I first got my credit card application approved when I was 25 years old. Prior to that, my credit score and history was a virgin. It was a simpler time.
I did not imply that it is bad to own a credit card. It is, in fact, a useful tool to get you things you always wanted to buy or go to places you had your eyes onto for years. The keyword is: moderation. You will fall into a debt trap when you lost sight of your purpose of owning this sorcerous tool — can’t stress that enough.
I think it would be fun to share a story of how I ended up with 5 credit cards in a span of 5 years. On top of that, I’ll also share my general feelings toward these cards. Alright, here goes…
My first card: Hong Leong Mach Visa
I signed up for this basic credit card from Hong Leong Bank as a favour from a dear friend. I turned 25 on this day and in exchange for this favour, I get to choose a birthday gift lol.
It is a cashback credit card that I don’t remember much of its benefits (probably because it was too basic). I used it mostly to pay for purchases at point of sale terminals as well as online.
My financial management was extremely poor back in the days, I survived on credit most of the times. I tried to remember how I got into this mess but my mind seems to have blocked this memory (good riddance I suppose). I do remember paying a large sum of settlement on this credit card circa 2017-2018 and eventually terminated this account.
Boy I was so proud that I paid the dues off and was freed from the trap, but this is just a prelude to “how I ended up with 5 credit cards” series.
Came in bundle: CIMB Cash Rebate MasterCard
The bank approved my home loan application in October 2017 (yes, I’m a homeowner!!!) and sent me 2 credit cards in the package: A cash rebate card and an Islamic version of the Petronas credit card.
I cut the other card in half and activated the cashback card as it seemed useful. The best part about this cashback card is that it has zero annual fee. Whether or not I swipe it in a year, CIMB won’t charge my ownership of it.
This credit card is still in my purse today. I managed to zero down the liabilities on this card sometimes last year and let it dormant for a year. I had recently used it for online shopping but it didn’t excite me anymore. Why? Well the minimum monthly spend turned me off.
For starters, I know my monthly spending limit never hit RM3,000 mark, I don’t drive a car on a daily basis, my bill payments are not automated for some reasons, and I like shopping but the cashback rate is meager.
I didn’t save much from its cashback so I’m planning to cut this card in half and replace it with a simpler cashback MasterCard, soon.
0% Balance Transfer: HSBC Amanah MPower Platinum Credit Card-i
It was a casual stroll in a shopping mall that day, I was approached by one of the sales persons. I remember went there to splurge while thinking of how to get rid of outstanding credit card debts — funny how my brain processes guilt and pleasure.
What happened was they were having a promotion offering 0% interest rate on a 12-month balance transfer plan. “That’s great”, I said. So I transferred the dues from Mach credit card to HSBC credit card; they gave me a tumbler as sign-up gift (*eye-rolling*).
The annual fee on this card is expensive, I had to swipe once per month to waive it. I personally dislike the card for its identity (being an “Islamic” card) and its underlying terms and conditions during my balance transfer stint. It charged me a fee for not paying it immediately after swiping on a retail transaction. That’s not very friendly I say. So, I settled the balance transfer hurriedly.
Anyways, this card is still in my purse because I fell into another trap the same year I paid off my balance transfer. I got to spend most out of this card actually, although, its benefits were fairly underweight plus the minimum monthly spend is still higher for my appetite. Now, I’m itching to liberate myself from this card and replace it with a nicer one.
Cashback & Rewards: Maybank 2 Platinum Cards
Probably the most sought after credit card of mine. Out of all the cards, this is the only one I applied with fervent interest. After being in the (credit card consumer) industry for 5 years, I finally found the card(s) that fit my needs and vanity pursuits.
It’s only 3 shy months from the approval date and I already selected this card for most of my payments including billings and insurance. I called it the simplification of headaches. I had saved roughly RM30 from its 5% weekend cashback and earned more than 2,500 TreatsPoints in cumulative. More plus points: free travel insurance coverage of up to RM700,000 and free annual fee for life.
The application was made directly to Maybank website and it was a wee bit disappointing to be honest. Like typical Malaysians who love free gift, I was gunning for it but the system rejected my application after submitting documents. And then the sales rep called me to complete the application via phone. Once approved, they sent me the cards via PosLaju, who lost it and never reconcile with me at all. Long story short, Maybank replaced the card and waived the replacement card fee (after I complained yet again). When all is said and done, I collected the cards myself. Still bitter with PosLaju though (*unamused*).
Simpler cashback card: Citi Cash Back MasterCard
This is the card I’m planning to replace with my CIMB and HSBC credit cards. After much thoughts and deliberations, Citi Cash Back card does meet my spending appetite.
I’m resonating with its cashback categories: I use e-hailing, I spend on groceries A LOT, and I like to eat out. Although it will save me up to RM40 only every month, but hey, I can surpass RM500 minimum spending limit on a monthly basis. It’s a no-brainer I tell you. Citibank gives free annual fee for the first 3 years for a newbie, which is okay for me.
The best part is they’re giving free e-Wallet credit as sign up gift at the moment, which is interesting. However, I haven’t fully digested my decision to apply for this card yet due to the turbulent economy. (*praying for a sign*).
So yeah, that’s about it for now. When the time is right and the mood kicks in, I will do a piece on each credit card from my perspective. Maybe I haven’t really explored the niches of each card yet. If you have, do share with us in the comment section.