Factors to consider before getting your first credit card

Image credit: Hloom via Flickr

Every credit card has an appealing set of benefits to convince you to apply for it such as cashbacks or for the collection of airline miles — but before you sign up, find out exactly having a credit card entails. It may seem easy to get by with cash but having a credit card is necessary in building your credit history, and maintaining your financial health and creditworthiness.

credit card
Image credit: Hloom via Flickr

Hence, before sending in your application, take some time to consider what you need out of this card — knowing that will make it a lot easier to pick the right one.

Here are 3 factors to consider before getting your first credit card.

1. Know What You Are Signing Up For
Do not apply for a credit card without understanding the fine print first. It can be frustrating trying to comprehend credit card terms, but it is always important to know and understand the details upfront than to incur surprise fees and charges if you qualify. Before you sign the application for a credit card, make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting into. Below is an example of the Fees and Charges, and Eligibility when applying for a credit card:

Interest-free Period 23 calendar days from statement date if there is no balance carried forward from the previous statement.

Interest on Purchases The interest rate is 26.88% per annum. If full payment is not received by the due date, a minimum charge of $2.50 a month, calculated from the transaction date, will be billed to your account.
Interest on Cash Advance 28.92% per annum no the amount withdrawn subject to compounding if the monthly interest charge are not received in full (minimum charge of $2.50).

  • Late Payment Charges $100 if minimum payment is not received by the payment due date
  • Annual Fees $192.60 (Principal card)
  • $96.30 (Supplementary card)
  • Cash Advance Fee $15 or 6% of amount withdrawn whichever is greater
  • Age 21 years and above
  • Annual Income $30,000 and above for Singaporeans and Singapore PRs
  • $45,000 and above for foreigners
    (The above Fees and Charges, and Eligibility are taken from the OCBC website.)

2. Your Spending Habits

Before you start choosing a card, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I pay for the purchase in full every month?
  • Or do I intend to pay the minimum sum required and carry the balance from month to month?
  • If I do rollover the remaining amount after paying off the minimum sum, can I pay the extra charges incurred?
  • Is this card meant for emergencies only?

The truth is, being responsible with your credit card activity is vital as it will reflect positively on your credit report. Using your credit card responsibly and paying in full every month will help you to build a strong credit history which could put you in good stead when applying for a car loan or home mortgage. Having a credit card in your wallet does not mysteriously incur debt, but it can help you improve your credit score as it is tabulated based on past and current credit activities.

3. Credit Card Benefits
When it comes to selecting the right credit card for usage, there is no one size that fits all. Everyone has different needs and wants. You need to identify the primary purpose of the card, and find the one that best suits your own personal needs. For example, if you are looking for a cashback card for everyday purchases like groceries or petrol, check if the credit card has special perks for those places you frequent. It pays to do a little background reading.

While credit cards have all the above benefits – besides the obvious ones such as earning you cashback and airline miles – it’s important to be a responsible user.

If what you’ve read above has been helpful, you should follow Credit Bureau Singapore’s (CBS) Facebook to find out more of such information and even tips on how to stay creditworthy!

Written by Credit Bureau Singapore

Credit Bureau (Singapore) Pte Ltd (CBS) is Singapore's most comprehensive consumer credit bureau that has full-industry uploads from all retail banks and major financial institutions. It is a joint venture between The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and Infocredit Holdings Pte Ltd.

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