If you're looking at this right now, I would imagine you to be a Singaporean (or Singapore resident, or a new expat) in your 20s who has just stepped foot into the working world not too long ago. Just like me, you must be excited to be finally making your own money after living off your parents for the past 20+ years or so. With so many credit cards available in the market, and so many bank salespeople flocking to you at MRT stations, you're probably asking yourself which credit card you should get.
Here, we at GET.com suggest that you consider these 4 things before settling on your first ever credit card that isn't a student credit card with a $500 credit limit you used to use to get into Zouk for free. This is the first adult credit card that you're going to be applying for with a legitimate payroll at hand, so do take some time to think through how you will handle one and which one is apt for you.
4 things to consider before getting your first credit card
1. Why do you want a card?
If you want a credit card just because it's a status thing which symbolises your earning ability, think again. Credit cards are great tools that can help you save money if you know how to make them work for you, not the other way around where you're slapped with credit card debts that don't stop snowballing.
Good job if you've done your homework and you're aware that credit cards offer a myriad of benefits that debit cards don't provide, even though you're spending that money anyway. Here you can see the differences between debit and credit cards.
Basically, there's more financial responsibility required of you when you get a credit card. You need to pay off everything you use, ideally in full, so as to not be drowned in fees and late payment charges. This is a very important habit to get into from the very start.
2. What are your spending habits like?
Answer truthfully - how much do you spend and where do you spend the bulk of your money, generally?
Do you always pay off all your debts (even those $10 you borrowed from a friend for lunch) or do try to wait as long as possible to pay off everything you owe?
If you're not in the habit of paying off your debts or if you see yourself paying only the minimum sums at the end of the month and carrying your credit card balance over to the next month, beware. This behaviour will make you have to pay late payment fees and interest charges and you could end up spiraling into serious debt.
Do you save your money or do you live dangerously from month to month without a care for the world or your bank balance?
A good tip to always keep in mind is to not spend beyond your means whether or not you're getting a credit card, because being in debt doesn't sound like much fun to any logical being.
All that stress and anxiety can be avoided if you make sure to only spend within and under your means. That means, you'll only charge purchases to your credit card knowing that you have the ability to pay off what you've used before the banks even jump in on opportunities to hound you with interest charges.
If you are conscious of the fact that you spend mindlessly and you are a terrible friend who borrows but never ever returns the money, scratch the idea of getting a credit card for now. You do not want to be burdened by your lack of discipline when it comes to money.
Just because you are terrible with money right now doesn't mean that all hope is lost. You have the power to rectify your own behaviour and there are easy ways to get yourself into a money-saving mode. Here are 5 money-saving tips for millennials in Singapore to get you started.
3. What type of card best suits your lifestyle?
There are so many different cards in the market, we're thoroughly spoiled for choice. There are rewards credit cards, cashback credit cards, travel credit cards, low interest credit cards, credit cards that help you save on petrol and lots of other kinds of cards.
If you don't want to go through the hassle of digging through the T&Cs of tons of different cards online in order to find the right card for you, here's where a website that compares credit cards like GET.com comes in handy.
Are you looking for a card that lets you score awesome drinking and dining deals, discounted movie tickets, rebates at certain stores you frequent or are you mainly looking for a tool that rewards you for paying your mundane bills?
Determine the reason why you want a card and whether you're eligible for the card you're aiming for. Take note of requirements like how much you need earn per annum, your age, the time period you've been employed for, your CPF contributions and so on.
Different cards have got different rewards programmes as a matter of fact, so it really helps for you to be conscientious in doing your homework to determine which card gives you most bang for your buck.
4. What are the fees to take note of?
Take note of things like annual fees, foreign transaction fees, late payment fees, balance transfer fees and interest rates. The latter applies when you don't pay your credit card bills in full, when banks zap in to let the double-edged compounding interest do its thing.
Annual fees apply to most cards (though there are some cards that are free for life) and there's really no harm in calling the banks to request for a fee waiver. But before you do that, make sure that you've got a solid record and that you've always paid up punctually.
A foreign transaction fee is a fee that you're charged when you use your card to make a purchase outside of Singapore or when you make purchases in another currency.
Like its name suggests, late payment charges will be billed to you if you pay, well, late. There's typically a certain grace period for you to pay your balance (at least the minimum amount) but if you don't pay your bills on time or if you just happened to forget, be prepared to fork out extra money.
In the case of balance transfer fees, note that charges apply when you move a balance from one credit card to another. If you want to transfer a balance, look for a card that has a 0 per cent introductory balance transfer offer since this can save you a lot of money.
Some credit cards for your consideration
Depending on what you prefer to spend on and the different rewards programmes available in the market, pick a card that best suits your lifestyle needs to get the most out of it. The cards that we've chosen here are all pretty accessible - you only need to be making a minimum of $30,000 per annum in order to be eligible to apply for them.
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