“What’s the best bank account?” people would ask. The most accurate answer is, “it depends”. It sounds like a cop out, but with bank accounts tying higher interest to different activities like spending and buying insurance products, as well as having different balance caps, and various other means of getting extra interest, it really is the case.
But if we really had to pick one – assuming someone of median income, average spending habits, and savings of an everyday salaryman – it’s really hard to go wrong with UOB One.
Firstly, the requirements are really straightforward: you must spend $500 on a UOB card. Then, you have to either credit your salary of at least $2,000, or have 3 GIRO bills paid within the calendar month. That’s it; you have unlocked the bonuses of the account.
Compare this to something like Bank of China SmartSaver, OCBC 360, and DBS Multiplier accounts where you have at least 3 requirements (salary + spend + GIRO bills for BOC, salary + spend + step up for OCBC, salary + spend + mortgage/investment for DBS) to reach similar interest rates as UOB One.
In fact, optional salary crediting for UOB One, unlike many of the other accounts, makes it a very versatile account. With its competitive interest rates, it can well be your only account, but if you have money in excess of the UOB One’s $75,000 capacity, you can always use GIRO bills for UOB One so that you can use your salary for another account.
In fact, many people may be left with UOB One as their default option because they don’t qualify for the salary crediting due to a variety of reasons. Some may work in the gig economy and have no formal salary, and some people’s HR departments are unable (or unwilling) to transfer the salary in the manner demanded by the banks (it must be a specific GIRO transfer).
Account with the best companion card
People following this blog for only a week or two might already know my choice for the best card for 2020. Given that most accounts need some amount of spending, the rewards matter quite a bit, as can be seen when I reviewed StanChart’s Bonu$aver.
I remember seeing an option to choose one of UOB’s mile cards to be tied to your One account (I can’t seem to find it now in their terms and conditions), but that’s turning down the sole and reigning A+ Tier card we currently have now.
UOB One Card, paired with GrabPay Mastercard, gives you 10% cashback on $2,000 spending (or 8.33% cashback on $500 or $1,000 spending if you don’t spend so much) on virtually any card transaction which is almost impossible to beat. The substantial cashback can even exceed the already decent interest of the UOB Account, which we will see later.
Interest rate and comparisons
Speaking of which, what’re the rates? UOB unfortunately employs a slightly but needlessly more complicated tiered system to calculate its interest:
|1st $15,000||Next $15,000||Next $15,000||Next $15,000||Next $15,000|
It takes a little calculation to calculate the blended interest rate. If you fill it up to the brim of $75,000, your effective interest rate is 2.44% pa. Let’s see how this compares with the other accounts:
|UOB One||OCBC 360¹||DBS Multiplier²|
- OCBC 360 assumes the following criteria are met: spend + salary + step up. Do note that you can have $70,000 instead of $75,000 in OCBC 360 to achieve $152 since the max cap is $70,000 for OCBC 360.
- DBS Multiplier assumes: spend + salary + investment/insurance/home loan
OCBC 360 does give slightly better returns, but this is if their Step Up category is achieved. This requires your average monthly balance to be $500 more compared to the month before. I added this as it is easily achievable if you are building your savings with OCBC 360.
DBS Multiplier, on the other hand, requires the 3rd category to be either investment, insurance, or home loan categories in order to get higher interest on balances more than $25,000. For balances more than $50,000, you need 4 categories. That’s pretty troublesome to achieve.
Does OCBC 360 win then? Not so fast.
High cashback, timely interest crediting
Let’s not forget the currently generous cashback accorded by the UOB One when combined with GrabPay Mastercard:
Nothing comes close; OCBC has the 365 card which gives 3 to 6% depending on the type of transaction, and DBS has LiveFresh which is 5% on contactless and online purchases, and both max out at $80 and $40 of cashback respectively.
You can, of course, use UOB One Card without putting your money in UOB One account, but you would then need to clock spend on the other cards – spending which could be clocked on the UOB One Card. Multiplier gets away with it somewhat, since you can simply spend a dollar on any DBS card just to fulfil the spend category, but it is simply lacklustre now after its 2020 revision.
As one final good thing about the account, UOB One credits the bonus interest on the 3rd of each month. From my experience, banks like DBS and Maybank post it on the 5th working day, and OCBC takes a puzzling long 7 working days to do so, which means interest can sometimes be credited only on the 10th or 11th of the month (case in point: last month’s interest will only be credited on 11th Feb).
Perhaps some may feel that this makes up for UOB One’s slow crediting of cashback which is posted every 3 months instead of monthly, but given that the cashback is substantially higher, I’m not complaining.
Given the versatility of optional salary crediting, competitive interest rates, and having the best companion card currently, the UOB One Account is the best account for most people by quite a bit, and even better if you could alternate your funds between this account, and an OCBC 360 account. Just a thought.
- Only two out of three simple requirements
- Salary crediting is optional
- Has the best companion card to meet spending requirement
- Competitive interest rates
- Bonus interest is credited quickly
- Even though I generally discourage people from buying insurance/investments from a bank, there is no extra interest if you do indeed want to get such products from UOB
- UOB One Card posts cashback quarterly instead of monthly
- I would advise you to have more than 3 GIRO arrangements because deduction dates can be unpredictable (my UOB card bills are sometimes posted way too early), causing you to miss 3 GIRO bills requirement and lose the bonus interest for the month :O
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9 Stars of Sethisfaction