Thursday, August 13, 2015

The 5 Most Exclusive Credit Cards in Singapore (Guest Post)

Premium credit cards are reserved for high net worth individuals (HNWIs), which these days is defined as people with S$500,000 or more. 

These exclusive credit cards are “invite only”, so you have some ways to go before you can get one. Here’s what’s on offer once you climb the ladder: 


The Myth of Unlimited Credit and Low Interest

There is no true “unlimited credit”. Rather, it simply means that lending is approved or denied on a case by case basis.

If you are a multi-millionaire or billionaire, your bank or card company will know you by name. You will probably have a dedicated customer relations officer, who works with your account. They will make the call with regard to whether your card expenses are approved (e.g. when you try and buy a S$50 million mansion with it)

The interest rate on premium cards may also work differently. Some have the usual 24% per annum rate, but others are pegged to the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR). The SIBOR rate fluctuates constantly, so interest rates for these cards are inconstant.

A card pegged to SIBOR may be cheaper or more expensive, interest-wise, than a regular credit card. It depends on the rate at any given time. Overall however, a premium card is never cheaper; the annual fees more than make up for the occasional bout of low interest.

1. American Express Centurion Card

This is a premium credit card that is also an American Express (AMEX) branding effort. This card is generally offered to celebrities - Paris Hilton has been spotted using one, as has Kanye West.

The AMEX Centurion is thus not a card one usually applies for - it is offered and taken. (although if you have a private banker, they may be able to pull strings to get you one). It is estimated that around 17,000 people in the world have one of these cards.

The AMEX Centurion has unlimited credit (see above), and a legendary concierge service. Card holders can dial a number and get a seat in a Michelin star restaurant, or a room in almost any hotel, within the hour. It can also be used to purchase services that are not known to the public (e.g. a private tour of the Pyramids). The rewards system is not known to the public, and it is unlikely that the cardholders even care about such trifles.

Annual fees for this card are rumored to range between S$6,000 - S$7,500.



2. American Express Platinum

The AMEX Platinum is one of the best dining cards in the world. Apart from the usual concierge service that comes with premium AMEX cards, the Platinum gives you access to two dining clubs: the Far Card Gourmet membership, and Palate Premiere membership. These give you steep discounts (up to 50%) at selected restaurants.

The card also offers the regular reward system for AMEX cards, such as double points for shopping at preferred partner locations. They’re invitation only, but a fair number of people get invites every year.

Annual fees are around S$320.

3. DBS Insignia Visa Infinite Card

This is the most high end credit card issued by DBS, with a credit limit of S$1,000,000. The card allows the purchase of some exclusive products and services - these are rumored to include dining at the kitchen table in Michelin star restaurants (the table is in the kitchen, right near the chefs as they work), to custom tour packages and sports experiences (a few hours in a car with a Formula One driver).

You can apply for one of these cards, if you earn S$500,000 per annum and have a private banker with DBS. Annual fees are around S$2,000.


4. OCBC Elite World Card

This credit card provides a concierge service that will cater to occasional ridiculous request, like last minute front row concert tickets. It also gives you access to lounges in around 600 different airports, and special prices on room upgrades and hotel facilities. Great for frequent travellers, and especially golfers (you get exclusive invites to watch pro tournaments around the world).

You’ll usually be offered this card if you already have premiere banking services with OCBC. Qualifying criteria is an income of S$250,000 per annum, and expect an annual fee of around S$2,000.

5. Citibank Ultima Card

The Citibank Ultima card is more of a lifestyle service than a card. It’s targeted at persons with S$5 million or more tied up with Citibank. The card holder gains access to a lifestyle manager, which tries to tie promotions and rewards to the card holder. So if you’re a frequent skier you get notifications on the great ski trips or ski equipment, if you’re a car collector you may get invites to the hottest motor shows, etc.

The card has an annual fee of S$3,888, which probably doesn’t bother anyone who qualifies to have it.

But I Can’t Get Any of These!

Not yet at least. But you can still get a credit card with great benefits, and in time you might work your way up there. The key is to save and invest wisely, and never rack up too much debt on the cards you have.

You can use a loan calculator to find the best credit card for you at SingSaver.com.sg.

This article is contributed by Allyson of SingSaver.com.sg

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