Credit card woes are, unfortunately, frequently cited by Expats living in Malaysia. Indeed, the process of acquiring a card in any foreign country can be a dispiriting experience, particularly as there is far too often a nagging degree of uncertainty when it comes to selecting the optimum card for particular circumstances. Listed here are just a few basic, yet crucial, facts about acquiring a credit card in Malaysia.
It almost goes without saying that card acquisition procedures differ between issuers (which are usually banks). Despite this, every issuer out there will require an application form to be completed and submitted. Most up-to-date issuer application forms can be completed online with ease (MasterCard, Visa, etc). Otherwise, the applicant will have to travel to their nearest branch and/or outlet to acquire the correct paper work. It should also be noted that the time involved for the process of the application can vary. In some cases it takes only a day, in others weeks.
It is strongly recommended that applicants read the terms and conditions on the application form/website before submitting. Though this may also sound so basic as to seem redundant to many expats applying for credit cards in Malaysia, they often neglect to read the fine print carefully and, as a result, end up incurring irritating restrictions and penalties. Though often times the Terms and Conditions will accompany the application form (whether on paper or online), some issuers may send out the Terms and Conditions along with the Credit Card that has been sent to the applicant once the application has been processed and approved. Issuers will conduct an internal check to verify the applicant’s eligibility, during which credit history will be scrutinized.
Just like with practically every other bureaucratic procedure in Malaysia, the applicant will need to provide sufficient supporting documentation (be it a Passport, a pay slip etc) with their application form. The kind and number of supporting documents you will need to submit with your application will depend on the type of card being applied for.
Once the application has been processed successfully, the applicant will either have the card couriered to them by registered mail or else they will have to pick up the card at the issuing branch. PIN numbers are sent separately for security reasons. Only expat’s with an approved official working permit and an annual income of RM24,000 will be eligible for the requested credit card.
In Malaysia, as with other countries, credit card application materials can be acquired on the branch premises of the issuing bank and/or organization. There are also regular public promotions held in shopping centers (the kind we regularly pass by and think little of) held by banks offering particular perks and deals for their card holders. These promotions, as well as those generally annoying telesale phone-calls, can provide the prospective applicant with information specific to individual circumstances. However, one should never apply on the basis of scant information acquired from promotional material. One should take the information acquired from the advertised material (bonuses, perks, etc) and weigh/assess it against the terms and conditions listed on the application form.
A highly recommended site for any expat considering obtaining a credit card in Malaysia is bankinginfo.com.my. What makes the site such a great resource is that it breaks down the steps you will need to take to acquire a credit card in Malaysia into four brief sections. The site also has an excellent section that covers the best way the expat can protect him/herself against credit card fraud and other criminal monetary schemes in Malaysia.
Another need-to-know agency for any expat doing business in Malaysia is the Financial Mediation Bureau (FMB) which is an independent body that has been set up specifically to settle any issues that may arise between consumers and their financial service providers.
A popular card choice among expats is the Premier Miles Card offered by citi bank. The card allows the user to amass points with their spending (3RM=1 Premier Mile Point) which can be exchanged for a wide variety of travel, hotel and shopping privileges. Such privileges include redeemable frequent flyer miles, lounge access and complimentary wine and discounts at selected restaurants. Terms and conditions, which can be found on the above website, do apply and prospective card users should read up before jetting off to rack up their spending points.
A useful list of what credit card issuers are available in Malaysia, as well as their website links, can be found via this website. In addition to this, a great web page for perusing and comparing what cards are out there, what interest rates they charge and how much cash back the user will receive can be found here.
For expats looking to acquire a credit card in Malaysia, it is highly recommended that only issuers who are associated with globally recognized institutions (Visa, Master Card, and American Express) be chosen. Such issuing companies are more often than not highly approachable, and willing to answer any inquiries the potential customers might have.
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