How to build good credit history with a credit card

Want to build good credit history and improve your credit score? Here's how a credit card can help.

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Your credit report contains information about your financial history including credit limits, repayment history, loan applications and any defaults you may have had on your accounts. When used responsibly, a credit card can demonstrate positive financial habits and improve your credit score. This can then increase your chances of approval when applying for loans and other lines of credit in the future.

To get your finances in shape, you can use this guide to understand how you can use a credit card to strengthen your credit history.

How do credit cards affect your credit history?

Your credit report includes details of a wide range of financial products you inquire about or use over the course of your life. This includes credit cards, loans, mortgages and utility accounts such as phone plans and gas or electricity accounts. If you have a credit card, the following details will be included in your credit report:

  • The type of account. Credit cards and loans are generally considered the most “valuable” types of accounts to have listed on your credit history because they give lenders key insights into your ability to manage a line of credit.
  • Loan inquiries. Applications for credit cards and other loans are considered “new loan inquiries”, which are also listed on your credit report. Loan inquiry details are important to lenders when assessing your applications for risk factors. The risks are increased for lenders if there are no previous applications or if there are a lot of applications in a short period of time, but it is still good to have some considered listings here if you want to apply for other products in the future.
  • Credit limit. When you get a credit card, your credit limit is also listed on your credit report. These details help lenders see how much access you have to credit when considering applications for loans and other products.
  • Monthly repayment history. Details of when you pay off your credit card, and whether you pay the minimum or full amount each month, give lenders an idea of your financial management skills.

Keep in mind that these are just some of the details listed on your credit history.

How can I use a credit card to improve my credit history?

Every time you apply for a credit card or manage your account, there’s the potential to affect your credit history. You can use this to your advantage and build good credit history in the following ways:

  • Only apply for one card at a time. Having too many credit card applications can hurt your credit score, so make sure you compare credit cards and then apply for the one that best suits your needs at the time. If your application is accepted, don’t apply for another card straight away. Instead, take some time to improve your credit history by demonstrating positive payment behaviours with other accounts.
  • Make repayments on time. Paying off your credit card balance on or before the due date shows lenders you are responsible with your accounts. Depending on the credit card you choose, you could set up automatic payments from a nominated bank account.
  • Pay more than the minimum. You’re only required to pay the minimum payment on your credit card each month. As this is usually only 3% to 5% of the debt owing, this leaves the remainder of the debt to collect interest. If this grows into unmanageable debt, this could hurt your credit score. Instead, paying your account in full (or paying as much as you can) will reduce your interest costs and help keep your account in good standing. It also demonstrates positive credit habits on your report, which could help you get approval for future loan products.
  • Manage your credit limit. If you get a pay raise at work or your circumstances improve in some other way, requesting a higher limit for your credit card can show that you are able to manage a greater amount of credit. As long as you keep the account in good standing, this higher limit should help improve your credit score. However, if you want to apply for another product with a high credit limit and you’re not using all of your existing credit limit, you may want to consider lowering your limit. You can see our guide to how credit limits affect credit scores for more information.

What kind of credit card will help my credit history?

Most Singapore credit card issuers won’t approve applicants who have a bad credit history. This is why it’s important to order a copy of your credit report and score to determine where your finances stand before you apply. If you have a low credit score, you should spend some time improving it before you apply. Check out our guide to improving your credit score for some tips.

If you’re considering a credit card to boost your credit score, you can start comparing your options below. Underneath the comparison table, we’ve also broken down the types of credit cards might suit you if you have a limited or bad credit history.

Compare credit cards with low minimum income requirement

Name Product Reward Cashback Offer Annual Fee Min Income - Singaporean and PR
Maybank FC Barcelona Visa Signature Card
1.6% unlimited cash rebate on all local spend
1.6% cash rebate on all spend
S$120 annual fee
S$30,000
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
American Express CapitaCard
Earn 3X STAR$ when you shop at participating CapitaLand malls, 1X STAR$ on all other purchases and additional 10X STAR$ at participating outlets in CapitaLand Malls.
Earn 15 STAR$ for every S$1 spent at participating CapitaLand malls.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$171.20 thereafter
S$30,000
Add supplementary cardholders and get S$20 worth of CapitaVouchers for each approved member (up to two cardholders). Ends 30 April 2020.
Standard Chartered Rewards+ Credit Card
Up to 10X rewards points for every S$1 spent in foreign currency on overseas retail, dining and travel
S$80 cashback to new cardholders. S$20 cashback to existing cardholders. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Get S$80 cashback with activation of the card within 30 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 March 2020.
Citibank SMRT Card
Up to 5% savings on groceries, fast food, movies, and coffee; up to 3% savings on online shopping.
Redeem S$10 cash back for shopping vouchers in every 10 SMRT$ earned
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Receive a welcome gift of S$120 cash back when you spend S$1,200 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 January 2021.
American Express True Cashback Card
1.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend and no cap
3% cashback for first 6 months up to S$5,000 minimum spend


1.5% cashback on any purchase, anytime
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$171.20 thereafter
S$30,000
Receive 3% Cashback bonus and up to S$150 Cashback when you spend S$5,000 in the first six months.
UOB Yolo Card
Enjoy up to 8% cashback on dining, travel, shopping and entertainment. Plus, a further 3% cashback on online travel bookings and fashion shopping.
Up to 8% cashback on Dining, Grab and Online spend
3% cashback on Online Fashion & Travel spend
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to 8% cashback on dining, travel, shopping and entertainment. Plus, a further 3% cashback on online travel bookings and fashion shopping.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
For every S$1 spent, get up to 1.1 KrisFlyer miles on all eligible purchases, 2 miles in foreign currency spent overseas (June and December) and 3.1 miles on Grab Singapore transactions (up to S$200 spend in each calendar month).
S$150 cashback for use at singaporeair.com when you spend a minimum of S$12,000 till 30 June 2020.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$176.55 thereafter
S$30,000
Earn 8,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership and additional 8,000 KrisFlyer miles with minimum spend of S$5,000 in the 4th to 6th month of membership. Ends 30 April 2020.
Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Credit Card
1.5% cashback on all spend with no cap and no minimum spend
S$80 cashback to new cardholders. S$20 cashback to existing cardholders. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 days upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 March 2020.
UOB PRVI Miles World Mastercard Card
6 air miles for every S$1 spent through Expedia, agoda and UOB Travel.
Get S$100 cash credit when you apply. Minimum S$1,000 spend within 30 days from the approval date of the Credit Card. Gift is limited to the first 200 eligible applicants who meet the minimum spend.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$256.80 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to S$100 in cash credits. Plus, free travel cover.
UOB PRVI Miles Visa Card
6 air miles for every S$1 spent through Expedia, agoda and UOB Travel.
Get S$100 cash credit when you apply. Minimum S$1,000 spend within 30 days from the approval date of the Credit Card. Gift is limited to the first 200 eligible applicants who meet the minimum spend.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$256.80 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to S$100 in cash credits. Plus, free travel cover.
HSBC Advance Credit Card
Up to 3.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend
Up to 3.5% cashback on all purchases


S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Ends 15 April 2020.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Get free Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner luggage with built-in scale worth S$560 or S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card
Up to 3.2 Air Miles (8X TREATS Points) for every S$1 spent on dining, transport and hotel bookings via Agoda.com/horizon
Receive S$100 cash credit with min. spend of S$800 to your card or withdrawal from your CreditAble account within the first 2 months. Ends 31 Jul 2019.
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$180 thereafter
S$30,000
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Citi Cash Back Card
Earn up to 8% cash back on dining, groceries and petrol worldwide.
8% cash back on dining, groceries and petrol transactions
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - 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. Ends 31 January 2021.
Standard Chartered Spree Credit Card
Up to S$60 cashback monthly with no minimum spend
S$80 cashback to new cardholders. S$20 cashback to existing cardholders. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.



S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 day upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 March 2020.
Citi PremierMiles Visa Card
2 Citi Miles for every S$1 spent overseas and 1.2 Citi Miles per S$1 spent locally.
Up to 10% cash back at selected merchants.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Receive 37,300 miles when you spend S$9,000 in the first 3 months and pay the annual fee. Terms and conditions apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
Up to 5X Rewards points (2 miles per S$1 spent) on online, dining and entertainment purchases
S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Ends 31 March 2020.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$160.50 thereafter
S$30,000
Get free Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner luggage with built-in scale worth S$560 or S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
UOB Delight Credit Card
UOB Delight Credit Card
Up to 8% rebate at Cold Storage, Market Place, Jasons, Giant and Guardian
10% off over 4,000 house brands at Cold Storage, Giant and Guardian
Up to 3% rebate on contactless transactions and recurring bills
0.3% rebate on all other spend
Up to 10% SMART$ rebate at over 300 participating outlets islandwide
Up to 8% rebate at Cold Storage, Market Place, Jasons, Giant and Guardian
Up to 3% rebate on contactless transactions and recurring bills
0.3% rebate on all other spend
S$0 annual fee for 1 year for principal card
Free for the first supplementary card, S$53.50 subsequent card - S$85.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Maybank DUO Platinum Mastercard
5% cash rebate on petrol in Singapore and Malaysia and 1.5% cash rebate in foreign currency.
5% cash rebate on petrol transactions
S$120 annual fee
S$30,000
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank Manchester United Platinum Visa Card
Receive a 10% discount at United Direct Online Megastore and 5 TREATS Points for every dollar spent when Manchester United wins a Premier League match.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$80 thereafter
S$30,000
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
Maybank Family & Friends Card
8% cash rebates on groceries, dining, transport and selected merchants with S$800 min. monthly spend
Up to 8% cashback with minimum spend of S$800 per month.
S$0 annual fee for 3 years - S$180 thereafter
S$30,000
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
HSBC Visa Platinum Card
5% cash rebate on groceries, fuel and dining
5% cashback on dining, groceries and petrol


S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 within a month of card approval. Ends 31 March 2020.

S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Get free Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner luggage with built-in scale worth S$560 or S$150 cash back when you spend S$800 in qualifying transactions from card approval to the end of the following month. Receive an additional S$20 worth of grab rides when you apply online with MyInfo via SingPass. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
UOB One Card
Up to 10% cashback on Grab and UOB Travel transactions; 6% for your Singapore Power bill; and 5% back on all other spending.
Up to 10% on Grab and UOB Travel transactions; 6% for your Singapore Power bill; and 5% back on all other spending.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to 10% cashback on Grab and UOB Travel transactions, including up to 24% off fuel at SPC and up to 20.8% off at Shell.
Maybank Platinum Visa Card
Up to 3.33% cash rebates on local spend
Earn up to 3.33% cash rebates on all purchases in Singapore upon spending S$300 per month on every quarter


Cash rebate of 0.3% will also be earned on overseas spending at no minimum spend
S$0 annual fee
S$30,000
Receive an American Tourister Linex 66/24 Luggage TSA (worth S$260) when you charge to your card or withdraw from your CreditAble account with a minimum of S$300 within the first 2 months.
UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card
6 air miles for every S$1 spent through Expedia, agoda and UOB Travel.
Get S$100 cash credit when you apply. Minimum S$1,000 spend within 30 days from the approval date of the Credit Card. Gift is limited to the first 200 eligible applicants who meet the minimum spend.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$256.80 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to S$100 in cash credits. Plus, free travel cover.
UOB Lady's Card
10X UNI$ (or 20 miles) per S$5 spent on one category with no min. spend required. Choose from Beauty& Wellness, Dining, Entertainment, Family, Fashion, Transport and Travel.
Up to S$180 in cash credits. S$100 cash credit when you apply for a new Credit Card and S$80 cash credit when you open an account online.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year for principal card
Free for the first supplementary card, S$96.30 subsequent card - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to S$180 in cash credits. S$100 cash credit when you apply for a new Credit Card and S$80 cash credit when you open an account online.
Standard Chartered NUS Alumni Platinum Credit Card
Earn 1 Rewards point for every S$1 charged to your card
S$80 cashback to new cardholders. S$20 cashback to existing cardholders. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.
S$0 annual fee for 2 years - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Get S$80 cashback with activation of card within 30 day upon approval. Existing cardholders will receive S$20. Ends 31 March 2020.
Citi Rewards Credit Card
10X Rewards on your shopping spend (local and overseas) and online purchases (except mobile wallet and travel-related transactions), plus 1X Rewards Points on all other spend, no cap or minimum spend required
Up to 20% cash back at selected merchants.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Receive 30,000 Citi Thank You points when you spend S$3,000 in the first 3 months. Ends 31 March 2020.
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
Earn 3 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 when you spend with Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SilkAir or KrisShop.
Get S$100 cash credit when you apply. Minimum S$1,000 spend within 30 days from the approval date of the Credit Card. Gift is limited to the first 200 eligible applicants who meet the minimum spend.
S$0 annual fee for 1 year for principal card
Free for the first supplementary card, S$96.30 subsequent card - S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to S$100 in cash credits and 3,000 KrisFlyer miles.

Compare up to 4 providers

If you have limited or no credit history

Limited credit history can make it harder to get approval for certain kinds of credit cards, so it’s a good idea to start by looking at basic credit cards that are designed specifically for people who have never had a credit card before and has features and eligibility requirements that reflect that.

As the credit card provider won’t be able to use much of your credit history to assess your application eligibility, more weight will be placed on other factors, such as your income. With that in mind, a low-income credit card could be a good place to start even if you earn more than the minimum amount required.

You may also want to consider cards that are designed for students or other “no frills” options, such as the Citi Clear Card. These types of cards are designed to be easy to apply for and manage, which means you can start building up your positive credit history.

If you have a bad credit score

Credit card providers will carefully consider any “bad credit” details – such as late payments or defaults – that are listed on your credit report. So, if you want to apply for a credit card to help repair your credit score, sticking to basic options can improve your chances of getting approval.

Another option is to consider credit cards with no annual fee or a low standard interest rate. These kinds of cards can help keep the cost of the account down and make it easier for you to avoid late payments, defaults and other problems that lead to bad credit.

How to apply for a credit card to build your credit history

Follow these steps to get a credit card that you can use to improve your credit history.

  1. Compare cards. Search and compare a range of credit cards that suit your circumstances, paying particular attention to the eligibility criteria and ongoing features.
  2. Apply. Once you have chosen a credit card that fits your circumstances, just hit the “Go to site” button and you’ll be taken to a secure application page.
  3. Provide your personal information. Make sure you include as much information as possible in your application to increase the chances of approval, and keep supporting documentation handy.
  4. Submit the application. You should get a response within a few minutes, either on the webpage or via email.

If your application is successful, the provider will be in touch to finalise the process and issue your credit card. From there, you can start using it to improve your credit score.

With a wide range of options to choose from, a simple application process and convenient everyday spending options, credit cards are often a gateway to better credit history and more future loans. So, whether you are just starting your financial journey or need to improve on the past, with this information in mind you can use a credit card to meet your financial goals.

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