Credit card users here are completely spoilt for choice, with more than 100 cards in the market suited to their every whim and fancy.
The battle to claim pole position as the primary card in a consumer's wallet is fierce, as financial institutions note that an average cardholder here has at least five credit cards in his wallet. And financial firms have launched personal finance comparison sites that give the consumer the power to choose.
Ms Grace Cheng, co-founder of Get.com which compares financial products, notes: "The market is getting increasingly competitive as the demand for such online comparison sites grows in tandem with consumers being more tech-savvy and discerning in their choice of financial products."
Other sites say competitors have something different to offer when it comes to the way they compare cards.
MAXIMISE YOUR SEARCH
United States-based personal finance research website ValuePenguin lets you tailor your search according to your spending habits.
Having several cards for specific needs - travel, dining, shopping - can be advantageous provided you use them responsibly.''
MR ROHITH MURTHY, managing director for SingSaver.com.sg, on how consumers should choose between credit cards
Its lead credit card research analyst Robert Harrow tells consumers to think about how they spend their money even before going to the site for an effective card recommendation.
Input your spending into its tool, hit a "recalculate" button and the page will display the cards that will offer you the highest net savings.
Mr Rohith Murthy, managing director for SingSaver.com.sg, says: "Having several cards for specific needs - travel, dining, shopping - can be advantageous provided you use them responsibly. It's not just a matter of looking at which card has the lowest annual membership rate. Rather, look into what you get based on dollar value."
For instance, he says if you are looking for an air miles card, check the miles you can earn for local and overseas expenditure. Also, consider bonus miles offered by the bank, such as welcome miles, when you meet certain conditions.
Get.com allows you to give user ratings for the credit cards you have and Ms Cheng says this "will give a voice to cardholders".
USEFUL CARDS TO CONSIDER
The best cards are still those that meet your specific needs and wants. The Sunday Times looked at some possible choices for a consumer with an annual income of between $30,000 and $50,000.
For travellers, Mr Harrow picks the American Express Singapore KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card, saying: "With a relatively low spending of $1,000 a month, this card can yield a $585 net savings over two years - a great value."
SingSaver also has this card on the list and the site even shows a welcome offer of 10,000 bonus miles, subject to certain terms. Mr Murthy notes this is the best air miles card for a first-time credit card user.
Get.com and SingSaver like the Citibank Rewards Card for cashback specifically for shopping.
Get.com says it is the "best cashback credit card for shopping". It uses the example of a woman who spends $360 each month at department stores and online. "With the Citi Rewards Card, she earns 10 times Citi Dollars for each dollar she spends," notes Get.com. This this means she can get a rebate of about $20 on shopping.
The same card could also come up tops in different categories, so it depends on your needs.
ValuePenguin chooses the UOB One Card for a 2 per cent rebate on all overseas spending, "one of the highest values we've seen in this category, across more than 100 cards in our database".
UOB says this will no longer apply from Oct 1 and it has increased rebates to up to 5 per cent on all spending, including overseas spending.
SingSaver likes the UOB One Card for the 5 per cent cashback on all spending, if you spend $2,000 for three consecutive months, with a minimum of three purchases each month.
There is no one card fits all, so take your time to compare your options and the different terms and conditions, and choose wisely.
Get.com tries to feature card section in novel way
Personal finance website Get.com, launched in Singapore in February, reports "double-digit month-on-month growth in successful card sign-ups over the past six months".
Singaporean Grace Cheng, 34, and her Spanish husband Pedro Pla, 33, founded the site, which features more than 130 credit cards.
Ms Cheng, also editor-in-chief, says: "We have developed an in-house technology platform that is able to collate product data and automatically keeps track of changes made to product features."
The home page might seem cluttered, but it tries to feature the credit card section in a novel way.
In a standalone box, you can choose between loans and credit cards, which are divided into three categories - the best credit cards, travel cards and cashback cards.
You can stroll through a linear list of travel-focused cards, for instance, to check out offers such as more miles or a sign-up promotion.
For the actual card comparison, you can go to the top-down menu at the top of the page.
Besides listing cards by bank or issuer, the site also goes by theme, so you can single out student cards, for example.
Pick a theme, and you are taken to a page with a short preamble. The cards are listed mostly according to the site's ratings, starting with the highest. Featured cards - usually tie-ups with issuers - come first.
Choose cards to compare by ticking the checkbox below a card in the list, or add one by using the "compare" button on the side.
The button comes with a numeral - and also opens your personal list - that gets updated each time you add a card.
The process is slightly confusing, and there are hefty chunks of information to scroll through.
When you're ready, click the "compare" button one more time, and it brings you to a list of the cards you've selected.
Get.com provides information about each card, such as the interest rate and annual fees, and its rating of the cards. For some cards, certain details such as the minimum income required are not available.
Clean format at SingSaver website
Personal finance comparison portal SingSaver (singsaver.com.sg) was launched on June 8 by financial comparison specialist CompareAsiaGroup.
Managing director Rohith Murthy reports "growth of more than 100 per cent in number of users month on month" since the site was launched here. The site compares more than 90 credit cards and more than 30 personal loans.
The homepage is clean and looks professional. Although the categories such as credit cards appear in small fonts, a quick mouseover opens a drop-down menu.
You can go straight to credit card comparison or arm yourself with knowledge with the credit card guide. There is also a glossary that explains terms such as air miles.
The credit card comparison section is easy to use as you choose from categories such as air miles and best deals.
SingSaver tells you how many cards it has found in each category and also places featured products, along with cards with exclusive offers, on the top of the list.
Take air mile cards, for instance. Each card's information is clearly laid out according to minimum income and the air miles for overseas and local spending.
You are also alerted to promotions or welcome offers and can click on "show more information" for the fine print.
Tick the "compare" checkbox to add cards to a personal comparison list that is updated on the bottom of the screen. However, you get to choose only three cards.
Once you are done, clicking "compare cards" leads you to a pop-up screen of the three cards selected in a table format. Details here are laid out according to promotions, benefits and the eligibility and fees.
The site goes through each factor with appropriate ticks or crosses that show which factor applies to the card. There are also information bubbles which explain how a certain cashback amount is derived, for instance.
You can apply for a card through SingSaver, which ties up with issuers to include direct links to a sign-up page.
Expenditure options help narrow down search
Personal finance research website ValuePenguin is based in the United States, but it found the Singapore credit card scene so vibrant that it launched a local version of its US credit card modelling tool here (www.valuepenguin.com/credit-cards/sg/) in January. The site lists more than 120 credit cards from 11 of Singapore's biggest issuing banks and financial firms.
Lead credit card research analyst Robert Harrow says ValuePenguin receives an average of 400,000 unique visitors per month overall.
He adds: "Our Singapore credit card tool only has a few thousand visitors on a month-to-month basis. We're currently in the process of building that section, and have recently hired an analyst to focus on that project exclusively."
On the local page, Singapore credit cards are listed clearly. Links to cards in popular categories such as airlines, cashback and petrol are placed at the top of the webpage. Cards in the airlines section are ranked according to possible net savings, from the highest to lowest amounts.
Note that the cards listed are based on a default setting of a cardholder who spends $1,000 a month over two years.
Click the edit button and it opens up to a "monthly spend" box, where you can edit your monthly expenditure in areas such as retail and groceries.
• Ease of use
• Clean user interface
• Clear details
Fine-tuning personal expenditure options will narrow down your search to the most suitable credit card for you, a function that helps ValuePenguin stand out from other comparison sites.
Selected cards are presented in a simple list, and you can scroll down and go through the details of each card. Click on "more details" for information on how many air miles you can earn per dollar, for instance, and recent promotions.
But what you may find more useful is ValuePenguin's calculation of estimated rewards through 24 months. It takes into account spending rewards and current promotions to give you a more holistic picture of potential savings, based on your spending habits.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Play your cards right'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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