Credit cards for expats

Expats living and working in Singapore can choose from most of the same credit cards that are available to citizens and permanent residents. You may have to jump through a few more hoops when applying, but you’ll appreciate the local rewards and benefits that come with a credit card issued in Singapore. Compare your options here.

Managed by Yvonne Taylor   |   Verified by Kwok Zhong Li   |   Updated 27th January 2020

Comparing 9 credit cards for expats.
OCBC Plus! Visa Credit Card

On OCBC's website

OCBC Plus! Visa Credit Card

Highlights

  • Up to 12% off at Fairprice outlets, Unity and Warehouse Club and up to 8% at Fairprice Online
  • 3% rebate at Cheers and Popular
  • Save up to 20.6% at Esso, 18% at Caltex, 20% at Sinopec
  • 1% rebate on your recurring bills with M1, Starhub, and Singtel
  • 0.22% Linkpoint rewards on all Visa spends

Finty Rewards

  • $10 cash upon getting your card, even for existing OCBC cardholders

Bank promo

  • $50 cash rebate
CIMB Platinum MasterCard Credit Card

On CIMB's website

CIMB Platinum MasterCard Credit Card

Highlights

  • 10% rebate on travel ticket and hotel bookings worldwide
  • 10% rebate on health, beauty, and wellness expenses worldwide
  • All other purchases get you unlimited 0.2% rebate, no min spend needed
  • Principal card is free
  • Admin fee on foreign currency transactions is as good as free

Finty Rewards

  • $5 cash upon getting your card, even for existing CIMB cardholders

Bank promo

  • $120 cash credit
Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

On Citi's website

Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

Highlights

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 overseas spend and 1.2 miles per $1 local spend, miles won’t expire on you
  • Access to over 1,000 airport lounges with Priority Pass membership
  • Up to $1 mil travel insurance coverage is awesome
  • Up to 10% rebate at over 500 merchants
  • Earn miles or reward points when you pay your tax, rent, condominium management fee, school fee or electricity bill with Citi PayAll on the Citi Mobile® App

Finty Rewards

  • $10 cash upon getting your card, even for existing Citi cardholders

Bank promo

  • 40,000 miles
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card

On HSBC's website

HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card

Highlights

  • 5% rebate local grocers and on your recurring TV, internet, and mobile bills
  • Save 20.2% at Caltex and 18.30% at Shell on petrol
  • 2% rebate at local restaurants
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spend for rewards on top of cash rebate

Finty Rewards

  • $10 cash upon getting your card, even for existing HSBC cardholders

Bank promo

  • Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner Luggage worth $560 or $150 cashback ($30 cashback for existing HSBC cardholders)
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

On American Express' website

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

Highlights

  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spend with Singapore Airlines, KrisShop, SilkAir, or SilkAir Skyshop, also overseas spend in June and December
  • All other purchases earn you 1.1 miles per $1 spend
  • Earn 3.1 miles per $1 spend on Grab rides, up to $200 each month
  • All miles are auto credited to your KrisFlyer account, sparing you the hassle
  • Up to $350,000 travel insurance coverage

Bank promo

  • 18,000 miles
Standard Chartered Rewards+ Credit Card

On Standard Chartered's website

Standard Chartered Rewards+ Credit Card

Highlights

  • Earn up to 10 points per $1 spend in foreign currency on overseas retail, dining and travel transactions
  • Up to 5 points for every $1 spend on dining transactions, and 1 point for every $1 spend on all eligible spend
  • No min spend and enough points can get you cash, miles, items, or vouchers for dining, shopping, or travel
  • Exclusive privileges, 1-for-1 Platinum Movie Suites Tickets with Cathay Cineplexes, 50% off à la carte dining at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore

Finty Rewards

  • $30 cash upon getting your card, even for existing SC cardholders

Bank promo

  • $80 cashback, no min spend ($20 cashback for existing SC cardholders)
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature

On Maybank's website

Maybank Horizon Visa Signature

Highlights

  • Up to 3.2 miles per $1 spend on dining, petrol, taxi and travel expenses
  • Complimentary access to selected VIP airport lounges
  • Up to $1 mil travel insurance coverage
  • 3 years annual fee waiver

Finty Rewards

  • $10 cash upon getting your card, even for existing Maybank cardholders

Bank promo

  • $100 cash credit
DBS Live Fresh Student Card

DBS Live Fresh Student Card

Highlights

  • No min income required, but mind that $500 credit limit
  • Earn 3 points per $5 spend online or when you pay with Visa payWave
  • All other purchases still earn you 1 point per $5 spend
  • Redeem points as vouchers for petrol, shopping, dining, travel, or entertainment
  • Just activate EZ-Reload and voila, this card can double as your EZ-Link card
UOB PRVI Miles World MasterCard Credit Card

UOB PRVI Miles World MasterCard Credit Card

Highlights

  • Earn a sweet 6 miles per $1 spend on flight or hotel bookings through Expedia or UOB Travel
  • Also earn 2.4 miles per $1 overseas spend and 1.4 miles per $1 local spend
  • Redeem miles at over 40 airlines
  • Flexibility to redeem miles, cash rebates, or vouchers
  • Up to $1 mil travel insurance coverage is awesome

Q&As

Can an expat foreigner apply for a credit card in Singapore?

Certainly. There are no rules or restrictions preventing expats from applying for a Singapore credit card.

Are there specific credit cards for expats and foreigners in Singapore?

There are no credit cards intended exclusively for expats, but there are plenty of credit cards with features that expats will appreciate, such as air miles, complimentary travel insurance, hotel upgrades and golfing privileges.

Is it difficult for an expat to be approved for a credit card in Singapore?

Not particularly, although not all banks offer credit cards to expats, and the eligibility requirements are often higher for expats than they are for Singaporeans. You will need to supply documents for proof of identity, residential address and income, just as Singaporeans or permanent residents do. The only difference is that the minimum income requirement may be higher for foreigners than for locals, and your proof of identity will be a certified copy of the personal details page in your foreign passport. You will also need to supply a a copy of your Employment Pass (P1, P2 or Q1, with at least one or possibly two years’ remaining validity), Personalised Employment Pass, EntrePass or Student Pass.

What is the minimum income an expat must have in order to be approved for a credit card in Singapore?

You will need a regular income of at least $40,000-$45,000 p.a. (possibly higher for premium cards). This is higher than the $30,000 p.a. income usually required for locals.

What other eligibility requirements and documents, bedsides income, do expats need to meet when applying for a credit card in Singapore?

You must be at least 21 years old (or 18 for a student credit card with parental consent), and you will need to supply:

  • A certified copy of the personal details page of your foreign passport
  • A copy of your visa/Employment Pass/Personalised Employment Pass/EntrePass/Student Pass.
  • Written verification of your employment in Singapore
  • Proof that you have opened a bank account in Singapore
  • Proof of your residential address, such as a copy of a utility bill showing your name and address, or any other official document showing your name and address (e.g. bank credit card statement, rental agreement)
  • Possibly, details of your regular monthly expenses (especially if you don’t have much information in your credit history file)

Why do some banks specify that expats must have a certain number of years remaining on their visa/Employment Pass before they can be approved for a credit card?

It’s because the bank needs to know that you plan to (and are able to) remain in Singapore long enough to repay any debt you may incur.

I don’t have any credit history in Singapore. Can I still apply for a credit card?

Although you may not have any substantial credit history with financial institutions in Singapore, you may still be able to prove your creditworthiness via non-traditional sources such as your housing rental payment record, utility bill payment record or payment for insurance premiums not automatically deducted from your salary. It may mean that you will be offered a lower credit limit than you would ideally like to begin with, but by maintaining regular monthly repayments on your credit card account you should quickly be able to build up a credit history and then apply for a higher credit limit.

What are typical interest rates on credit cards in Singapore?

Typical Singapore credit card interest rates – for balances not fully repaid by the monthly due date – fall into the range 15%-28% p.a. At the higher end, the rate may be well in excess of the interest rate you are accustomed to in your own country, so bear this in mind when planning your credit card spending and repayments. It’s also possible that credit card issuers may impose a higher interest rate on foreigners simply because they are considered a more risky proposition than locals.

I already have a credit card issued in my home country. Why can’t I just use that in Singapore?

There’s nothing to prevent you using your overseas credit card in Singapore, since all of the major credit card brands are now accepted worldwide. But you should seriously consider getting a Singaporean credit card in order to avoid possible foreign currency transaction fees (a surcharge on each transaction, usually more than 3% of the transaction value), exchange rate uncertainty, and perhaps complicated arrangements for paying off your foreign credit card balance each month. Having a Singaporean credit card is much easier.

Also consider that a foreign credit card is not going to offer you the same local benefits – such as restaurant, shopping or petrol discounts and cashback – as a card issued in Singapore. And having a Singaporean credit card may help if you need to enter into other financial contracts like a mobile phone plan or personal loan.

As an expat, how should I compare the credit cards on offer?

Take a look at your typical spending pattern (perhaps by looking at past statements from a credit or debit card you already have) and choose one that is going to offer the best rewards for the lowest cost based on the way you spend your money. If you travel overseas a lot, you might want to choose a card that lets you earn air miles and offers free travel insurance and airport lounge access. Those who enjoy wining and dining should be able to extract lots of benefit from a card giving higher rewards for restaurant spending while offering discounts at local eateries. The key is to try to match your spending pattern and lifestyle with the benefits offered, and then choose the lowest cost card from among the most suitable options.

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