Are You Using Your Credit Cards to Your Advantage? with Nicki Ramsay, Chief Executive Officer of CardUp

Episode summary

Credit cards make paying for things easier for you. But are you using your credit cards responsibly? Nicki Ramsay, Chief Executive Officer of CardUp shares how you can make your credit cards work for you, not against you. We've also partnered with CardUp to bring you an exclusive offer. You can get $20 off your CardUp fee (u.p 2.6%) on your first 3 payments! Find out more at:


Episode transcript

Philipp: Welcome to another episode of In Your Best Interest. Every two weeks, we bring you new topics covering personal finance, investing, and entrepreneurship. I’m your host, Philipp Muedder, and today we will be chatting about all things credit cards. Credit cards reserve a very special place when it comes to personal finances, and people either really love them, they try to maximise the rewards that they can get.

They're being very disciplined about using them. And others see them as a devil, right? That will keep you in a spiral of debt with high-interest rates. So it's a very polarising topic. And for that, I invited a guest that has had a long history in the payments space to help us get a better understanding of the do's and don'ts of using credit cards.

Her name is Nicki Ramsay; she's the CEO and founder of CardUp, a fast-growing credit card enablement platform based in Singapore. She's an expert in the payment industry; she has built digital payment products and previously worked in various leadership roles for American express across both Asia Pacific, as well as Europe. During this time, she held leadership roles, including head of consumer insights for APAC, as well as Director of International Business Development.

Nicki also started her career as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting after graduating with a first-class degree in economics. Nicki, thank you so much for taking the time to join me today to discuss the world of credit cards. Thank you for being here. [02:00]

Nicki: Thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to the discussion.

Philipp: Yes. We wanted to have an expert on this topic, and I think we found the right one.

Nicki: Thanks.

Philipp: Based on your history, it looks very promising for our listeners to hear a lot more about credit cards and what the do's and don'ts are about them. But before we get started into that topic, I usually talk with all of our guests a little bit about their backgrounds. So that the listeners can get to know you a little bit better, where you're coming from. Learn also a little bit more about what drew you to the world of payments in your case, and finance in general. So would you like to give us a little bit of a background on where you grew up, where you went to university, things like that?

Nicki: Sure. Yes, I’m from London originally, so I grew up born and bred in right in the centre of London, and also went to university in the UK. My background actually I have a bit of a mix because my father actually is originally from Zimbabwe. So I actually spent quite a bit of time actually growing up, holidays and so on in Africa. And then I moved to Asia 10 years ago, and so I’ve been out in this region some time as well. So I’m definitely done and had quite a lot of sort of travel experiences over the course of my life.

Philipp: So living in both Africa, as well as the UK, that must have really shaped also your growing up and your outlook on life in general, right?

Nicki: Yes. I never actually lived permanently in Africa, but spent a lot of time there, because I had basically one side of my family over there. So definitely two very different places.

Philipp: Yes, absolutely. And for university, you said you did study in the U.K. as well. Do you mind telling us a little bit more about where you studied, and kind of what was the topic of study? And is this something that led you directly [04:00] into payments?

Nicki: So I studied economics at the University of Warwick, but actually it didn't, I mean so I always had an interest in the financial sector and services. But I wouldn't say that actually led me directly into what I do now. I had a real travel bug, and I had always travelled a lot, as I mentioned. And so I actually went into the travel industry. I was at management consulting, but I was specialising in travel projects and the travel industry within the strategy consulting space. And that's when I crossed paths with Amex; because Amex I think American Express is not only obviously a very large payments and credit card company. But many people don't realise Amex is also one of the world's biggest travel agencies. And so I actually came into the world of payments through that route and then realised as I got to understand a little bit about payments and the sector, I found it really fascinating. And that's really where I found my interests lied. And so the rest is really history, always stayed in that space ever since.

Philipp: Interesting. You see, this is how life sometimes goes, right? It's not easy to plan every step of the way, right?

Nicki: Yes. So I mean, based on my degree, it probably made sense that was the right path. But I got there in a bit of a convoluted way.

Philipp: So then before university, if I may ask since you went for economics, you said you already have a little bit of an interest in finance. What was your, or like the first time you remember, really about having exposure to money in general? Is there any particular time grown-up or experience that you had where you were exposed to money or saving or spending, investing kind of things?

Nicki: [06:00] I don't think one particular event stands out in my mind. But I think in terms of how I thought about money, in all honesty, was probably quite transactional. And certainly prior to university days, I would not say that I was sophisticated at all in thinking about investment options. And the savings that I did make and did have were really put towards things related to experiences. So experiences such as being able to travel, or experience something new or different.

Philipp: Okay. I think that that's a very good answer because to me, experiences are also probably the most important item that we, me and my wife, are spending money on as well, right? So because they last a lifetime. And also I always feel like the money is usually well-spent there instead of buying the next thing.

Nicki: Absolutely.

Philipp: So I do like that answer from you. So basically, after that, then, after university, you get your first paycheck as a management consultant. Do you remember what you bought with that first paycheck?

Nicki: Unfortunately, nothing that significant I don't think. So again, it's probably similar to my previous answer, that it was spent more on experiences.

Philipp: Yes, okay. And I guess then that's probably then also the best investment you ever made or what was that?

Nicki: Yes. Actually, the best investment. It is related. The best investment I’ve ever made is one that's probably not really financial; it's an investment into my time and doing activities or working on things that I find interesting or fulfilling. And that was definitely the case back then, you're talking about university days, [08:00] and I was mentioning I was spending money on experiences. But I think that's been a common theme throughout my life. Because even now, I think when you take a leap of faith to perhaps leave a larger corporate way, you've obviously got a relatively good or stable financial compensation. And then you go to launching your own business, which requires putting in some of your own funds, but also comes with obviously a huge amount of risk. You could argue that that's not necessarily the smartest move financially, but certainly, I see it as probably the best investment I’ve made in terms of my time. Because I’m really spending my energies on something I enjoy and have an interest in.

Philipp: Yes. That's super interesting, and we've heard that before from other guests as well. So I think Kelvin was eluding from Funding Societies to the same thing. Going from McKinsey's background to starting your own business, but how fulfilling it has been since then. I think he will certainly agree with you on that. 

So thank you again for those stories, I think sharing them with our audience they will really appreciate those because some can relate, some are still looking out on what they should be doing in life. And again, I think you also highlighted the fact that life cannot be 100% planned, right? And it comes at you from different directions. And it will put you on the path that you need to be on, so thank you for that. Let's move on to the topic of today's episode, which is credit cards.

And I think for the listeners, the first time I actually remember getting a credit card was when I was 15 years old. I was doing; I was going from Germany on an exchange program for one year to high school in the US. And in order to get [10:00] access to any kind of money, so this is a long time ago, was that my dad gave me a partner card on his credit card in Germany.

So I went with my credit card to the US, and I immediately got in trouble after the first two months, because obviously I was the first time away from home by myself with the host family, and I was in the US coming from Germany. And at this time, this is early-2000s; there were a lot of nice things to buy that we didn't have in Germany yet at that time.

So I went a little bit crazy, and I got a call immediately from my dad after the first payment was due, and got in a lot of trouble. So my host parents had to take away my card because he forgot to put a limit on there. So that was not good. But that was my first experience, now obviously I’m a big proponent of using credit cards if you do it in a correct way, and I hope that I’m doing correctly, I want to learn from you if I do so.

But for the listeners, maybe it would be best if we start by you giving a little bit of an overview actually how credit cards work. Because I think a lot of people are still very confused about the concept of credit card, debit cards, and what's the right way of describing them.

Nicki: Sure, yes, I’m happy to. And I would also start by pointing out that I think particularly in the last few years in Singapore, we've seen a huge number of new card products. Not necessarily credit cards, but a huge number of new card products and card issuers. Historically, it was only really banks that issued cards, and now we see technology companies or even companies in completely different sectors unrelated to financial services that now also offer some sort of card or card payment option.

So I can understand why perhaps it's getting a little bit confusing [12:00], and maybe I would just start by differentiating between what's a sort of debit versus a credit card. I mean essentially, both products have what we call an industry like a BIN number, a 15 or 16 digit number across the front of the card which allows you to transact against a point of sale terminal. But the big difference with a credit card product is obviously that you have a pre-approved credit limit extended to you by the card issuer.

Whereas with a debit card, they're typically linked to your bank account. So you would only be able to sort of spend whatever funds that you have available in your account. So maybe, I know the focus of the conversation today is more on the credit card side, so you'll just elaborate a bit on that. I think with credit cards; you'll have the pre-approved line of credit. And providing you pay off the bill in full each month, then you don't need to pay any interest at all on what you've borrowed. So essentially, it's just additional cash for you, and it's interest-free.

Philipp: If you pay it off within the month, right?

Nicki: That's the important piece, yes. If you pay it off within the month.

Philipp: You just mentioned something that's interesting to me. You said you get pre-approved for a certain amount of credit line, right? So let's say you apply for a credit card online, and anyone of the issuers they say hey, your credit limit is five thousand dollars, right? How is that actually determined?

Nicki: So it's related to your credit score. So your credit score is really like a number that's based on your past payment history and your loan accounts. And so it's held centrally by the credit bureau, and they'll look at essentially how creditworthy you are, and therefore how much credit line can be assigned to you, linked to your card. And there are also frameworks in the market [14:00], the Monetary Authority of Singapore implemented a framework which I believe probably most people are aware of the total debt servicing ratio. Which is a framework that banks use to look at how much people can borrow, and how much banks can lend responsibly. So I think it's within that framework and looking at a credit score, and things like your current income and so on. The banks would make an assessment as to how creditworthy you are, and how much of a line to assign to your card.

Philipp: And then is that a number that, obviously, the more money you make, they probably reassess these numbers. And your payment history over time, probably as the more payments over the years you make on-time, will probably be able to increase your line of credit. But what happens to people that are just out of college, trying to get their first card. Are they even able to do that? Because I think in the US at the beginning to get your credit score up like these prepaid credit cards, right? That you load up, then you use them, and then you kind of slowly, is this the same?

Nicki: Yes. I mean, we also have prepaid products here, and I would definitely say it is the case that it's obviously easier to get a credit card and a credit limit when you're over a certain age, and also have some sort of financial history. Not to say that it's not possible earlier, and I think increasingly whether it's banks or sort of other newer card issuers have been looking at that segment, and realising the value of building a relationship with a consumer early on. And, therefore, designing products in this space for that target audience. But I would still say that the majority of credit cardholders in particular if we're not talking about prepaid, we're talking about credit cards holders [16:00] do tend to have some financial history so that credit assessment can be made.

Philipp: Okay, no, that was my question, sorry that I interrupted you there, but that was quite interesting to hear about, actually the way you can increase or decrease that limit, okay. So with that overview on the credit card spectrum, what would you say are the pros and cons of using a credit card?

Nicki: So I mean I’m obviously a little bit biased because I run CardUp, and I’m very pro-credit card. But I’ll try and make my answer as neutral as possible. I mean, I think the main benefits of credit cards are linked to the rewards and the benefits that come with the card payment, right? And the primary one that I think most individuals or consumers would think about is the card rewards. So being able to gain additional cost savings or benefits for every dollar that you spend or anything that you spend on and getting other kinds of perks that often come with credit cards such as airport lounge access or discounts or promotions. And then I think particularly, the other benefit particularly now as everything has gone so much more digital is also not to sort of underline that just the convenience of a credit card payment. I think a lot of us; I certainly have my cards loaded into my Apple Pay wallet or within most apps that I use. When I’m ordering a taxi, I just have a credit card saved within there.

And so having that ability to just charge a transaction seamlessly to my phone also is just, almost just takes completely the friction out of payments. Your payments are just really embedded as part of my user experience. And so I would argue that it's really the most convenient way that you can pay especially as things increasingly go towards digitisation [18:00]  and apps and so on. And then on top of that, you're getting the benefits such as the rewards, the miles, the perks, the lounge access, and everything else.

Philipp: I think all valid points, all reasons why I really use them pretty much every day on every transaction unless you have to pay cash, right? Which I think even now, having been through the middle of halfway through 2020, it seems COVID-19 will also accelerate the way that people aren’t using cash anymore, right?

Nicki: Yes. And also very importantly that obviously the fact that it is a line of credit as we've just been just talking about. So if you're making a big purchase as well, having a credit line can really kind of take the pressure off your own cash flow. Maybe just give you a bit more time to make the purchase. And if it's a very large ticket item.

Philipp: Yes. And one thing that I do want to discuss here, though, is you talked earlier about making payments on time, right? And it's not necessarily a pro or a con, right? But what is the right way to use your credit cards? Because I think there's a lot of, always a lot of debate about it. Like you know how polarising this is. Like a person in the US like Dave Ramsey, who says cut up your credit cards, don't ever use them. And then there are people who you can go on forums, and you can maximise every dollar spent to get the most out of your credit cards.

Nicki: Yes. So I mean, of course, I think the stigma, if you like, around the credit card is just the fact that you are taking on additional credit, and there's the risk of getting into debt. But I would say that risk can be managed if you're prepared to plan and use the product responsibly. So by that, I mean all of the banks in [20:00] Singapore; they allow the option to pay back your credit card bill via an automated like GIRO direct debit at the end of the month. So as long as you set that up, the balance would be automatically cleared. And so I mean providing obviously that you've got funds in your account to clear that. And therefore, it's not the case that you might forget to make the payment and then get stuck with a very large interest fee. There are ways in which you can set up your credit card bills on these kinds of recurring repayments so that everything just gets cleared off. And there's never any risk of incurring interest or missing a bill payment.

Philipp: Yes, that's a good explanation, that's what I actually do. So I have them all set on autopay, full amount. Because I would forget these things, and then once you forget once, then it becomes like this spiral that I was speaking about earlier, right? Where people just continuously not only pay the minimum payment, and then, of course, with the high-interest rates, it's almost impossible to be ever paid off, right?

Nicki: Exactly, yes. So that's definitely what I would recommend, and I think as long as you do that, then there is very low risk of being sort of hit by the large interest.

Philipp: Unless you spend more than you make, so that's the other thing.

Nicki: Which comes back to the point of being responsible, right? But I think that's the same with any credit product that you would take out, not necessarily cards; I mean that is always the case, not to over-leverage yourself.

Philipp: Correct. So you talked a little bit already about the benefits that some card offers like for travellers, some come with lounge access at the airport that makes your travel life easier, especially if you travel for work and you're stuck at airports all the time. I actually have a very good example of this from late last year when me and a colleague were actually in Tokyo. [22:00] And the protests started in Hong Kong, and we were actually stuck for two full days at the Hong Kong airport on the way home. And good thing I did have a credit card with lounge access, because at least we were able to spend our time a little bit in there, had free food, right? And they were able to help us also with the flight bookings and stuff, so it does have quite a lot of benefits. But when you look at the prices of credit cards, right? And I know there are many comparison websites out there that try to make sense of the different offers that you get. How would you say someone should go about maximising their credit card rewards? And knowing that some of them can cost upwards of thousand dollars a year, right? And that's quite a lot of money. So yes, just trying to see what your thoughts there?

Nicki: I think it really varies by person, and it really comes down to your lifestyle. And what you view as value back. And then looking at the value that's given through the card, versus mapped against that and whether it makes sense. So for example, if you're not a frequent traveller and something like lounge access isn't important, then, of course, there's no point spending a thousand dollars, let's say on a credit card annual fee. But if you're someone that's travelling on a regular basis, and the example that you just used right now about being stuck in Hong Kong airport. If you had a few of those in a year where you needed that lounge access, it may very well make a lot of sense. I think it's really down to lifestyle. I think if you're looking purely just for cash return, then the most simple product which is the easiest to just calculate the benefit on is the cashback products. So there are cashback products in the market like the UOB One Card, where you can get up to 5% cashback, for example. And so obviously the return [24:00] is very clear, there's no hidden cost that you need to look at. And also, of course, there are a lot of products in the market that are completely free, so there's no annual card fee at all. So you can then just purely weigh up the benefits that you get, and there's no cost at all. And so I think it's just taking some time to think through what are you trying to, what's your lifestyle? What do you want to get out of your cards? And then making an assessment of the different products that are available based on that.

Philipp: Okay, that makes sense. What I would like to know your opinion on following up on this is actually how many cards is enough, right? Because I used to, a long time ago, when I was just starting out in financial advising, making my first money after school, college. I follow a lot of the forums and stuff like this, so trying to maximise miles so that I can fly back from the US to Germany for free to see my family and friends. But when I came to Singapore and saw colleagues and friends, here in Singapore, some of them have like six, seven, eight different credit cards, right? So every restaurant, every purchase at any different store, they use a different one, and I feel like oh, this is super overwhelming for me, but some people enjoy it as well. But do you have like a general rule? Or how do you use your credit cards in that way?

Nicki: I mean, I think it also comes down to personal preference on how much time you want to invest optimising exactly to your point like all of these different options are out there and these benefits. You can get these benefits. But sometimes having like six or seven-card products does mean that you need to monitor to the perks more closely. For me personally, I would say having just a few maybe three cards keeps things really simple, whilst also ensuring that you're getting a [26:00] really good return on your spend. And so for example, having a good miles card that has a high miles earn rate in the market, because I like to travel, so I can redeem those miles for airline tickets. That would be my priority. But then, in addition, I like to have a card that allows lots of restaurant benefits, because that's something else I enjoy. So I would also carry that product. But for me, I think I’d try and get one more like day-to-day spend cards that could be used for things like groceries or dining, and then one travel card which could be used to rack up miles. And then just keep it to that two, so that it also means that it's simple and it's transparent, and you're not spending too much time to optimise. But again, it's really down to the personal preference. And I think the great thing about Singapore, the cards market here is that there are so many great options. So if you do have seven or eight cards, yes, you can absolutely be maximising the return on your spend the best.

Philipp: Good guidelines. I think I’m like you; I have one for dining, where you get some extra points more on dining and one for travel, it's what I have. And I think they'll serve me quite well again like your point, right? So for dining, why not get one? Everyone goes and dines most of the time here a lot, and then why not get some extra points on that, right? So I think good guidelines thank you for sharing those. Next up, I want to get a little bit more into your entrepreneurial story. I know we talked a lot about you working for American Express, your background, and payments, and you mentioned a couple of times being a little bit biased towards credit cards because you're the founder of CardUp. Could you explain to me and the listeners a little bit more about what does CardUp do? Yes, let's go with that first, actually.

Nicki: Sure. So I mean in a nutshell, [28:00] what CardUp does is it allows you to use your credit card for all of your big expenses, even if the end recipient that you're paying doesn't actually offer a credit card payment option. So to give you an example, that might be paying your rent to your landlord on a credit card. Or a very relevant example for this month, given we're right in the middle of income tax season, is to make your income tax payment to the IRAS for your taxes.

And historically, before CardUp came about, these were all type transactions that were done by bank transfer, check or cash, and cards couldn't be used. But now with CardUp, you can actually shift these expenses onto your favourite credit card or even optimise across different credit cards, and start to earn benefits and rewards from all of these payments, big payments.

Philipp: And yes, like you said, they're actually the bigger payments that everyone makes on a monthly basis, right? So they could actually quite help rack you up miles or points quickly, right?

Nicki: Yes, exactly. I mean, I think I was always kind of conscious that I never got anything back from the biggest expenses that I had in life. And so, I was using my credit card for smaller ticket items. But to be honest, paying like bills was still just a real chore; it was often like paper-based forms that I had to like fax back to the merchant. And so not only was it kind of inconvenient, but I was just getting nothing in return. And so back to the points that we were talking about, the benefits of a credit card payment, what we've done at CardUp has helped people unlock those benefits for all of their big expenses and the benefits. It could be miles or cashback if that's most important to you, but the benefits can also be the line of credit. Especially as these are very big payments, to give you a bit of a grace period on some of [30:00] these large transactions. And in addition, the convenience, just being able to set everything up digitally. And I think we've built the platform to really specialise in recurring payments and making sure that customers can just set up a transaction maybe once for 12 months. And then they really don't need to do anything else. So it's helping them save time as well.

Philipp: All right, thanks for that overview. If I may go back a little bit before you made the transition from American Express to CardUp, it's going out on your own, right? You alluded to it a little bit earlier as best investments ever made. But yes, when did you decide to make that step? And how did this idea come about?

Nicki: So I think I’ve always had a pretty entrepreneurial streak, and actually, my father always ran his own business, and interestingly it was in financial services as well. The word Fintech probably 30 years ago, 40 years ago, wasn't really a buzzword as it is now. But essentially, it was the same thing; it was financial technology. So maybe I have naturally got a bit of a bug for it. But I think I looked at a few different opportunities over the last ten years, but it was CardUp that really stuck with me. And I suppose the reason for that was that I spotted what I really saw was a gap in the industry, obviously working within the cards and payments space. It seemed like a win-win for everyone, if we could use technology to solve for the fact that these big payments just can't be put on a credit card. And the reason I say win-win is because obviously us as an individual, you can kind of maximise your card benefits. But also from an industry point of [32:00] view, and that's really where I was coming from at the time. It helps the credit card industry capture new segments of spend onto card, which is also, of course, one of the industry's key objectives. And so I felt that it was just a huge opportunity both for the industry, but also very beneficial for the consumer. And on the consumer side actually, I should clarify that could be an individual like ourselves, but also a business. We do have a business product where we help businesses with utilising their cards and automating payables. And therefore, got really excited about the idea and seeing how this could benefit many parties. And so left to set up the company and that was a few years back now.

Philipp: Yes. So you got the idea, you kind of probably did your business plan, business strategy. Did you go out and partner with someone right away in terms of employees, or you had a partner that you started out with. And then how did you go about raising your money? Did you just use your own savings?

Nicki: So me personally, I mean obviously there are many different ways to approach this. But for me personally, I started working on the business on my own, and I loved American Express at the time I left to start. But I very early on put out a lot of feelers through my own network of people, to find out if there are people that might be interested in this idea and they would be keen to work on it with me. And I think pretty early on I got connected through a mutual friend with my business partner and CTO Anand, who has a long background, technical background in the payments industry. And so I think he and I were great partners, in that we have very complementary skill sets, and so we're able to build the initial product [34:00] together and get the platform to a market launch stage. So at that point, I actually hadn't raised any significant capital. It was some of my own investment but also relied on some angel investments to get us to that point. And then I think once we actually had the platform live, and obviously once you've got customers and a fully functioning product, and then was the time that we went out into the market to bring on venture capital. And also to expand the team and bring in various other early founding team members who focused on marketing and operations.

Philipp: Yes, okay. No, I think this is a very typical approach, and I think a good one like you said you already had that industry experience, right? You were able to do research before making the plunge. And then finding a good partner, especially when you need tech resources, it's a great combination to build a good product. You just alluded at the end that you were saying ultimately, then you did get some venture capital funding, right? From never having to raise any kind of money, how did you enjoy that process or did not enjoy the process? And yes, was it difficult? What was the reception of professional, institutional investors to the product?

Nicki: I mean, I think one of the challenges we have, this is rewinding a few years, but one of the challenges we had was that the business model concept was relatively new. I think there are different types of businesses, particularly in the tech space. Some of which are very established models that might have been around like ten years in other parts of the world. And it's really a case of kind of bringing those into Asia and replicating something similar. And then there are other business models which are perhaps quite new, and kind of creating a category [36:00] of its own. And I think we kind of fell more into the latter bucket. So I think one of our biggest challenges was just around educating the market in terms of also the investor community on like what this is all about, and how big is the target market, and how could this be a sustainable business in the long term. And so I think a lot of the early conversations for us centred around that, it wasn't necessarily a case of just jumping straight into discussing like a valuation or how we move forward. But there was some work needed to be done upfront to explain the opportunity. But I think that's changed, usually, I mean it's amazing, it's only been three or four years since Singapore really put a lot of the effort into building a Fintech ecosystem and community. And the speed of change has just been so rapid.

So I think now it's a very different time and very different landscape out there. So when it comes to raising capital, obviously different challenges, and different conversations, but that was certainly my experience from probably three or four years ago.

Philipp: Okay. And how many employees do you have now?

Nicki: We are 33 people.

Philipp: 33.

Nicki: Split across Singapore, Hong Kong, and India.

Philipp: That was actually my last question before we go and probably wrap it up here due to time. But yes, what's in store? What are the plans for the next five, ten years for you and CardUp?

Nicki: Yes. So I mean one thing I haven't spoken about much today, because I know that we're obviously talking about credit card benefits really for your listeners who are individuals. But some of them might also be business owners. And one of the big priority focus areas for us is actually services for SMEs and businesses as well, and we do have a business product [38:00] at CardUp. And so I think as we look at the roadmap for the years ahead, a lot of the product development and product lines that we are launching catered to helping businesses when it comes to payments. Whether that's around automation or also the ability to improve cash flow and access credit by using a credit line as a financing tool, and so I think you can expect to see a lot more from us on that along those lines, in addition to just getting a stronger foothold on a regional basis as we expand in this region.

Philipp: Okay. And then because we do get listeners from a few different Southeast Asian countries, so right now they can use it here in Singapore, and you said Hong Kong and India, is there anywhere else?

Nicki: In Malaysia as well.

Philipp: In Malaysia as well, okay.

Nicki: Yes. Actually, India, our team, is based there, but we don't operate our product in the market. But if you do have listeners that are interested in any of those markets, please get in touch with us, and we'd love to see how we can support.

Philipp: Yes. Especially if they show some nice interest exactly, get them to talk. So reach out to Nicki, reach out to us, we'll forward the emails to Nicki. So then to wrap it up, do you have any like favourite website or podcast or something that you listen to for people to learn more about credit cards? Is there any kind of resources that you have to share?

Nicki: So I think in Singapore, there's a lot of bloggers that are incredibly kind of knowledgeable in the card space. So if you were to Google some thought leadership pieces around credit cards, you'll see a number of very detailed blogs which go into a lot of depth around the benefits of different card products. How to calculate the [40:00] value of a mile, for example. And I think we work in close partnership with some of them as well to help users to identifying the benefit that they can get from using CardUp. So I would suggest if people are looking for more information on this space to check out some of those online blogs and community forums.

Philipp: Great. Yes, again, thank you so much, Nicki, for being here with us today, I think the listeners will very much appreciate as well the context you have given, in terms of usage of credit cards, how CardUp can help potentially individuals, as well as businesses to utilise credit cards more efficiently. And also, your personal story, I always like to go back to the personal stories, because I think a lot of people can relate maybe or maybe not. Maybe are in stages of wanting to start their own business, right? And it's always a tough step to take. But I think talking to people like you who have done it might encourage a few more to take the path of entrepreneurship. So appreciate your time.

Nicki: Thank you so much, and thanks for the opportunity as well.

Philipp: All right, thank you, Nicki.

Nicki: Thanks.

Episode notes

Chief Executive Officer of CardUp, Nicki Ramsay, discusses how you can maximise your credit cards responsibly, from choosing cards that fit your lifestyle and spending patterns, to making sure that you're always on top of your monthly repayments. She also shares with us why she founded CardUp, and how CardUp helps businesses and consumers pay for large recurring expenses with their credit cards. We've also partnered with CardUp to bring you an exclusive offer. You can get $20 off your CardUp fee (u.p 2.6%) on your first 3 payments! Find out more at:

For past guests, visit

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Episode contributors

  • Philipp Muedder (Head of Financial Planning at StashAway)
  • Nicki Ramsay (Chief Executive Officer at CardUp)