Source: Straits Times
Over the past weeks disgruntled readers, mostly senior citizens, have written to the Straits Times complaining about being discriminated against when applying for credit cards. I can empathize with them as it too happened to me several years ago when my credit card application was rejected by Public Bank. It was my first encounter with age discrimination, and my first bitter taste of a loss of self-esteem. I was left with no choice but to apply for a supplementary card under my daughter's name in Singapore and my other daughter's name in Malaysia.
Once you hit retirement age, banks assume you are no longer credit-worthy. Overnight you become persona non grata and considered a credit risk, never mind that you may have an impressive share portfolio or healthy FDs with the banks. What is of paramount concern to them is that applicants must have a steady monthly income.
Younger people have hardly any savings and habitually run up credit card debts. Yet they are able to apply for multiple credit cards just because they have a regular job, whereas retirees with sizeable savings and investments are considered a financial security risk. How absolutely ridiculous!
The media focus on this issue has put banks on the defensive. DBS, OCBC, UOB, HSBC and Standard Chartered have reiterated that they do not discriminate against elderly credit card applicants. Maybank says elderly applicants are eligible for a 'secured credit card' provided they have at least S$10,000 in fixed deposits to cover any credit card debts incurred.
The banks can say all they want about welcoming eligible applicants regardless of age, but rejected applicants tell a different story on the Straits Times online forum. Banks need to work on their credibility quotient as much as they expect their older customers to be credit-worthy.
It's high time banks re-looked their eligibility criteria for older credit card applicants. With Singapore's ageing population on the rise, banks will stand to lose out if they continue to practise discriminatory policies against the elderly.