Credit card annual fee waivers: A bank-by-bank guide

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Don't waste time on hold. Here's the fastest way of getting a credit card annual fee waiver for each bank in Singapore.

One common concern about playing the miles game is that holding multiple credit cards will require paying multiple annual fees.

Fortunately, that’s simply not the case. I have two dozen cards, and only regularly pay the annual fee for one of them (AMEX Platinum Charge). The fact of the matter is that banks are very ready to waive annual fees, even if you don’t meet the published minimum spend requirement

❌ When annual fees can’t be waived
Annual fee waivers are generally not granted for cards with S$120,000 income requirements like the Citi Prestige and HSBC Visa Infinite. For exceptions, refer to this post.

Still, it can be a hassle to call up the bank, navigate complicated menu options that “have recently changed” (yeah right), and listen to all those unskippable “we are experiencing higher-than-usual call volumes” messages (protip: it’s not higher-than-usual if you play it every time!)

To save you the trouble, I’ve put together this compendium which summarises:

  • How to request an annual fee waiver without calling up the bank
  • If calling is required, how to fast track to the fee waiver section

American Express

Automatic fee waivers

AMEX has no published criteria for automatic fee waivers.

Fee waivers can be requested via the chat function on the AMEX app, or via the AMEX hotline.

AMEX app

  1. Login to the AMEX app
  2. Tap on the chat icon (top right)
  3. Tap Chat With Us
  4. Type “fee waiver”
  5. You’ll be connected with a CSO who will assist further

Hotline

  1. Call the number at the back of your card (or find the relevant number here)
  2. Enter the last five digits of your card > 1 > Verification > 0
  3. You’ll be connected with a CSO who will assist further

Bank of China

Automatic fee waivers

Bank of China has no published criteria for automatic fee waivers.

Fee waivers can only be requested via the BOC hotline.

Hotline

  1. Call 1800 338 5335
  2. Press 1 > 2 > Key in 16 digit credit card number > Key in mobile number 

Fee waiver decisions take two weeks to process. 

CIMB

Automatic fee waivers

CIMB does not charge annual fees for any of its principal or supplementary cards!

Citibank

Automatic fee waivers

Citibank has no published criteria for automatic fee waivers.

Fee waivers can only be requested via the Citi hotline. 

Hotline

  1. Call 6225 5225
  2. Press 1 > enter NRIC > 1 (NRIC starts with ‘S’) or 2 (NRIC starts with ‘T’) > 2 > 4 > 1 > Enter OTP 
  3. Listen to instructions and press 1 to confirm fee waiver

DBS Bank

Automatic fee waivers

A fee waiver will be granted automatically for the following cards with a minimum spend of S$25,000 in a membership year:

  • DBS Altitude AMEX
  • DBS Altitude Visa
  • DBS Black Visa Card
  • DBS Takashimaya AMEX Card
  • DBS Vantage Card (min. spend S$60,000)
  • DBS Woman’s Card (min. spend S$15,000)
  • DBS Woman’s World Mastercard

Fee waivers can be requested via the DBS digibot.

DBS digibot

  1. Access the digibot on the DBS website by clicking the “May I help you” icon at the bottom right
  2. Type Fee Waiver
  3. Tap Fee Waiver followed by Authenticate Me
  4. Complete the authentication process
  5. Select Credit Cards Fee Waiver
  6. Select the type of fee waiver you wish to apply for
  7. Select the credit card account to be waived
  8. Review the details and tap on confirm

HSBC

Automatic fee waivers

Automatic fee waivers are available for the following cards with a minimum spend of S$12,500 per membership year:

  • HSBC Advance
  • HSBC Visa Platinum

As a reminder, the HSBC Revolution has no annual fee, and the HSBC Visa Infinite’s annual fee cannot be waived.

Fee waivers are only available via the HSBC hotline.

Hotline

  1. Call 1800 4722 669
  2. Press 8 > 1 > 2 > Enter 16 digit credit card number > Mobile phone number 

Maybank

Automatic fee waivers

Automatic fee waivers are available with the following minimum spend per membership year:

  • Maybank Manchester United Platinum Visa (S$3,600)
  • Maybank DUO Platinum Mastercard (S$6,000)
  • Maybank FC Barcelona Visa Signature (S$10,000)
  • Maybank Horizon Visa Signature ($18,000)
  • Maybank World Mastercard (S$24,000)

Fee waivers can only be done via the Maybank hotline.

Hotline

  1. Call 1800 629 2265
  2. Press 1> 1> 1> 1> 1> Enter 16 digit credit card number > 1 > Enter mobile number > 1 

Fee waiver decisions will be processed within seven business days. 

OCBC Bank

Automatic fee waivers

A fee waiver will be granted automatically with a minimum spend of S$10,000 in a membership year, except for the following cards:

  • OCBC Great Eastern Cashflo Credit Card: S$5,000
  • BEST-OCBC Credit Card: S$5,000
  • OCBC Premier VOYAGE: S$30,000
  • OCBC VOYAGE: S$60,000 

Fee waivers can be requested via the OCBC Digital app or OCBC Internet Banking.

OCBC Digital app

  1. Login to the OCBC Digital app
  2. Tap on the menu bar (top left)
  3. Select Card Services > Request a fee waiver
  4. Select the card you wish to request a fee waiver for 

OCBC Internet Banking

  1. Login to OCBC Internet Banking
  2. Mouse over Customer Service in the top menu bar, then Credit Card Fee Waiver
  3. Select the card you wish to request a fee waiver for

Standard Chartered

Automatic fee waivers

Standard Chartered has no published criteria for automatic fee waivers (unless perhaps you own an SC X Card!).

Fee waivers can be requested via the SC Mobile Singapore app or online banking. 

SC Mobile Singapore app

  1. Login to the SC Mobile Singapore app
  2. Tap the menu bar (top left)
  3. Tap Help & Services
  4. Tap the expand button under Card Management
  5. Tap Credit Card Fee Waiver
  6. Select the cards you wish to request a waiver for
  7. Select the fee you wish to be waived
  8. Agree to the T&Cs and submit the request

SC Online Banking

  1. Login to SC Online Banking
  2. Click Help & Services
  3. Click the expand button under Card Management
  4. Click Credit Card Fee Waiver
  5. Select the cards you wish to request a waiver for
  6. Select the fee you wish to be waived
  7. Agree to the T&Cs and submit the request

UOB

Automatic fee waivers

Annual fees are automatically waived for the UOB PRVI Miles AMEX (min. S$50,000 spend per membership year) and the UOB EVOL (min. 3 transactions per month each month of a membership year)

Otherwise, you need to take special precautions with UOB cards, as UOB’s idea of a fee waiver is to deduct UNI$ from your balance to cover the fee! In other words, don’t rejoice just because you see an annual fee waiver granted in your statement. It’s more likely than not that your UNI$ have been garnished to cover it. 

Fee waivers can be requested via the TMRW app.

UOB TMRW app

  1. Login to the UOB TMRW app
  2. Tap Accounts at the bottom of the screen
  3. Select the card you wish to request a fee waiver for
  4. Tap Settings, then Waive Fees
  5. Select Annual Fee and confirm

For avoidance of doubt, you can request a fee waiver this way regardless of whether you’ve been billed in cash, or via a deduction of UNI$.

If it’s any consolation, any reversal of the annual fee involves a crediting of fresh UNI$, with a new two-year expiry period!

Important points to note

(1) Annual fees are charged upfront

Annual fees are always charged upfront, in respect of the upcoming year. 

For example, if my card with a first year fee waiver is approved on 1 July 2022, I’ll be charged the second year’s annual fee on 1 July 2023 (which covers the period until 1 July 2024). 

Some people mistakenly believe that by the time they see the annual fee on their statement, it’s too late to waive (because the year has gone by). That’s not true. You can request a waiver, and if it’s not granted, cancel the card for a full refund.

(2) Miles will be clawed back if annual fee is waived

Certain cards like the DBS Altitude and Citi PremierMiles award miles (in the form of bank points) for paying the annual fee. If the fee is subsequently waived, those points will be clawed back.

Don’t try and pull a fast one by cashing out the points, then requesting a fee waiver- your account can reflect a negative points balance, and the bank reserves the right to charge for shortfalls. 

(3) No doesn’t mean no

If you request an annual fee waiver through one of the automated channels and it’s rejected, there’s still one last shot. 

Call up the bank and request to speak with a CSO (ignore the pre-recorded messages that say fee waivers can only be done via the automated system). Tell them you wish to cancel your card because of the annual fee, and they might be willing to offer a waiver in order to retain you.

(4) Don’t be afraid to walk away

If the bank refuses to grant a waiver, you’ll need to decide whether the benefits of membership outweigh the costs, and for most entry-level cards the answer will likely be “no”. 

There’s no shame in walking away, since you can always reapply further down the road (and qualify for a first year fee waiver, if applicable). 

Before cancelling a card, it may be necessary to cash out your points. This depends on whether it’s your last card with the bank, and whether the bank in question pools points. Refer to the article below for more details. 

Which banks pool credit card points?

Conclusion

Credit card annual fees are pesky, but requesting a waiver is fairly straightforward for most banks. It’s your responsibility to monitor your account and raise a request when the time comes, so make a habit of checking your monthly statement (look at the expiry date on your card- the month is when the annual fee is billed).

How’s your luck been with annual fee waivers?

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

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Ortloc

I have walked away from all my UOB credit cards except the UOB Absolute Cashback card, which I very well expect to have to cancel when the first anniversary is reached. This POS bank (piece of $h!+ bank, not to be confused with POSBank), has, for a number of years already, been charging/deducting UNI$ and refusing to waive the fees,but only to relent when I threatened each time to cancel the cards. Other than obscene profits, I do not understand the rationale or the perverse pleasure UOB derives from from making their customers jump through hoops to get a waiver.… Read more »

Freddy

Really don’t like UOB on this tactic. On the other hand I find PPV really useful, so I have to live with the troublesome process to get the points back.

EDMW

Did you know when you signed on the application form you agreed to pay the annual fees? It’s not an entitlement to have the fees waived.

Ortloc

Sure it’s not an entitlement. So why bother, year after year, to “pity” me and waive the fees with a callback only when I call in to cancel? Just let me cancel! My PPV has been moribund for a number of years already, precisely because I did not like spending on the card only to have the rewards taken away every year. I might as well use cash and spare myself the frustration of having to beg them to waive. There are many other banks with no fuss waivers and I have brought my business to them. To everyone who… Read more »

Yiwei

On the bright side your UNI$ technically will never expire?

Waivering

I’ve never had a problem getting annual fees waived by UOB and my UOB VS is my only credit card with a perpetual fee waiver. Also I’ve never had a problem with Citi. I’m currently getting my DBS points in order so I can transfer them all out when and if DBS doesn’t waive the annual fees like many people have been experiencing.

cheesecake

Agree that UOB is so pointless when they do this, and the problem is down to their siloed systems, without caring at all about the resultant customer experience. You can have 4 different cards that renew in the same statement cycle, which can yield 4 different results even though they all consume the same credit limit: 1) not charged (auto waived) 2) charged, but auto waived through IVR 3) charged, IVR inconclusive, but receive text message shortly after to say that it’s waived 4) charged, IVR inconclusive, subsequent text message denies waiver, and when you call and threaten to cancel,… Read more »

jon

well i waive all my UOB cards, including Krisflyer. sufficient spends and good credit amongst the things one can raise during the request. Oh yesh, PPV is a Mile-collector’s favourite, it’s 5-stars for majority of readers here!

Ortloc

PPV used to be my primary card with sufficient spend until they decided to pull the stunt of first swiping my UNI$, then charging the annual fee when I stopped accumulating UNI$ in protest. My monthly PPV spend is now divided among 3 cards and I have no issue getting waivers from them.

As I said, for those who have not been targeted by UOB, lucky you. For those that have, my advice is to cash out your UNI$ and run before it’s too late.

jeff

was pleasantly surprised last month scb sent an sms to me saying my annual fee is automatically waived. i’ve only got a singtel mobile giro on that card, otherwise not used.

Jack

SCB visa infinite?

JW19

I gotten an automatic fee waiver from Citi for my premiermiles master without even trying to ask. Perhaps a product of spending on payall, i dump a lot on that platform especially on niggly miscellaneous.

UOB

Regarding UNI$ waiver refunds, I’ve requested for waivers via the app before but to no effect. Had to call them up to get it refunded, and the CSO informed me that UNI$ refunds can only be done over the phone. Not sure if it’s true for others.

Fees

I’ve also had the UNI$ refunded via the fee waiver in the app. And I’ve also had UOB (and other banks) CSO’s tell me all sorts of nonsense.

Bryan

Hey Aaron, I just did fee waiver for my Citi card over the phone (21 Sep 2022). The steps seem slightly different from published, so let me just share what I had:

  1. Call 6225 5225
  2. Press 1 > (auto-detected mobile number) enter NRIC to verify > 2 > 1
  3. Fee waived. YM(haha)MV
Last edited 16 days ago by Bryan

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