Best Student Credit Cards for Undergraduates in Singapore

It is a common misconception that credit cards were always an exclusively “adults-only” privilege — something that you can only have once you’ve found a job and started working.

On the contrary, it’s entirely possible to start your credit card journey as an undergraduate with no monthly income.

Plus, with many of you reading this article heading toward getting your first job, it’s time to figure out how to start being more financially responsible. A great way to practice better money habits is to own a credit card as it teaches you to track your spending, as well as how to manage your payments.

Tracking your spending up close forces you to really see how much money is going out, keeping you from overspending.

And there are plenty of student credit cards to choose from. Here’s a primer.

What is a credit card?

Credit cards are a monetary tool that allows consumers to borrow money from a card issuer so that they are able to purchase goods and services.

Often confused with debit cards, credit cards offer more flexibility and liquidity than the average debit card.

For example, when making a purchase with a debit card, your money is immediately deducted from your bank account. On the other hand, credit cards allow consumers to make purchases without having their money deducted on the spot.

Essentially, credit cards are useful for when you need to make a purchase but are low on cash at the moment, allowing you to have more flexibility with your cash flow.

If you’d like to know more details, here are the key differences between a debit and credit card:

Debit cardCredit card
Transaction limitTied to the amount in your bank account
Work as a short term borrowing instrument. Transaction limit varies across credit cards
Repayment requiredNo repayment required
Repayment to be done within stipulated period
PenaltyNo penalty
Penalty incurred during late payments, non payment.
Credit scoreDoes not impact your credit score
Impacts credit score
Rewards such as cashbacks, miles…etcUsually little to no rewards tied to debit cards
Credit cards are usually tied to better rewards such as dining, grocery cashbacks, miles etc.

Benefits of owning a credit card

Having your own credit card provides you with a multitude of benefits, as long as you are using it responsibly and paying your bills on time.

Building good credit score from a young age

The more you make use of your credit card to purchase items, you are “building credit”. Financial institutions will track your credit card activity and rank you based on your credit score.

If you regularly make late payments to your monthly bills, it is most likely that you will end up with a poor credit score, vice versa. Having a strong credit score will be beneficial in the future when you are looking to buy a new car, or even renting a house!

A credit card comes in handy during an emergency

Credit cards can become a saving grace during times where unforeseen emergencies strike. Need to suddenly book a flight home while you’re currently studying overseas? Got into an unexpected accident and need some upfront cash?

By allowing you to take instant short term loans, credit cards can be a lifesaver especially when you may not have cash on hand!

Earning cash rebates when you spend

With cashback credit credit cards, you are able to get back a small amount of money back whenever you make a purchase — and as students with little to no income, any opportunity to save money is an opportunity worth signing up for. Most companies won’t offer rebates higher than 1%, but hey, it’s better than nothing!

Earn miles for your future holiday

With a miles credit card, you will be able to clock up points that can later be converted to miles for your next travel destination. With the accumulated miles points, you will be able to upgrade your flights to business and first class tickets, giving your next holiday an added touch of luxury.

What makes a good student credit card?

What makes a good student credit card often comes down to your own personal preferences and criteria. Here are a few factors you may want to consider when deciding which credit card to apply for:

Minimum income required

Credit cards usually charge an annual fee and require that the applicants have a minimum annual income. For undergraduates studying full-time without a job, this may be difficult.

That’s why a good student credit card would require no minimum income from its applicants, and ideally a low annual fee as well (usually waived in the first year).

Low to no annual fees

Ideally, a good student credit card will not charge an annual fee, such as the CIMB AWSM card. However, most student credit cards still carry an annual fee, which is usually waived for the first year after applying. Consider choosing a card that has a low annual fee that is still affordable, or one that has a longer annual fee waiver.

Student discounts and deals available

No one’s ever complained about attractive discounts and deals. By signing up for a student credit card, the benefits that come with it are equally important. Some cards prioritise different types of promotions over others. Look into the credit cards available and pick out one that carries discounts which suit your lifestyle and spending habits.

Eligibility requirements

Some student credit cards have different eligibility requirements, with some cards only available to students from certain tertiary institutions. It is best to check which cards are linked to your specific institution before applying.

Compatibility with EZ-Link cards

This feature is for those who dislike carrying multiple cards in their wallet. Selected student cards can also double as your EZ-Link card, without the hassle of needing to top up your card regularly.

With these features in mind, let’s dive into which student credit card will best suit your needs and how you can go about applying for one!

Student Credit Card Comparison

Credit cardAnnual feeCredit limitKey benefits
DBS Live Fresh Student CardS$192.60 (Waived for 5 years)S$500
5% cashback on McDonald’s, McDelivery, Starbucks, Golden Village, and streaming services. No Minimum Spend
Citibank Clear CardS$29.96 inclusive of GST (waived for the first year)S$500
S$20 Cash Back when you spend S$50 in the first month Rewards from 1,000 retailers
14% year-long fuel savings at Esso and Shell
No Minimum Spend
Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 CardS$32.10 inclusive of GST (waived for the first year)S$500
Earn 0.25% cashback on everything you spend on No Minimum Spend
Maybank eVibes CardS$5 quarterly service fee (waived for first 2 years)S$500
1% cash rebate on everything you buy No Minimum Spend
CIMB AWSM CardFreeS$500
Unlimited 1% cashback on dining, entertainment, online shopping and all things telco No annual fee, no minimum spend

Now that you’ve gotten an overview of the different types of student credit cards in the market, we’ve included more information on each of the credit cards stated above, to help you make a more informed decision.

DBS Live Fresh Student Card

  • Annual Fees: S$192.60 (Waived for 5 years)
  • S$500 credit limit
EligibilityNo minimum income required

21-27 years old

Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident

Eligible Undergraduates from NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTF, SIM, SIT, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic

Benefits5% Cashback on McDonald’s, McDelivery, Starbucks, Golden Village, and your favourite music, movies & TV series streaming services

Tap to pay for bus and train rides using SimplyGo, no top-ups needed

Documents NeededScanned NRIC (front and back)

Student Matriculation Card (front and back)

Must Not BeAn existing DBS/POSB Credit Card and/or other unsecured facilities with DBS/POSB

Citibank Clear Card

  • Annual Fees: S$29.96 inclusive of GST (waived for the first year)
  • S$500 credit limit
EligibilityNo minimum income required

18 years old and above*

Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident

Eligible Undergraduates from NTU, NUS, SMU, SIM, SUTD, SIT, SUSS, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, DigiPen, ESSEC, GIST-TUM Asia, INSEAD, S P Jain, Tisch, UNLV, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, LASALLE-SIA, NAFA, EDHEC-Risk Institute and Sorbonne-Assas International Law School.

BenefitsReceive a one-time S$20 Cash Back when you spend S$50 in the first month

Earn 1X reward for every S$1 spent (equivalent to 0.4% cash rebate)

Discounts and privileges at over 1000 Citibank Gourmet Pleasures establishments and retailers island-wide

Up to 14% year-long fuel savings at Esso and Shell

Documents NeededScanned NRIC (front and back)

Copy of Student Matriculation Card (front and back)

Must Not BeAn existing primary/basic Citi Credit Card/ Citibank Ready credit customers (supplementary cardmembers are eligible)

*Applicants below 21 must get their parent/guardian’s consent

to the application, and guarantee for the payment of outstanding balances

Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card

  • Annual Fees: S$32.10 inclusive of GST (waived for the first year)
  • S$500 credit limit
EligibilityNo minimum income required

18-32 years old*

Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident

Eligible Undergraduates from NTU, NUS, SMU, SIM or University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Asia Campus

BenefitsEarn 0.25% cashback on everything you spend on

No minimum spending requirement

Documents NeededPhotocopy of NRIC (front and back)

Photocopy of applicant’s Student ID Card/ Student Card/ Matriculation Card (front side)

Must Not BeAn existing Principal credit card holder

*For applicants below the age of 21 years old, parental/guardian consent in mandatory

Maybank eVibes Card

  • 18-30 years old
  • Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident
  • S$5 quarterly service fee (waived for the first 2 years, subsequent waiver when you use your card at least once every 3 months)
EligibilityNo minimum income required

18-32 years old*

Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident

Must be existing tertiary students or National Service Full-time (NSF) men that are accepted to these institutions: LASALLE, NAFA, NIE, NP, NTU, NUS, NYP, RP, SIT, SMU, SP, SUSS, SUTD & TP

BenefitsEarn 1% cash rebate on everything you buy when using the eVibes card
Documents NeededPhotocopy of NRIC (front and back)

Photocopy of applicant’s Student ID Card

Must Not BeAn existing Maybank Principal Credit Cardmember or CrebitAble customer

Earning $30,000 and above per annum

CIMB AWSM Card

  • Annual Fees: Free for life for all Principal and Supplementary cards.
  • No minimum income required from students or NSFs
  • S$500 credit limit
EligibilityNo minimum income required

18-29 years old

Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident

Eligible Undergraduates from NTU, NUS, SMU, SIM or University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Asia Campus

BenefitsUnlimited 1% cashback on dining, entertainment, online shopping and all things telco

Enjoy over 1000 CIMB Deals and Discounts across dining, retail and lifestyle outlets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia

Easy travel for bus and train rides with SimplyGo

No annual fees ever

No minimum spending requirement

Documents NeededPhotocopy of NRIC (front and back)

Photocopy of applicant’s Student ID Card/ Student Card/ Matriculation Card (front side)

Must Not BeAn existing CIMB Credit Cardmember

Use your credit card responsibly

After you’ve identified the card for you, you need to bear a few things in mind before taking the leap. It is imperative that you track what you are spending on, as it can become easy to overspend with a credit card — and the last thing you’d want is a bill shock!

In fact, learning how to avoid developing bad habits when it comes to credit cards is the first step in becoming more financially responsible.

Remember, credit cards should be a tool in which one learns how to build better money habits, not as an excuse to spend more.

This will come back around to bite you if you decide to frivolously swipe your card everywhere you go. Cultivate those good habits from now, and your future self will thank you.

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