Expats living and working in Singapore can choose from most of the same credit cards 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 of a credit card issued in Singapore. Compare your options here.
By Yvonne Taylor | Verified by Kwok Zhong Li | Updated 8 Mar 2023
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Helpful tips for expats and foreigners living in Singapore to get more credit card benefits.
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.
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.
Certainly. There are no rules or restrictions preventing expats from applying for a Singapore credit card.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You must be at least 21 years old (or 18 for a student credit card with parental consent), and you will need to supply:
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.
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