Comparing credit cards side-by-side before you make a decision can help you find the card that best suits your needs based on your spending habits, budget and added features or benefits you’re interested in using.
In this guide, we walk you through the different types of credit cards available and important details to remember when comparing your options so that you can apply for one that meets your needs.
HSBC Advance Credit Card
HSBC Advance Credit Card
Receive S$150 cash back or a Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp luggage
Offer ends 31 Aug 2020
Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
HSBC Advance Credit Card
Apply today and enjoy 3.5% cash back on all purchases. No minimum spend required.
Principal Annual Fee: S$0 annual fee for 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) - S$192.60 thereafter.
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What types of credit cards can I compare?
Different types of credit cards offer specific features and benefits that are designed to suit a variety of needs. When you know what you want from a credit card, you can narrow down your comparison by using these categories.
This type of credit card rewards you with cashback or a credit on your account when you meet specific spending requirements. Some cashback credit cards offer a percentage back for each S$1 you spend (similar to rewards credit cards, as our guide explains). Others offer a fixed rate of cashback, usually with an introductory promotion.
These credit cards have a S$0 annual account fee, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars. Some no annual fee cards only offer a S$0 fee for the first year you have a card, while others have no annual fee for life.
Make sure you consider both of these options when undertaking a comparison of no annual fee cards, so that you can choose one that offers the most convenient features and greatest savings for your circumstances.
Some rewards credit cards are linked to popular frequent flyer programs. These cards earn air miles per S$1 spent on the card and may also offer other travel benefits such as complimentary insurance, flights or airport lounge access.
As with other rewards credit cards, when making a comparison of frequent flyer cards, you need to look at the rewards program available, the amount of points you earn per S$1 spent, the card fees and any complimentary extras to make sure it’s worth it for you.
If you’re studying, you may want to get a credit card to help you manage your finances or build up credit history. As most students don’t earn a lot of money, student credit cards typically have lower or no minimum income requirements and lower credit limits. These cards offer basic features that can help you with cash flow and can be a good way to learn how credit cards work. If you’re interested in getting a student credit card, make sure you consider credit limit and annual fees to find an option that is both flexible and affordable.
You can use almost any credit card when you travel but some cards come with specialised features and benefits to help you save you money on every trip you take. Depending on the card you choose, perks could include complimentary overseas insurance, domestic flight inconvenience insurance, car hire coverage, air miles, hotel offers, airport lounge access and no foreign transaction fees. Find out more about 0% foreign fees credit cards, including how they work.
To compare travel credit cards, make sure you consider how often you’ll use these features, as well as the ongoing card costs, so that you can find one that offers value for money and covers your travel needs.
Gold, platinum and black credit cards are premium options designed for bigger spenders. They have higher credit limits and more additional benefits such as complimentary insurance, higher reward point earn rates and shopping and travel perks. It’s important to check the minimum income requirements when comparing gold, platinum and black credit cards, as they are often higher than standard cards. Also, make sure you consider whether the benefits available will outweigh the cost of interest charges and annual fees – both of which may be higher on a premium card.
Comparing credit cards: what you need to know
Regardless of the type of credit card you’re looking for, it’s important to consider a range of factors to find a card that’s right for you. Here, we’ve outlined the key features you should look at when you compare credit cards.
Credit cards often come with promotional features for new customers that are designed to add upfront value to the card you choose.
0% purchase rates
Reduced or S$0 annual fees in the first year
Cashback, gift cards or flight vouchers
If you’re comparing credit cards with introductory offers, make sure you look at the ongoing features to get a true sense of the value the card will provide in the long run. Check the length of the introductory period and any other conditions you need to meet to claim the offer available. For example, a reward card offering bonus points might require you to spend a certain amount of money in the first few months you have it.
Credit cards offer a wide range of complimentary features and benefits that can add value to the card you choose.
Ticket and event offers
Complimentary medical consultations
Travel perks, including flight and travel vouchers
These perks can add up to hundreds of dollars of extra value – but only if you use them. When you’re looking at the complimentary extras during your credit card comparison, be realistic about whether or not you will be able to get value from these features so that they offset the cost of any fees.
If you want to earn rewards for your credit card spending, pay attention to the type of rewards program available. Some credit cards have their own rewards programs.As well as deciding which rewards program you want, think about the amount of points you will need to redeem rewards and how often you will use your credit card. Read more about how to choose a credit card with a rewards program.
Many credit cards offer cashback as part of an ongoing rewards program. These cards often tempt customers in with a one-off cashback reward offer for meeting certain spending goals. For comparison purposes, it’s important to understand the different categories of cashback.
Base rate cashback is the typical cash rebate which you receive on your everyday purchases. Promotional cashback rates are usually for new customers only – they often require that you spend a specific amount within the first few months you have the card. Bonus cashback rewards you for specific types of spending, like buying merchandise with that credit card’s partner merchant.
Rates and fees
When you’re comparing credit cards, the rates and fees will help you work out the overall cost of each option. Make sure you consider these charges and when they could apply so that you know what other potential costs you may have to pay for any card you choose.
Shopping around for a low interest rate on your credit card can help to reduce some of the overall cost of your borrowing. Look out for a card’s APR rate, which offers a helpful way to judge the competitiveness of a card. APR, or annual percentage rate, calculates how much interest you could face for a 12-month period – if you don’t pay the amount back. APR takes into account interest, plus any other typical fees and charges. The rate you could get varies between lenders.
Credit card annual fees typically range from S$150 to S$400 for most credit cards in Singapore. This fee is usually charged when you first activate your account, then once a year on the anniversary of your account activation, unless waived off for a certain period of time or on certain usage.
When you’re comparing cards, think about what features will offset the cost of the annual fee so you can find one that is affordable for you. Remember some credit cards offer a S$0 or lower annual fee in the first year, so check the ongoing features of the cards you compare to avoid any nasty surprises after the first year.
This is the interest rate that’s charged for most of the transactions you make using your credit card. Standard purchase rates range from around 15% p.a. to 29% p.a. (variable) depending on the card you choose. If you regularly pay your balance in full, the purchase rate may not be a major concern, but if think you’ll carry a balance, then choosing a card with a relatively lower interest rate will help keep the cost down.
If you pay your balance in full each month, you can usually get up to a certain number of interest-free days on purchases during each statement period. This can help you avoid interest charges during your statement period. If you pay your balance in full each month, you can usually get up to a certain number of interest-free days on purchases during each statement period. This can help you avoid interest charges during your statement period.
This interest rate is applied to “cash advance transactions” including ATM withdrawals, foreign currency exchange, bets and other gambling charges. While it’s a good idea to avoid making cash advances with a credit card, it’s important to consider this factor in your comparison so that you know what the potential costs will be for these types of transactions.
As well as applying interest to cash advance transactions, credit cards charge a one-off fee. This is usually around 3% to 6% of the total transaction cost, and should be checked before you get a card or use it for a cash advance. As with the cash advance interest rate, it’s good to check this fee when comparing cards so you’re aware of the cost of cash advances for any option you choose.
Most credit cards apply a fee for transactions made in a foreign currency or with an overseas merchant. This fee also known as FX fees usually adds 2% to 3.5% to foreign transactions. A part of the fee, typically 1% can be attributed to the credit card network such as MasterCard and VISA, the remaining charge goes to the credit card issuer. If you plan to travel with a credit card or shop online with overseas retailers, it’s a good idea to look at cards that waive this cost or at least have a lower fee than other options. Read more about credit cards with low (or no) foreign transaction fees.
Some credit card companies charge you a fee if you don’t make a payment by the due date on your statement. This charge will be added to your account balance if your payment is late. While you should always aim to pay your credit card off by the due date, checking this fee when you’re comparing credit cards can give you an idea of how each option treats late payments and may want to factor this into your final decision.
If you max out your credit card, you could be charged a fee of around S$30 to S$50. It’s important to consider this cost when comparing different cards so that you know what penalties could apply for different options. It may also help you decide on a sensible credit limit when you apply.
Credit cards may charge a range of other fees for different features and services, including:
Additional cardholder fees
Printed statement fees
Optional rewards program enrolment
Emergency card replacement
How do I apply for a credit card?
During the comparison process, it’s important to make sure that you meet a credit card provider’s minimum eligibility requirements. There are a number of factors that will be taken into account when you apply for a new card in order for your application to be approved. These include:
Your ability to meet any future repayments
You must also be able to prove you have a history of managing credit in a responsible way. A decision will be made on this based on your credit score.
Now that you understand more about the different factors that need to be considered, you can start comparing credit cards and apply for one that really works for you.
Sally McMullen is Finder's credit cards and frequent flyer editor by day and a music maven by night. She's also one half of the Pocket Money podcast. Her byline can be spotted on Yahoo Finance, Dynamic Business, Financy and Mamamia as well as Music Feeds and Rolling Stone. Sally has a first-class Honours degree in Communications and Media Studies (majoring in Journalism and Professional Writing) from the University of Wollongong.
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