There are many ways to fake it if you want to look rich in Singapore. You could buy a nice car and then moonlight as a Grab driver to pay off your car loan, or blow a year’s worth of savings on a Europe trip and then show it off on Instagram.
But the true indication of an affluent Singaporean is his or her status as a priority banking customer.
Notice we used the word “affluent” and not “rich”. That’s because those who are really and truly rich are one tier above priority banking customers and usually become private clients of the bank.
- 7 priority banking programmes in Singapore
- What is priority banking?
- Benefits of priority banking
- DBS Treasures
- UOB Privilege Banking
- OCBC Premier
- Citi Priority
- Maybank Premier Wealth
- HSBC Premier Bank Account
- SCB Priority
- Which priority banking programme should you join?
7 priority banking programmes in Singapore
|Priority banking||Minimum requirement*||Applicable cards|
|DBS Treasures||$350,000||DBS Treasures Visa Debit Card
DBS Treasures Black Elite Card
|UOB Privilege Banking||$350,000||UOB Privilege Banking Card|
|OCBC Premier||$200,000||OCBC Premier Banking Debit Card
OCBC Premier Voyage Card
|Citi Priority||$70,000||Citi Priority Debit Mastercard|
|Citigold||$250,000||Citigold Debit Mastercard
Citi Prestige Card
|Maybank Premier Wealth||$300,000||Maybank Premier Wealth Platinum Debit Card
Maybank Premier Wealth World Mastercard
|HSBC Premier Bank Account||$200,000||HSBC Premier Mastercard Credit Card|
|SCB Priority||$200,000||Standard Chartered Priority Visa Infinite Credit Card|
*Refers to total assets, which could be funds in savings accounts, fixed deposits, and various investment instruments.
What is priority banking?
Priority banking is designed for high net worth customers who can afford to deposit and transact large amounts of money with a bank.
In short, being a priority banking customer makes you a VIP member at the bank.
To qualify as a priority banking customer, you need to park a certain amount of assets with the bank. These assets could be cash left in savings accounts or fixed deposit accounts, or in investments such as bonds, shares, unit trusts, ETFs and REITs.
As you will later see, the minimum requirements are not necessarily that high. A few banks will let you become a priority banking customer if you have assets of $100,000 with them, which many ordinary Singaporeans do have. But just because you can qualify doesn’t mean you need to or should.
It’s a better idea to shop around for a bank or bank(s) that can give you the best return on your deposits or investments, rather than throw all your money into one bank just because you want to become a priority banking customer.
Benefits of priority banking
As a priority banking customer, you get preferential treatment, including better rates, a dedicated relationship manager and other perks that will work together to help you get even richer.
While perks vary from bank to bank, in general you get to enjoy the following:
- Priority queuing: Breeze past the masses by taking the priority queue at bank branches or even showing up to branches dedicated to priority banking customers.
- A dedicated relationship manager: Forget about being stuck on the line listening to a recording telling you to press 1 for English. Your relationship manager will be at your service, assisting with your requests and helping you invest your assets.
- Better interest rates: Bank account interest rates tend to be quite pathetic in Singapore. Yours might be a little better.
- Better foreign exchange rates: Continue being a jet setter at better rates.
- Preferential loan packages: Because you’re affluent, you’re seen as less of a risk, so expect more attractive interest rates when you take out loans.
- Fee waiver: To make it more attractive for you to use them, banks often dangle fee waivers such as for overseas ATM withdrawals.
- Other perks: Some perks you might get include travel discounts, airport lounge access, golf discounts and more.
DBS wants its priority banking customers to know they are important. That’s why there are 11 fancy DBS Treasures Centres opened just for priority banking customers, as well as 5 DBS Treasures ATM lobbies. If one of your incentives for becoming a priority banking customer is to avoid long queues and get VIP treatment, then DBS is one of your best bets.
You can also keep your valuables at their DBS Treasures Exclusive Safekeeping Centre, which is open from 8:30am to 10pm, has private parking lots and is equipped with lounge areas where you can have a drink and relax.
Other perks include fee waivers on telegraphic transfers and withdrawals from Visa/PLUS ATMs worldwide. Read about DBS Treasures in detail.
DBS Treasures members get to sign up for the following cards:
- DBS Treasures Visa Debit Card – 5% cashback when you tap using Visa contactless with minimum spending of $400 and maximum cash withdrawal of $400 per month
- DBS Treasures Black Elite Card – 3.2 miles for every $1 spent at selected luxury boutiques (min of $300 in single receipt), 2.4 miles for overseas spend and 1.2 miles for local spend.
UOB Privilege Banking
With a minimum asset requirement of $350,000, UOB Privilege Banking is one of the harder priority banking programmes to qualify for. But to be honest, their travel and lifestyle perks do not look as attractive as what the other local banks are offering.
Privilege banking customers are entitled to sign up for the UOB Privilege Banking Card, which offers the following perks:
- 2 miles for every $1 spent on overseas dining and retail
- 1.2 miles for every $1 spent on everything else
- 60,000 air miles if you pay for the annual membership fee
- Complimentary weekday green fees at Sentosa Golf Club
The main draw of the UOB programme is actually the preferential interest rates they offer for deposits in the UOB Privilege Account–up to 1.88% with their current promotion. Alas, this offer is only valid till 29 Mar 2019.
They also offer preferential rates on savings in the UOB Global Currency Premium Account, as well as on fixed deposits. Read more about UOB Privilege Banking.
OCBC seems to be aggressively trying to lure people to sign up as priority banking customers. They are having a promo under which those join with $350,000 get $1,000 cash credit (valid till 31 Mar 2019).
If you are joining them for investment purposes, you’ll be pleased to know they give out rather generous perks. For instance, if you invest a lump sum of at least $200,000 in unit trusts, they give you an $800 reward and $200 worth of shopping vouchers. Buying Single Premium insurance of $100,000 will get you $200 as well as shopping vouchers of $600.
Other than these carrots, some of their other parks include 1.5% on selected foreign currency deposits and priority queues at selected branches.
Their OCBC Premier VOYAGE Card gets you the following perks:
- 2.3 miles with every $1 spent in foreign currency
- 1.6 miles with every $1 spent on local dining
- 1.2 miles with every $1 spent on other local retail spending
- Access to VIP Plaza Premium airport lounges
- Free limousine services with minimum spend of $3,000 in a month
- Golf privilege
- 19% off at Caltex petrol stations
They also have a debit card that offers 1% rebate on overseas spending and duty-free shops in Singapore, as well as selected online merchants, transport, fast food and convenience stores in Singapore. This is a rather generous rebate for a debit card, although you can probably easily find credit cards that beat it. Read more about OCBC Premier.
Citibank has two priority banking programmes: Citi Priority, which has a minimum requirement of $70,000, and Citigold, with a $250,000 requirement.
Let’s talk about Citi Priority first.
Citi Priority is dangling up to $1,400 when you sign up. To qualify for the full amount, you need to deposit $100,000 worth of fresh funds, buy $100,000 in unit trusts or life insurance in the first 6 months of membership, and credit your salary, GIRO personal income tax or telco bill monthly—in addition to maintaining a balance of at least $70,000.
Oof… That sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through just to qualify for a welcome gift.
You also get a Citi Priority Debit Mastercard, which lets you withdraw cash free at Citibank ATMs worldwide and gives you some dining, travel and entertainment perks. Read more about Citi Priority.
Citigold has higher wealth requirements than Citi Priority but is also more generous in terms of perks.
For instance, their welcome gift is either $6,300 cash or a pair of business class return tickets to the Maldives. Yes, please!
But to get the maximum cash amount (or air tickets), you need to deposit $500,000 in fresh funds, purchase at least $250,000 worth of unit trusts or life insurance in the first 6 months, credit your salary, GIRO personal income tax or telco bill monthly with Citibank while maintaining a balance of at least $250,000 and maintain a $150,000 balance in your Citi MaxiGain account. Phew.
You are entitled to the Citigold Debit Mastercard, which gets you some travel, dining and entertainment deals and discounts.
You also get more perks with the Citi Prestige Card:
- 15% bonus points (convertible to miles or cashback) on your retail spending in years 0-5, 20% in years 6-10 and 30% in years 10+.
- Welcome gift of 25,000 miles
- Unlimited Priority Pass VIP airport lounge access
- 8 one-way limousine airport transfers
- Golf privileges
Maybank Premier Wealth
Maybank Premier Wealth members enjoy priority services at Maybank branches in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as Bank Internasional Indonesia branches in Indonesia. It’s thus a good programme to consider if you frequently travel to Malaysia or Indonesia.
You get access to the three Premier Centres located at Maybank Tower, Holland Village and Marine Parade.
Until 30 April 2019, they are offering an attractive interest rate of up to 2.05% on deposits in your Maybank Prestige Savings Account. After the promotion ends, you’ll earn 0.45% on deposits under $200,000 and 0.59% on deposits above $200,000, which is so-so.
Besides your Maybank Premier Wealth Platinum Debit Card, which lets you withdraw cash from Maybank ATMs in Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia without any service charge, you are also eligible for the Maybank Premier Wealth World Mastercard, which offers the following perks:
- 2 complimentary limousine airport transfers a year
- 2 complimentary Plaza Premium airport lounge access passes a year
- 10x TREATS points (or 4 air miles) for every $1 spent at selected boutiques and restaurants and at all petrol stations in Singapore
HSBC Premier Bank Account
To become a HSBC Premier customer, you need to have assets of at least $200,000 with them, credit a monthly salary of at least $15,000 or take up a property loan of at least $800,000. If you satisfy the income requirements but don’t want to deposit such a big lump sum with them, this can be a good option.
The priority banking programme has two tiers, Premier and Jade. Jade is an invite-only programme targeted at even richer people that promises even more exclusive perks. Most people who sign up on their own will be classified as Premier.
They’re currently offering $488 worth of cash credits as well as $200 Takashimaya vouchers for new members who join with at least $200,000 worth of fresh funds.
The biggest perk is their HSBC Premier Mastercard Credit Card, which gives you the following perks:
- Up to 6% cash rebates on petrol
- Up to 5% cash rebates on recurring mobile/cable TV/internet bill payment and at local grocery stores
- Up to 2% cash rebates on dining
- 1 Rewards point for every $1 spent
To qualify for the maximum cash rebates, you must spend $800 a month in all 3 months in a calendar quarter. 5% cash rebates on groceries and recurring bills is very generous, so this programme is worth checking out if you have some (a lot of) spare cash lying around.
Standard Chartered Priority Banking’s sign up bonus is the most generous yet, at $7,000 if you become a member before 30 June 2019.
To qualify for this hefty bonus, you need to place at least $200,000 of fresh funds in eligible deposits, maintain assets of at least $200,000 for at least 3 months and complete a Financial Needs Analysis. If you already have $200,000 to spare, this is not too onerous.
With the Standard Chartered Priority Visa Infinite Credit Card, you get the following perks:
- 2.5 rewards points for every $1 spent
- 1 air mile for every $1 spent
- Priority Pass lounge access
Which priority banking programme can you join?
Which priority banking programme you should join depends on your lifestyle. If you have business dealings or relatives in Malaysia or Indonesia, the Maybank Premier Wealth programme is a good one to consider. If you’re a frequent traveller who enjoy air miles, you might want to join Citigold or OCBC Premier. Based on the amount of funds you have, these are the suitable priority banking programmes:
|Total assets||Suitable priority banking programmes|
|At least $100,000 in the bank||Citi Priority|
|At least $200,000 in the bank||OCBC Premier, HSBC Premier and SCB Priority Banking|
|At least $500,000 in the bank||DBS Treasures, UOB Privilege Banking, Citigold and Maybank Premier Wealth|
Are you a priority banking customer? Share your recommendations and experiences in the comments!