Applicants of credit cards will in most instances need to be above 21 years, earn a gross annual income of S$30,000 if they are Singaporeans, or S$45,000 if they are foreigners. But there are certain exceptions.
By: Phoenix Lee/
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has set the minimum annual income requirements for credit card at $30,000 for individuals below 55 years old. In setting the eligibility at this level of income, the MAS balances several objectives.
The aim of this regulation for holders of credit cards is to provide eligible individuals with a convenient mode of payment and access to short-term credit when they need it, while encouraging prudent borrowing and lending practices.
To minimise the risk of cardholders borrowing beyond their means, the maximum amount of credit that each financial institution can extend to a borrower is capped at four times his monthly income. This limit applies regardless of the number of credit cards a borrower has with the same financial institution.
Further, there is an industry-wide borrowing limit on the amount of unsecured credit that all financial institutions can provide to the same borrower. The limit will be progressively tightened to 12 times the cardholder’s monthly income by June 2019.
In addition, financial institutions are required to conduct fresh credit bureau and income checks on borrowers, when they receive applications for new unsecured credit facilities or credit limit increases. They must also conduct such checks where there are signs of potential debt problems. These checks will help financial institutions to decide whether to extend credit to the borrower, or make adjustments to any existing credit granted.
But there is an alternative to apply for a secured credit card if minimum income requirement is not met. Some banks will allow you to apply for a secured credit card without meeting the minimum income requirement if you are between 21 to 70 years of age and maintain a Singapore Dollars Fixed Deposit Account with a minimum of $10,000 placement,
The $30,000 minimum income requirement is a regulatory requirement, but some credit cards provide a lifeline for those who can’t meet this stringent requirement.
There are actually three such credit cards which are available to the general public:
- Standard Chartered’s Manhattan Card.
- Bank of China’s F1RST Card.
- Diners Club’s International Ace Credit Card (which has the lowest minimum income requirement of all – $16,000/year.
These are the various eligibility criteria for applying to these credit cards:
STANDARD CHARTERED’s MANHATTEN CARD:
>18 to 32 years old
>Minimum Annual Income: $18,000 and above
>Students (min. 18 years old)
>No minimum income required
>Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents or Foreigners
>Working Adults (min. 21 years old)
>Minimum annual income of S$18,000
>Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents
DINER’S CLUB INTERNATIONAL ACE CREDIT CARD
>Min. income: S$16,000p.a (except for students & NSFs)
>Applicants must be Singaporeans or PRs & age 18-65 years old.
>For applicants age below 21, Parent’s / Guardian’s consent is required
It’s hard to say which credit card among the three is the best, but Diners Club has the lowest annual fee ($28).
And if you charge $2,000 to the card over the course of a year (average of $167/month, excluding AXS terminal payments) you can get enough Club Rewards points to get a fee waiver — there are no mysterious fee waiver criteria.
Diners Club is not as widely accepted, although that’s probably a very good thing when you’re just looking to build a credit history. Diners Club is the only credit card accepted for CPF top ups.
The Manhattan $500 Card has a slightly higher annual fee than Diners, but unlike the Diners Ace you’ll never be able to claw back the annual fee via points or rebates. So you’re at Standard Chartered’s (or BOC’s) mercy whether they’ll waive the fee or not. It is best to go with the Diners Ace in this category, in part because the annual fee waiver rules are transparent and achievable.
In this case the limited acceptance is a feature not a bug and you should be paying it off automatically every month anyway. This card is just to build a credit history. And it happens to have the lowest income requirement ($16,000/year instead of $18,000).
CIMB had a similar its $500 credit card, but it was discontinued in 2017. That one was a gem with no annual fees to worry about, ever, for life. For those of you who grabbed the CIMB Classic MasterCard while it was available, you can hang onto it. If nothing else it’ll be useful for CIMB merchant promotions in Singapore, and it does not cost anything to keep in your wallet.
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