As an expat, the first consideration when deciding on the right credit cards for you in Singapore, is whether you will be staying in the Lion City for long. Some of the best cards are issued by local banks. These cards are very strong, but generally rooted in the region, with many of the benefits focused on partnerships with local brands.
It is likely that your Singaporean card will become much less effective once you leave Southeast Asia. If you expect to move on in a year or two, it would be better to stick with a credit card designed for expats and frequent travellers, as these are generally supported internationally.
Some of the key considerations when deciding if a card is right for you include:
Compelling sign up bonus: Shop around for the best balance between starter miles/points and minimum spend to earn that bonus. It can be a great way to start off your rewards if you have 30-60,000 points to start building on
Mileage accrual: Will the card maximize the number of airline miles you can earn based on purchases, and can those miles be used on the airlines that you are likely to use? This is an important question to answer for yourself.
Living in another country usually means that an expat will need to cover some long haul flights to visit friends and family, not to mention go on local trips. Make sure the card has competitive flight benefits.
Hotel group points: For many expats, this perk is similar to the need for airline benefits. Enrolling in a hotel group card that allows you to earn points that pay for your accommodation is a great way to maximize the value of your spending. The points can be redeemed for business and pleasure and can add up to provide some truly luxurious stays in the world’s best hotels and resorts.
Good exchange rates: Make sure that the card will use competitive rates to ensure that you are not losing too much in the exchange between the currency you’re spending in, and the currency you you’re paid in.
No international fees: Some cards will add a surcharge for any purchase made outside the cardholder’s home country. This is exactly the kind of thing that an expat needs to avoid since the majority of spending will be done outside the home country!
For cards that allow cash withdrawals, it is also important to make sure that the card company will reimburse any international ATM fees, which can add up.
Keeping those considerations in mind, here are some card suggestions that may be right for you. Please note, however, that the terms and details of these promotions are constantly changing – so review the company’s own information before applying.
1. ANZ Travel Visa Signature Credit Card
Sign-Up Bonus: The ANZ Travel Visa Signature Credit Card offers a sign-up bonus of 2000 Travel Dollars
Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: Earn 2.8 air miles per S$1 spent on your holidays for direct flight bookings with Qantas and Jetstar airlines or retail spend in Australia and New Zealand.
Other Benefits Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: Free and Unlimited lounge access via Veloce Lounges. Receive Miles for Your Taxes – If you make your tax payments with this card, you’ll still receive Travel$, something which most Singapore based cards have started to revoke.
2. DBS Altitude (available as AMEX or Visa)
Sign Up Bonus: DBS Altitude awards 8,000 points when you spend $1,000/month for the first two months
Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: Earn 3 miles per S$1 spent on all online Flight and Hotel transactions (capped at S$10,000 per month).
Other Benefits: Your annual fee is waived if your annual spending exceeds S$25,000. Otherwise, get 10,000 bonus miles when you pay the annual fee of S$192.60. Membership includes a global butler service and up to $1 million in travel insurance.
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Sign Up Bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 40,000 points/miles when you spend US$4,000 in the first three months
Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: Two points for every $1 spent on travel and dining. One point for every $1 spent on anything else.
Other Benefits: 5,000 points when you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within three months. 20% off travel when redeeming points for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
4. Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
Sign Up Bonus: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express offers 25,000 points after spending US$3,000 in the first 3 months
Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: Up to five points for every $1 spent on Starwood hotels. One point per $1 for everything else.
Other Benefits: Starwood redeemable points are worth about 2.2¢ to 2.4¢ each when they’re redeemed for hotel stays—far in excess of what you’ll get through rival programs.
You can also transfer points to about 30 frequent-flier programs, and even get a 5,000-point bonus when you transfer 20,000. In addition, Starwood recently ended its foreign-transaction fee, making overseas travel less costly.
5. Capital One Venture Card
Sign Up Bonus: Capital One Venture Card offers 40,000 points after spending US$3,000 in the first three months.
Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: Two miles for every dollar spent, on all purchases.
Other Benefits: Points can be used for all purchases, and aren’t just limited to airfare. Venture Miles to pay for flights, hotels, rental cars and a wide array of other eligible expenses.
Miles are redeemed as statement credits toward travel purchases made with your card, so you can book the airfare or hotel room you want without having to be concerned about award availability (hence, no blackout dates).
6. UOB PRVI Miles Platinum Card
Sign Up Bonus: UOB PRVI Miles Platinum Card offers 20,000 miles with spend of $50,000 in a year
Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: $1 equals 1.4 miles (local spend), $1 equals 2.4 miles (overseas spend). Earn 3 miles for every S$1 spent on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and KrisShop.
Other Benefits: Personal accident and travel inconvenience insurance coverage of up to S$1,000,000. Rebate of S$45 for each one-way limousine service to Singapore Changi Airport with min. overseas spend of S$1,000 within each qualifying quarter.
7. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite
Sign Up Bonus: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite earns 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
Mileage/Hotel Points Accrual: Earn 2X miles on all purchases and get 5% of your miles back every time you redeem.
Other Benefits: No foreign transaction fees. No extra perks of co-branded cards, but flexibility to spend your points where you want.