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Advantages and disadvantages of a credit card

Decide if a credit card is right for you with our comprehensive list of pros and cons.

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Credit cards can be a convenient way to manage your finances, but they can also be expensive and risky. If you’re deciding whether or not a credit card is right for you, here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages you can weigh up to make your decision.

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9 Advantages of using a credit card

Some of the perks of paying with credit card include:

  1. A credit card is safer than carrying cash. While there’s only a small chance of having lost or stolen cash returned, a credit card can quickly be cancelled if you lose your wallet. Most banks also have security processes in place to protect you if your card has been lost or stolen or if you suspect your account has been used for a fraudulent transaction.
  2. A credit card can build your credit rating. Your credit card account details and payment history make up a key part of your credit file. If you keep your account in good standing, this information will help you build up a good credit score, which could increase your chances of approval for other products such as car or housing loans.
  3. You can get interest-free days. If you pay your balance in full before the statement period ends, you can reap the benefits of the interest-free days.
  4. Earn reward points when you spend. Rewards and frequent flyer credit cards allow you to earn reward points on every dollar you spend on eligible purchases, such as groceries and fuel. Rewards credit cards let you earn reward points to redeem with the bank’s rewards programs for perks including flights with partner airlines, products from the rewards store or cashback. Frequent flyer miles credit cards, on the other hand, let you earn flights with specific airline loyalty programs.
  5. You can request a chargeback if you’re unhappy with a product or service. You can request a chargeback through your credit card company if you have a dispute with a merchant, either in-store or online.
  6. Credit cards work in any currency. Although currency conversion fees usually apply, you can use your credit card overseas to make purchases in a foreign currency. There are even credit cards that waive fees for international purchases, which could be useful if you often shop at international online stores or have an overseas holiday coming up.
  7. Credit cards give you an emergency line of credit. Credit cards can be a financial safety net if you don’t have enough cash or savings to cover any unexpected costs that arise. Remember that you have to repay everything you owe, though.
  8. Credit cards often have complimentary extras. Credit card features such as travel insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty insurance can save you money and give you peace of mind. Other value-adding features include complimentary flight offers and airline lounge passes.
  9. You can consolidate debts and save money on existing balances. Balance transfer credit cards allow you to move existing high-interest debts to a new account with a low or 0% promotional interest rate. This can save you money on interest charges and help you pay down debt faster.

7 Disadvantages of using a credit card

The downsides of spending with a credit card include:

  1. Paying high rates of interest. If you carry a balance from month-to-month, you’ll pay interest charges. Purchase and cash advance interest rates can be higher than the average 28% p.a., so you can end up paying hundreds or thousands more than you initially charged in interest if you’re unable to make repayments each month.
  2. Credit damage. Missed credit card repayments and ongoing debts are recorded on your credit file and can impact your chances of getting a loan down the track.
  3. Credit card fraud. There is a range of fraud schemes that target credit cards. While you can be compensated for illegal transactions on your account, dealing with credit card fraud can still be a time-consuming and stressful experience.
  4. Accessing cash is expensive. Banks make it very expensive to use your credit card to get cash out or make other “cash equivalent” transactions (such as buying foreign currency or gambling). Using a credit card for a cash withdrawal will attract a cash advance fee worth around 6% of the total transaction amount. It also typically attracts an interest rate of 28% or more right away.
  5. Annual fees. While you can often get debit cards without annual fees, most credit cards have them. These can cost as little as S$25 per year, or as much as S$500 or more depending on the card that you choose. Generally, the more perks you want, the higher the annual fee. If you want to avoid this charge, you can consider a no annual fee credit card – but make sure you look at all the other features to help find a card that works for you.
  6. Credit card surcharges. Businesses often apply a surcharge when you pay with a credit card. For Mastercard and Visa products, this fee is usually 0.5-2% of the total transaction cost, while for Amex cards it could be closer to 3%. Whatever the case, this is an extra cost for the convenience of cashless payments.
  7. Other fees can quickly add up. Depending on your card, you could be charged fees when you miss a payment, fees if you spend past your credit limit, fees for overseas transactions, balance transfer fees and even some rewards programs fees. If you carry a balance or don’t have access to interest-free days, there’s also a good chance interest will be applied to these charges.

Should I use a credit card?

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Credit cards are suited to certain types of people, but not others. As well as considering the pros and cons, you may like to look at the following factors to help decide if a credit card is right for you.

A credit card may suit you if you

  • Are at least 21 years of age
  • Are a Singapore citizen, permanent resident or hold an eligible temporary visa
  • Have a regular source of income
  • Regularly pay your bills on time
  • Want to keep certain transactions separate from your everyday bank account
  • Are keen to earn rewards for your spending
  • Need more flexible cash flow
  • Can afford to pay a little extra for the convenience

A credit card may not suit you if you

  • Don’t meet the age or residency requirements
  • Often struggle to pay bills on time
  • Don’t have a regular source of income
  • Can’t afford annual fees or interest charges
  • Have bad credit
  • Are happy to just use a debit card

If you’re thinking about getting a credit card, it’s important to consider the benefits and disadvantages they offer based on your own circumstances. As well as helping you decide whether a credit card is right for you, this process can narrow down the range of cards you compare so that you can find an option that works for you.

Compare credit cards

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.
Choose between a S$150 cashback or Samsonite suitcase if minimum spend requirements are met. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2020.
S$0 annual fee
S$30,000
New cardholders can choose from a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp luggage worth S$670 or S$150 cashback. Minimum spend of S$800 within the qualifying spend period is required. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2020.
UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card
Earn 1.4 miles for every S$1 spent locally with no minimum spend or cap.
Get S$150 cash credit if you spend a minimum of S$1,500 within 30 days. First 200 new customers only.
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 can receive a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp suitcase (worth S$670) or S$150 cashback, if a minimum of S$800 is spent using the card in the qualifying spend period. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2020.
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
Earn 3 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 when you spend with Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SilkAir or KrisShop and 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per S$1 on all other spend.
Get S$150 cash credit if you spend S$1,500 or more within 30 days. First 200 new customers only.
S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
New cardholders can receive up to 10,000 KrisFlyer miles when applying and spending a minimum of S$1,500 within 30 days card approval. Ends 30 September 2020. Existing UOB cardmembers get 3,000 KrisFlyer miles after the first transaction of S$5 minimum. T&Cs apply.
UOB Yolo Card
Enjoy a wide variety of discounts and cashback rebates on dining, entertainment, online shopping and travel.
Up to 8% cashback on some weekend dining, travel, and entertainment and 3% cashback on online fashion, weekday dining, travel and more.
S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and get S$150 in bonus cash credits. T&Cs apply.
UOB Lady's Card
Earn 10X UNI$ (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.
New customers can get S$150 in bonus cash credits. T&Cs apply.
S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$192.60 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and get S$150 in bonus cash credits. T&Cs apply.Ends 30 September 2020.
HSBC Advance Credit Card
Choose between a sign-up gift of a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp luggage or S$150 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 can choose between a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp luggage worth S$670 or S$150 cashback if minimum spend of S$800 within the qualifying spend period is made. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2020.
UOB One Credit Card
Get S$150 cash credit when you apply. Minimum S$1,500 spend within 30 days. First 200 eligible applicants only.
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 today and get up to S$150 in bonus cash credits. T&Cs apply.
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 up to 56,200 KrisFlyer miles with S$16,000 minimum spend within six months. Also enjoy a complimentary stay at a Hilton hotel in Asia Pacific each year.
UOB PRVI Miles Visa Card
6 air miles for every S$1 spent through Expedia, Agoda and UOB Travel
Get S$150 cash credit when you apply. Minimum S$1,500 spend within 30 days. First 200 eligible applicants only.
S$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and S$256.80 thereafter
S$30,000
Apply today and enjoy up to S$150 in cash credits. Plus, free travel cover.
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