How strict are credit card income requirements?

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Credit card income requirements may seem daunting, but banks actually have a whole lot of leeway to bend the rules.

If you’re looking to get a credit card, you probably know that the MAS-mandated minimum income is set at S$30K per year for individuals below 55 years old. Any lower than this, and you have to settle for either a S$500 limit card or a secured offering.

💳 Credit Card options for incomes <S$30K p.a.
  • Working adults with incomes >S$18K and students aged 18 and above can get S$500 limit cards like the BOC F1RST Card, but these offer very poor rewards (0.5% cashback)
  • Those willing to put at least S$10K in a fixed deposit account can get secured credit cards with DBS, HSBC, UOB and other banks
  • Retirees (55 or older) can qualify for credit cards if they have income ≥S$15K, net personal assets ≥S$750K or a guarantor with income ≥S$30K, but their maximum credit limit is 2X monthly income instead of the usual 4X

However, many banks offer credit cards with income requirements well above S$30K. In fact, you can find cards with S$80K requirements, S$120K requirements, and even S$500K requirements.

The thing is: any income requirement above S$30K is essentially arbitrary. Although MAS specifies a distinction in credit limits between those who earn $30-120K (4X monthly income) and those who earn S$120K and above (no limit), it’s entirely the bank’s prerogative to approve someone earning at least S$30K for any card they wish. 

In reality, income requirements are just a convenient way for banks to segment their offerings; presumably, a card positioned at the S$120K market will come with more benefits and a higher annual fee than one at the S$30K level.

This means that when it comes to card applications, “it doesn’t hurt to try” should be the operative rule. Obviously, you’re not going to get approved for a S$500K credit card with a S$30K income, but if you’re just short of the mark, banks can and do exercise discretion with income requirements.

In this post, we’ll look at some high-end cards which may offer flexibility where income requirements are concerned. Do note that this is a classic case of YMMV, as income is only one of several factors that banks consider. It’s entirely possible that two people with the same income may get different outcomes when applying for the same card.

AMEX Platinum Credit Card

AMEX Platinum Credit Card
Official Income RequirementS$80,000 p.a.
Unofficial Income RequirementS$50,000 p.a.

The AMEX Platinum Credit Card got a new look in April 2020, and with it a boost in the income requirement from S$50,000 to S$80,000. 

And yet, this seems to be a prime example of an arbitrary segmentation, since there are still many reports of acceptance at the old S$50,000 threshold. Don’t forget- there’s even an opportunity to get this card without an annual fee for those who open a POEMS account. 

SCB Visa Infinite

SCB Visa Infinite
Official Income RequirementS$150,000 p.a.
Unofficial Income RequirementS$80,000 p.a.

The SCB Visa Infinite is one of the best cards on the market for buying miles, thanks to its 35,000 mile welcome gift and its low cost tax payment facility (as low as 1.14 cents per mile).

There’s an official income requirement of $150,000, but I’ve seen many data points of approvals with income from S$80,000 onwards. 

DBS Woman’s World Card

DBS Woman’s World Card
Official Income RequirementS$80,000 p.a.
Unofficial Income RequirementS$30,000 p.a.

The DBS Woman’s World Card is a must-have for anyone (male and female) who buys things online. With 4 mpd on the first S$2K of online transactions each month, it’s one of the fastest ways to rack up miles on air tickets, movie tickets, Amazon, RedMart, Lazada, ZALORA, Grab rides, Deliveroo orders etc.

On paper, the DBS Woman’s World Card has an S$80,000 income requirement, but in practice, you can easily get approved so long as you’ve above S$30,000.

Your chances of getting approved are enhanced if you already hold a DBS or POSB credit card. Log on to ibanking, then look for Apply > Credit Cards at the top of your screen.

You’ll see a whole list of DBS/POSB cards. Select the DBS Woman’s World Mastercard and click Apply (you don’t see it in my menu because I already have it). You should receive an instant decision.

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige
Official Income RequirementS$120,000 p.a.
Unofficial Income RequirementS$30,000 p.a. with fixed deposit

The Citi Prestige officially has a S$120K income requirement, but if you’re willing to put down a secured deposit of at least S$10,000, Citi may be willing to approve you. 

Keep in mind, the most recent data points on this come from 2019, and things may have changed since then.

OCBC Premier VOYAGE

OCBC Premier VOYAGE
Official Income RequirementS$120,000 p.a.
Unofficial Income RequirementS$30,000 p.a. as an OCBC Premier Banking customer with S$200K AUM

The OCBC Premier VOYAGE earns 1.6 mpd on local spending and 2.3 mpd on overseas spending, making it a good step up from the 1.3/2.2 mpd of the regular OCBC VOYAGE card.

While the regular VOYAGE has a S$120,000 income requirement, the OCBC Premier VOYAGE can be obtained at the S$30,000 income mark, provided you maintain at least S$200,000 AUM in an OCBC Premier Banking relationship (“Unofficial income requirement” is a bit of a misnomer here since this is a published guideline). 

AMEX Platinum Charge

AMEX Platinum Charge
Official Income RequirementS$200,000 p.a.
Unofficial Income RequirementS$150,000 p.a.

The AMEX Platinum Charge has a hefty S$1,712 annual fee, but packs a whole load of benefits as well. S$800 of airline and hotel credit, complimentary hotel stays and elite status, airport lounge access with multiple programs, private club access and various dining/spa vouchers are just some of the things your annual fee gets you.

The official income requirement is S$200,000, but it’s an open secret that the magic number is actually S$150,000. In fact, if you try applying for the card on the AMEX website, any income of less than S$100,000 is rejected by the system. This suggests the figure may be even lower in practice.

If you’re trying to apply for the card with income below S$100,000 but can show other kinds of assets (e.g. property), your best bet is to try an offline application with a representative who can help appeal your case. I’d recommend reaching out to Siva ([email protected])- mention you came through The MileLion and we’ll both get some additional vouchers or points if you’re approved.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, credit card income requirements (above S$30,000) are just a number. The banks have leeway to approve anyone who meets the MAS-mandated minimum.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened with the DBS Altitude, Citi PremierMiles and UOB PRVI Miles cards. Upon launch, they all carried income requirements of S$80,000 to give them an air of prestige, but as time went by started quietly taking on customers below that threshold. Eventually, they all dropped the pretence and became S$30,000 cards. 

I deeply suspect that there are other cards out there which don’t enforce strict income requirements either, but the point is that you won’t know until you try. Getting rejected for a credit card does not hurt your credit score, so the only thing you really lose is some time. Try your luck, and give a shout out in the comments if you’re successful with any of these.

Any other cards you know of which aren’t strict on the income requirements?

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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PM

I am quite curious about how strict is PremierMiles AMEX with the salary requirement.

Xman

Hi Aaron, sorry if this is a dumb question, but does one have to be female to qualify for the DBS Woman cards?

PM

No, I got it and I am a guy.

Diva

Unless there’s something Aaron isn’t telling us… 😏

onlymiles

nice one 😁

Argentum

There you go, missing out on the monetisation opportunity from your OnlyFans user base.

Last edited 7 days ago by Argentum
Eugene

Do they take into consideration bonuses for income requirements?

chk

From my experience, the more prestigious cards do accept the bonus printed on my payslip. Otherwise, not so easy to find so many earning $150k or $200k or $300k, etc……….

Sam

But what if you changed jobs and it promises a higher bonus?

Sean

Well, if the cash is not credited to your bank account, how do you proof that you received the bonus?
Business owners and senior managements that has 90% variable income will need some kind of evidence and not just verbal.
NOA, payslip, company certified employment letter and bank statements should work.

Anon

I think they take your CPF into account… so just need to check your contribution for that 12 months.

Not a UOB fan

CPF contribution has a cap of $1,200 per month, so it’s not a useful gauge.

Lim

Retirees (55 or older) can qualify for credit cards if they have income >$15K, net personal assets >$750K or a guarantor with income >$30K, but their maximum credit limit is 2X monthly income instead of the usual 4X.

So means just by me having an income of > $30K & being the guarantor, my parents with < $15K annual income can apply for a cc? Does this apply for all banks & AMEX?

Steve

Here is my “retirement case”. A few years ago, I had American Express chasing me pretty much every week to sign-up for their card. I was busy at work at the time, and didn’t do anything. Later, after I completed that contract and chose to retire, I replied to Amex. “Suddenly” they were not longer interested in offering me the card as I did not fit the “mould” of being a wage-slave. So I wrote to them and explained that the reason I could choose not to work was because I had enough net wealth that it was not necessary,… Read more »

Steve

Oh, and to add here. The 4* salary limit is a myth. When I was working, I had banks give me credit limits without even asking more than 8 times my monthly salary. What is more, they never asked what other cards I already had, and what were the limits on those cards. When I added all my card limits (across banks) together I could have gone on a $500k spending spree! It was just ridiculous how easy amassing huge amounts of credit limit was. Until, as I found out with Amex, that you don’t fit the “mould” of earning… Read more »

Curious

What’s the criteria for the Centurion card? Would Siva be able to share? Platinum is now Pedestrain

Happy Camper

@Curious.. “Pedestrian”..? What do you mean by Pedestrian and what’s your purpose of getting any specific card? For the perks? or to show off?

onlymiles

I agree with Curious. What with Amex handing out Platinum card freely without any consideration for the annual salary limit. (see HWZ forum, people bragging how they got platinum with incomes not even close to 100K) I don’t blame him

Happy Camper

Err.. Actually, my point is, who cares who has or does not have any given card.. most times I don’t even take the card out of the wallet (if at all possible) cos I can use Apple Pay so no one even sees what card I’m using.. Use the card that benefits you most, should be the priority, instead of what income is required in order to get what card, no? Else why come to Milelion and the likes?

junxi

Hi Aaron, you’re right about the SCB VI, tried applying for it this morning and got my card instantly approved even though I didnt meet the income requirement. gonna use the SCB VI now for my tax payments

Tim

Were you close to the income requirement?

Happy Camper

@Tim… You.. and more… need to change your mindset… or else Milelion… and the likes… may have to give up, cut their wrists… and go back what they did before what’ve done… Stop being pawns of banks and or the pawns of “3rd Party” Service Providers… or… continue to be… but don’t come crying when the proverbial s**t hits the fan… Who is richer..? Someone who makes a million a year, but spends two..? Or someone who makes 20k a year, and spends 10…? It’s not the color (or material) of your card you whip out at dinner that counts…… Read more »

Tim

What are you on about? Clearly the article is about income requirement. Have a seat.

Happy Camper

I was seated… you’re not worth getting up for… hahahahahaha…

Manny

Aiyah. I have been on aircraft where I had seat 1a and still had to turn right!

Happy Camper

🤦🏻‍♂️ I meant BEFORE one gets onboard.. on a two bridge setup… but it’s ok… I understand that you didn’t get that… friends of Tim… 👌🏻

😊

junxi

you could say i’m between the 60-80k bracket

August

Omg what’s with all the …

Ahtan

Might be off topic but does repeated Cancel of card and reapply for sign bonus affect chances of getting the card again?

KC

Well, I am rather torn here; not entirely sure it is a good thing. Lenient requirements look good but risk diluting brand value and eventually benefits. The Centurion lounge benefit for AMEX Platinum Charge and 4th night free on Citi Prestige benefit restrictions (US) are 2 examples that immediately come to mind. This becomes very apparent with high end cards or worse private banking relationships that are not easy to walk away from despite program devaluation.

Anon

I was granted Amex Ascend with about 40k/annum salary. Listed requirement was 50k

Jack

can get with 30K income.
The platinum credit card also can get with 30K income even listed requirement is 80K

DNC

Do they look at your IRAS taxable income (applying via SingPass) which includes stocks or the monthly salary contributions?

Also does anyone know if AMEX is flexible if my income is a few hundred below the minimum?

ABC

Minimum as in a few hundred below $200K? That shouldn’t be an issue

Jeff Q

Doesn’t the OCBC Premier Voyage card require you to be a OCBC Premier customer too? Are you saying that as long as I hit $120k I don’t need to be a OCBC Premier customer to get it?

Harry

no if you hit 120k and not premier customer you can get the regular one

Oliie

I have the UOB Reserve and assure you I don’t meet the income requirements. The other side to credit card income requirements is historical spend and credit rating. The rest is a guideline 🙂

Mike

Is stipend strictly considered by banks as ‘not a source of income’? I’m in an traineeship with my yearly stipend >30000PA but my application never got through (Citibank/DBS)

August

My first ever credit card application was with SCB and back then my income was 36K but I got rejected. And somehow a random CSR was clumsy enough to reply my email that my application was approved while it was rejected. I complained the inconsistency and another CSR called me to apologize and then they gave me a card with 4K credit limit (like pity me or something lol). After 1 year I applied for an increase and they gave me 2X monthly pay. Then I think 2 years later I got 4X. But nowadays I don’t really use their… Read more »

Grippybananas

I got the plat CC with 30k p.a. Shall try the Charge next year

A W

There is, obviously and annoyingly, more than the income criterion to being approved for a certain credit card by a bank or financial institution. Case in point: My wife, who has a very healthy income well above the published minimum was still rejected for the DBS Woman’s World card despite us living in Singapore for >3 years at the time of application, her holding the SCB Visa Infinite, Citi Rewards, UOB Krisflyer and UOB Prvi Miles card, her working for a blue-chip PLC and her being able to provide salary slips for as long as DBS cared to ask for.… Read more »

P B

Banks and financial institutions are private businesses and they have that right to their own criteria and opaqueness.

2 years ago i’d applied for the Amex Platinum Charge Card and the UOB PRVI Miles Visa at the same time (with 280k income). Amex said Yes and UOB said No. Go figure.

Risk Management

Some banks encountered unfortunate experience of foreign workers maxing out their cards, leave Singapore without paying the debt. Thus issue of commercial decision vs risk management.

Sarah

Does anyone know how these income requirements apply to a PhD student? There is technically no income since stipend is not considered salary, but the school does pay CPF contributions for singaporean PhD students. When we submit that CPF payslip, I assume the banks work backwards and do a /0.37 to calculate your actual income since 20% employee + 17% employer? Does this apply to the CPF contributions in the PhD scenario?

TIA!

W L

No the banks do not include the employer 17% CPF in any card/loan application. However, the 20% portion will be included as part of their consideration for your salary/stipend.

E.g $6000 salary with additional $1020 17% employer contribution is still counted as $6000.

Anon

They do not include the employer portion lol

Anonymous

Some more data points:
When my annual income was 92k, I was approved for the plain vanilla OCBC Voyage without any premium banking relationship.

When my annual income was 118k, I was rejected for CIMB Visa Infinite (with an official requirement was 120k).

At all times I had AA credit rating on CBS. Local and property owner. This happened about 2 and 1 year ago respectively.

Jack

I get SCB visa inf and Citi Pre with a 50000 annual income. Both apply as existing customers.

Cindy

Is there any way to appeal a rejection? or resubmit again?

Jack

Resubmit again. I get rejected of SCB visa infinite twice and approved the third time.
Just keep re-submit until they approve

Lisa

Does anyone have a recent data point for the annual income requirement for the UOB Lady’s Solitaire?

Phelan

Just applied for DBS insignia. Keeping my fingers crossed

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