“Sorry, we cannot increase your credit card limit and we cannot tell you why!” – That was the answer from the bank officer.

Here is my story:

On contrary to many people’s belief, I am a credit card lover. I like to use credit card for my daily purchase as much as possible for the perks they offer, be it cash rebate, points, free gifts, etc.

Many people assume that you must be big time spender to get rewarded and I can testify that is NOT true. People just don’t know how generous the bank can be to encourage you to use their cards. I even got a Ferragamo watch before. All you have to do is to be informed about the innovative products and promotions offered by the bank.

But here is the difference, I never spend a single cent beyond my means and all my credit cards are paid in FULL by GIRO on time every month.

I have been using oneraising-credit-limits of the cards because of the cash rebate for many years but the credit limit is very low. That is because I applied the card when I just graduated while I earned a miserable fresh graduate income. I did not bother to apply to increase the limit because a few thousand per month limit is more than enough for me (I told you I am not a big time spender).

Lately, I am planning to make a purchase which will exhaust my credit card limit, so I decided to apply for a credit card limit increase. I submitted all the documents required and guess what? I was REJECTED! I thought it was a mistake because my credit cards with other banks have 400% more limit than this card and my latest Credit Bureau reports shows I am “AA”! My “Probability of Default”, according to the report is less than 0.08%.

(For those who have never heard of Credit Bureau Score, it is calculated from an algorithm based on information in your current available credit data and is a fluid number which may change from time to time in tandem with changes in your credit information. You can obtain your own report from Credit Bureau Singapore website)

So I phoned the bank asking why I was rejected. The customer service officer said they are out-sourced call center (again…) and not allowed to check my record, I was advised to go down the the branch personally. So I went down to the head quarter yesterday. the bank officer made some phone calls and turned to me, “I am sorry, it is confirmed that it was rejected but we are not able to give you any reason, this is banking secret.”

Working in financial industries for many years, I immediately realized that it could be due to some of my recent transactions which do not appear well in the bank’s credit modeling system (a bank normally uses a proprietor statistical model to assess their clients’ credit risks). This reminded me of some of my clients who had similar encounters.

I am 99% sure that it was because my GIRO deduction date was not due yet and my current credit used “appeared” to be “substantial” given the low limit of my card.

“May I just pay off my current balance and re-apply” I probed.

“Sorry sir, I cannot tell you, but you can try.” The officer replied. Knowing I am rather upset and I am genuinely entitled to the credit increase, he gave me the “friendly advice”, “You see, I cannot tell you how to get your case approved, because then people will know how the bank assesses the credit and credit seeker will use it to improve their situation and get the credit they want.”

ha… That is the key point! (I will leave it to you to ponder)

I am sure everyone of us has met some credit card promoters when we walk in shopping malls or near MRTs. We all have seen banks spending tons of money, put advertisement and commercials to attract customers to sign up their credit cards; and the competition is so fierce that Singapore may be one of the very few places where your credit card annual fees are waived every year. (People in other countries are not so lucky.) Yet they will NOT give you credit when you ask for it.

We all receive phone calls from the banks’ agents to offer this and that kind of loans or credit lines. Many people think the banks are desperate for business. There were so many complains that the government has to implement Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and Do Not Call Registry (DNC) effective from this year.

But let me tell you the truth, just like you cannot buy insurance when you want to make a claim, bank will not lend you money when you need it the most!

Isn’t it the time for you to check if you have enough credit to stand by?

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

  • The banks would only loan you money if they think that you would face some difficulties returning the money i.e. More interest to earn from retail lenders. If you have a clean record, not worth it to lend you :p just guessing

  • Hi, I also have huge problem getting credit from them because I’m self employed. The funny thing is, once I started getting myself into debts because of my mortgage loans, they started giving me like for free. The industry is crazy. Like you said, when I don’t need the money, they will lend you money. When I needed the money, they stopped the lending…

  • Discrimination against the Self-employed? As far as I know, the top earners in the world are businessmen and by definition they got no boss other than themselves (self-employed).

  • You must be a self Employed. Even if you earn a lot. As long as you are self employed, you can be rejected. No complicated algorithm.

    • Dear Pauline,

      Yes, I am self employed, but I don’t think that is the key issue. I have recently applied credit increase from another bank and got approved.

      I will “tidy up” and resubmit the application and let you all know the update.

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