Credit Cards

The Best Student Credit Cards in Singapore 2018

best student credit card Singapore 2018

Clara Lim

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When I was a student, the only plastic I had was an ATM card for withdrawing cash, so once I was out of cash I had to suck it up and ask my parents for an advance on my allowance. Things are pretty different today. It’s hard to get by if you don’t have a credit or debit card, even if you’re a student.

Some of the benefits of credit and debit cards for students include:

  • You can make online purchases without asking your parents
  • You can use mobile apps that make your life better (and cheaper), e.g. bike-sharing apps
  • You don’t have to worry about running out of cash, since merchants like McDonald’s and Starbucks accept cards

 

Did you say credit cards? Aren’t they for working adults?

Most credit cards in Singapore are aimed at working adults and require applicants to have a minimum income.

However, there are several credit cards for students on the market. Unlike the usual credit cards, they have no minimum income requirement, no annual fees (or automatic waived fees) and a modest credit limit (the max amount you can charge to your card, e.g. $500).

 

But I already have a debit card. What’s the difference?

In terms of usage, credit cards are pretty interchangeable with debit cards. Most places that accept Visa or Mastercard don’t care if you use a debit card or credit card.

The difference is in how they work. Debit cards deduct funds directly from your account. You never have to worry about paying bills, but you need to make sure your bank account has enough funds for your spending.

On the other hand, credit cards basically let you borrow money from the bank, which you need to return at the end of the month. Otherwise, you will have to pay interest and extra fees ON TOP of the original amount you owe. Basically, using a credit card is like borrowing from an extremely polite loan shark.

But, with a credit card, you can make purchases even when you don’t have the actual cash in your bank account. That’s good for those with cash flow issues, but could be a disaster for people who cannot control their spending.

Also, if you’re ever unlucky enough to get scammed (touch wood) it’s easier to block the transaction with a credit card – whereas if you use a debit card, say bye-bye to your funds.

 

OK, I understand the risks. So what credit cards can I get with no income?

While there is no lack of debit cards for students to choose from, there are only a few student credit card options:

Credit card Requirements Key features
DBS Live Fresh Student Card Singapore citizen or PR only

18 to 27 years old

Student at local university or polytechnic

0.3% cashback on everything

Free Uber rides (worth $30) with min. 5 transactions (until 31 Mar 2018)

Early Bird discount for Ultra Singapore 2018 tickets

Maybank eVibes Card Singapore citizen or PR only

18 to 30 years old

Student at (or NSF accepted to) local university or polytechnic

1% cashback on everything

Sign-up gift: Adidas watch (worth $120)

Discounts on Zilingo, Agoda

Discounts under Maybank TREATS programme

Citibank Clear Card 18 years old & above

Student of one of 21 tertiary institutions

10% rebate at Starbucks

5% rebate at Subway

Other discounts under Citibank rebate programmes

Earn Citi Dollars rewards points

Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card 18 years old & above

Student at NUS, STU, SMU, SUSS, Chicago Booth

0.25% cashback on everything

 

DBS student credit card: DBS Live Fresh Student Card

DBS Live Fresh Visa Student Card

DBS Live Fresh Visa Student Card


Card Benefits

    • 0.3% cashback on online shopping and contactless payments
    • Contactless payments: Visa payWave, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay
    • Enjoy 5-year annual fee waiver

    The DBS Live Fresh Student Card has a very attractive 5-year annual fee waiver, which is way longer than any other student credit card.

    That means you can sign up for this at the start of your course and continue to use it even after graduating and getting your first job, after which it’s easy to convert it into the “adult” version of the Live Fresh card for a higher credit limit and much more benefits.

    However, it is the most restrictive student card – it’s only for students of the 6 local universities and 5 polytechnics.

    Benefits of DBS Live Fresh Student Card

    • 0.3% cashback on all spend
    • Limited-time-only promotions e.g. free Uber rides up to $30
    • 5 years annual fee waiver

    Eligibility for DBS Live Fresh Student Card

    • Singaporeans and PRs
    • 18 to 27 years old
    • Undergrad students of local universities: NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SUSS (ex-SIM), SIT
    • Students of local polytechnics: Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic

    Maybank student credit card: Maybank eVibes Card

    For local students, the Maybank eVibes Card is another student credit card to consider. It’s also open to NSFs waiting to start school.

    It gives you a much higher 1% cashback on all spending, plus there’s a current sign-up gift of an Adidas watch. You also get 10% discount on online store Zilingo plus other discounts and promotions for Maybank cardholders.

    One perk to highlight is the Agoda promotion of 8% off selected hotels. You might want to use this credit card if you want to travel during school holidays or are planning a grad trip.

    This credit card has a quarterly fee of $5, but new sign-ups get it waived for 2 years. Subsequently, it’s easy to waive – just charge anything to your card every quarter.

    Benefits of Maybank eVibes Card

    • Sign-up gift: Adidas watch (worth $120)
    • 1% cashback on all spend
    • 10% off Zilingo (storewide)
    • Up to 8% off on Agoda (selected hotels)
    • Quarterly fee is waived with min. 1 transaction per quarter

    Eligibility for Maybank eVibes Card

    • Singaporeans and PRs
    • 18 to 30 years old
    • Students of local universities: NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SUSS (ex-SIM), SIT
    • Students of local polytechnics: Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic
    • Students of other schools: NAFA, LASALLE, NIE
    • NSFs accepted to any of the above can apply too

     

    Citibank student credit card: Citibank Clear Card

    The Citi Clear Card used to be a top choice for many students because it used to give you free entry to Zouk. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

    Now you get only a 10% rebate at Starbucks and 5% rebate at Subway (with minimum $10 spend). You can also use this card to earn Citi Dollar rewards points and enjoy other Citibank promotions.

    The Citi Clear Card has less strict requirements compared to the other credit cards. It has the widest range of schools eligible, including business schools like INSEAD and SP Jain. So if you’re a non-local student or studying outside of the major schools in Singapore, this is a card you can apply for.

    Benefits of Citibank Clear Card

    • 10% rebate at Starbucks with min. $10 spend
    • 5% rebate at Subway with min. $10 spend
    • Other discounts & rewards under Citibank programmes
    • 1 year fee waiver

    Eligibility for Citibank Clear Card

    • 18 years old & above
    • Students of local universities: NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SUSS (ex-SIM), SIT
    • Students of local polytechnics: Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic
    • Students of other schools: Lasalle, NAFA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, DigiPen, ESSEC, GIST-TUM Asia, INSEAD, S P Jain, Tisch, UNLV

     

    SCB student credit card: Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card

    Another no-frills student card, the Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card’s key benefit is 0.25% cashback on all spend, the lowest among all the student credit cards.

    Also, it’s only open to students of 5 schools in Singapore. But if you qualify for this card, you also qualify for one of the better credit cards on this list – so skip this one unless you have no choice.

    Note that there’s a version of this card for working adults that has a substantially lower income requirement than other credit cards ($18,000 a year, rather than the standard $30,000), so this might be one to consider if you’re not studying but aren’t earning enough for other credit cards.

    Benefits of SCB Manhattan $500 Card

    • 0.25% cashback on all spend
    • 1 year fee waiver

    Eligibility for SCB Manhattan $500 Card

    • 18 years old & above
    • Students of the following universities: NUS, NTU, SMU, SUSS (ex-SIM), University of Chicago Booth School of Business

     

    Conclusion: Which student credit card should I get?

    The majority of local students will go for the DBS Live Fresh Student Card purely because it’s familiar and memorable, but the Maybank eVibes card is a worthy contender, too, especially for students who plan to travel.

    If you’re enrolled in a private institution, you don’t really have many options. Among the student cards available, the Citibank Clear Card is your only choice.

    Fortunately, there are other alternatives to student credit cards in Singapore. Here are 3 to consider:

    • Debit card, e.g. DBS Visa Debit Card, OCBC FRANK
    • Supplementary credit card, which is linked to one of your parents’ credit cards
    • Prepaid credit card, which is pre-loaded with funds e.g. FEVO card

    Do/did you use a student credit card? Which one? Tell us why in the comments!

     

    Related articles:

    Should Students Have Credit Cards?

    7 Mistakes Uni Students Travelling During Their Summer Break Should Avoid at All Cost

    4 Money Saving Tips for Uni Students Starting a New Semester

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    Clara Lim

    I used to be MoneyDumb. I hung out at H&M every day and thought that a $50 lunch set was a good deal. These days, I spend my time researching the crap out of life and trying to maximise utility on micro-decisions. I'm not sure if that's an improvement.