Having a credit card offers great convenience.
Not to mention attractive perks like discounts and rebates on petrol, dining out, online shopping, air miles and bread-and-butter items like groceries and public transport.
But not everyone can apply for one. Credit cards have minimum annual income requirements and approval is based on credit rating.
Why apply for a secured credit card?
Some of the reasons why people no longer qualify for unsecured credit cards (i.e. credit cards as we know it) include:
- Not being employed – it could be due to retrenchment, deciding to stay home with the kids, the transition period towards viable self-employment.
- Annual income less than $30k
- Being retired – not having an annual income of at least $15,000 or assets exceeding $750k or a guarantor.
- A bad credit history – colourful codes on your credit report.
Thus, a secured credit card is great for students and retirees.
If you fall into any of the above categories, fret not. It ain’t the end of the world as far as the little plastic is concerned.
How do you apply for a secured credit card?
Unsecured credit card means that the money you “borrow” on credit is not backed by collateral.
To apply for a secured credit card, in place of proof of income, you pledge a fixed deposit of a minimum $10,000 with the bank you are applying for a card with. This acts as a collateral.
The credit limit will mirror the amount of fixed deposit you place with the bank (i.e. if you pledge $10,000, you will have a $10,000 credit limit and if you pledge $50,000, you will have a $50,000 credit limit).
Do note however, that you will no longer be able to withdraw your fixed deposit as long as you own this secured credit card. The only way to access your fixed deposit is to terminate your secured credit card and inform your bank to release the pledge on your fixed deposit. The processing time can easily take 30 days or longer.
How having a secured credit card helps you
Having a secured credit card is a great way to rebuild your credit score while the 12-month cycle in your credit report resets.
This is of course assuming that your bad credit history is due to laziness in paying your credit card bills on time instead of being short on funds.
Being disciplined about using a secured credit card sends signals to the credit bureau that you are unlikely to default on loans, which will improve your credit history.
Also, you can also start enjoying various perks and rebates for a wide plethora of daily necessities and leisure experiences. And the freedom of going around cashless.
Alternatively, get a supplementary card
You’re not working, but you know someone in your family who is. Most credit cards offer supplementary cards for family members that allow you to enjoy the same discounts, rebates and rewards.
The main applicant also stand to benefit from sign-up promotions and rewards, and whatever that’s spent on the supp card is included in the minimum spend.
Of course, when you get a supplementary card, practise credit habits that are financially responsible.
Here are some supplementary card that are free-of-charge to apply for and use.
1. Citi PremierMiles Visa
- Local Spend
- S$1 = Up to 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
This card is great for accumulating miles. There’s also an up-to-40,000 welcome miles promotions if you qualify.
Currently, there’s a sign-up promotion of $200 cash if you apply for Citi PremierMiles via MoneySmart.
2. Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Card
The Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Card is a hassle-free card to own. It offers 1.5% cashback on all local spend. No minimum spend and no cashback cap.
There’s also a sign-up promotion going on which offers the main applicant $120 cash via PayNow and $80 cash rebate when applying via MoneySmart.
3. HSBC Revolution
This is another no-minimum-spend card, but the benefit is in the form of 5X rewards (online purchases, local dining and entertainment) that you can later use to redeem freebies and vouchers.
You can get a Samsonite T5 68cm Spinner or $150 cashback when you apply online for the HSBC Revolution. Using MyInfo also entitles you to a gift of $20 worth of Grab rides.
To find out more about the best credit cards for different perks, visit MoneySmart today.