Most students have the understanding that credit cards are out of reach for them, mainly because one needs to meet a minimum income requirement to qualify for one. This also means that most students have limited or no access to attractive credit card promotions, discounts and deals, unless they hold a supplementary card under their parents’ account.
Enter the student credit and debit cards: the banks’ solution to this gap in the market. Credit cards catered specially for students are tailored such that they have reduced, and therefore more realistic credit limits. There is also a minimum age requirement of 18 years old with parental consent, and 21 years old without. As such, student credit cards are usually held by tertiary students only. Both student credit and debit cards tend to have attractive perks designed with the student’s lifestyle in mind.
These credit cards offer not only convenience in that you can make purchases without having to bring cash on hand, but also the opportunity to learn to better manage your finances. In time for the new year 2018, here is a list of credit and debit cards available for tertiary students, complete with perks and offers that suit the student’s everyday needs.
#1 DBS Live Fresh Student Card – Earn 3x DBS points
The DBS Live Fresh Student Card comes with a $500 credit limit – a fairly reasonable range for students in terms of monthly spending, and it comes with all the perks of a normal credit card – in the form of rewards and privileges.
When you do your shopping online, or make local transactions via Visa payWave through your DBS Live Fresh Card, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay, you earn 3x DBS points. You will get 1x DBS points for every $5 spent for all other purchases. The DBS points can be redeemed for DBS Rewards, ranging from shopping to travel privileges.
Other perks include priority and discounts for purchasing ZoukOut 2017 tickets, as well as other retail, travel and dining promotions which can be found here.
In order to apply, you have to be an eligible Singaporean/PR undergraduate from NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SIT, SUSS, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic or Republic Polytechnic.
#2 Citibank Clear Card – Exclusive Dining Privileges Islandwide
The Citibank Clear Card comes with a wide variety of exclusive dining deals islandwide. The card also offers great petrol deals (which you may not require as a student) and Citi Rebates.
The card primarily doles out deals in the form of rebates and rewards, where you earn up to 10% Citi Rebates whenever you charge your card to participating merchants. You earn Citi Rewards by redeeming Citi Dollars. You earn 1 Citi Dollar for every $1 charged to your card.
To apply for the Citi Clear Card, you have to be aged 18 years old and above. Applicants below 21 have to get parental or legal guardian’s consent, and they will have to guarantee the payment of outstanding balances.
#3 Maybank eVibes Card – 1% cash rebates on all purchases
Unlike the Citibank Clear Card which primarily serves as a rewards card, the eVibes card is essentially a cashback card, providing 1% cash rebates on every purchase you make, with no minimum spend. Considering your credit limit of $500, this means you get to $5 in rebates per month.
In terms of fees, Maybank does not charge any annual fee, but does charge a quarterly service fee of $5 for the eVibes card, but it is waived when you use your card to make purchases at least once in 3 months.
|Credit Limit||Age||Minimum Income||Annual Fee|
|DBS Live Fresh Student Card||$500||18 -27 years old |
Applicants below 21 years old require parental consent
|No minimum income required||$128.40 |
|Citibank Clear Card||$500||18 years old |
Applicants below 21 require parental consent
|No minimum income required||$29.96 |
|Maybank eVibes Card||$500||18-30 years old |
Applicants below 21 require parental consent
|No minimum income required||Free|
Note: The Standard Chartered Manhattan $500 Card and the CIMB Classic MasterCard have been discontinued, and are therefore not included in this comparison. However, existing cardholders will still enjoy the benefits.
Debit cards are linked to your bank account, such that when you buy something, the amount is immediately deducted from your bank balance, at the point of transaction. Parents often prefer to get their kids debit cards rather than credit cards, as this ensures their kids don’t end up overspending.
#1 DBS Visa Debit Card
The DBS Visa Debit Card, unlike the DBS Live Fresh Credit Card, is primarily a cashback card. For people who wish to enjoy cashback on their spending, this would be suitable card – with an attractive cashback rate of 5% (capped at $50) when you pay using Visa payWave, through your debit card, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay.
Two things to note, if you wish to qualify for the 5% cashback: Keep your cash withdrawals to three times or less in a month, and up to $400 a month.
The debit card can also be used to make NETS payments, and to commute by public transport with NETS FlashPay.
To apply for one, you have to be at least 16 years old, with a POSB Savings Account, a DBS Savings Plus Account, DBS Autosave Account or DBS Current Account.
#2 OCBC FRANK Debit Card
The FRANK Debit Card is very well-known amongst tertiary institutions, thanks to their attractive marketing and sponsorship campaigns, as well as for the fact that they have 120 attractive card designs for you to choose from.
The card offers 1% cashback on participating retail, online and transport merchants, and can function as a transport card (NETS FlashPay). In order to qualify for the cashback, you have to spend a minimum of $400 a month. This means you will get at least $4 back, if you manage to hit the minimum spend.
The FRANK Debit Card functions as an ATM card as well as a transport card, with NETS FlashPay. At present, OCBC has a shared ATM network with UOB ATMs, so you can withdraw money from your OCBC account using over 1,200 ATMs islandwide with no service charge, making it a lot more convenient for OCBC customers. However, the waived service charge only lasts until 31 December 2017.
While the DBS Visa Debit Card offers a significantly more attractive cashback rate at 5%, the OCBC FRANK Savings Account does offer a higher interest rate of up to 0.4% per annum.
To apply for the FRANK Debit Card, you have to be at least 16 years of age, with an OCBC FRANK Savings Account.
#3 HSBC Debit Card
The HSBC Debit Card has very attractive perks to get you to sign up for a card with them, including discounts for Grab rides, Starbucks drinks and movies, to name a few. However, this is only for a promotional period and it ends on 31 December 2017.
For the tertiary student, there are attractive promotions and discounts for online shopping such as Gmarket, ShopBack, as well as dining privileges, with Chope and one-for-one offers (if two people holding HSBC Debit Cards are dining together). It will be helpful to consider the promotions and whether they would be useful for you within the promotional period, which may vary for every offer.
Otherwise, like the other debit cards, the HSBC Debit Card has VISA payWave, Apple Pay and NETS FlashPay and NETS Contactless (new), which means you can use it for contactless payments, mobile payments and for public transport.
The only drawback is that HSBC ATMs aren’t as ubiquitous as DBS/POSB, or even UOB and OCBC. However, they have a shared network of over 200 ATMs, together with BOC, Citibank, Malayan Banking Berhad, Standard Chartered and State Bank of India, so that might make cash withdrawals slightly easier.
To apply for the HSBC Debit Card, you have to be at least 16 years of age (for savings accounts) or 18 years of age (for current accounts), and you have to maintain a HSBC transactional account.
|DBS Visa Debit Card||16 years old |
Maintain at least one of the following accounts:
POSB Savings Account;
DBS Savings Plus Account;
DBS Autosave Account;
or DBS Current Account
|5% cashback (capped at $50) |
Withdraw cash up to three times in a month
Withdraw up to $400 cash in a month
|OCBC FRANK Card||16 years old |
Maintain an OCBC FRANK Account
|1% cashback |
Minimum spend of $400
|HSBC Debit Card||16 years old |
Maintain a HSBC Account
|Attractive retail, dining, online shopping and travel promotions upon signup (valid until 31 December 2017)|
While credit and debit cards offer some similar benefits, there are some advantages of using credit cards that outweigh the benefits that debit cards can bring. Ultimately, it depends on your needs, your spending habits and what you prefer – cashback or exclusive promotions and deals.
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