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Credit Card Application: A Guide

Find out how to apply for a new credit card in 10 steps.

Applying for a credit card doesn’t have to be complicated. But it’s important to know what a credit card provider will look for, in order to give yourself the best chance of approval. You’ll want to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements and know a little about the types of card that will suit your needs.

In this guide, you’ll find out ten useful tips to increase your chances of success. Plus, learn exactly how to start your credit card application.

How to prepare for a credit card application

With credit cards, the pre-application process is far more important than the act of applying itself. While it may take only 15 minutes to fill out the form, getting your affairs in order so that you’re ready for the bank’s assessment of your application will take a bit more time and preparation.

Tip #1. Understand your needs

Before you begin your search, spend some time considering what you want, need and can afford with your next credit card. For example, if this the first credit card you’re applying for, you might want to apply for a student card or low-income credit card as these may give you a better chance of meeting the eligibility requirements. On the other hand, if you also want to keep your interest costs down, then you might decide to apply for a low rate credit card.

Tip #2: Compare your options

Once you’ve decided what type of card you want, it’s time to begin comparing your options. Using reviews on comparison websites, you should compare the following to ensure you understand the costs and benefits associated with each card:

What do I need to compare?

  • Interest rates on purchases, cash advances and balance transfer
  • Annual fees
  • Interest-free periods
  • Credit card reward programs including the partnered program, earn rates and how you can earn and redeem points
  • Complimentary insurances including travel insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty cover
  • Additional cardholders and whether they come with an additional fee
  • Extra benefits such as concierge services and airline lounge passes that’ll help you offset the costs of the card

Comparing your credit card options will help you narrow down your search and will ensure that you’re selecting your next card based on an informed decision.


Tip #3: Check the eligibility requirements

There are specific eligibility requirements for each credit card, so make sure you know what these are and are confident you have met them before applying. Rejected credit card applications can have a negative impact on your credit score. Essentially, you must be able to prove you have a good track record of managing credit in a responsible way. If your credit history’s less than ideal, it may be wise to delay your application and spend time improving your credit score. Find out more about the typical eligibility requirements for credit cards in Singapore.

Tip #4: Lower your credit utilisation ratio

If you already have a credit card balance, it’s wise to pay off your existing balances before submitting a new credit card application. This is because having a high debt utilisation ratio is a poor indication of credit-worthiness. It reduces the likelihood of a successful application. To calculate your ratio, divide the total current balances on your cards by their total limits.

How to lower your utilisation ratio

For example, if the limits on your three cards are S$5,000 each, and you have S$4,000 balance on each of them, your ratio is S$12,000/S$15,000 = 80%. A healthy ratio is typically 30% or less. If you’re struggling to repay your debts because of high-interest rates, consider consolidating your debt with a 0% balance transfer credit card.

Tip #5: Bank with your credit card provider-to-be

Opening a savings account or debit account with the bank you’re applying with could help with the application process. Firstly, it will significantly speed up your application, because you’re an existing customer and the bank has already verified that you are a legitimate customer.

Secondly, if you have a transaction or savings account with them, where your salary is deposited monthly, it proves that you have a paying job and a regular income stream. If you apply online and do it via internet banking, your application becomes even faster because your details will usually already be pre-populated on the forms. As long as they meet the eligibility requirements, existing customers can sometimes get approved quicker than other applicants without the hassle of providing further documentation.

What to remember during the credit card application process

Once you’ve done some research, ensured you’ve met the eligibility requirements and selected a card, you can apply for your chosen credit card. While filling out your credit card application, make sure to keep the following tips in mind:

Tip #6: Check your details

You’ll be asked to provide a lot of information during your application including addresses, contact numbers, referee details, current and previous employment, salary, outstanding debts and monthly expenses (just to name a few). While it might seem like a lot of information, it’s important to fill it out correctly and read over it before submitting the application. Mistakes on your application could slow down the process or result in a declined application. For instance, if you omit details of an outstanding balance and the bank later finds it on your credit file, they could think you’re trying to hide the debt from them and could decline your application.

Tip #7: Organise the required documentsccf-application-tips-250x250

As well as eligibility requirements, you’ll be required to provide a number of documents with your application. Supporting documents you’ll typically be asked for include:

  • Personal information and ID
  • You’ll have to indicate your Singapore residency status
  • Most lenders require a valid email address and contact number
  • You will need to provide your current home address
  • Your latest payslip/s
  • Latest Income Tax Notice of Assessment, or latest 6 months’ CPF contribution history statement
  • Some lenders may also need you to indicate your total number of dependents (i.e. your children) on a credit card application

Note that if you’re applying for a supplementary card for another person, you will need to supply mandatory basic personal information and proof of identity for the other applicant.

Tip #8: State your actual income

This is no time to be modest or to exaggerate your income. Deflating your income may sabotage your application by reducing the bank’s opinion of your ability to finance a debt. So if you have multiple sources of income (such as from part-time employment, freelance jobs or government payments), make sure to include these details. Fabricating or inflating your income, on the other hand, is considered fraud and punishable by law.

How to apply for a credit card when you’re self-employed

Mistakes to avoid when applying for a credit card

Aside from the tips to follow before and during your application, the following are common mistakes to avoid if you want to increase your chances of approval.

Tip #9: Don’t apply for multiple cards at once or within a short period

You may be tempted to apply for more than one credit card just in case your first one doesn’t get approved, but don’t. Each credit enquiry that a lender makes about your credit history is listed on your credit file for five years. If you apply for a lot of credit cards at once or within a few months, it could appear to lenders that you have a lot of debt, even if that isn’t true. This could leave you in a vicious cycle of applying for credit cards and not having them approved.

In fact, some banks will automatically reject your application if you’ve recently applied for a credit card. For example, Citi states in its terms and conditions that your application may not be approved if you’ve applied for and been accepted for another Citi offer in the prior nine months. Be aware that this may be the case for other lenders too.

Tip #10: Don’t apply for balance transfers between cards funded by the same bank

Note that you can only transfer the balance of a card that isn’t funded by the same bank as your new card. This can be tricky because it’s not always clear which bank funds what credit card.

Applying for a credit card is a relatively simple process and can take as little as 15 minutes. However, if you don’t do your research beforehand, ensure you meet the eligibility requirements and prepare the necessary documents, you’ll likely reduce your chances of approval.

What else do I need to remember when applying?

  • Supporting documentation. After you have submitted the initial application (or during the application), you will also be required provide documentation that supports the information provided. This typically includes identifying documents with a photo, several recent payslips and/or tax documents.
  • Document submission. Check how the process works for verifying your documents. In some cases, you may be able upload copies online via a secure service, while in others you might have to bring them to a branch.
  • “Instant” approval. Most credit card applications you submit online will provide you with a response within 60 seconds. Remember that if you are approved at this stage, you may still have to provide the supporting documents in order to receive and activate your card.

If you’ve found a credit card you like and checked that you’re eligible to apply for it, having all of these details ready will help you fill out the online credit card application as quickly as possible. When you’re ready to commit to a credit card that meets your needs, simply click the green ‘Go to site’ button in the table below to get your credit card application started.

Compare cards and apply securely

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
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.
$337.05 annual fee
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
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
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
$321 annual fee
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
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
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
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
Get a welcome gift of $300 cash back when you spend $800 in the first two months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2022.

Compare up to 4 providers

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