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How To Apply For Your First Credit Card

Your first credit card could be the gateway to building your credit and opening up your financial options.

You may have decided to apply for your first credit card for a range of reasons. Maybe you’ve decided that you want to establish a credit history, and know that one of the easy ways to do that is by having a credit card. They can also be really handy for meeting the up-front cost of various transactions, such as reserving a hotel room, paying for meals out or spreading the cost of larger purchases.

Use this guide to find out what you need to know before making your first-time credit card application.

3 questions to ask before you apply for your first credit card

Before you apply for a credit card that meets your needs, keep in mind that there will be a lot of considerations to make. Some of the initial questions to ask yourself include:

1. Do I have a credit history?

Generally, a bank will only accept credit card applications from people who can prove they have been responsible when managing credit in the past. That said, more leniency is often given to those who are applying for a credit card for the first time, such as students who won’t have had much time to build up a credit history. If you do have concerns about your credit, there are steps to take to improve your score. Our guide has more details.

2. Is my income stable?

Banks and financial institutions would screen your personal details before they grant you a new credit card. They could ask you to submit numerous documents for your application, so you have to be prepared. Factors typically considered include your salary and providers will often ask you to show your last three months’ payslips.

    3. Can I pay back everything I borrow?

    Taking out a credit card can be the first step in opening up your financial options in the longer term. If, for example, you ever wanted to be able to apply for a personal loan or a home loan, you can do so much easier by applying for a credit card as your initial step. However, if you don’t use your credit card with a great deal of care, you could be exposed to debt problems and long-term credit issues. One of the first steps to ensure the sensible management of your credit card is to meet the card’s minimum payment each month (ideally, you should aim to pay back the debt in full by each bill’s due date).

    What else might I want to think about?

    • I’m a student.
      If you are a student many credit card companies offer a first credit card. Check out some student credit card options. This card will probably have a low limit to help ensure that you do not overspend. See some low credit limit credit cards.
    • I don’t want to change banks.
      Your current bank may have a credit card they offer to their patrons. It may require that you keep at least one open account as long as you have the credit card.
    • I want to be rewarded as I spend.
      When used sensibly, credit cards offer a great way to get something back on your everyday spending. For example, there are a number of credit cards which can lower the cost of your shopping bills. Find out more in our guide to grocery store cards. When comparing cards, make sure you weigh up any cardholder perks with any drawbacks such as a high rate of interest.

    You can choose from various types of credit cards and take advantage of offered features.

    These are a few of the types of credit card features that you want to consider with a first credit card application:

    Do keep in mind that these features would differ from one financial institution to another. Make sure that you compare each feature first before you make up your mind for the appropriate credit card right for you.

    Just in case you are declined with your first credit card application, do not lose hope because you could still apply for it again. You just have to wait for the right time and make sure that your credentials meet the bank’s requirements.

    How to maintain your credit standing with your first credit card

    Most people’s first credit card often establishes their credit history. It is important that you do this on a positive note, don’t overspend and make sure you pay all of your bills on time.

    • You might have this credit card for a long time. Having a line of credit for a long period is good for your credit history so you will want to make sure that this relationship remains strong by keeping your balance low and your payments regular.
    • Often, because newcomers are a risk, banks will give them higher interest rates. You should be aware of this and the long-term cost of carrying a balance. Once you have established a good credit history you should see if you are eligible for a reduction in your interest rate or if another card with lower interest is suitable.

    When it comes to personal finance there are few things more important than the establishment of your first credit card. Being responsible with it is the key to building up your future credit rating.

    Start a credit card comparison

    When you’re ready to apply for a credit card for the first time, use the table below to compare rates, fees and rewards. Use the check boxes to shortlist cards and then compare the relevant information side-by-side.

    Name Product Reward Cashback Offer Annual Fee Min Income - Singaporean and PR
    HSBC Revolution Credit Card
    Earn up to 10X Reward points or 4 miles per S$1 spent on qualifying purchases.
    Receive up to S$200 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    S$0 annual fee
    S$30,000
    New cardholders will be awarded with up to S$200 cashback, S$50 cashback for one qualifying transaction and S$120 cashback upon S$500 minimum spend. Receive an additional S$30 cashback when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive S$60 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    POSB Everyday Card
    Enjoy up to 10% cash rebates on dining and online shopping at selected e-Marketplaces.
    Get S$300 cashback with promo code ‘OCTFLASH' when you apply online and charge a minimum of S$300 within 30 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Get S$300 cashback with promo code ‘OCTFLASH' when you apply online and charge a minimum of S$300 within 30 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply.
    UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card
    Earn 1.4 miles for every S$1 spent locally and 2.4 miles for every S$1 spent overseas.
    Get up to S$300 cash credit when you apply. T&Cs apply.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$256.80 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Enjoy up to 20,000 bonus miles if you charge S$50,000 to your card in a year. Apply today and enjoy free transfers to Changi Airport.
    HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
    Earn 1 Reward point for every $1 on all spend.
    Up to 5% cash rebates on groceries, dining and fuel with minimum monthly spend of at least S$600.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    New cardholders will be awarded with up to S$200 cashback, S$50 cashback for one qualifying transaction and S$120 cashback upon S$500 minimum spend. Receive an additional S$30 cashback when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive S$60 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
    Earn 3 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 when you spend with Singapore Airlines, Scoot and KrisShop and 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 on all other spend.
    Receive up to 3,000 miles and up to S$300 cash credit when you apply for a new credit card and spend at least S$1,500 within 30 days from card approval date.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Apply and spend at least S1,500 within 30 days and receive S$300 cash credit and up to 3,000 miles. For first 100 new-to-UOB credit cardmembers. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2021.
    UOB EVOL Credit Card
    Enjoy a wide variety of discounts and cashback rebates on dining, entertainment, online shopping and travel.
    Up to 8% cashback on online and mobile contactless spend.
    S$192.60 annual fee
    S$30,000
    Apply and spend at least S1,500 within 30 days and receive S$300 cash credit. For first 100 new-to-UOB credit cardmembers. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2021.
    UOB Lady's Card
    Earn 10X UNI$ (or 20 miles) per S$5 spent on a chosen spending category with no min. spend required, and 1X UNI$ (or 2 miles) on other purchases.
    Receive up to S$300 cash credit when you apply for a new credit card. T&C apply.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Apply and spend at least S1,500 within 30 days and receive S$300 cash credit. For first 100 new-to-UOB credit cardmembers. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2021.
    HSBC Advance Credit Card
    Receive up to S$200 cashback when minimum spend requirements are met.
    Enjoy up to 3.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    New cardholders will be awarded with up to S$200 cashback. S$50 cashback for one qualifying transaction and S$120 cashback upon S$500 minimum spend. Receive an additional S$30 cashback when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive S$60 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    UOB One Credit Card
    Receive up to S$300 cash credit when you apply for a new credit card and spend at least S$1,500 within 30 days from card approval date.
    Up to 10% cashback with some merchants including Grab,7-Eleven and Cold Storage; 6% for Singapore Power Utilities bills; and 5% back on all other retail spending.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Apply and spend at least S1,500 within 30 days and receive S$300 cash credit. For first 100 new-to-UOB credit cardmembers. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2021.
    American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
    Earn 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 spent on local purchases, with no cap.
    N/A
    S$337.05 annual fee
    S$50,000
    Get a complimentary stay at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, Luxury Room (worth up to S$460++) when you spend S$5,000 within the first three months and an additional 10,000 KrisFlyer miles if you are new to American Express. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 January 2022.
    UOB PRVI Miles Visa Card
    6 air miles for every S$1 spent through Expedia, Agoda and UOB Travel
    Receive up to S$300 cash credit when you apply for a new credit card and spend at least S$1,500 within 30 days from card approval date.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$256.80 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Receive up to S$300 cash credit (for first 100 successful UOB customers applications) when you apply for a new credit card and spend at least S$1,500 within 30 days from card approval date. T&C apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    American Express Platinum Credit Card
    Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore
    N/A
    S$321 annual fee
    S$80,000
    Get a complimentary 1-night stay at The Fullerton Hotel, Premier Courtyard room (worth up to S$600) with a minimum spend of S$5,000 in your first 3 months of card membership, and an additional S$200 in statement credits upon annual fee payment. Valid until 31 January 2022.
    American Express True Cashback Card
    Enjoy cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend or cap. Plus receive up to S$120 CapitaVouchers when a minimum spend of S$500 is made in the first month.
    Earn 1.5% cashback on all eligible spending with no minimum spend or cap
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$171.20 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Apply today and get a 3% Cashback bonus when you spend S$5,000 in the first six months.
    American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
    For every S$1 spent, earn 1.1 KrisFlyer miles on all eligible purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles in foreign currency spent overseas during June and December.and 3.1 KrisFlyer miles on eligible Grab Singapore transactions.
    S$150 cashback for use at singaporeair.com when you spend a minimum of S$12,000 until 30 June 2022
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$176.55 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Get up to 13,300 KrisFlyer miles with a minimum spend of S$3,000 in your first 3 months and an additional complimentary one-night stay at Andaz Singapore with breakfast for 2 (worth up to S$440++) if you are new to American Express. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 January 2022.
    Citi Cash Back+ Card
    Get up to 20.88% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell and 1.6% cash back on eligible retail purchases.
    1.6% cash back on selected retail purchases
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Receive 4.5% cash back on up to S$5,000 spend (up to S$225 cash back) in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 Nov 2021.
    UOB PRVI Miles World Mastercard
    Earn 1.4 miles per S$1 spent locally and 2.4 miles per S$1 spent overseas, including online shopping.
    Receive S$300 cash credit when you apply for a new credit card. T&C apply.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$256.80 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Receive up to S$300 cash credit (for first 100 successful UOB personal credit card applications) when you apply for a new credit card and spend at least S$1,500 within 30 days from card approval date. T&C apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    Citi Lazada Card
    Earn 10x rewards on eligible Lazada purchases and 5x rewards on qualifying dining, entertainment and commute purchases
    Enjoy shipping rebates on eligible purchases of at least S$50 at Lazada.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    New customers can get up to S$250 Lazada & RedMart vouchers upon minimum spend of S$250. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    Citi Rewards Credit Card
    10X Rewards on eligible online and retail purchases, capped at 10,000 points per statement month.
    1X Rewards for other retail purchases.
    Up to 26% cashback at selected merchants
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Get 30,000 Citi Thank You points when you spend S$3,000 in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2021.
    American Express CapitaCard
    Earn up to 3% rebate (6X STAR$) at participating merchants in CapitaLand Malls in town.​ An additional 5% rebate (10X STAR$) at participating STAR$ X’tra Partners in CapitaLand Malls.​
    N/A
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$171.20 thereafter
    S$30,000
    New members can receive 150,000 STAR$ while existing members can get 50,000 STAR$ upon S$1,500 minimum spend within the first 3 months of card approval. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 January 2022.
    Citi Cash Back Card
    Get up to 20.88% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell, 6% cashback on dining and 8% cashback on groceries.
    6% cash back on dining, 8% cashback on groceries and petrol transactions. 0.25% cashback on other retail purchases, capped at S$80 for all transactions per statement month.
    S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
    S$30,000
    Get a welcome gift of S$120 cash back when you spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months. T&Cs apply.
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