Finances

Credit Card Approval Guide for Self-Employed Singaporeans

Compared to employees, the documents you'll need to submit for your credit card application are different.

A credit card next to a mobile phone that has an e-commerce website loaded on its screen

Having a credit card is not just a “cool” way to avoid carrying thick stacks of cash around with you.

There are many benefits to owning a credit card (or multiple cards). For example, you can be rewarded for simply spending money on things that you would be buying anyway.

Like employees, self-employed persons can also apply for and obtain credit cards. However, you will need to submit different documents to confirm your financial standing before the bank will issue the card to you.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how self-employed Singaporeans can apply for a (personal, not business) credit card – and get their application approved. ✔️

Contents Menu

Self-Employed Singaporeans' Guide to Applying for a Credit Card - infographic

Plan Your Credit Card Strategy

Before applying for a credit card, you should be thinking about how you can maximise the rewards you can get out of using it.

For example, you’ll need to consider:

What rewards are you aiming for?

Different credit cards prioritise different rewards, such as cashback, miles or credit card points. Choose a card that helps you get more of the reward you want.

Some cards may also offer reward more for greater spending in certain areas over others. For example if you spend a lot on groceries, you may want to look for a card that offers more cashback on groceries spend compared to, say, cashback for petrol.

Can you meet the card’s spending requirements?

For example, if a card requires you to spend at least $1,000 a month in order to qualify for an attractive cashback rate but you’re barely hitting a $500 monthly spend, that card might not be right for you.

Choose Your Credit Card

This is the fun part, where you start shopping around for a credit card that is in line with the credit card strategy you’ve come up with earlier.

You may find it helpful to use a credit card comparison site like MoneySmart or Singsaver to compare all the options out there and narrow your choices.

You can read more about choosing a credit card in Singapore here.

Check Your Eligibility to Apply

When deciding on a credit card, check that you meet its eligibility requirements.

In general, self-employed Singaporeans are eligible for credit cards if they:

  • Are at least 21 years old; and
  • Have an annual income of at least $30,000.

However, some credit cards may have stricter requirements. For example, the HSBC Visa Inifinite Credit Card requires Singaporean applicants to be earning at least $120,000 a year.

Also, Standard Chartered requires self-employed applicants to have been in business for at least 2 years before they will grant you a card.

So don’t get too excited by all the awesome perks that a particular credit card offers just yet – check that you’re eligible to apply for it first too.

Prepare the Required Application Documents

When applying for a credit card, you’ll be asked to submit certain documents. These documents are usually to help the bank prove your identity and income status.

As a self-employed person, get your Income Tax Notice of Assessment ready because the bank will likely want to see it. Here’s a summary of the application documents that you may need to submit, depending on the bank providing the credit card:

Credit card providerDocuments required
American Express
  • Clear copy of your photo ID
  • Latest Income Tax Notice of Assessment
Bank of China
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back)

One of the following:

  • Past 12 months’ CPF statement
  • Last 2 years’ Income Tax Notice of Assessment
CIMB
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back);
  • Last 2 years’ Income Tax Notice of Assessment; and
  • Latest 3 months’ bank statement
Citibank
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back);
  • Last 2 years’ Income Tax Notice of Assessment; and
  • Latest 3 months’ bank statement
DBS/POSB
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back);
  • Latest 1 year’s Income Tax Notice of Assessment; and
  • Copy of your telco or utility bill

See this DBS webpage for more info.

HSBC
  • Signed Letter of Instruction for Credit Card
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back)
  • Last 2 years’ Income Tax Notice of Assessment

See this HSBC webpage for more info.

Maybank
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back)
  • Last 2 years’ Income Tax Notice of Assessment
OCBC
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back)

One of the following:

  • Last Income Tax Notice of Assessment
  • Latest 12 months’ CPF contribution history statement
Standard Chartered
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back)
  • Last Income Tax Notice of Assessment

Note: You must have been in business for at least 2 years.

UOB
  • Photocopy of NRIC (front and back)
  • Last 2 years’ Income Tax Notice of Assessment

The exact requirements may differ from credit card to credit card, so do your checks before applying.

If your mailing address is different from what appears on your NRIC, you may also need to submit a recent original utilities bill or bank statement proving your current address.

How to get a copy of your Income Tax Notice of Assessment

You can get a copy of your Income Tax Notice of Assessment by logging into the myTax Portal with your SingPass, and then clicking on “Notices/Letters” > “Individual” in the navigation header menu (click the image to enlarge):

In the navigation header menu in the myTax Portal, click on "Notices/Letters" followed by "Individual".

You can also find your Income Tax Notice of Assessment by clicking on the “View Individual Tax Notices/Letters” option in the overview page of the myTax Portal after logging in.

Tips on Getting Your Credit Card Application Approved

1. Declare your income accurately

As seen from above, most banks require self-employed applicants to submit their Income Tax Notice of Assessment.

Accordingly, it’s important to keep proper records of your accounts, and declare your income accurately to show that you meet the minimum income requirements for being issued a credit card.

2. If your credit card application is initially rejected, find out why

If your credit card application is rejected, don’t submit another one immediately. Try to find out the reason(s) for rejection so you can resolve the issue and increase your chances of a new application being approved.

For example, if you submitted the wrong document(s) by mistake, check that you submit the right one the next time round.

Or, if your application was rejected due to your poor credit score, work towards improving it before applying for another credit card.

Final Thoughts

The process for self-employed Singaporeans to get approval for a credit card is quite straightforward.

The main steps would be to know what you’re looking for in a credit card, shortlisting some credit cards that you’re eligible to apply for, and then actually applying for the card.

Last but not least – when submitting your application, be sure to have your Income Tax Notice of Assessment ready!

Got questions on getting credit card approval? Join our lancerX Facebook community where you can connect with fellow self-employed Singaporeans, ask for help and share resources in a supportive and supportive environment!

Tan Siew Ann
Fuelled by a long-standing interest in media, Siew Ann ventured into digital marketing while in law school and has not looked back since. Being inspired by the struggles that she and others have faced while freelancing in Singapore, Siew Ann started lancerX to help freelancers turn their craft into sustainable and meaningful full-time businesses.

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