There’s an app for everything these days. Dating apps, taxi booking apps, and a dozen and one ways to add filters to your photos. Mobile banking has quickly become common, with banks taking advantage of Singapore’s mobile penetration at 148%. That means everyone in Singapore has an average of 1.5 mobile lines. That’s crazy.
Since there’s no escaping lifestyle mobile apps, we review each of the local bank’s offerings. Now, we know it’s a bit silly to say which app is the best, since you’ll probably only be using the apps for the credit cards you have. But since it’s relatively easy to apply for a credit card, it might help to see which lifestyle mobile app will help you make the most of your credit card.
The app begins by asking you to reveal two bits of information about yourself, your gender (which is optional) and the DBS/POSB credit cards you currently have.
Immediately, you may notice certain cards are missing from the main selection – cards like the CapitaCard and the Esso MasterCard seem to have fallen out of favour with the marketing department. It also seems weird to have an option for “All DBS/POSB Cards” as well as an option for “DBS Cards”.
Certain categories, like dining and shopping deals are sorted by distance. This is quite though without a map, it’s a little hard to visualise exactly how much travelling I’ll have to do, especially if I don’t drive.
Deals I would have missed if not for the app: Apparently, MasterCard has tied up with ComfortDelGro Taxis to give 1,000 free taxi rides this Friday, 18th December. The deal is not found anywhere online.
Other features of the app: You can redeem your DBS rewards points through their mobile catalogue, which gives you access to instant e-coupons you can use on the spot. This is far better than waiting for the bank to send you computer generated coupons which can take up to 3 to 5 working days. Like the website though, you will still need to log in with your ID and credit card number.
You can also use the app to apply for a DBS/POSB credit card, but because your information isn’t saved, it’s a bit of a hassle to do so.
Don’t miss out: DBS Lifestyle may have been the first, but it’s no longer the only app available in the DBS mobile app suite. Other notable DBS apps include:
- DBS PayLah! – a mobile app to send and receive money from other PayLah! users without logging into iBanking or mBanking
- DBS/POSB mBanking – for mobile banking
- DBS Quick Credit – to apply for a loan using your mobile
- DBS Home Connect – provides information, tools and other features to help you buy a property
- DBS TravellerShield – buy travel insurance on the go with this app
Conclusion: Yes, it easier to use the DBS Lifestyle app compared to searching the DBS website. The fact that you can set your location makes it easier to find deals in your vicinity. However, the app still feels clunky, and the promotions that get highlighted often don’t depend on what cards you have.
Even when I chose the Live Fresh Card, which is a VISA card, the app still displayed the free taxi promotion – which is a MasterCard promotion.
The newly launched app from UOB is stylish, appears deceptively simple and packs a wallop. There’s no feeling of exclusion at first – even as a non-UOB customer, I was never asked what credit cards I had. As a result, I didn’t feel like a fraud or a trespasser by using the app.
UOB has traditionally been famous for their dining deals and this app knows it. At first glance, it gives you loaded suggestions like “Near Me”, “Konnichiwa Japan”, “New in Town” and “Date Night”.
Diving into each of these categories brings up restaurant suggestions. Each suggestion has ratings, an estimated travelling time (and travelling mode), how much you can expect to spend there, and what kind of cuisine it offers. I especially appreciated that there was a quick indicator to let me know if a restaurant was “Halal certified” or “Vegetarian”.
If you know exactly what you want, you can also set up filters in order to narrow down your choices. I now know that if I want a relatively cheap meal at a Halal certified restaurant, my nearest choices are Swensen’s at Vivo and Spize at River Valley. Surprisingly, UOB Mighty doesn’t really make a big deal about the fact that these restaurants don’t have any discounts or deals if you use a UOB credit card.
That’s arguably the biggest draw of the UOB Mighty app – that even non-UOB credit card holders like me will enjoy using it to help us with our dining decisions. The results of your search do mention which restaurants enjoy dining discounts if you use a UOB card. After scrolling through several results, and seeing how many deals UOB cards offer, I really am tempted to get one of my own now.
And that’s ultimately the point of the UOB Mighty app.
Deals I would have missed if not for the app: Too many to count, really. UOB’s discounts at participating restaurants like Harry’s and Muthu’s Curry can go up to 15%, as well as 1-for-1 mains at various restaurants around town. Sure, these discounts are easily found on the website as well, but the app allows you to set filters and sort by distance, which makes decision making much easier.
Don’t miss out: Unfortunately, the feature is only available for Android phones now, but UOB Mighty also allows you to use your phone to make contactless payments, replacing both cash and credit cards. While the jury’s still out on how secure this feature really is, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the cashless society that Singapore is trying to be.
Conclusion: It’s clear that UOB’s latest incarnation of their lifestyle mobile app is the frontrunner compared to the other local banks. I was so impressed that it was relevant to me as a non-UOB credit card holder that I honestly did not realise that it didn’t have any shopping deals. Honestly, that’s not a disadvantage at all, as UOB has traditionally been one of the best for dining, and they’re clearly not interested in diluting that reputation.
The first page that came up when loading WowDeals was a picture of a pizza and the reminder that I only had 2 Days Left to enjoy this free pizza offer at Mad for Garlic. At the same time, it also told me of a promotion I just missed – 50% off single trip travel insurance. How… nice?
Of course, like any good banking related mobile app, it assumes that I automatically have one or more OCBC credit cards. Unlike DBS, it doesn’t really care what OCBC credit cards I have – because I suppose all of these deals are valid regardless of which credit card you use.
It’s really hard to say anything nice about this app – it almost feels like it was rushed out into production, and has pretty much the same promotions as the website. The only problem is, while the promotions on the website are organised alphabetically, the promotions on the app aren’t, and it’s the ultimate time-waster to just keep scrolling until you find the relevant restaurant or shop.
You do have the option of looking for promotions near you, but all that does is limit the number of promotions you can see. This option literally tells you what’s near you, and nothing else.
Deals I would have missed if not for the app: That deal about free pizza at Mad for Garlic is an app-exclusive deal. It’s also the only app-exclusive deal right now. I need to mention that the app-exclusive deals are not only limited by time but by amount – as of this writing there are only 2953 free pizzas left to redeem. Over the next 2 days.
Oh, and since it needs to be mentioned again, the previous app-exclusive deal I missed was 50% off single-trip travel insurance. Surprisingly, 1320 people redeemed that. So maybe there’s something to be said about the OCBC WowDeals app.
Conclusion: OCBC has some of the best credit cards, savings accounts and home loans in the market right now, so it’s a pity that their mobile app game is so weak. But perhaps there’s something to be said about a bank that just has consistently good products and doesn’t feel the need to rely on deals, promotions and discounts to get themselves noticed.
Do you agree with our assessment of the local banks’ mobile apps? What has your experience been?