Corporate cards

Guide on secured credit cards in Singapore

Apr 05, 2024

With the shift towards digital payments, it’s natural that plenty of businesses seek credit cards for their expenses.


However, the unfortunate reality is that obtaining a business credit card can be challenging. This is especially true for newer and smaller businesses without a sufficient credit score.


Secured credit cards can be the perfect solution for you. While they require a security deposit for you to be able to start using them, you’ll get all the perks you would get from a regular business credit card.

What are secured credit cards?


To put it simply, a secured credit card is a credit card that you can obtain by making a security deposit as collateral.


This allows you to get a business credit card without needing a high credit score. Typically, Singaporean banks and financial institutions will require a minimum of SGD 10,000 for your deposit.


While many companies wish to have corporate credit cards to make and manage their business expenses, not all of them are always eligible for credit.


This could be because your business is new, or maybe you simply haven’t had the chance to build good business credit yet. For businesses that fall into this category, secured credit cards can be the right solution.

How secured credit cards work?


Unlike unsecured or standard credit cards, which rely on a good credit score to determine whether or not you’re credit-worthy, you’ll provide a security deposit to your card provider as collateral.


While you will still have to repay your credit utilization each month, it’s still less risky for your credit card company, as they can use your deposit if you default on your credit card. You’ll get the deposit back in full if you close your account without any balance left unpaid.


Otherwise, a secured credit card works similarly to an unsecured card. You’ll have similar reward programs and perks, such as cashback, airline miles, or airport lounge access. You will also get a card statement of all your transactions.


If your card provider has a card management system or application, you’ll be able to access it when you get your secured credit card.


Just like unsecured credit cards, the utilization and bill repayment of your secured credit cards will also be noted by your provider and reported to the credit bureaus.



Suggested read - Best business credit cards in Singapore in 2024

What is the importance of secured credit cards?


You can get plenty of benefits for your business by utilizing secured credit cards. How does it work? Here are some ways secured credit cards are important to businesses.


Building business credit


Considering that a secured credit card is an alternative option for businesses that don’t yet have great credit, you could be building credit by using your secured cards to make business expenses.


It’s low risk for your credit card providers, meaning that you’re likely to get accepted for secured credit cards. Getting them and utilizing these cards effectively will help you build your business credit over time.



Also, read: Revolving line of credit - What is it and how does it work?


Limited liability


Your credit card provider isn’t the only one benefiting from secured credit cards, which are considerably less risky than their unsecured counterparts.


Cash flow management


Sometimes you know that you’ll have enough funds, but those funds won’t arrive until a certain date—after your customers settle their invoices. At the same time, however, you may owe your vendors money with deadlines coming up.


A secured credit card is handy in these situations, as it allows you to use your credit limit while you wait on your customer payments.



You might also be interested to read: How to increase cash flow in a business?


Employee spending control


Instead of relying on personal credit cards, you’ll have better control of your business expenses when you use corporate cards such as secured credit cards. What is previously uncontrolled spending limits can be replaced with individual card limits and internal controls.


There’s no more being surprised by end-of-month card statements or reimbursement claims. Employees know exactly how much money they can use for expenses.


Business rewards and perks


While there are many different methods to make expenses, business credit cards are a sought-after method because of the rewards and perks they come with. You could get cashback and reward points along with perks like lounge access and travel insurance.


Even if you don’t have the credit score required to get a business credit card, you can still get these perks by using secured credit cards.


Business expense tracking and reporting


Most business credit card providers offer a card management system to go along with your cards. With the right system, you’ll get automated expense updates and even easier and faster reporting processes.


Using secured credit cards over other methods such as cash advances or reimbursements gives you better visibility over your expenses, with accurate tracking and reporting to help with forecasting and auditing.


Financing options


You have to provide a security deposit to get a secured credit card, but you do get a monthly credit limit based on your deposit. This means that you have a credit buffer if necessary.


As a bonus, you can build better business credit by utilizing your secured credit cards effectively. This also opens up to even more future financing options.

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How does a secured credit card differ from an unsecured credit card?


The business credit card model that most people are familiar with is the unsecured model, which is also often known as the standard or regular credit card. What an unsecured or regular credit card means is that you don’t need to make a security deposit to get your credit card.


As this is not the case with secured credit cards, this is the biggest difference between an unsecured and secured credit card.


Unsecured cards are often more difficult to get, requiring a good credit score. There may be other requirements such as higher minimum monthly expenses or a minimum of 6 months to a year of business operations.


Secured cards offer you an alternative that can be simpler to obtain.


As a trade-off, you’ll have to make a security deposit that serves as collateral. If you aren’t able to repay your credit bill, for example, the credit card provider has the added security of the deposit. They’ll be able to make up for the unpaid balance using the deposit.


Your deposit will be returned if you choose to close your account and don’t have any unpaid balance on your card.

Features of secured credit cards

Security deposit

This is the collateral that you will have to provide in order to procure secured credit cards.


It will be a fixed deposit of an agreed-upon amount based on your discussion with your card provider, as well as the credit limit you wish to have. If you fail to repay, your provider will use this deposit to offset it.

Credit limit

Although you have a security deposit, secured credit cards still function like credit cards compared to their debit counterparts.


This means that you’ll have a maximum credit limit that will be applied each month until the end of your billing cycle. Often, this would be 80% of your security deposit.

Credit reporting

Every credit card provider will report your credit usage and repayment to the credit bureaus, which means that you’ll be directly impacting your score with your card usage.


This is something that you want to be aware of when you’re trying to optimize your utilization to build better credit.

Approval process

While there may be some overlaps, the approval process each provider will have can differ from each other.


Before you even get and use your secured credit cards, banks will first require you to fill out an application, so be sure you know what the process looks like.

Fees

Every credit card, secured cards included, will have fees attached to them. This can be anything from annual fees to card replacement fees.


It’s a feature that every secured credit card will have, though the amount will vary.

Interest rates

Similar to unsecured credit cards, paying your secured credit card bill late or only partially is likely to incur an interest charge.


You’ll want to know what the interest rates look like for your particular card program. Luckily, interest rates for secured cards are often lower than the unsecured ones.

Fraud protection

Fraud protection comes in many different forms, so you’ll want to check what your card provider has to offer to protect you from fraud.


This can be freeze and block functions, zero fraud liability protection, and many more.

Cash charges

Keep in mind that if you use your secured credit card to make cash transactions, there will be charges incurred.


These include ATM withdrawals and the purchase of foreign currencies. Each provider may have different charges.

Acceptance

Every card issuer will have its own acceptance rate.


Try to look for customer testimonials to see which issuer has the highest acceptance rate to ensure making your expenses is easy.

Eligibility requirements for getting secured credit cards


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1. Business entity


To apply for secured credit cards for your business, you must have a business entity.


You will be required to provide your name as owner or director, but the card will be linked to your business, which is what differentiates a corporate card from a personal one.


Most card providers will require you to provide proof of being a registered business in Singapore.


2. Minimum age


While secured credit cards are often thought of as the easier alternative to unsecured corporate credit cards, not everyone can have one.


You will need to be at least 21 years of age to be able to apply for and receive a secured credit card for your business. You also cannot exceed the age of 70 to be eligible for a secured credit card.


3. Security deposit


To obtain secured credit cards, banks will require you to provide a security deposit. This will be determined according to how much you want your credit limit to be.


Many secured credit card providers may also have a minimum amount for the security deposit.


4. Proof of business registration


As you are applying for your secured credit cards under the name of your business entity, you need to provide some documents that can serve as proof of your business registration.


This is important for the application process. Make sure that you have these documents ready with you.


5. Business financials


A secured credit card doesn’t require as good of a credit score as an unsecured card would, but you may still be required to provide financial documents and bank statements as part of your application.


Some providers will also have specific requirements regarding your business financials, such as how much you make or spend each month.


6. Business operations


While the requirements will differ from provider to provider, you may need to have been in operation for at least 6 months to apply for a secured credit card. There may be certain restrictions related to where your business operates.


Card providers will also require your business operations to comply with local regulations.


7. Business address


You’ll have to have a Singaporean address to get a secured credit card. Singapore will only be able to issue cards to those businesses that are registered in Singapore.


If your main branch is overseas, however, you will still be able to apply for secured credit cards as long as you have an entity with a Singaporean office address.


8. Authorized signatories


Though you’re applying for corporate cards for your business, your secured credit card provider will need you to name authorized signatories of individuals within the business.


This could be the director of the business. Make sure that whoever you choose is eligible for it.

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Step-by-step guide to applying for a secured credit card

1

Research card options

You have access to a number of different secured credit cards. Lists of Singapore’s best secured card providers will help you find out which one is the best for your business.


Look at their features and compare your options. You want to get your secured credit cards from a provider that will support your business needs.

2

Gather required documents

Every card provider will have its own application process, which typically will require a number of documents. This could be your proof of identity, business licenses, bank statements, and many more.


Make sure that you know what documents are required from you and prepare them accordingly.

3

Fill out the application form

You can start filling out the application form when you have all your documents ready. Most providers will ask for similar documents and data, but be sure that you’re clear on what is asked of you on a particular provider’s application form.


If you need to, speak with a representative who can help you with your application.

4

Submit the application

Submit your application after you complete the form, along with all the required supporting documents. During this stage, your card provider may get in touch with you for further clarity or additional documents.


Make sure that you fulfill all the requirements to get your application moving along in the process.

5

Pay the security deposit

You’ll have to pay the agreed-upon security deposit before you can proceed any further with your secured credit cards. Your card provider will let you know that they have reviewed your application and notify you when it’s time for you to pay the security deposit.


You will be one step closer to getting your cards once payment has been made.

6

Verification and processing

Your card provider will have to verify your security deposit payment. They’ll need to properly process your application so you can get started as well. This may take a day or two. Some providers may also require you to pay your annual fees at this stage.


Once done, you can ensure that everything is verified and processed.

7

Approval and card issuance

You’ll be notified once your card provider has approved your application and deposit. Typically, you’ll then get access to a card management platform or application.


You’ll be able to request cards and assign cardholders through this platform. Your provider will then issue cards according to your request and send them to you.

8

Activate the card

The only step left before you can use your secured credit cards is to activate them. When your provider sends the cards you’ve requested, they’ll also include instructions on how to activate your card.


This will usually require you to use the card management platform, prompting you to put in your card number and create a PIN.

How to build credit using secured credit cards?


1. Choose the right secured credit card


Choose a secured credit card provider that suits your business needs.


For example, if you only want SGD 10,000 as the monthly balance on your secured credit card, Singapore will have providers that won’t require you to put in a higher deposit. You won’t overspend this way.


2. Make timely payments


Continuously making late payments will undoubtedly impact your business credit negatively.


You want to ensure that all your payments at the end of your billing cycles are made in a timely manner. This also helps in resetting your card limit for your next billing cycle.


3. Keep utilization low


Ideally, you want to keep your credit card utilization under 30 percent of your total credit limit. This is also applicable to secured credit cards for your business.


If your deposit and credit limit is SGD 50,000, your ideal average utilization should be around SGD 15,000.


4. Use the card regularly


Although low utilization is preferable for a good credit score, you also don’t want zero utilization. Instead, use your secured credit cards to regularly make business expenses.


It indicates that your business is a healthy one with regular and controlled expenses.


5. Avoid maxing out the card


You won’t have an issue with maxing out your card if you’re already keeping your utilization low, but it’s still worth noting how important it is to ensure that you’re not maxing out your secured credit cards.


It’ll improve your credit score and guarantee that you’re not going over your limit.


6. Pay in full


While some providers of secured credit cards, banks or otherwise, will allow you to make partial payments, it’s generally not recommended as it will negatively impact your credit score.


You may also be restricted from utilizing your cards until you’ve paid in full.


7. Monitor your credit report


To make sure that you’re on the right track with your business credit, it never hurts to regularly monitor your credit report. It can help you gauge how good your credit is now and what else can be done to keep building your credit.


8. Build a positive payment history


Building a positive payment history goes hand in hand with full payments made in a timely manner.


Your payment history is also one of the most important factors when it comes to credit, so you want to make sure that you’re on top of your payments.


9. Maintain good financial habits


It’s important that you manage your finances effectively with tools such as secured credit cards.


To ensure good credit, you’ll want to implement strong expense policies and encourage all employees to maintain good financial habits like budgeting and reporting expenses.

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What are the factors to consider when getting a secured credit card?


Annual fees


Make sure that you’re aware of how much you have to pay in annual fees for your secured credit cards. Some providers might offer to waive your first-year fees and you might even find some without annual fees. However, keep in mind that you may get less perks.


Interest rates


Different credit card providers will have different interest rates, be it for late fees or partial payments on your credit bill. The last thing you want is to be surprised by high rates, so make sure that you pick a card with affordable rates.


Credit limit


Though your credit limit for a secured credit card will likely be determined by your security deposit, it can vary a little.


Some card issuers might give you a credit limit equal to 100% of your deposit, while others may only allow a credit limit of up to 80% of your security deposit.


Rewards and perks


Each secured credit card that you’re considering will likely have its own unique reward scheme. Some might be geared toward better travel rewards like mileage, while others may be more general.


Consider what your company’s needs and usage will be to get the best perks.


Reputation of the issuing bank


While there may be a number of banks and other institutions that issue secured credit cards, you’ll want to consider which of them have the best reputations. More well-known institutions, for example, could be more trustworthy.


Take a look at their certifications and customer testimonials to be sure.

What are the pros and cons of using secured credit cards?



Pros of using secured credit card


Improved business credit


You don’t need a high credit score to get started with a secured credit card. Instead, you can use the secured credit card Singapore banking and financial institutions have to offer to build better business credit.


Keep your utilization low and make payments on time to do this.



Expense tracking


Tracking your business expenses is easier with secured credit cards. For one, employees will only be able to spend up to the given credit limit, meaning that you can avoid any out-of-policy overspending.


Business credit cards also typically come with a platform you can use to track and view all your expenses in one place.



Cash flow optimization


A secured credit card gives you a cushion to be able to make all your expenses and settle invoices.


By utilizing your credit, you’ll be able to pay your bills without worrying about late fees and interest rates, allowing you to have better cash flow. Just make sure you’re paying your credit bills on time, too!


Cons of using secured credit card


Credit limit


You may get a lower credit limit with secured credit cards compared to their unsecured counterparts, especially if your security deposit is on the lower side.


This can limit what expenses you can make, which is why it’s necessary to manage your utilization well.



Collateral


Having to make an upfront deposit of at least around SGD 10,000 can be difficult for some businesses.


Businesses that can meet the deposit requirements will take comfort in knowing that their deposit will be returned should you close your card account, but you’ll have to keep in mind that if you’re unable to repay your credit balance, you can lose your deposit.



Fees


There are fees associated with a secured credit card, so you’ll have to be sure that the benefits you get outweigh the costs.


These can include your annual fees, physical card fees, and more. There will also be late fees that you’ll have to pay if you make your credit repayment after the due date.

5 Best secured credit cards in Singapore


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1. DBS Altitude secured credit card


DBS allows you to sign up for a secured credit card through their DBS Altitude cards. There is a minimum deposit of SGD 10,000 that you must provide as collateral to be able to get a card issued to you.


Keep in mind that the applicant for the card must also be between the ages of 21 and 70 to be eligible.


One of the benefits that DBS offers on their Altitude secured credit cards is that you will be able to easily gain miles when you make expenses on your cards.


Geared towards travelers, you can receive a bonus of 10,000 miles after paying your first annual fee. Not to mention that your miles will never expire, allowing you to never worry about quickly redeeming them.


2. UOB PRIVI Miles card


There’s no minimum spending requirement with UOB’s PRIVI Miles card, but similar to DBS, UOB will require you to make a deposit of at least SGD 10,000 to get started.


You can get a UOB PRIVI Miles card so long as you can provide the deposit and are older than 21 years old as the applicant.


Control your expenses and avoid overspending by making a deposit according to what you want your credit limit to be.


You get perks such as complimentary travel insurance, a rewards point system for both local and international transactions, and your annual fee waived for the first year. The earn rate for miles on this card is also higher than the average credit card.


3. HSBC Secured Revolution card


If you want a secured credit card to help you gain reward points and miles, the HSBC Secured Revolution card might be the right choice for you.


Like most other secured credit cards, you will also have to be 21 years old or older to apply for an HSBC Secured Revolution card. The minimum security deposit required is SGD 10,000.


You can earn 5x reward points by making everyday business expenses, as points are rewarded for any kind of expense you make on your HSBC Secured Revolution card.


With no point cap, this card can also be what you’re looking for if you plan to make your travel and entertainment expenses on a credit card. You can save money by utilizing your points.


4. CIMB VISA Signature Secured


While you can get the CIMB VISA Signature credit card without a security deposit, you’ll have to have a minimum annual income of SGD 30,000.


If the card applicant doesn’t meet this requirement, they can still get a CIMB VISA Signature credit card by making a fixed deposit of at least SGD 10,000.


Considering that this card is designed for individuals rather than businesses, it’s also a good idea to use the secured credit card option if you intend to use it for business purposes.


That way, the individual cardholder can feel less at risk with the liabilities. With 10% cashback on online shopping, your business could utilize this card for purchases that you make on online marketplaces or vendors.


5. POSB Everyday card


The POSB Everyday card is a cashback credit card that you can obtain by making a minimum security deposit of SGD 10,000. With no minimum spending requirement, smaller businesses will be able to utilize this credit card.


This is an especially good option if you’re looking for a card for everyday expenses. Get rebates on your utility bills, phone bills, and fuel.


You can also get cashback for dining and shopping expenses, making the POSB Everyday card good for your sales team—who will likely need to travel around the city and entertain customers.


You can save up on your travel and entertainment expenses by using the POSB Everyday card and earning cashback on each purchase you make.

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What are the alternative options for secured credit cards?



1. Debit cards


Often compared with secured credit cards, it’s no surprise that debit cards are an alternative you could use. Similar to paying your security deposit, you could use the money in your bank account to fund your debit card for business expenses.


Unlike its credit counterpart, however, a debit card likely won’t have perks such as reward points or cashback. You also won’t have a monthly credit limit. Instead, you’ll need to ensure that you have funds on hand for every expense you make on debit cards.



Related read: Virtual debit card - How to get started and use them?


2. Prepaid cards


Prepaid cards are a similar alternative to debit cards. They may be the preferred option if you’re uncomfortable linking your cards to your main business bank account. You can load your prepaid cards with funds whenever you need them.


As is the case with debit cards, you will have to top up your prepaid cards before you can use them. Their spending limit depends on how much funds you load. You also won’t have the opportunity to get rewards and cashback on a prepaid card.


You might also be interested to read: Best prepaid business cards in Singapore for 2024


3. Multi-currency cards


If you were hoping to use your cards on overseas business travel or any other cross-border expenses, another alternative available would be multi-currency cards. They enable you to store funds in several different currencies according to your needs.


Multi-currency cards function similarly to debit and prepaid cards, where you’ll have to load money into the card or link it to a bank account.


Though multi-currency cards make overseas transactions easier, you won’t get the perks that a credit card—secured or otherwise—will have to offer.


Suggested read: Multi currency bank account - A complete guide for businesses

How to manage finances with secured credit cards?


1. Budgeting and tracking expenses


You can assign individual limits to the secured credit cards that you equip your employees with. This means that you can sync up your card usage with your budget.


Make sure that you refer to the budget to determine how much money you can use for card expenses.


It’s also important that you implement reporting processes and enforce expense tracking to ensure that you know how your money is used.


2. Making timely payments and avoiding late fees


Imagine a scenario where you owe a vendor payment in two days. Based on your sales, you know that you’ll have enough to make that payment.


The problem is the money may not hit your bank account for another week, which is when your customers are due to pay you.


With secured credit cards, however, you won’t have to worry about late fees. Make your payments on time and save costs by not incurring late fees.


3. Minimizing interest charges and debt management


Don’t fall into the trap of partial payments—especially when the interest charges are high. Even with secured credit cards, you want to be sure that you’re only spending according to your budget.


The last thing you want is to not be able to pay your card bills in full and get hit with interest charges, which will add up. Make sure you manage your debts effectively.


A combination of forecasting, spend controls, and expense tracking will help you avoid additional costs.

Volopay cards - The best solution for businesses to manage expenses!


If you’re looking for cards to manage your business expenses, look no further. Get the best solution with Volopay cards.


With a card expense management platform that is easily accessible from anywhere, you can track, view, and manage your card expenses in just a few clicks.


Volopay offers company-issued corporate cards, allowing you to have better control of your card expenses. Employees won’t have to worry about personal liability, while you’ll be able to set limits and enforce company expense policies through Volopay’s card management platform.


Each transaction made on your Volopay cards will also be automatically recorded in real-time, giving you better visibility on your card spending. Equip physical cards for all employees and generate as many virtual cards as you need without having to worry about your control slipping.


Paired with a financial control center to help you with your expense needs, there’s no more worrying about scattered spend records and complicated finance workflows.

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FAQ's

Is a secured credit card a good option?

Yes, especially in the right circumstances. However, whether or not a secured credit card is the best option for your business depends on where you’re at and what your needs are. If you’re a new business or don’t have a good credit history yet, secured credit cards are a great option for you to make and manage business expenses.

How long does it take to get approved for a secured credit card?

It depends. Each provider will have its own application process, so be sure that you ask your card provider what’s the estimated application turnaround time. Secured credit card applications might be faster to approve as they’re not subject to as intense a credit review as their unsecured counterparts, though they’ll likely take a little over a week to review.

What happens if I default on my secured credit card payments?

Being on a secured card model is less risky for your provider as they can take your deposit to cover any unpaid credit bills. However, this doesn’t mean that you can default on your card payment with no consequences. Doing so may incur late fees, impact your credit score, and even result in account closure.

Can I upgrade to an unsecured credit card?

Yes, though the final decision will depend on your card provider. If you have good utilization and repayment habits, you may get the option to upgrade to an unsecured credit card—provided that your business credit meets the provider’s requirements.

Will using a secured credit card improve my credit score?

Yes. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to make your repayments on time to improve your credit score. You also want to keep a close eye on your card utilization.

Can I apply for a credit card with bad credit?

Yes, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be accepted. You’ll want to find the right cards and card providers if you have bad credit. Secured credit card providers, for example, may be more willing to accept your application and issue you secured credit cards.