Best Bank Account of the Year 2023: UOB One

UOB One account is again my pick for the Best Bank Account of the Year for 2023, retaining its win from 2022. The reasons for its win are simple and unchanged from last year: best interest rates and straightforward requirements. In fact, it’s been made significantly better by what UOB has done in 2023.

In 2024, the crown is UOB’s to lose – and that is a very distinct possibility as we see competitors hop in with promos, offers and deals of their own.

An entire year of 5% p.a. interest

Early last year, I had a nagging feeling that UOB One’s interest rates would be cut some time in 2023. To my pleasant surprise, it maintained its rates through the entire year. That’s an impressive feat considering how fixed deposit rates actually declined over the past year. For most of the year, no other bank seemed to be able or willing to match UOB One’s rates.

A year of almost risk-free 5% p.a. interest on a S$100,000 balance is a handsome S$5,000 of interest, or about S$416 each month. It’s certainly nothing to sneeze at when it can handily pay for an overseas holiday or two over the months.

Maintaining the status quo would have been much appreciated by UOB One users, but UOB actually made the account even better because by offering savings promos and improving its credit cards.

Earmark promos

In what has been a quarterly cadence for the bank, UOB has regularly put out “earmark promos” that gave cash rewards for depositors willing to place sums of money with the bank for around 3.5 to 4 months.

Though offered across multiple UOB accounts, the UOB One is the best account to simultaneously earn the promotional cash rewards and its usual high interest rate. In fact, having taken advantage of the promo twice in 2023 (Q1 and Q4), the total interest I have collected from the UOB One on a S$100,000 balance was S$6,207.36. That’s more than 6% p.a. overall interest!

Bank Account of the Year meets Card of the Year

Given the high interest, UOB One has become an irresistible account for many, though one of the gripes men had was that we had no miles-earning credit card eligible for the account’s spend requirement. The only option was reserved for women, and the aggravation over the gender exclusivity only exacerbated when the UOB Lady’s card got bumped up to a generous 6 miles per dollar earn rate.

I speculated that a men’s card from the bank was in order, but UOB did the simpler thing of doing away with the gender requirement altogether. With that, UOB One account became much more attractive – the bank account with the highest interest rate paired with the highest miles-earning card? It’s a tough combination to beat.

Unsurprisingly, UOB continues to win not just one but two of my picks: for two years in a row the bank has won Best Bank Account and a Best Card category (UOB EVOL won Best Cashback Card in 2022).

Competition is heating up

Going into 2024, however, UOB has to contend with its competitors who seem hungrier for our cash deposits.

Among the famished is Standard Chartered who has introduced a couple of Bonus$aver promos. Last year, I mentioned that the revised Bonus$aver could be a better option for some people in pretty niche scenarios such as those who don’t qualify for UOB credit cards. Over the past couple of months, StanChart has been dangling two great promos that can heavily tilt the value proposition in its favour. You can read more about it here, but the gist of it is that if you qualify for StanChart’s offer, it’s attractive enough that your S$100,000 which has been sitting in UOB One the whole of 2023 can now find a new home for at least a couple of months.

CIMB has also offered attractive savings promos in late 2023. A 3.5% p.a. rate might not seem too impressive these days, but the proposition is a lot clearer when you realise that there is no cap to the funds that you can place to get this interest rate. Even better is getting a free iPhone or MacBook Air when you place a minimum amount of S$250,000, so this is something you should definitely look at if you have more sizeable cash holdings.

While not a bank account, Webull has been downright ravenous for funds with its Moneybull promo. First launched in October 2023, you can get as much as US$3,000 of bonus rewards on top of the underlying cash fund returns (this amounted to another S$1,200 or so in the past 2.5 months I’ve had it) for a deposit of US$100,000. The first batch of rewards has been fulfilled, but the promo is still ongoing… at least for those who have yet to sign up for a Webull account. It’s too good to ignore, so check the current promo out.

Will UOB One retain the crown in 2024?

In all likelihood, I believe UOB has seen an increase in withdrawal rate in late 2023 owing to the various promos vying for cash savings. Will the bank respond in kind to retain its dominance in the space, or will it rollover and let competitors take over? It’s anyone guess but stay subscribed for updates on getting the best interest rates possible for our cash savings in the year of 2024.

View the rest of the winners here.

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