It’s not easy to find an optimum credit card arrangement at the salary range of S$30,000. Although you can technically get higher value credit cards (the range of S$30,000 is a requirement fixed by MAS, but it’s not illegal for banks to approve credit cards of a higher income point if they can stomach the risk), this is a post for entry level credit cards based on my own research over the past few months. Ripping off MileLion’s Pocket Guide format, here’s my analysis:
This list will only work if:
- You are not averse to the idea of having multiple cards to maximize spend on each card
- You don’t like minimum spend and don’t appreciate cashback at all
- You’re willing to pay related fees, such as conversion charges, etc.
- You don’t mind paying annual fees if it means you can buy miles at a rate of 2cpm (cents per mile) or lower
- You know exactly which merchants you use frequently, and whether they qualify for the abovestated card’s benefits or not
I used a base standard of 2mpd (miles per dollar) – anything below that is a bit too low for my liking. The average going rate for general spend is 1.2-1.4 miles, and I try not to touch any of those general spending cards because.. I just don’t like the idea of wasting miles for convenience. It makes me squeamish.
Anyway, let’s dig into each card.
The Citibank Rewards card makes a lot of sense if you do most of your shopping online. It mostly rewards you for shoes, bags, clothes and departmental store spend, either locally, overseas or online. The going rate is 4mpd for this, and though it gives a really rough 0.4mpd on all other spend, I’d say either this or the Citi Cashback card would give you a great introduction into the benefits of owning credit cards and enjoying their associated privileges.
The HSBC Revolution card is a great all-rounder card if you’re looking to rack up air miles, especially if you spend on their 3 categories of dining, online and entertainment for 5X Rewards (2mpd). But really, what else could you possibly be spending on? I find this card quite valuable as it gives you points on insurance premiums, and even concert bookings (hopefully this applies to plays as well). Do take note that they have very specific spend categories so note it down somewhere, plan before you lay your cash to rest.
If you’re intending to go on a grad trip, you might want to work for one year, and then go when you manage to get the DBS Altitude card. With 3 mpd for online hotel and flight transactions and 2 mpd for overseas spend, a grad trip to Europe could easily give you 7,500 miles (assuming S$1,500 spend on eligible online hotel & flights, and another S$1,500 spend on credit card overseas) – that’s enough to redeem a S$50 Scoot or Tigerair voucher if you think flying SQ short-haul is a waste. Although there’s a depreciation of anywhere from 0.05 cents to 0.07 cents – well, whatever floats your boat. Better hitting your cashback cap monthly and having the rest of your money count for nothing!
The DBS Woman’s Mastercard is the baby sister of the DBS Woman’s World Mastercard – the main difference lies in the points multiplier. With Platinum Mastercard version, you get a 5X reward on all online spend, but with the World Mastercard you get 10X. And yes, I said all online spend – it was quite hyped up based on its ability to earn points on FEVO top-ups (which makes your taxes clock miles for you) and on Paypal, all of which were threatened by a change in terms & conditions last year. Though I haven’t found any conclusive evidence that on the back-end things have changed, if it stops paying off rewards for FEVO, it puts quite the dampener on this card. I would, however use it based on how it rewards me for my gigantic spend on transport (read: Uber/Grab) per month, so it’s not a dealbreaker.. yet.
An additional note based on bank services: so far, I have found Citibank to have topped the list in terms of service, with CSOs who go all out to help you. DBS comes a close second, and HSBC has good CSOs but the hassle it takes to find their elusive customer service hotline each time just makes me dread calls. From personal experience, I don’t like dealing with UOB and OCBC – UOB for the horrific customer service and OCBC for their voice to text function which just isn’t smart enough yet. It’s not like a chatbot where you can just pick the phone up and call if it doesn’t work – if the VTT function doesn’t work on a call, I get pissed because obviously I called cos I need to speak to someone urgently. Anyway, Standard Chartered offers service that is not half bad either, and has some pretty good cashback cards too – just that I prefer Citibank and DBS above all.
While researching for my own credit card strategy, these were the websites that proved to be invaluable:
- Moneysmart.sg (and their app, Swipe)
- The Shutter Whale
- GetSG (not sure if they’re the same people behind Cardable)
I hope this helps in your decision on an entry level credit card!