Compilation of Updated Savings Account Interest Rates Amid Covid-19 Recession (July 2020)

Compilation of Updated Savings Account Interest Rates Amid Covid-19 Recession (July 2020)

In case you haven’t got the memo, the world is in recession. Last month, the U.S. Federal Reserve slashed their rates to almost zero in a desperate bid to shore up their crashing economy.

Singapore banks lower deposit rates in response to global Covid-19 crisis

This put our Singapore banks under a lot pressure. To make matters worse (for them, anyway), people are being extra cautious amid the Covid-19 crisis. According to a report by The Straits Times, consumer loans fell by 0.3% from January to February, and dropped by 1.1% when compared to February 2019.

This means less funds for the banks (who are also lowering the cost of loans to make them more attractive), making it harder for them to continue offering high interest rates on deposits — namely fixed deposit accounts and savings accounts.

The former is pretty straightforward: since fixed deposit promotions are currently not as competitive, you can consider waiting it out instead of locking up your cash with a bank.

If you already signed up for a previous promotion, you would have already ‘choped’ in the higher rate, so this doesn’t affect you.

The latter is trickier. Most of us keep a significant amount of money in our savings accounts, so interest rate changes very directly affect us.

Savings account interest rate cuts in July 2020

To see how you much you may lose (and perhaps decide whether you should jump ship), here’s a compilation of the new changes to OCBC 360 and SCB JumpStart Account, effective 1 July 2020.

Note: In case you don’t already know how these work, many of these savings accounts have different interest rate tiers, meaning how much you get depends on the transaction conditions you meet.

For example, if you do absolutely nothing, you will only get the base rate of say, 0.05% p.a. However, if you do things like credit your salary or spend money on a credit card from the same bank, your interest rate goes up to over 1%.

OCBC 360 savings account (wef 1 July 2020)

The OCBC 360 is a popular savings account and guess what, they recently announced a change in its interest rates… again! It was just in May 2020 that there were changes introduced and from 1 July, the interest rate will be slashed again.

Let’s take a look at the new changes.

 OCBC 360 savings account July 2020 changes From 1 July 2020  Before 1 July 2020  Changes
Salary credit requirement  Min. $1,800 Min. $1,800
Salary bonus (first $35,000) 0.6% p.a. 1.2% p.a. -0.6%
Salary bonus (next $35,000) 1.2% p.a. 2.4% p.a.  -1.2% p.a. 
Spend bonus (min. $500 on OCBC credit card)  No longer offered  Up to 0.4% p.a.  -0.4% p.a. 
Step-up bonus (+$500 average daily balance monthly) – first $35,000  0.2% p.a.  No change 
Step-up bonus (next $35,000) 0.4% p.a.  No change
Grow bonus (Average daily balance of ≥ $200,000) 0.8% p.a. No change
Boost bonus (Increase average daily balance) No longer offered No change
Wealth bonus (insure or invest with OCBC)   Up to 1.2% p.a. No change

There’re not many changes but the main big change to take note of is that the salary bonus has been halved and the credit card spend is no longer offered.

Even though the salary credit requirement remains the same at $1,800 (lowered from $2,000 in the May change), you now only get up to 1.2% p.a. of interest for crediting your salary.

And without the credit card spend bonus, it doesn’t seem all that worth it to use your OCBC card for purchases anymore.

For reference, these were the changes that came into effect in May 2020:

OCBC 360 savings account May 2020 changes
From 2 May 2020  Before 2 May 2020  Changes
Salary credit requirement  Min. $1,800 Min. $2,000  Easier to “unlock” by $200 
Salary bonus  Up to 2.4% p.a.  Up to 2% p.a.  +0.4% p.a. 
Spend bonus (min. $500 on OCBC credit card)  Up to 0.4% p.a.  Up to 0.6% p.a.  -0.2% p.a. 
Step-up bonus (+$500 average daily balance monthly)  Up to 0.4% p.a.  Up to 0.6% p.a.  -0.2% p.a. 
Grow bonus (Average daily balance of ≥ $200,000) 0.8% p.a.  1% p.a.  -0.2% p.a. 
Boost bonus (Increase average daily balance) No longer offered 1% p.a.  -1% p.a. 
Wealth bonus (insure or invest with OCBC)   Up to 1.2% p.a.  Up to 1.2% p.a.  No change

OCBC logo
Base Interest Rate p.a.
0.05%
Max. Interest Rate p.a.
4.40%
Min. Balance
S$3,000

How to maximise OCBC 360 interest rates

There doesn’t seem to be a way to “game” the system to continue earning the existing interest rates. As mentioned, the only improvement is if you earn $1,800 to $1,999 monthly and previously couldn’t qualify for the salary bonus.

However, assuming that is the case, you might be better off with DBS. You’d only need to spend at most $200 on a credit card to unlock 1.4% p.a., which is higher.

However, I acknowledge that switching banks is very troublesome. So there’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay put — especially if the difference in interest is minor.

If that’s your plan, you can try to maximise your interest rates with OCBC 360 by maintaining $35,001 to $70,000 in the account so you can unlock the second tier of interest rates after the first $35,000.

You can also consider investing with OCBC since there was no change in the bonus interest (1.2% p.a.). However, do note that the minimum investment amount is $20,000 for unit trusts and structured deposits, and $200,000 for bonds and structured products.

If you had that kind of money, you probably wouldn’t be out here with me quibbling over “peanut” interest.

Bonus: credit cards to use with the OCBC 360 savings account

OCBC logo
High Spend on Dining
Cashback on Everyday Dining
5%
with min. spend of $1,600 per month
Unlock up to $160 Cashback
with min. spend of $800 per month
$80 Cashback per month
OCBC logo
Earn Miles That Don't Expire
on Agoda accommodations worldwide
S$1 = Up to 7 Miles
on Foreign Currency spend
S$1 = 2.1 Miles
on Local spend
S$1 = 1.3 Miles
OCBC logo
Earn up to 4 miles per S$1 spent
on Eligible Local and Overseas Spend
S$1 = 10 OCBC$ (equivalent to 4 Miles per S$1)
on All Other Spend
S$1 = 1 OCBC$
Rewards to Miles Conversion
10 OCBC$ = 4 Miles

Standard Chartered JumpStart (wef 1 July 2020)

EH. Why like that?

A popular savings account among Gen Zs and younger millennials that offers a flat 2% p.a. with no minimum deposit, no monthly fees, no minimum salary requirement among its requirements, the SCB JumpStart will now half its interest rate to 1.0% p.a. from 1 July 2020.

This applies to the first $20,000 in your account. Anything above that will continue to earn a 0.1% p.a. interest.

SCB Bonus$aver savings account (wef 1 July 2020)

The SCB Bonus$aver account is another popular account and its rates were recently revised in April 2020 and another change will take place from July.

SCB Bonus$aver savings account — July 2020 changes 
  From 1 July 2020 Before 1 July 2020 Changes
Base interest rate  0.05% p.a.  No change
$2,000 credit card spend (including base rate)  Up to 0.8% p.a. Up to 1.5% p.a.  -0.7% p.a.
$500 credit card spend (including base rate)  Up to 0.3% p.a. Up to 0.5% p.a.  -0.2% p.a.
Salary credit 0.4% p.a. 1% p.a.  -0.6% p.a.
Bill payment 0.1% p.a.  No change
Invest / Insure 0.85% p.a. 1.28% p.a.  -0.43% p.a.

The biggest change here is the salary credit which will drop to a meagre 0.4% p.a. come July.

Credit card spend has also dropped to a pathetic 0.3% p.a. for a $500 spend and 0.8% p.a. for spending $2,000.

All in all, the new total interest rate will be 2.15% p.a., a far cry from the previous 3.88% p.a.

For reference, here were the changes in April:

SCB Bonus$aver savings account — Apr 2020 changes 
From 1 Apr 2020 Before 1 Apr 2020 Changes
Base interest rate  0.05% p.a.  0.1% p.a.  -0.05% p.a. 
$2,000 credit card spend (including base rate)  Up to 1.5% p.a.  Up to 1.88% p.a.  -0.38% p.a. 
$500 credit card spend (including base rate)  Up to 0.5% p.a.  Up to 0.88% p.a.  -0.38% p.a. 
Salary credit 1% p.a.  1% p.a.  No change
Bill payment 0.1% p.a.  0.25% p.a.  -0.15% p.a. 
Invest / Insure 1.28% p.a.  0.75% p.a.  +0.53% p.a. 

How to maximise SCB Bonus$aver interest rates

These new rates are pretty pathetic and all below 1% p.a. Even the invest/insure category has dropped to 0.85% p.a. from the previous 1.28% p,a.. You can still invest with them but that said, as with OCBC, the minimum investment sum is quite high.

For it to be an eligible investment action, it must comprise a minimum investment sum of S$30,000 (or its equivalent in another currency) in a single subscription. Also, ETFs and RSPs don’t count.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there were changes to the DBS Multiplier, UOB One and SCB Bonus$aver accounts a couple of months ago too.

DBS Multiplier savings account (wef May 2020)

It’s an open secret that DBS/POSB is the most popular bank in Singapore. Almost every Singaporean has a DBS/POSB savings account and/or credit card. Their DBS Multiplier savings account is one of most popular DBS products.

DBS Multiplier savings account — May 2020 changes 
Income + transactions in 1 category (first $25,000) 
Total eligible transactions per month From 1 May 2020  Before 1 May 2020  Changes
< $2,000 0.05% p.a.  0.05% p.a.  No change 
≥ $2,000 to < $2,500 1.4% p.a.  1.55% p.a.  -0.15% p.a. 
≥ $2,500 to < $5,000 1.6% p.a.  1.85% p.a.  -0.25% p.a. 
≥ $5,000 to < $15,000  1.8% p.a.  1.9% p.a.  -0.1% p.a. 
≥ $15,000 to < $30,000 1.9% p.a.  2% p.a.  -0.1% p.a. 
≥ $30,000 2% p.a.  2.08% p.a.  -0.08% p.a. 

The May 2020 revision is just a reduction of interest rates, for the basic “income + transactions in 1 category” tier.

The biggest rate cut is for the $2,500 to $5,000 tier, which I expect most people fall in. Here’s a typical profile: $2,500 to $4,000 salary credit + $500 to $1,000 credit card spend. If that’s you, you will now earn 1.6% p.a. instead of the previous 1.85% p.a. 

DBS logo
High Interest Rates
Base Interest Rate p.a.
0.05%
Max. Interest Rate p.a.
3.8%
Min. Balance
S$3,000

How to maximise DBS Multiplier interest rates

As mentioned, only the basic tier is affected. If you are in the higher tiers (e.g. you have a DBS/POSB credit card and mortgage, or also invest and insure with the bank), then the rates remain unchanged.

Hence, you can try to unlock another multiplier action to bump you up to the next tier. For example, you can refinance your housing loan since SIBOR floating rates are currently low.

Alternatively, you can gun for the invest category. Unlike other banks, DBS’s criteria for this is quite lenient and you can unlock it with as little as $100 in a regular savings plan.

Note: There was a recent change in Feb 2020 as well

This change seems relatively minor compared to the rest, but only because it comes after a recent change in February 2020 that introduced a new “income” category, lumping salary and dividend crediting into one tier. The balance cap for the “income + 1 other category” tier was also lowered to $25,000 (from $50,000 previously).

The February round mainly affected those who previously used dividends to qualify for the “investment” criterion. On the flip side, it was also good for those who didn’t have a regular paycheck, but had dividends (like retirees).

Bonus: credit cards to use with the DBS Multiplier savings account

DBS logo
Online Promo
Shopping and Transportation
on Shopping & Transport Spend
Up to 6% Cashback
Min. Spend
S$800
Cashback Cap
Up to S$70
DBS logo
Earn Miles That Never Expire
Local Spend
S$1 = 1.3 Miles
Overseas Spend (made in foreign currency)
S$1 = 2.2 Miles
On Travel Spend at Agoda
S$1 = Up to 4.3 Miles
POSB logo
Online Promo
Earn Cash Rebates that Never Expire
Cash rebates on Online Food Delivery
Up to 10%
Cash Rebates on Groceries from Sheng Siong & RedMart
Up to 5%
Fuel Savings at SPC
Up to 20.1% + 2%

UOB One savings account (wef 1 May 2020)

For those without regular paychecks, the UOB One savings account was a popular choice as salary crediting is not required. Instead, the compulsory criterion is credit card spending.

UOB One savings account — May 2020 changes 
$500 credit card spend + credit salary OR 3 GIRO transactions 
Account balance in UOB One Account  From 1 May 2020 Before 1 May 2020 Changes
First $15,000 1.25% p.a.  1.85% p.a.  -0.6% p.a. 
Next $15,000 1.3% p.a.  2% p.a.  -0.7% p.a. 
Next $15,000 1.35% p.a.  2.15% p.a.  -0.8% p.a. 
Next $15,000 1.4% p.a.  2.3% p.a.  -0.9% p.a. 
Next $15,000 3.68% p.a.  3.88% p.a.  -0.2% p.a. 

For $500 credit card spend only:

  • Lowered from 1.50% to 0.50% p.a. for first $75,000
  • No change for the balance above $75,000 (0.05% p.a.)

In terms of “actions” to unlock, there are only 2 for the UOB One savings account.

  • Tier 1: spend $500 on credit card
  • Tier 2: spend $500 on credit card + credit salary
  • Tier 2: spend $500 on credit card + pay 3 bills via GIRO

For tier 1, interest was lowered by a whopping 1% p.a. for the first $75,000 — ouch. I suppose they are trying to incentivise customers to try and hit tier 2, but even those interest rates suffered quite a significant cut.

Interest rates were mostly slashed by 0.6% to 0.9% p.a., which is way more than DBS and OCBC’s, which were in the 0.15% to 0.25% p.a. range. It used to be relatively easy to unlock 1.85% p.a., but now, you’ll need A LOT more funds.

UOB logo
Base Interest Rate p.a.
0.05%
Max. Interest Rate p.a.
2.5%
Min. Balance
S$1,000

How can you work around these UOB One changes?

To be honest, I’m not sure you can. Looking at the new interest rates, UOB seems to have completely fallen out of the race.

If you were in tier 1 because you don’t have a regular salary, then you don’t really have a choice but to suck it up. 0.5% p.a. is very low, but you still won’t qualify for OCBC 360 or DBS Multiplier.

Same thing if you were in tier 2 (credit card + 3 GIRO bills). This condition is quite unique, and the other banks don’t offer bonus interest for bill payments.

However, if you were in tier 2 (credit card + salary credit), then you can consider switching banks. Both DBS Multiplier and OCBC 360 will give you better rates of at least 1.4% p.a.

Bonus: credit cards to use with the UOB One savings account

UOB logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
Cashback on McDonald's, DFI Retail Group, Grab, Shopee, SP and more
Up to 10%
Cashback Cap per quarter
Up to S$500
Min. Spend per month
S$500
UOB logo
Online Promo
Base Earn Rate
S$5 = 1X UNI$ (or 2 miles)
Category of Choice
S$5 = Up to 25X UNI$ (equivalent to 10 miles per S$1)
Min. Spend
S$0
UOB logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
Local Spend
S$1 = 1.4 Miles
Overseas Spend
S$1 = 2.4 Miles
Selected Online Hotel and Flight bookings
S$1 = 6 Miles

Conclusion: Should you change your savings account?

Personally, I wouldn’t bother because for most cases, the difference in interest rates is quite minimal.

For example, if you’re an average Joe who was earning 1.85% p.a. with DBS Multiplier previously but now must settle for 1.6% p.a., I think that’s not half bad. The difference is only 0.25% p.a., and who knows for how long? Banks are notorious for changing their terms and conditions anyway.

Plus, the downward trend is across the board for most banks in Singapore, which means that they are all offering similarly crappy rates.

I know it feels bad to have our interest rates cut, but I guess there’s not much to do besides wait it out.

Do you have any tips to add on? Share them with us in the comments below!