A Look at UOB’s Earmark Promos and Prepping For the Next One

For the past year or so, UOB has been offering “earmark” promos which give additional cash rewards on top of their bank account interest rates.

Given that UOB One already gives as much as 5% p.a. effective interest on S$100,000 of savings, the bonus cash rewards are even more attractive since they add on to the effective returns of our savings. In total, it’s possible to get upwards of 6% to almost 7% p.a. returns which is why such promos are particularly attractive.

Here’s a look at past UOB promos and what existing UOB deposit customers can do to prep for any upcoming ones. If you haven’t yet started your UOB account – no prep required, but do subscribe so you know when the next promo starts and you can finally start your UOB One account when the time comes.

How UOB earmark promos work

UOB’s earmark promos work a little like fixed deposits. Typically, you fill out a form on how much you want to earmark and then top up fresh funds compared to a reference date. The funds will be made unavailable for use or withdrawal for a few months, typically around 3.5 months.

The most recent promo, for instance, takes 30th September 2023’s day-end balance as the reference. If your ending balance that day is S$1,000 and you wish to participate in the S$100,000 bonus tier, you need to ensure that you have S$101,000 of monthly average balance to get the bonus. There are ways to game this somewhat and we’ll explore this later in the article.

Once you have registered for the promo and put in the funds, the amount will be taken out of your available balance according to the timeline UOB specifies. So far, funds are usually earmarked near the end of the following month from registration. Once earmarked, the funds are removed from the available balance and can’t be used.

At the same time, UOB will credit the cash reward to your account immediately when your funds are earmarked. Earmarked funds will continue to generate the interest of your UOB account. Therefore, if you’re using a UOB One account, continue to fulfil the salary and spend requirements to get the usual UOB One’s interest rates.

Past promos

Here are some details of the past promos over the year I managed to dig out.

Reference date: 31st December 2022

Incremental Fresh Funds AmountCash Credit Amount
S$50,000S$388
S$100,000S$888
S$200,000S$1,888

Reference date: 31st March 2023

Incremental Fresh Funds AmountCash Credit Amount
S$50,000S$250
S$100,000S$550
S$200,000S$1,300

Reference date: 30th June 2023 (link to article)

Incremental Fresh Funds AmountCash Credit Amount
S$50,000S$258
S$100,000S$558
S$200,000S$1,458

Reference date: 30th September 2023 (link to article)

Incremental Fresh Funds AmountCash Credit Amount
S$50,000S$250
S$100,000S$550
S$200,000S$1,500

For those without UOB accounts yet

For those who have yet to get a UOB account, hang on tight as a Q1 2024 promo may well be the best time for you to open a UOB One account. As a new customer, your existing balance will be S$0, and any amount you top up would count towards the promo (if it happens). Subscribe to be updated.

For existing UOB deposit customers – prepping for a future promo

For people who are already UOB account holders, you can do some prep work in anticipation of a potential promo at the end of this quarter.

Here’s some background story: on 29th September 2023, UOB accidentally published their Christmas savings promo ahead of time, specifying 30th September 2023 as the reference date. Matt from the Telegram chat discovered this but it was quickly taken down shortly after.

In any case, this was pretty much in line with their routine of releasing a new promo each quarter over the past year, so I hatched a plan on emptying my UOB One account on the last day of September 2023 so that I can qualify for the new promo. It worked and I managed to get my reward for the Christmas promo:

It follows that if UOB decides to continue their trend of having a new promo for the new quarter of Q1 2024, it will be based on one’s balance at the end of December 2023. It may thus be worth emptying one’s UOB One account to prep for this potential new promo.

Seth
Seth

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What to do

If UOB were to do a Q1 2024 savings promo, the reference date is highly likely to be 31st December 2023. There is also some potential for it to be 30th December 2023 since the current promo’s end date is 30th December 2023.

Whichever it is, if I could (which I can’t because my funds are already earmarked within my UOB One account) I would empty my UOB One account on 29th December 2023 and transfer the funds to another account. The reasons for picking 29th December is:

  1. In case of the unlikely case the reference date is 30th December 2023
  2. 29th December is a Friday

Reason 2 is important since your funds should go into another bank account so that you don’t lose earning interest on your funds. Most (perhaps all) banks do not recognise funds deposited on non-working days, so if you emptied your UOB account on 31st December 2023 and deposited the money into another account, you don’t get interest from your UOB account nor the receiving bank account for that day.

In short, I would:

  1. Withdraw all my funds from UOB accounts on 29th December 2023 to make a S$0 balance
  2. Deposit the funds into another high-interest account (tap here for potential avenues)

Costs of emptying UOB account

Do note that emptying your UOB account results in some loss of interest. Assuming that your balance has been dutifully S$100,000 in your UOB One account for the entirety of December, you should be getting about S$424.87 of interest for the month.

By emptying the account on 29th December 2023, your monthly balance will drop to S$93,548. This results in an interest amount of S$382.13 instead for the month. S$42.74 is the interest lost as a result.

To mitigate the interest lost, you could put the S$100,000 balance elsewhere. If you can generate 3.5% p.a. in another account, you could get S$28.22. This decreases your loss to just S$14.52.

S$14.52 to prep for a potential S$550 (around what UOB has been giving for S$100,000 deposit) isn’t too bad.

Alternate, easier way: use a second player

Now if all these seem like quite a bit of hassle, having access to another person may well be the easiest solution yet. Simply use a family member (or really close friend) to sign up for a new account when UOB publishes their new promo, and deposit funds there.

Obviously, this takes a bit of trust since the funds will now be under your “player”, and your relative/friend needs to do things like open (and possibly close) the account so do this at your own discretion.

Conclusion

To sum it up, what we’re trying to do here is to empty our UOB One account at the end of this month so that we can qualify for any Q1 2024 earmark promo.

Personally, I find UOB earmark promos attractive enough that this is worth the trouble and small loss in interest. But we obviously cannot predict what UOB will do, so do this at your own risk!

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