Wondering which card is better for overseas use - Trust card vs YouTrip? We compared the fees and exchange rates and also included an alternative option Wise
Secured credit cards are a good way to build credit history, and a stepping stone to unsecured credit card access. If you’re new to Singapore and don’t have a local credit history, are on a low or fixed income, or are just starting to build a financial base for yourself, a secured credit card can be a good choice.
Whether or not a secured credit card will work for you will depend on your personal situation and financial aims. This guide walks through the key things to know about secured credit cards, and highlights some of the best secured options available from Singapore’s biggest banks.
We’ll also take a look at some alternatives to secured credit cards, including the Wise multi-currency account and Wise borderless card which can help you manage your spending without needing a security deposit.
|Table of contents:
There are a range of reasons why you might be considering a secured credit card.
In general the credit cards available from major banks are unsecured - which means you have to fulfil a set of eligibility requirements to prove you’re creditworthy before you’ll be able to use one.
However for some people it’s simply not possible to meet these eligibility criteria - leading to the creation of secured credit cards.
Let’s look at some of the reasons people run into issues with regular credit card applications.
If you’ve not previously had any form of credit in your name - maybe because you’re a student or simply have never needed to take out a credit card, loan or mortgage - you won’t have much of a credit history to speak of.
This makes it hard for banks to judge whether or not you’re creditworthy, and becomes something of a Catch 22 - you can’t get a credit card without a credit history, and you can’t get credit history without a credit card.
Banks look at your credit history to decide whether you’re a good credit risk or not. However, credit history doesn’t transfer from one country to another usually.
That means if you don’t have a local credit history, you might struggle to get a regular unsecured credit card, even if you have a spotless credit score in your home country.
If you’re new to Singapore and looking for a smart way to manage your money across currencies, you might benefit from a Wise multi-currency account and Wise borderless card. There’s no need to fork out the security deposit - which is typically at least SGD10,000 - and you’ll be able to hold a balance in a range of foreign currencies, with free spending in any currency you own. More on that a little later.
If you have a poor credit score for any reason, banks are likely to turn down your application to a regular unsecured card.
Finally, you may struggle to get a regular credit card if you’re on a low or fixed income. You can also be too young - or even too old - to get a normal credit card.
You’ll typically find you need to be aged 21 or over - and often can’t apply for a new card if you’re above the age of 70.
Minimum salary requirements can be in the region of SGD30,000-SGD40,000 per year, with strict rules about what supporting documents can be requested if you’re self employed or a commission based worker.
The good news in all this is that there are secured credit card options around for those who need them - and also a great range of alternatives which may suit you depending on your personal needs and preferences.
Not sure if a secured card is right for you? Here are some alternative choices.
If you open a bank account in Singapore, you’ll usually be able to get a linked debit card for simple spending.
Many different types of accounts are available - but you’ll probably want to watch out for options which come with no monthly fee or minimum deposit if you can.
One potential downside of this option is that some checking accounts allow customers to go overdrawn, which can result in unexpected - and very high - fees.
Spending with a card is convenient - but you might not want an active bank account or any chance of spending money you don’t have.
In this case, a prepaid card like the EZ Link card¹ can be a good option.
You can get your card at a local store, and top up your balance in stores and MRT stations. Then spend using the card in selected retailers, and use it to ride public transport conveniently, too.
One common reason people look at secured cards is because they’re new in a country and lacking a local credit history.
However, secured cards are not the only - and sometimes not the best - option.
If you can’t get a credit card because you’re a newcomer to Singapore you may also decide that locking away SGD10,000 in a security deposit doesn’t suit your needs. In this case, take a look at the Wise multi-currency account instead.
You’ll be able to open your account online for free, to get a Wise borderless card which is accepted everywhere you see the Mastercard logo. Top up your account in whichever currency you hold, and switch easily online or using the app to the currency you need. You can then spend it for free no matter where in the world you are.
Most of the major banks in Singapore give the option of taking one - or more - of their regular credit cards as a secured card, subject to customers meeting a range of eligibility requirements.
We’ll run through some of the best picks out there, but it’s well worth taking a look at your preferred bank or card provider’s options as each card has different perks which are designed to suit a range of customers.
With DBS you can apply for a range of the standard credit cards to be offered in a secured form.
The cards will then have the same features, benefits and fees as in their unsecured version - but you’ll be required to pay a deposit for security, and your credit limit will not exceed the deposit which is held for you.²
The Altitude card from DBS is a good choice for customers looking to earn miles and points, with a range of rewards on offer.
There is, however, an annual fee you’ll need to pay, coming in at SGD192.60 for the principal card.³
To be eligible for a secured credit card with DBS you must be aged between 21 and 70, and hold a DBS fixed deposit account with at least SGD10,000 in it. All applications for secured cards need to be made in branch - you can’t get set up online for this product.
One great thing about the DBS secured card system is that your deposit is placed in a fixed term account and will continue to accrue interest.
You won’t be able to access the money as long as your card is active, but you will have the assurance that that balance is still working for you behind the scenes.
If you’re a foreigner in Singapore it’s also good to know that you can use a foreign currency deposit as your security - although the full amount you’re required to hold may be more than the SGD value of 10,000. In this case, you can use a balance held in currencies including USD, GBP, EUR, aud, CAD and JPY.
HSBC can offer some of their credit cards on a limited and secured basis.
You’ll need to talk to the HSBC customer service team to check which cards may be suited to your needs, from a range which includes both SGD and USD denominated products.⁴
Cards come with a range of benefits including some which offer great rewards and cash back.
Different fees and terms apply depending on the specific card you choose, but in all cases you must leave a SGD10,000 security deposit to use your card. This deposit is only released once you settle all liabilities with HSBC and close the secured card account.⁵
A good pick from the HSBC bunch is the Revolution Card which is offered as a secured card subject to paying the SGD10,000 security deposit⁶.
There’s no annual fee for this card, and you’ll earn up to 10x points or 4 miles for every dollar you spend. You can offset these rewards against your spending, manage your card from your phone and split payments for larger items into monthly installments if you’d prefer.
To get a secured card with HSBC you’ll also need to be at least 21 years old, and may need to fulfil a set of eligibility requirements based on the specific card you want.
UOB has a comprehensive range of credit cards, some of which can be taken as secured cards.
However, not all products are accessible to customers looking for a secured card, so you’ll need to check your preferred card from the selection to see if it suits your needs.
It’s also worth noting that some cards come with very high annual fees - and others, such as the student cards, have very strict application criteria. Check the terms carefully before choosing the right card for you.
Our choice from UOB - the UOB PRIVI Miles card - gives rewards and miles for spending at home and abroad, as well as free personal accident and emergency medical assistance cover⁷.
You’ll also be able to choose the network from Visa, Mastercard and American Express according to your preference - with some variations in perks for each option.
At the time of writing there is also a sign on bonus of SGD150 for new applicants - although this is a time limited offer which is likely to change.
You’ll need to pay an annual fee of SGD256.80 which is waived for the first year.
As with most secured cards, you’ll need to pay a deposit of SGD10,000 and be aged over 21 to apply for this card.
If you’re interested in getting a secured credit card from CIMB you’ll have the choice of a few different cards.
You can take the Visa Infinite or CIMB World Mastercard - but these will require a hefty deposit of SGD50,000 as security.
The other options are the Platinum Mastercard or the Visa Signature - our choice as the most attractive of the secured cards from CIMB.
These options both require the more standard security deposit of SGD10,000 and are available to applicants aged 21 or above.⁸
With the CIMB Visa Signature card you’ll earn an impressive 10% cash back on some categories, as well as having access to a range of other special offers and perks.
There is no annual fee for this card, which makes it a good option for people on a lower or fixed budget.⁹
Most banks will refuse an application for an unsecured credit card if you have a poor credit history - or no credit history at all. In this case, you may be better off applying for a secured credit card - talk to your chosen bank about the options available to suit your needs.
Each bank has their own eligibility requirements, and you could find you’re turned down for a secured credit card if you do not meet them.
Most banks require customers to call into a local branch to apply for a secured credit card. You’ll then need to pay a security deposit to activate your account. This process can take a little time depending on when the bank receives your security payment - but is usually smoother for customers applying for a secured card from their regular bank.
Your credit limit is likely to be capped at the amount of security deposit held by the bank. You may not be able to raise the limit. If you need to access more credit you’ll need to talk to your bank’s customer service team to understand the processes involved.
To get your security deposit back you’ll need to close your secured credit card account, and settle any outstanding debt. Be aware that payments may take a few days to process, which can delay the return of your deposit.
Secured credit cards are a useful tool for people looking to build a local credit history. However, they’re not always the best product out there, depending on your personal needs. If building a local credit history isn’t important to you then you could be better off with a different solution, such as the Wise multi-currency account and Wise borderless card.
- DBS Singapore - Eligibility for Credit Card Application
- DBS Singapore - DBS Altitude Card Credit Card
- HSBC - Credit cards - Secured credit card application form PDF, page 1
- HSBC - Credit cards - Credit card terms PDF, page 11
- HSBC - Credit cards - Revolution credit card
- UOB - PRVI miles cards
- CIMB - Cimb secured credit cards application form, page 1
- CIMB - Visa Signature credit card
All sources checked 26 November 2020
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
Wondering which is better when travelling, YouTrip vs credit cards? We compared the key differences and fees between the two options.
HSBC® is a very popular bank locally and globally, with a great range of services for any Singapore resident. If you’re considering getting a HSBC credit card...
Discover the best OCBC® credit cards in Singapore for 2023! Compare features, benefits, and how to apply.
Explore the bes UOB credit cards in Singapore, categorized by rewards, annual fees, and more. Discover which card suits you the best!
We compared Amaze vs YouTrip vs Wise (formerly TransferWise) to help you find the right multi-currency card in Singapore!