What Features Do Credit Cards Have? (Part 2)

Years ago, credit cards with one or more features were rare and exclusive. Now, every Financial Institution (FI) and bank has credit cards that not only offer numerous rewards, perks and discounts – but are tailored to a consumer’s individual lifestyle.

For example, if you’re constantly travelling on business or you just love international travel, there are credit cards available that’ll give you “air miles” for every purchase you make and provide discounts if you purchase tickets from a particular airline.

If you own a car and travel frequently, you can get a credit card that gives you petrol discounts and even free perks like roadside assistance and personal accident insurance.

The bottom line is this – no matter your lifestyle or spending habits, there’s probably a credit card out there for you.

Here are the most common features offered by credit card issuers:


Credit Cards with Introductory Perks

These credit cards are typically quite “standard” and don’t come with many additional perks or rewards. But what make these cards attractive to consumers are the introductory perks that come with them.

Here are two of the most common introductory perk credit cards available:

  • 0% Interest Balance Transfer Credit Card: These credit cards allow you to transfer the balance(s) on any other credit card(s) you have to this one with 0% interest over a 6 to 12 month period. Of course, if you can’t pay off the balance by the end of the promotional period, you’ll need to pay the normal interest rate (24%+) on any remaining balance.
  • Low Interest Rate Credit Card: These credit cards are similar to the 0% balance transfer cards because they use a low interest rate as a “sweetener” to get you to sign up. You’ll be able to low interest on any purchase made during the promotional period (6 to 12 months). But once the promotional period ends, you’ll need to pay the normal interest rate (24%+).

These credit cards are good to have if you plan on making a big purchase that you’ll pay off before the promotional period ends.


Credit Cards with Rewards Programmes

Credit cards that offer rewards programmes are some of the most popular among consumers. The concept to rewards credit cards is actually quite simple – every time you make a credit card purchase you accumulate points for every dollar spent.

Depending on the credit card rewards programme the amount of points you receive will vary from 1 to 3 points – which can be used towards redeeming “awards” such as gift vouchers, appliances, etc.

But rewards programmes don’t just include points – here are some other credit card rewards programmes available:

  • Cash Back Credit Cards: With this credit card you can earn cash rewards for every purchase you make. The amount of “cash back” you receive depends on how much you use it and the amount you receive back can range from 1% to 5%+, depending on the programme. Keep in mind that many credit card issuers will cap the amount you earn per quarter.
  • Hotel/Travel Points Credit Cards: This type of rewards credit card is often co-branded with a particular hotel chain. Typically, you can earn general “rewards” points when using this card as well as “bonus” points for using it to book nights at the hotel, which can be used for upgrades, free nights or travel expenses such as theme park admission.
  • Rewards Points Credit Cards (General): The typical rewards credit card allows you to accumulate points for every dollar you spend using the card with “bonus” points for using the card at certain retailers. You can then use your points towards redeeming retail gift cards, electronics, movie tickets, dining vouchers, etc. Just make sure your keep an eye on when your rewards points will expire!
  • Petrol Cards with Points/Rebates: The petrol credit card is a necessity if you own a car, especially if you frequent a particular petrol station (ex. Esso, Shell, etc.). Depending on the rewards offered by the credit card issuer, you can receive cash rebates (up to 5%+) and instant discounts of more than 10% at the brand’s petrol stations. You might also get rebates on certain purchases as well (dining, groceries, etc.).
  • Retail Rewards Credit Cards: Retail rewards credit cards are usually co-branded with a particular retailer (ex. Robinsons, Takashimaya, etc.), with points being accumulated through everyday purchases and major bonus points or discounts being awarded for purchases made from the co-branded retailer. This is a good card for people who enjoy shopping at certain retailers, but keep in mind that the interest rate can be a bit higher.

What’s great about rewards credit cards is that you can find a card that fits your lifestyle and spending habits. Also, keep in mind that some credit cards can have more than one of the features shown above.


Credit Cards with Frequent Flyer Programmes

If you travel regularly on business or just enjoy international travel during holidays, having a credit card with a frequent flyer programme is a must.

What’s great about frequent flyer credit cards is that you can gain “frequent flyer miles” on every purchase you make. And if you have a frequent flyer credit card that’s co-branded with your favourite airline (ex. Singapore Airlines), you can earn even bonus air miles and even get free perks such as access to airport VIP lounges.

Here are some common frequent flyer airline programmes available:

  • Airline Miles Credit Cards (General): The typical airline miles credit card allows you to build accumulate frequent flyer miles/points that you can use towards earning free air tickets with any airline. However, because it’s not an airline-specific miles credit card, you won’t earn bonus miles/points for flying with a particular air carrier.
  • Airline-specific Miles Credit Cards: The airline-specific miles credit card is geared towards frequent flyers that prefer a certain airline, such as Singapore Airlines. What’s great about this credit card is that if you’re loyal to a particular airline, you can attain miles/points for your normal purchases, double points for tickets purchased on the specific airline the credit card is attached to and you can even get perks such as access to VIP lounges and priority seating.

As with rewards credit cards, you’ll need to check out the T&Cs of the frequent flyer rewards programme so you can see how many miles/points you’ll receive per dollar spent, whether there is a quarterly/annual cap on the miles/points you can earn and when your miles/points will expire.