I think it’s only responsible to say upfront that if you’re a student and not drawing any income, you need to be extra careful about your spending patterns. It’s great to earn miles with credit cards and jet off around the world for free, but you owe it to yourself and your family to spend responsibly. There’s a reason why MAS only approved $500 limit credit cards for NSFs and students.
If you’re getting credit cards so you can enjoy dining discounts or shopping discounts, that’s smart, assuming you’re not spending money you would not otherwise have spent. If you’re getting it to build miles, that’s smart too, assuming you’re not spending money you would not otherwise have spent. See the pattern here?
Do not let credit cards become lines of credit. Think of them as debit cards, in that they don’t let you spend more than you have. And please, please pay off your bill in full, every month, by GIRO so you don’t forget.
/public service announcement.
That said, if you’re a student and want to start getting something out of your spending, you might want to consider the cards below
DBS Live Fresh Card
I remember when I was in uni the only options available to me were the Citi Clear Card and the CIMB Bank card, both $500 limit cards which earned no points at all. I think the only purpose in getting them was so I could enjoy Citibank dining discounts without having to open a Citibank account to get a Citibank debit card.
With the DBS Live Fresh card you get 1.2 miles on
- Foreign currency spending
- Online shopping
- Spending on travel at Agoda, Airasia, Airbnb, Expedia, Jetstar, Pandabed, Tigerair, Scoot
Your regular spending is a rather anemic 0.4 miles per $1, so don’t expect great things. Still, if you’re planning a grad trip and can convince your friends to let you buy their tickets, you can earn a decent amount! (Not as good as the DBS Attitude’s 4.5 miles per $1 but don’t get greedy, there’ll be time for that when you’re older)
Verdict: Best option for students to start earning miles.
Citi Clear Card
Ah, the Citi Clear card. This was the first true student credit card. When it was announced, there was quite the moral panic as concerned members of society wrote in to the Straits Times to say that this was the slippery slope towards ballooning student debt, increased spendthriftness and Armageddon.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the Citi Clear card is here to stay. Unfortunately, it’s not all that great. It does allow you to get Citibank Gourmet Pleasures discounts, which are fairly common, so there’s some value there.
The biggest perk, if you can call it that, is free entry to Zouk, Phuture and Velvet Underground. I remember Velvet Underground. A friend brought me there once on the premise that it would help me connect with fellow young people. I had a Shirley Temple, decided the music was too loud after 15 minutes and left. Said friend has not spoken to me since.
Verdict: If you like dining discounts or believe you’ll use the clubbing benefits, why not
CIMB Classic Mastercard
I’m not quite sure what this card does, apart from allowing you to take advantage of CIMB’s dining/shopping discounts. You know the marketing team is digging the bottom of the barrel when their listed benefits include such gems as
- Accepted worldwide
- Secure credit limit
There is no annual fee, so you can hold on to this as long as you like. I just found it lying in my drawer where it had been for the past 4 years.
Verdict: Nope, nope, nope
Maybank eVibes Card
I love how the tag line says “be blown away by 1% cash rebates”. Like, seriously guys. The marketing team isn’t even trying anymore. 1% cashback on all your purchases. Whee. They used to offer TREATS points on this but that ended 1 Jan.
Let Maybank be your introduction to the underwhelming world of cashback cards! Take the lessons from this and never get a cashback card when you start earning money!
They’ve got a member-get-member promotion where you get $10 cash credit for referring 1 friend, $40 for 3 friends, $70 for 5 friends. If you can get some friends together that might be worth grabbing, but there is really no compelling reason to own this card
Verdict: Don’t bother.
Standard Chartered Manhattan Card
What I said about Maybank being your introduction to the underwhelming world of cashback cards? I take it back. SCB gives you 0.25% cashback.
But hey, at least they give you 3 different unique benefits! 10% off at SaladStop when you spend a minimum of $25! $10 return visit voucher at CPK for $50 spent! 15% off at Peach Garden with a minimum spend of $50!
Conclusion: If you want to start building your miles, the DBS LiveFresh card is the way to go. Get this, the Citi Clear card, and be done with it.