This post is my ultimate guide to get your first credit card based on your needs without succumbing to pressures from promoters and with minimal regrets. I will talk about:
- How people normally get their credit card
- My ultimate guide on getting your first credit card
How do People Normally Apply for a Credit Card?
When I first started working, my parents told me to get a credit card for me to use for outstation expenses. When I asked them how do I get one, they told me to just go to a shopping mall and approach some credit card promoters there. Shopping malls are full of them, sometimes about promoters from 3-4 banks in one mall. It can get really overwhelming for complete beginners as you don’t know how to get one so you just apply with a random promoter who will not let you go until you get one from them.
My Ultimate Guide to Get Your First Credit
Research & Compare
Don’t you just hate it when not only you are stopped by a credit card promoter but they pushed you to apply for one? If you think that’s bad enough, they ‘mislead’ you by mentioning vague terms at you or just simply saying ‘yes’ to every question you ask just so you apply. When you realised it, it’s too late. I mean, you can cancel the card but it can get troublesome sometimes.
Nowadays, there are plenty of websites that you can visit to do research and compare credit cards. One of the websites I recommend is CompareHero (for Malaysians only). You can also compare credit cards at websites such as iMoney, LoanStreet and RinggitPlus as well.
Residents from South East Asian (SEA) countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam can get credit card comparison at GoBear.Com.
- GoBear Singapore
- GoBear Thailand (in Thai)
- GoBear Philippines
- GoBear Vietnam (in Vietnamese)
- GoBear Hong Kong (in Chinese) (Hong Kong is not part of SEA but they have a GoBear website)
- GoBear Indonesia (in Bahasa Indonesia)
In order to get a credit card of your choice, you must meet the minimum annual income (basic only though some banks consider fixed allowances as part of income). This is because banks or promoters will suggest the credit card suitable for you by looking at your annual income to ensure that you can afford to maintain it.
Nowadays you can perform interbank transfers at no cost so having a credit card from the same bank as your savings account doesn’t really matter.
However, not all credit cards are created equal.
Some banks offer different benefits. Which is why it is important to compare credit cards from different banks.
For example, if your annual income is about RM24,000, you may qualify for a UOB One Visa Classic card but you will incur about RM68 of annual fee compared to most cards that are free for life with the same annual income requirement. To be fair, UOB Basic Card has no annual fee but that’s the only benefit. Other cards would include cashback and air miles redemption along.
Lifestyle & Needs
When applying for a credit card, you need to take into account your lifestyle and needs on top of your affordability. There are certain factors you have to take into account, including but not limited to:
- Will you be using your card to pay for your petrol, groceries, utility bills?
- Are you a frequent flyer who’s aim is to accumulate air miles? Are you loyal to one airline or do you like to experiment with different airlines?
- Other than accumulating air miles, will you be using your credit card for overseas purchase?
- Do you love redeeming card points for rewards?
- If you’re Muslim, do you prefer an Islamic credit card or a conventional credit card?
- If you do get an Islamic credit card, will you be using your card to pay for zakat?
You can use iMoney Credit Card Smart Search.
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a credit card, you can go and get the ones that are suited for you. You can either :
- Approach any promoters in a mall; or
- Apply online directly at the banks or via websites like iMoney, RinggitPlus or LoanStreet.
- (These websites tend to have some promotions such as free gifts when applying for selected cards)
When applying with a promoter, let them know about your annual income, your needs and your wants. Also, be specific. A travel credit card can mean something different in the promoter’s perspective. For instance, you may think that a travel credit card enables you to redeem air miles but the promoter might think that a travel credit card offers 0% interest in overseas purchases but no air miles redemption.
Like I said before, not all credit cards are created equal.
If a promoter tries to push you with a card that does not fit your requirements, stand your ground. Insist (politely) of the card that you want and can actually afford. Some may push you to get expensive cards, stand your ground as well. While almost all promoters are very knowledgeable about their products, some MIGHT mislead you just to hit their sales target.
To sum it up, here is my ultimate guide on getting your first credit card:
- Utilise Technology (ie; websites)
- Go Compare
- Consider these factors:
- Annual Incomes
- Lifestyle & Needs
- Stand Your Grounds
I am not a financial expert and this guide is not intended to be a financial guide. This guide is basically to help you make an informed decision when getting your first credit card. All of the information posted in this blog post is based on the websites mentioned as of the date this entry is posted.
Also, while this is a guide for getting your first credit card, this is not to encourage you to apply for as many credit cards as you want. Please be mindful when using credit cards when making payments. Please also ensure that you pay your credit card debt in full. Protect your confidential information, especially your card’s PIN number. Now that most cards are contactless-enabled, please ensure that you know where your card is at all times. Please cancel your card IMMEDIATELY if you couldn’t find it. No joke, I once cancelled my card once I found that it wasn’t in my wallet only to find it in my jeans pocket hours later. Oh well. Better safe than sorry.
Even though this guide is targeted for Malaysians using Malaysian example, international readers can still apply this guide if it suits you. There are plenty of websites that you can use in your home country to conduct research on the credit card suitable for you, for example:
- GoCompare (UK)
- CreditCards.Com (USA)
- NerdWallet (USA)
- GoBear (SEA & Hong Kong)
- Souqalmal (UAE)
- YallaCompare (UAE)
More Tips on Credit Cards
If you need more information and tips on credit cards, here are the websites that I recommend (other than the ones mentioned before):
- GenX GenY GenZ (personal finance but more concentrated on credit cards and airline reviews)
- Ringgit oh Ringgit (personal finance)
- The Financial Diet (personal finance)
- Mr Stingy (personal finance, life advice)
- Money After Graduation (personal finance)
- One Mile At A Time (airline and credit card reviews)
So, how did you get your first (or subsequent) credit card? What are your tips on getting a credit card? Let me know in the comments below.