4 types of credit cards with lifetime annual fee waivers

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Imagine never having to call to waive your credit card annual fee… ever. That’s the dream, isn’t it? Here are four ways to get lifetime annual fee waivers.

Most credit cards in Singapore come with annual fee waivers for only the first year or two of usage. After all, the providers want to make it easy and appealing for you to switch to their credit cards. 

But once that ‘free trial’ ends, you might get charged with a hefty annual fee (typically $180 + GST). Once you recover from the shock of seeing that $192.60 line item on your credit card bill, you can usually call in and ask the credit card company to waive it. However, there is a chance your request will get denied.

If you can’t get your annual fee waived, then you can simply cancel your credit card to avoid paying the fee. But that leaves you short of your favourite credit card, and you’ll probably need to update your billing arrangements. 

In short, credit card annual fees can be waived, but the process can be quite bothersome. If you really don’t enjoy all this administrative hassle, opt for these four types of credit cards that offer lifetime annual fee waivers.

#1 Credit cards with no annual fees

Malaysian bank CIMB’s credit cards don’t get a lot of hype. But we like that CIMB charges no annual fees, ever, on all of its credit cards. All four CIMB credit cards that you can compare here are free for life, no strings attached. 

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That said, some of the credit card mechanics can be a little complicated.

For lazy credit card users who like to avoid the hassle, we recommend the CIMB World Mastercard as it has no minimum spending requirement.

However, you have to earn at least $50,000 a year to qualify for this card.

If you don’t meet that income requirement, CIMB has the Platinum Mastercard and Visa Signature for $30,000 annual incomes. You can compare the CIMB credit cards through SingSaver.

If none of the CIMB credit cards appeal to you, consider getting a debit card. Most (but not all!) debit cards in Singapore also have no annual fees for life.

#2 Credit cards with automatic fee waivers

Another way to get a near-perpetual annual fee waiver on your credit card is to pick one with an automatic fee waiver function.

DBS/POSB, OCBC, UOB and Maybank all offer automatic fee waivers once you hit their stipulated minimum annual spend. So as long as you spend this amount every year, you’ll never have to call and ask for a fee waiver. 

The minimum spend varies from card to card, and not all credit cards are eligible. Below, we’ve compiled the credit cards with the lowest thresholds for automatic annual fee waivers.

Credit card Annual fee Minimum spend for auto fee waiver
Maybank Platinum Visa Card $20 per quarter N/A, just spend every 3 months
Singtel-UOB Card $192.60 N/A, just charge your Singtel bill
OCBC Plus! Visa Credit Card $107 $2,500
OCBC Robinsons Credit Card $192.60 $3,000
Maybank Manchester United Visa Platinum Card $80 $3,600
OCBC Best Denki Credit Card $160.50 $5,000
OCBC Great Eastern Cashflo Credit Card $160.50 $5,000
Other OCBC credit cards Varies $10,000
Maybank FC Barcelona Credit Card $120 $10,000
UOB One Card $192.60 $12,000
DBS Woman’s MasterCard $160.50 $15,000

For low spenders, we would recommend either the Maybank Platinum Visa Card or the OCBC Plus! Visa Credit Card. 

The Maybank Platinum card charges a quarterly fee instead of an annual one. But to get it waived, you just need to charge something to the card every quarter. That’s it. There’s no minimum amount.

Another option is the OCBC Plus! Visa Credit Card. Your annual fee is waived as long as you spend $2,500 a year (about $208 a month on average). It also gives you discounts at NTUC FairPrice, so it’s not a bad card for a low-maintenance Singaporean.

If you are consistently spending at least $1,000 a month on assorted bills and household expenses, you may want to opt for the UOB One Card as it’ll give you a $100 rebate every quarter. In addition, your annual fee is automatically waived since you hit the minimum annual spend of $12,000.

3. Free credit cards based on memberships

If you happen to be a member of NTUC or SAFRA, you’re already eligible for a no-annual-fee credit card. These organisations have co-branded credit cards with perpetual annual fee waivers as long as the cardholder remains a paying member.

The SAFRA DBS Card is a relatively fuss-free credit card. Just spend at least $500 a month to get 3 per cent cash rebates on your online spending and contactless payments. SAFRA membership is open to NSFs/NSmen, and fees range from $80 (2 years) to $405 (10 years).

Another no-fee credit card you may already qualify for is the NTUC Plus! Visa Credit Card, which lets you save at NTUC FairPrice and Esso outlets. If you’re not yet a member, you can sign up for NTUC membership anytime. It costs $117 per year and comes with union benefits.

4. Free credit cards for priority banking customers

Finally, you can get a perpetual annual fee waiver if you are a priority banking customer with HSBC, Maybank or DBS. The corresponding credit card’s annual fee will be waived perpetually, as long as you remain a member of the programme.

Credit card Priority banking programme How to qualify
HSBC Advance Credit Card HSBC Advance Salary credit of $3,500 per month
Maybank Privilege Horizon Visa Signature Card Maybank Privilege Deposit or invest at least $50,000
DBS Treasures Black Elite Card DBS Treasures Deposit or invest at least $350,000

The eligibility criteria for HSBC Advance is surprisingly accessible, and the credit card perks are decent too — you get up to 3.5 per cent cashback with no minimum spend or bonus categories to fuss with.

You can sign up for the HSBC Advance credit card via SingSaver and then join the HSBC Advance programme to get the perpetual fee waiver.

This article was first published in SingSaver.com.sg