Getting Charged for That Unsolicited Credit Card You Never Activated

credit card charges singapore

Have you ever received an unsolicited credit card before? If you have, did you activate it or did you simply discard it (hopefully via shredder) because you’ve already got enough plastic in your wallet already?

If you didn’t activate the card – don’t be surprised if you end up getting a bill from the credit card issuer for the card’s annual fee. “What the hell, they can’t do that!” You’re absolutely right – they can’t.

But whether it’s an honest error, a devious conspiracy to rip you off, or just plain laziness on the part of the credit card Issuer(s) – it is still happening as one of our readers, Daniel, just found out.


Have you ever received a credit card without your consent?

Remember the days when the banks used to send out credit cards to everyone who had a bank account and a few dollars to their name? Yeah, it wasn’t until late 2013 when all of that nonsense came to an end.

That’s when the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) revised the way Financial Institutions (FIs) did business.

Designed to transform the way FIs issue credit cards and unsecured credit, the Draft Amendments to Credit Cards and Unsecured Credit Card Rules included the following changes:

  • Required FIs to check the credit of borrowers before issuing credit cards
  • Required FIs to conduct credit bureau income checks before increasing credit limits
  • Required FIs to conduct credit bureau income checks whenever a borrower shows signs of having potential debt problems
  • Required FIs to disclose the total time needed to fully pay off debts with the minimum payment and how much debt would accumulate with 6 months non-payment
  • Required FIs to obtain a borrower’s consent in writing for any credit limit increase
  • Required FIs to enable borrowers to request their preferred credit limits

These changes were supposed to improve the lending practices of FIs, but unfortunately there were plenty of unsolicited credit cards sent before these measures came into being.

That’s when people like Daniel, who discarded such unwanted offers, received a nasty surprise in the mail just a few days ago.

“I just got a bill with an annual fee charge on a DBS Capita Visa Platinum card that was sent sometime in 2012 – and I’ve never even activated or used such a card,” explained Daniel. “I understand that recent regulations came into play that requires a card to be activated before any charges can be applied, but this card was sent prior to those changes taking effect.”

As you can imagine, upon receiving that statement of charges in the mail – an extremely uncomfortable phone exchange with the bank ensured and the problem was resolved.

However, that’s not the issue. What really pissed Daniel off the most was the time he wasted calling the bank to fix a problem that honestly shouldn’t even have occurred in the first place.


What can you do to prevent this from happening to you? 

It’s kind of scary to know that you might have some unsolicited credit card you received between 2012 and 2013 that will manifest itself back into your life in the form of an annual fee charge. That’s because most credit cards waive the annual fee for a year or more.

Other than waiting for that statement to come in from an unsolicited card, you can try checking your credit report with the Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS). It’s not free, but at $6.42, it’s a small price to pay to check on all of the “open” accounts you have – including unsolicited credit card accounts that the bank(s) may have “mistakenly” left open.

If you have online banking, you should also be able to see all the accounts you have with your bank – including any credit card accounts.

Of course, you might also receive such a statement without warning as well – and in that case, you’ll have no choice but to call the bank(s) and battle through numerous automated phone menus and waste tons of time just to speak to a human voice on the other end.

It’s unfortunate, but necessary. And on that note, I really only have one question for everyone reading this – how many of you have had to deal with the same bogus annual fee charge for an unsolicited card?


Get credit cards from well-reputed banks

Citibank logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
Faster Gift Redemption
Local Spend
S$1 = 1.2 Miles
All Foreign Currency Spend including Retail and Online
S$1 = 2 Miles
Selected Online Hotel Bookings
S$1 = Up to 10 Miles
MoneySmart Exclusive:

Apply and spend S$500 to get an Apple Watch Series 7 (worth $599) OR an Apple iPad Wi-Fi (worth S$499) OR a Nintendo Switch OLED (worth S$549) OR S$350 Cash via PayNow as soon as 6 weeks from Credit Card approvalT&Cs apply.

Valid until 30 Jun 2022
DBS logo
Online Promo
Earn Miles That Never Expire
Local Spend
S$1 = 1.2 Miles
Overseas Spend
S$1 = 2 Miles
Staycation bookings
S$1 = 10 Miles
Online Promo:
Up to 34,000 miles with promo code ALTVIS and make a min. spend of S$4,000 within 60 days of card approval. Valid till 30 June 2022. T&Cs apply.
Valid until 30 Jun 2022
Standard Chartered logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
With 3-month Disney+ Subscription
Cash Back on eligible spend
Up to 1.5%
Min. Spend per month
Cash Back Cap
MoneySmart Exclusive:

Apply and spend S$250 to get an Nintendo Switch Lite (worth S$279) or Apple AirPods Gen 3 (worth S$269) or S$250 Cash via PayNow. T&Cs apply.

Valid until 30 Jun 2022
UOB logo
Rebate on Shopee, Dairy Farm Group, Grab, SP and more
Up to 10%
Rebate Cap per quarter
Min. Spend per month

Have you had to deal with an “annual fee” for an unsolicited credit card recently? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook! For even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!