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 (DBS, UOB, OCBC). OCBC is a practical choice because their ATMs are widespread yet have pretty short queues… But how good is an OCBC savings account for earning interest?
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.
UPDATE: The OCBC 360 account was recently revised. Salary credit bonus interest rate will be reduced to 0.6% from the 1.2% that was announced in May and there will be no more bonus interest on credit card spend. Changes will take effect on 1 July 2020.
What is the OCBC 360 account interest rate structure?
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.
Here is the OCBC 360 account’s current bonus interest structure:
|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. initial deposit $1,800)||0.6% p.a. from 1 July 2020||1.2% p.a. from 1 July 2020|
|Spend on OCBC credit cards (min. $500)||No more interest from 1 July 2020||No more interest from 1 July 2020|
|Increase monthly account balance (min. $500)||0.2% p.a.||0.4% p.a.|
|Insure or invest with OCBC (min. amount varies depending on product)||0.6% p.a.||1.2% p.a.|
|Maintain account balance of $200,000 & up||0.8% p.a.||0.8% p.a.|
Confusingly enough, the bonus interest is tiered depending on how much money you have in your account. If you have $70,000 in there, the first $35,000 gets the lower set of bonus interest, while $35,001 to $70,000 gets higher.
In other words, the OCBC 360 account is set up such that you’re encouraged to dump more money in there, otherwise you ‘rugi’ the higher interest.
How do you calculate the realistic interest rate on your the OCBC 360 account?
Let’s say you’re just a regular salaried office worker with less than $35,000 in savings, which means your interest rates are in the lower tier. Does that mean you should give OCBC 360 account a miss?
I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it. The interest rates are pretty bad now. You can still get some interest as long as you faithfully perform the following actions each month:
- Credit your salary of at least $1,800 (0.6% p.a.)
- Keep increasing your monthly account balance by at least $500 (0.2% p.a.)
- Insure or invest in an eligible OCBC product to get interest for 12 months (0.6% p.a.)
You can expect the interest rate to be 1.4% p.a. at least.
The good thing about OCBC 360 account, is that none of the bonus interest actions are compulsory. So if you go a month without hitting the $500 minimum spend or if your salary changes, there’s no need to worry.
In addition, the extra 0.2% p.a. for increasing your account balance each month can help motivate you to grow your savings.
The OCBC 360 account gives you higher interest if you invest, but…
To really maximise your interest rate, you also need to insure or invest with OCBC to bring your interest up to 2.25% 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 (0.2% p.a. on first $35,000, 0.4% p.a. on next $35,000)
But guess what? The interest rate isn’t ACTUALLY that great.
What you end up with is 0.8% p.a. on the first $35,000 and 1.6% on the next $35,000. If you’ve got $70,000 in your account, that works out to be just 1.2% p.a. on average —just like 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:
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.
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.
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.
With the UOB One account, there’s only 3 ways to earn bonus interest:
- Spend $500 on UOB credit cards (0.5% p.a.)
- Spend on credit cards + salary credit of at least $2,000 (1.25% p.a. and up)
- Spend on credit cards + at least 3 GIRO bill payments (1.25% p.a. and up)
The UOB One account used to give OCBC 360 a run for its money — it was very easy to unlock 1.85% p.a. — but after the most recent change in interest rates (May 2020), that is no longer the case. Now, the realistic interest rate is only 1.25% p.a.
Additionally, 1.25% p.a. is pretty much as high as the interest rates go. The UOB One account doesn’t have bonus interest for investment/insurance. The only way to increase your bonus interest by saving more than $15,000, but if not, you’re essentially stuck around the 1.25% p.a. mark.
With the OCBC 360 on the other hand, you can earn 2.25% p.a. with a sizeable investment.
Winner: OCBC 360
OCBC 360 vs DBS Multiplier account — which is better?
The popular DBS Multiplier account now has 2-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 income 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.
But what if you do have a regular paycheck and spend on credit cards? Let’s find out.
For the DBS Multiplier account, there is no minimum amount for either your income OR credit card spending. They just need to add up to at least $2,000 for you to earn bonus interest.
Say it’s your first job and you’re getting paid peanuts. If you…
- Credit your salary of $1,800 per month
- Spend $200 on credit cards
You will get 1.4% p.a. with the DBS Multiplier, which is more than the 1.25% p.a. with OCBC 360 ($200 does not meet the credit card spending criterion).
Say you earn and spend slightly more. Instead, you…
- Credit your salary of $2,000 per month
- Spend $500 on credit cards
What about then? Well, you’d still earn more with the DBS Multiplier account (1.6% p.a.). For OCBC 360, you’d earn only 1.45% p.a.
Additionally, with DBS Multiplier, 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.
Unlike OCBC 360 which requires you to invest a cool $20,000, with DBS you can get bonus interest for beginner-friendly investments like a $100 Regular Savings Plan. Unfortunately, this bonus interest is awarded only for the first 12 months.
DBS Multiplier interest rates used to be a lot higher for its basic tier (income + credit card spend), but it was recently lowered (effective 1 May 2020). 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 2.25% 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.
Do you have the OCBC 360 account? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments!