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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.

    1 - 20 of 26
    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 $1 spent on qualifying purchases.
    Receive up to $200 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
    $0 annual fee
    $30,000
    New cardholders can choose from a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp with built-in scale (worth $670) or $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend. Plus, receive up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
    American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
    For every $1 spent, earn 1.2 KrisFlyer miles on local purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles on overseas spend in June and December, Singapore Airlines and KrisShop and 3.2 KrisFlyer miles on Grab.
    N/A
    $337.05 annual fee
    $50,000
    Get 16,400 KrisFlyer miles upon annual fee payment and first transaction within 30 days from card approval. An additional 15,000 KrisFlyer miles when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of Card approval. Valid until 30 Sep 2022. Also, earn 3,600 KrisFlyer miles based on the $3,000 spend above (based on 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent locally). T&Cs apply.
    Citi Prestige Card
    Deals and discounts in more than 90 countries. Also, get six complimentary golf games across Asia
    Up to 20% cashback at selected merchants
    $535 annual fee
    $120,000
    Receive 120,000 ThankYou Points (48,000 Miles) when you pay the annual fee ($535) and spend $800 within two months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2022.
    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 $600.
    $0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    New cardholders can choose from a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp with built-in scale (worth $670) or $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend. Plus, receive up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
    American Express Platinum Credit Card
    Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore
    N/A
    $321 annual fee
    $80,000
    Get $100 CapitaVoucher upon payment of annual fee and first transaction within 30 days from card approval. An additional $100 worth of CapitaVouchers when you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months of card approval. Also, receive 2,500 Membership Rewards points from your base earn rate for the $2,000 spent. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 Sep 2022.
    Citi Cash Back+ Credit Card
    Get up to 14% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell and 1.6% cash back on eligible retail purchases.
    1.6% cash back on selected retail purchases
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    Receive 10% cash back (up to $300 cash back) on up to $3,000 spend in the first 2 months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2022.
    HSBC Advance Credit Card
    Receive up to $200 cashback when minimum spend requirements are met.
    Enjoy up to 3.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    New cardholders can choose from a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp with built-in scale (worth $670) or $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend. Plus, receive up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
    American Express True Cashback Card
    Enjoy 1.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend or cap. Plus receive up to $80 CapitaVouchers when a minimum spend of $250 is made in the first month.
    Earn 1.5% cashback on all eligible spending with no minimum spend or cap
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $171.20 thereafter
    $30,000
    Apply today and get a 3% cashback bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first six months.
    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 $80 for all transactions per statement month.
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    Get a welcome gift of $300 cash back when you spend $800 in the first two months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2022.
    Aspire Corporate Card
    Enjoy exclusive perks and discounts with Aspire's extensive range of partners, redeemable at anytime
    1% Cashback for qualified spend of above S$5,000. T&Cs apply
    $0 annual fee
    N/A
    A corporate debit card for SMEs and Startups with no annual fee and low FX fees. Enjoy 1% cashback on marketing and SaaS spend. T&Cs apply.
    Volopay Business Credit Card
    N/A
    Up to 5% cashback on all transactions. T&Cs apply
    $0 annual fee
    N/A
    Enjoy better visibility and control with customisable built-in budgets for each card, while earning up to 5% cashback on all eligible spends
    Citi SMRT Card
    Up to 5% savings on groceries, online shopping, taxis (including private hire rides), and EZ-Link Auto Top-up/SimplyGo. Plus, 0.3% savings on all other spend
    Up to 5% savings on groceries, online shopping, taxis (including private hire rides), and EZ-Link Auto Top-up/SimplyGo. Plus, 0.3% savings on all other spend
    $0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    Citi PremierMiles Card
    Earn 1.2 Citi Miles for every $1 spent locally and 2 Citi Miles for every $1 spent overseas.
    Up to 20% cashback at selected merchants
    $192.60 annual fee
    $30,000
    New cardholders can earn 30,000 Citi Miles as a welcome bonus upon payment of the annual fee and $800 minimum spend requirement within two months from date of card approval. Alternatively, cardholders can get 8,000 Citi Miles as a welcome bonus if the $800 minimum spend requirements are met within two months from date of card approval. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2022.
    American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
    For every $1 spent, earn 1.1 KrisFlyer miles on all eligible purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles in foreign currency spent overseas during June & December and 3.1 KrisFlyer miles on eligible Grab Singapore transactions.
    $150 cashback for use at singaporeair.com when you spend a minimum of $12,000 until 30 June 2023.
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $176.55 thereafter
    $30,000
    Get 5,000 KrisFlyer miles with a minimum spend of $2,000 in the first 3 months and an additional 14,800 KrisFlyer miles if you are new to American Express. Valid until 30 Sep 2022. Also, receive 2,200 KrisFlyer miles based on the $2,000 spending above (based on 1.1 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent locally). T&Cs apply.
    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 $50 at Lazada.
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    Citi Rewards Credit Card
    10X Rewards on eligible online (except travel), fashion shopping, department stores, taxi/ride hailing apps, food delivery and online groceries, capped at 9,000 points per statement month.
    1X Rewards for other retail purchases.
    Up to 26% cashback at selected merchants
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    Get up to 40,000 Citi ThankYou Points when you spend $800 in the first 2 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2022.
    American Express CapitaCard
    Earn up to 3% rebate (6X STAR$) at participating merchants in CapitaLand Malls in town.​ An additional 5% rebate (10X STAR$ or 50 STAR$) at participating STAR$ X’tra Partners in CapitaLand Malls.​
    N/A
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $171.20 thereafter
    $30,000
    New members can receive 150,000 STAR$ by spending $1,500 in the first 3 months of card membership and up to 45,000 STAR$ upon $1,200 per calendar month, based on 6X STAR$ at participating merchants in CapitaLand Malls in town. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 Sep 2022.
    POSB Everyday Card
    Enjoy up to 10% cash rebates on dining and online shopping at selected e-Marketplaces.
    up to 3% cash rebates utilities and telecommunications bills and up to 10% cash rebates on dining and online shopping at selected e-Marketplaces.
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    Receive $150 cashback when you apply online and charge at least $800 within the first 60 days from card approval date. Promo code : '150CASH'.T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Jan 2023.
    UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card
    Earn 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally and 2.4 miles for every $1 spent overseas.
    Get $100 cash credit when you apply.
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $256.80 thereafter
    $30,000
    Receive 15,000 welcome miles when you apply and spend at least $4,000 minimum spend within 60 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 Sep 2022.
    KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
    Earn 3 KrisFlyer miles per $1 when you spend with Singapore Airlines, Scoot and KrisShop and 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per $1 on all other spend.
    Receive 7,000 miles or $100 cash credit
    $0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
    $30,000
    Apply and spend at least $1,500 within 30 days and receive $250 Grab vouchers. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 Sep 2022.
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