When did you get your first credit card, at what age? My first card was a sub-card. My wife is the principal cardholder. It was easy for her because she worked for a well-known multinational company. I didn’t have an active job, no pay-slip, and not paying tax when I was 22 year-old. I only got my first credit card when HSBC offered the package to graduates. As long as you have a degree, they would give you a credit card and a current account. That’s how I got my first card.
How about you?
Although you have heard of many people who fall into credit card debts, I am still recommending it here because if you are not responsible and not disciplined about taking good care of your own finances, you will do equally bad regardless of whether you have a credit card or not.
Credit card is a preferable way to organize your finances and deal with all sorts of transaction using a single account. Let’s check out the key criteria based on which you can choose the most suitable credit card for you.
What to look for in the right Credit Card?
1. Perks that suite your lifestyle
There are all sorts of cards out there giving you different perks, rebate and discount. This includes petrol rebate, dining discount, cash back, double points etc. Depending on your spending habit and the places you frequently spend money, you should first choose the cards that suits your lifestyle so that you can reap the most benefits.
TIPS: You can definitely use a combination of a few cards. Although you might pay more in government fee, but the benefits and rebate might justify that. I personally have 5 credit cards that I use frequently.
2. The Annual Fee
It is important to take into account the annual fee charged by the credit card company. Annual fees can make it difficult to repay your balance. There are cards with zero annual fees and then there are ones charging hundreds of Ringgits per year. For instance, the Citibank Cash Back Platinum Card charges RM 195 per year. That’s a big amount compared to the other credit cards which do not charge any annual fees.
TIPS: Usually, you can call in to ask them to waive the annual fee. And sometimes you will be able to get them to rebate the Government Fee too.
3. Your Credit Limit
Choosing a credit card also depends on your personality. Let’s say your credit card limit is RM 30,000. Is there a chance that you might run out and charge it up within a month? If that’s the case, you might be in some real trouble. When you’re using a credit card, it’s natural that you’ll use it to pay all your expenses including monthly bills and repay the balance at the end of the month. Your credit limit needs to be high enough to cover all these charges.
TIPS: Some banks even allow you to charge over the limit. But beware that they will then charge you an over-limit fee… What the heck? Then why is there a limit right? I was charged such a fee before. But don’t give in. I called the bank and asked them to refund the fee and cancel the over-limit feature for my cards.
4. The Fine Print
Reading the fine print will help you know exactly what you’re stepping into. Sometimes the most relevant and vital information are printed in the tiniest font. That’s just another marketing strategy of the credit card companies. Check out the fine print thoroughly and be informed about all the transaction fees, interest rates, transfer information, cash advance fees etc. Enrolling you into “credit protection services”, many companies will hide the agreements in fine print. You’ll only notice that you’ve been enrolled into these programs once they charge the bill.
TIPS: Play within the rules so you won’t be overcharged on fees. For example, some cash-back card has a cap of RM50 per month. You can split your expenses on different card so you can get the maximum rebate elligible.
5. The Grace Period
Getting a card with a longer grace period can be really helpful. The grace period is the time between making a purchase and the starting of interest accrual. A good credit card has a longer grace period. A bad credit card is likely to start charging interest right after the purchase. Look out for credit cards offering at least 21 days before interests on new purchases are counted. A longer grace period allows you to save more money.
6. The Interest Rate
Interest rate is the single most important feature of a credit card. The rate of interest, the interest deadlines and the type of interest are the key points you need to watch out for. Lots of credit card companies offer low starting rates with a view to attracting new clients.
The teaser rates rise substantially once you’re done with the introductory period. This period can range from a few months to a year. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the interest rates imposed by the company at the end of the introductory period. But if you are a responsible person, interest rate should be a big concern here since you’ll never owe them any money, right?
It’s important to ensure that your credit card does not tempt you to make purchases you wouldn’t have made otherwise. A disciplined payment schedule for every month can help you avoid interest charges and also build up a good credit score. After all, credit cards are not free money!
Credit Card Searching Sites
A smart way to search and compare credit cards is to roam around some good credit card searching sites. Let’s check out the top 3 sites where you can compare and learn about the best credit cards in Malaysia.
iMoney.my is one of the leading financial comparison sites in Malaysia. It’s a multi-function online platform offering the latest information and news on banking products and services.
The Credit Card page on iMoney.my provides a complete chart of the best credit cards, which are sorted serially based on their ratings. The ratings are made on a scale of 1 to 10. The chart portrays detailed information on the Interest Rate, Balance Transfer and Annual Fee for each credit card.
You can also apply for any credit card directly from this page. The ratings are color marked classifying the offers as Promo, Best, Good, Average and Fair. You can choose the areas where you spend the most and the search tool will arrange the order accordingly. The spending areas include Petrol, Groceries, Utilities, Travel, Shopping, Dining, Entertainment and Healthcare.
There is a filter in the page where you can specify the range of your monthly income. If you’re interested to check the services offered by a particular bank, you can also select that from this filter. The search tool is excellent and provides very precise information for selecting the best credit card suited for your needs.
RinggitPlus.com is another popular comparison website in Malaysia. They aim to offer you more for your money, be it applying for a personal loan or a credit card or the best mortgage for your dream home. The site offers free and independent information on personal finance products and services. It’s a decent website for searching the right option and translating small print into words which are easy to understand.
The Credit Cards page shows a chart of the best credit cards based on the Interest Rate, Balance Transfer, Cashback and Annual Fee. Clicking on each card reveals detailed features and reviews. You can also select services offered by a particular bank or check out credit cards sorted based on Sign Up Offer, No Annual Fee, Cashback, Rewards, Low Interest, Petrol, Travel, Islamic and Balance Transfer features.
SaveMoney.my is a Malaysian financial platform with over 300,000 monthly visitors. The site offers valuable information on saving your money. It uses some clever tools and calculators for determining how much you can save by making the right choice in a financial product or service.
The Credit Cards section in SaveMoney.my has a credit card comparison tool along with a large number of blog posts on selecting the best credit or debit card. However, since the union of the Saving Plus and RinggitPlus group in 2014, most of the card comparison links on this site are redirected to the RinggitPlus site. It’s still a good place to learn and acquire information on credit cards.
Now let’s check out the features of the Top 3 Credit Cards you can apply for right now!
Top 3 Credit Cards in Malaysia
1. Maybank 2 Cards
Maybank 2 Cards are the highest rated ones at the moment with an Interest Rate of 8.88%, 0% Balance Transfer for a tenure of 12 months and free Annual Fee. There is also a 0% Interest Installment Payment Plan at all participating merchants.
The card offers 5% cashback every month on Dining, Groceries, Petrol and Shopping. Attractive TreatPoints are available on each purchase. The Maybank 2 Platinum users enjoy a Protection Plan offering Travel Accident Insurance up to RM 1,000,000. Retail Purchase Protection and Return Guarantee exchange offers are also available.
2. HSBC Amanah MPower Visa Platinum Credit Card-i
This is the Best Dining Card offering up to 8% cashback on all local dinings. The 8% cashback is also available for petrol and groceries. There is 1% cashback for overseas spending as well. The interest Rate is 15% and the Balance Transfer is 4.99% for a tenure of 6 months. The Annual Fee is free. The card offers 0% interest Installment Payment Plan at all participating merchants.
3. Citibank Rewards Platinum Card
5 Citi Rewards points are awarded for every RM1 spent for dining, petrol and shopping. The Interest Rate starts at 8.88% and the Balance Transfer is 0% for a tenure of 12 months. The Annual Fee is RM100. The card offers Reward points for travelling with some renowned airlines. The Protection Plan covers Travel Inconvenience Insurance, Roadside Assistance, Retail Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty and Lifestyle Protection.
If you are a confident cardholder and believe that you can pay your balance on time and in full, a world of rewards are waiting out there for you to choose from. Before getting into a credit card program, make sure that you understand clearly all the features which differentiate each card from the other. That’s the way to find the credit card having the perfect combination of features to meet your needs!
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2. Best Credit Cards in Malaysia
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