If you’re gonna open a primary savings account in Singapore, you’re most likely going to go with one of the 3 local banks. OCBC is a practical choice because their ATMs are widespread yet have pretty short queues… but how good is an OCBC savings account for helping you get interest, really?
In this article we’ll be looking at the features of the OCBC 360 account, how to game it so you can get the highest interest, and ultimately, how it fares against the competition.
How does the OCBC 360 account work?
The OCBC 360 account is a savings account that starts with a low base (0.05% p.a.), but that can potentially give you higher returns.
For every month that you complete a certain action, you receive bonus interest. This makes it ideal as a primary savings account – the account where you’re performing the most transactions regularly.
OCBC has recently revised the bonus interest structure for the 360 account. Here’s the new structure, effective 1 Nov 2018 onwards:
|Action||First $35,000||$35,001 to $70,000|
|None (base interest)||0.05% p.a.||0.05% p.a.|
|Salary credit by GIRO (min. $2,000)||1.2% p.a.||2% p.a.|
|Spend on OCBC credit cards (min. $500)||0.3% p.a.||0.6% p.a.|
|Insure or invest with OCBC (min. amount varies depending on product)||0.6% p.a.||1.2% p.a.|
|Increase monthly account balance (min. $500)||0.3% p.a.||0.6% p.a.|
|Increase monthly account balance (any amount)||Additional 1% p.a. on incremental amount, up to $1,000,000|
|Maintain account balance of $200,000 & up||1% p.a.||1% p.a.|
Wondering what the difference is between pre- and post-1 Nov? Before, there was only 1 tier of bonus interest for all account balance up to $70,000. From 1 Nov, OCBC has decided to split your account balance into 2, and each tier has different interest rates.
The changes do not affect the lower tier, except for removing bonus interest for bill payments, but the upper tier will get higher interest rates. This makes it more attractive (seemingly) for wealthier people to dump more money in their savings account.
What are OCBC 360 interest rates like (realistically)?
Let’s say you’re just a regular salaried office worker with less than $35,000 in savings. Does that mean you should give OCBC 360 account a miss?
I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it. The interest rates still aren’t too bad, as long as you faithfully perform the following actions each month:
- Credit your salary of at least $2,000 (1.2% p.a.)
- Spend at least $500 on OCBC credit cards (0.3% p.a.)
- Keep increasing your monthly account balance by at least $500 (0.3% p.a.)
You can expect the interest rate to be 1.85% p.a. at least. Pretty decent, right?
In addition, the extra 0.3% p.a. for increasing your account balance each month + 1% p.a. on incremental balance can help motivate you to grow your savings.
But to really maximise your interest rate, you also need to insure or invest with OCBC to bring your interest up to 2.45% p.a. However, it’s definitely not for small-time investors — this screenshot of the rather hefty minimum investment amounts should give you an idea:
For a more accurate projection of interest rates, use the OCBC 360 interest rate calculator on their page.
Are OCBC 360 interest rates any better for wealthy investors?
While the OCBC 360 account gives regular working adults decent returns, what OCBC is trying to do is to target the wealthy middle-class, such as cash-rich retirees and investors.
I say this because the benefits are concentrated on the upper tier (i.e. any savings above $35,000), and crediting a regular salary is not compulsory. Also, the bonus interest for investing with OCBC is also one of the highest they offer.
So, let’s imagine you’re rolling in dough. Maybe you just sold off one of your property investments. You open an OCBC 360 account and…
- Insure or invest with OCBC (0.6% p.a. on first $35,000, 1.2% p.a. on next $35,000)
- Increase monthly balance every month (0.3% p.a. on first $35,000, 0.6% p.a. on next $35,000)
- Spend on OCBC credit cards (0.3% p.a. on first $35,000, 0.6% p.a. on next $35,000)
But guess what? The interest rate isn’t ACTUALLY that great.
What you end up with is 1.25% p.a. on the first $35,000 and 2.45% on the next $35,000. If you’ve got $70,000 in your account, that works out to be 1.85% p.a. on average – exactly the same as your poorer corporate slave counterparts!
Which credit card is best for pairing with the OCBC 360 account?
If you’re banking with the OCBC 360 account, you’ll probably want to get an OCBC credit card too for bonus interest. Since the minimum amount is just $500 a month, here are my recommendations:
- Supports Department, Retail & Online stores
- 10x OCBC$ (10 points or 4 Miles) for every S$1 spent on clothes, shoes, bags, department stores, kidswear, electronic gadgets, online, offline, locally and overseas
- 2% Cash Rebate when you spend at BEST Denki, on top of the existing 10 OCBC$ (worth 4 Miles) OCBC Titanium Rewards Cardmembers earn on a usual basis. Valid till 31 Jan 2019
OCBC Titanium Card: A great card for collecting air miles – you earn 4 miles per $1 at tons of retailers, both off- and online, including Lazada and Taobao. There’s no minimum spend, which is great, but unfortunately you can’t use it on categories like groceries and transport.
- 6% rebate on online shopping
- 3% rebate on first 2 top-ups for NETS FlashPay Auto Top-Up
- 0.3% rebate on everything else
- Up to 5% rebate for entertainment
- S$60 monthly capped rebate with monthly offline min. spend of S$400 (excludes online and NETS FlashPay Auto Top-Up spend)
OCBC FRANK Card: Gives you a decent 5% to 6% cashback on online spending, mobile payments and weekend entertainment, but has a minimum spend of $400/month offline.
- 6% cashback on local and overseas dining, everyday
- 6% cashback on online food delivery e.g. Deliveroo and Foodpanda
- Up to 23% fuel savings at Caltex stations
- 3% cashback on local, overseas and online groceries e.g. Redmart, FairPrice Online and Honestbee
- 3% cashback on local and overseas private hire rides e.g. Grab, ComfortDelGro, Ofo and Ryde
- 3% cashback on online air, cruise, hotel and tour bookings e.g. Agoda and Airbnb
- 3% cashback on recurring telco and electricity bills
- 0.3% cashback on everything else
OCBC 365 Card: A higher-commitment card that that requires you to spend at least $800 every month, this cashback card only works if you consolidate your day-to-day spending like groceries, dining, bills, petrol and taxis. The 3% to 6% cashback isn’t much to shout about, though.
Read this article for the complete list of OCBC credit cards and whether they’re any good.
OCBC 360 vs UOB One account – which is better?
Now we come to the most important question for most Singaporeans: is the OCBC 360 better the competition? Let’s look at its biggest competitor, the UOB One account.
Structurally, the UOB One account is actually quite similar to the OCBC 360. Salary credit is not mandatory, so it’s also a good option for the self-employed, freelancers, retirees or people making passive income.
You also get bonus interest up to $75,000 (compared to OCBC 360’s $70,000) which is pretty high.
But that’s where the similarities end.
The UOB One account is a whole lot simpler than the OCBC 360. You can very easily get a decent 1.5% p.a. interest by just doing 1 thing:
- Spend at least $500/month on UOB credit cards
It’s also very easy to get at least 1.85% p.a. interest, only 2 actions required:
- Spend at least $500/month on UOB credit cards
- Credit salary of at least $2,000 OR pay 3 bills by GIRO
However, if you bank with OCBC 360, you’d also need to complete a 3rd requirement (increase your account balance by $500 each month) in order to get 1.85% p.a.
The UOB One account loses out in one aspect: it doesn’t have bonus interest for investment/insurance. You’re essentially stuck around the 1.85% p.a. mark, whereas with the OCBC 360 you can earn 2.45% p.a. with a sizeable investment.
Winner: UOB One account
OCBC 360 vs DBS Multiplier account – which is better?
The popular DBS Multiplier account has recently (May 2019) revamped into a two-tier structure that’s kind of similar to the OCBC 360, so how do the two stack up?
Revamp or no, the key difference remains: Regular salary crediting is compulsory for the DBS Multiplier account. NPNT: No paycheck, no talk. If you don’t have, you can skip this entirely and just focus on the OCBC 360 and UOB One accounts.
Assuming you do have a regular paycheck, I would recommend the DBS Multiplier account for the simple reason that there’s no minimum amount for either your salary OR credit card spending. You just need to make sure the total adds up to at least $2,000.
Let’s say it’s your first job and you’re getting paid peanuts. You can still get a respectable 1.55% p.a. if you…
- Credit your salary of $1,800
- Spend $200 on DBS credit cards
To earn 1.85% p.a. interest, you just need a total of $2,500. For example:
- Credit your salary of $2,000
- Spend $500 on DBS credit cards
This is on par with the UOB One account.
The DBS Multiplier has one edge: you can get extra bonus interest for investing, buying insurance or getting a home loan with DBS/POSB. That makes it very easy to bring your interest rate above 2% p.a.
Again, DBS doesn’t care how much you invest, they just look at the total value of transactions to calculate your interest.
Unlike OCBC 360 which requires you to invest a cool $20,000, with DBS you can get bonus interest for beginner-friendly investments like Singapore Savings Bonds, as long as the dividends are credited into your account.
For most DBS Multiplier customers, bonus interest is awarded only up to $50,000. As of 1 May 2019, DBS is now offering bonus interest up to $100,000, but it’s ONLY for those who transact in at least 4 categories out of the 5 (salary credit, credit cards, insurance, investments, home loans) a.k.a. hardcore DBS fans. You can read more about the DBS Multiplier account changes here.
Winner: DBS Multiplier account
OCBC 360 minimum balance & other quick facts
If you just want a fuss-free high interest savings account with minimal requirements for bonus interest, give the OCBC 360 account a miss.
However, if you want to earn at least 2.45% p.a. interest on your savings account and can fulfil all the following…
- Earn a regular income of at least $2,000
- Spend $500 a month on credit cards consistently
- Want to focus on increasing your savings by at least $500 a month
- Have about $20,000 on hand for an investment
… then the OCBC 360 account is for you. Here’s some essential info before you sign up.
Minimum age: 18 years old
Nationality: Singaporeans, PRs, E-Pass & S-Pass holders
Initial deposit: $1,000
Minimum balance (monthly): $3,000
Fall-below fee: $2 (waived for the 1st year)
Bonus interest cap: $70,000
Click here for more information and to open an OCBC 360 account. If you’re not in a hurry, don’t sign up just yet – OCBC might launch some freebies to promote their account changes from 1 Nov 2018.
Do you have the OCBC 360 account? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments!
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Tags: Savings Accounts