[Credit Card] Annual Fee: To pay or not to pay?

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Just got off a happy call with American Express staffs (Best customer service in my opinion across all banks.) over my American Express Platinum Credit Card annual fee and decided to close it as annual fee benefit is not fantastic. (25,000 points which converts to 13,500 miles for SG$321. Earn rate? 42.056 miles per SG$1.) By closing this credit card, I can consolidate my split credit limit to my American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card (When you have 2 credit cards with American Express, they split up your total credit limit among 2 credit cards and is not shared like other banks.) and this credit card has also helped me waived off annual fee for my American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card. Besides that, I can always wait 6 months to get this credit card again for free.

Amex Platinum

Bye Ameican Express Platinum Credit Card! See you again in 6 months time!

So you may ask this golden question on which credit card should you be paying annual fee for? In my current credit card arsenal, there are 3 credit cards that I will pay annual fee for:

PremierMiles

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

Altitude Visa

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card

Altitude Amex

DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card

These 3 credit cards charge an annual fee of SG$192.60 and give you 10,000 miles each. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1. Versus SG$321 for 13,500 miles for American Express Platinum Credit Card. Why should I pay SG$128.40 more for 3,500 miles? That is too little.) By combining these 3 credit cards together, you earn 30,000 miles which is sufficient for return economy saver redemption on Singapore Airlines for Taipei.

Below is a table to summarize how easy or difficult it is to get your credit card annual fee waived based on my understanding and experience.

Bank Note
UOB
  • Easiest to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Punch in credit card number over voice system to get instant decision. (Update 5 March 2016: No longer an instant decision over system. Need to talk to staff over phone.)
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
Citibank
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
DBS
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
Standard Chartered
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
American Express
  • Not so easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision and options.
  • Usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
OCBC
  • Damn difficult to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Take damn long to be able to reach a staff over phone for discussion.
  • SG$5,000 annual usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Inconsistency: Heard some of my friends getting credit card annual fee waived by OCBC even though they never use their OCBC credit card at all.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

[Credit card] Primer

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You are now studying in Polytechnic/University or just started your first job and want to get your first credit card but do not earn more than SG$30,000 per annum? You can and there are options available: Credit cards with SG$500 credit limit.

Well, SG$500 credit limit may not seems much. But these cards served me well when I started on credit cards. They helped me in building up a good credit discipline and increase my spending power when combined.

So here are 2 credit cards that I started on with SG$500 credit limit each long time ago.

Here are the requirements on these credit cards:

  • Age requirement: 18 years old minimum at time of application. (21 years old for other credit cards usually.)
  • Nationality: Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident. (Foreigners on employment pass allowed with higher annual income required usually for other credit cards.)
  • Parent/Guardian consent required for applicant age below 21 at time of registration.
  • Must not be a principal credit card/credit line holder.
  • Non student: Minimum SG$18,000 income per annum. (Standard Chartered Manhattan Platinum MasterCard. Usually SG$30,000 minimum for other credit cards.)

What is required when applying for credit cards:

  • Photocopy of NRIC/Passport.
  • Computerized payslip (Latest minimum. Recommend to submit 3 months.), Income tax Notice of Assessment or 12 months CPF contribution statement. (Self employed individuals will need to submit more.)
  • Completed application form.

What to watch out when applying for credit cards:

  • Annual fee: About SG$30 for these cards. (Usually 1st year waived. Subsequent waiver at bank’s discretion.)
  • Credit limit: SG$500. (Usually 2-4x of your monthly income at bank’s discretion for other credit cards.)
  • Interest rate: About 24% per annum or a minimum amount as stipulated by bank. (Interest can be scary and you will be playing with your credit score if you default. You have been warned.)
  • Statement date: Please call bank after you received your credit card to know your statement generation/cut off date. (This will help you in planning your purchases.)
  • Payment grace period: About 20 days. Pay fully within grace period and there will not be any interest charge.
  • Cash advancement fee: About 6% of amount advanced or a minimum amount as stipulated by bank.
  • Other fees like late fee or over limit fee which you should never ever need to pay if your credit discipline is good.

How to decide which card to get:

  • Your spending habit/pattern:
    • If you are a party guy/gal that frequent Zouk, get Citibank Clear Visa as that credit card offer free entry and 1-for-1 drinks at Zouk.
    • If you are after cashback, get Standard Chartered Manhattan Platinum MasterCard as that credit card offers 0.25% cashback in this case.
    • For other credit cards, you will want to look at rewards on offer and flexibility in redeeming rewards.
  • Bank: If you have any bad blood with any bank or if bank does not has a good reputation, you will not likely want to get a credit card with them. Unless benefit is unrivalled.
  • Payment method:
    • Internet banking (Must have!)
    • SAM (Cut off time 5pm.)
    • AXS. (Cut off time 8pm.)
  • Payment network: Usually I recommend 1 Visa, 1 MasterCard and 1 American Express credit card per bank (At least 2 banks. Just in case 1 bank’s cards just all decide to die on you. It can happen!) for maximum acceptance across the globe. (JCB is an exotic 1 for Japan. Only offered by UOB in Singapore.)
  • Gold/Platinum/Visa Signature/MasterCard Titanium/MasterCard World:
    • Gold is like entry level for American Express. (E.G. American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold credit card.)
    • Platinum is like entry level for Visa/MasterCard/JCB. Premium for American Express.
    • Visa Signature is usually targeted at frequent flyers.
    • MasterCard Titanium is just a fancy gimmick by MasterCard in my opinion. Only offered by OCBC in Singapore.
    • MasterCard World is similar to Visa Signature in terms of level.
  • Contactless payment solution:
    • Visa payWave
    • MasterCard PayPass
    • American Express
    • EZ-LINK
    • NETS FlashPay

Hope this helps as a good start to your journey with credit cards.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

Welcome to Have Cards Will Travel

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Lot of friends know me as lobang king, mileage guy, credit card guy and many other nicknames. They will often ask about which credit card to get/use to maximize their returns and I do post on Facebook about using miles earned from credit cards to fly in premium cabins like SQ Business Class and Suites. (SG$38.50 + 31,875 miles vs SG$2,768.50 for Hong Kong one way Suites ticket on SQ sounds good? Savings of SG$2,730.) So after some thinking, I decide to set up this site to share more about:

  • Credit cards that I own. 25 and counting…
  • Travel reviews.
    Airport, airport lounges and cabin products.
  • Membership cards.
    Some deals are just not available with credit cards.
  • Mobile applications.
    Some mobile applications can be life saver when I want to find deals or globetrotting.
  • Gear.
    Typical geek here.
  • Deals. (Duh…)
    What’s lobang king without deals.

Please note that posts here are not paid advertorials unless stated.

So before I end this post, will like to share this picture of a credit card that I own (No more…) which feature a mantra that I believe in.

Frank

I like the quote. But not the card anymore.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.