students are defined as students from specific education institutions listed on the Citibank website, such as NTU or the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Now about the card itself. As this card was mainly designed for students, the rewards you earn are specialized as well. You can earn a 10% Citi Rebate on Starbucks, 10% off the total bill at the Alphabet Bar, and a wide range of dining deals. This card also gets you free entry to Zouk, Phuture, and Velvet Underground-Dance on selected days, as well as, 1-for1 drinks with Wine Bar and Velvet Underground-Dance on selected days. Now for shopping. You can earn up to 10% rebate at over 700 merchant outlets, 5% cashback on online shipping fees, and earn 1 Citi Dollar for every S$1 spent. For travel, you can earn up to 14% savings with Esso and Shell. Finally, for groceries, you can earn up to 10% rebate in outlets including Cold Storage. The annual fee is S$29.96, with the first year waived. This card has very specific reward categories, but it is ideal for students to start building their credit history.
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
The HSBC Revolution Credit Card has a unique feature where if you do not meet the minimum income requirement, you can supply a Fixed Deposit Collateral of S$10,000 instead. Not all credit card companies will tell you about this alternative. However, HSBC is fairly transparent with this, as their other card, the HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card, also offers the same alternative collateral. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get around the age requirement. All applicants must be at least 21 years old. Just for reference, the minimum annual income for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents is S$30,000 and S$40,000 for foreigners.
Now about the card itself. The HSBC Revolution Credit Card is for outgoing local consumers. With this card, you will get 5x Rewards spent on local dining, local entertainment transactions and online purchases. This includes travel bookings, recurring bills, and transit payments (EZ-Link payments). Everything else earns 1x Rewards for every S$1 spent. The annual fee is $160.50 a year, with the first two years waived. To earn subsequent annual fee waivers, you must spend a minimum of S$12,500 in one year. It is worth noting that there is no monthly spending requirement. Therefore, to get the subsequent fee waiver, you will need to make purchases on your own volition.
Unfortunately, a bad credit score will significantly hinder your chances of getting a credit card, since a poor rating already means that you have defaulted on your payments in the past. However, your bad credit history will not last and follow you forever. Most credit cards will only be approved for good to excellent credit. As an alternative, use your debit card or pre-paid credit cards for your swiping needs. This will keep you out of debt and still offer the convenience of some plastic for online purchases and in-store transactions.
Credit card issuers must have standards to make sure that their cardholders are able to pay back their debt. This is a reasonable expectation. Nonetheless, there is some wiggle room for a few of the requirements. The Standard Chartered Unlimited Cash Back Credit Card offers transparent requirements for different employment situations. The Citibank Clear Card is one of the few cards that does not have a minimum income requirement and has a lower age requirement. Finally, the HSBC Revolution Credit Card allows for a Fixed Deposit Collateral if you do not meet the income requirement. Always read and agree with the credit card's Terms and Conditions. Remember, just because you qualify for a credit card does not mean you need one. Always use your credit card responsibly.