Banks in Singapore have all lowered their savings account interest rates since COVID-19. This begs the question: Which savings account should you stash your cash in right now?
Before COVID-19 struck, the average salaried worker could easily earn about 1.85% to 2% a year on high-interest savings accounts such as the DBS Multiplier and UOB One.
But economic pressures have caused banks to lower their deposit interest rates. The ‘new normal’ savings accounts interest rate has fallen to about 1% to 1.6% instead — and that’s for the high-interest savings accounts.
To save you the trouble of looking through all these new interest rates, here’s an easy and up-to-date comparison of the best savings accounts in Singapore. Interest rates are valid from December 2020 onwards.
Best savings accounts for salaried workers
Salaried employees in Singapore are spoiled for choice when it comes to high-interest savings accounts. Almost every bank has a savings account that pays bonus interest for crediting your salary and spending on their credit cards.
Let’s find out how much interest an average Joe can get on his S$10,000 savings, assuming a take-home pay of S$3,500 and monthly credit card spending of S$500.
How to maximise
– Pay 3 bills (min. S$30) to get an extra 0.30%
DBS Multiplier Account
– No min. salary or credit card spending, as long as they add up to S$2,000
No min. balance until age 29 (subsequently S$3,000)
UOB One Account
– Pair with UOB One Card for cashback
Standard Chartered Bonus$aver
– Pay 3 bills (min. S$50) to increase by 0.07%
OCBC 360 Account
– Increase monthly balance by S$500 to bump up your interest by 0.2%
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Winner: BOC SmartSaver Account
There used to be a three-way fight between the DBS Multiplier, UOB One and OCBC 360 accounts in this category.
However, all three local banks have reduced their interest rates, with the latest round being the DBS Multiplier and UOB One’s updates from August 2020 onwards. The knockout blow for the former came on 1 January 2021, where the latest round of rate cuts kicked in.
Therefore, the BOC SmartSaver Account has come from behind to take the win for this category. With interest rates that have remained stable since August 2020, this account from the Bank of China will be your smartest choice for now.
The BOC SmartSaver account grants a bonus interest of 0.30% p.a. when you make a minimum credit card spend of S$500 per calendar month. Combine this with the 0.30% bonus interest for salary crediting and you have a savings account that outstrips all other options on this list. For the icing on the cake, there’s a 0.1% prevailing interest rate for this tier.
Like other high interest savings accounts, there are additional categories that grant bonus interest. The easiest one that you can qualify for would be a 0.30% bonus interest for bill payments. Specifically, you’ll need to pay a minimum of three bills that are at least S$30 via GIRO, Internet Banking, or Mobile Banking. That now takes your total interest p.a. to 1% p.a.
Worth considering: UOB One Account
As for the best of the rest in this high interest savings account shootout, the UOB One Account stands tall. Not only does it have the next highest interest rate at 0.50%, there aren’t many hoops for individuals to jump through at all. Case in point, you only need to meet two out of three bonus interest categories to be granted this 0.50% interest rate p.a.
The first category is a minimum monthly card spend of S$500, netting you 0.25%. The second bit is where the UOB One Account’s flexibility comes into play. To earn the next 0.25% for a total of 0.50% interest p.a., you can either credit your salary or make three GIRO debit transactions. That’s it.
And if you grow your savings to S$75,000, the very same conditions apply but your bonus interest gets bumped up to 2.50% p.a. That’s reminiscent of pre-COVID-19 rates and makes the UOB One Account strong contender if you have the necessary funds on hand.
Best savings accounts without salary credit
Individuals without regular salaries — freelancers, gig workers, landlords, retirees, stay-at-home parents — need not be left out of the high interest savings account game. However, you might need to be creative with how you earn bonus interest on your savings account.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you are a freelance writer. You don’t have a regular paycheck, but you do spend on your credit card and you have bills to pay like anyone else. How much can you earn on your S$10,000 savings stash in that case? Check out the best options below.
How it works
Maybank Save Up Programme
Up to 3%
– Spend S$500 + GIRO (min. S$300) for 0.95%
No min. balance until age 25 (subsequently S$1,000)
Citi InterestPlus Account (applications ceased from 1 Aug 2020 onwards)
Up to 2.55%
– Spend S$25 on credit card + insure OR invest to earn 1.35%
None, but maintain min. S$5,000 for better interest rates
Standard Chartered Bonus$aver
Up to 2.28%
– Spend over S$2000 + pay 3 bills to earn 0.48%
OCBC 360 Account
Up to 2.8%
– Step up monthly balance by S$500 to earn 0.1%
UOB One Account
Up to 2.5%
– Spend S$500 + pay 3 bills (no min.)
Winner: UOB One Account
The UOB One Account emerges as the best savings account without salary crediting, even though its 0.50% interest rate p.a. for the first S$15,000 puts it at the bottom of the list. Puzzled? Here’s why.
It is the only one among all the high interest savings accounts listed with simple and attainable requirements to receive that 0.50% interest p.a. That’s why it’s also one to consider even if you draw a monthly salary. Just spend S$500 on your UOB credit card and pay three bills by GIRO (no minimum amount) to attain the 0.50% interest p.a.
There is no need to insure or invest with the same bank, and the low minimum balance makes it appropriate for these lean times. If you feel that these categories are relevant when considering competing bank accounts, keep in mind that the monetary commitment is fairly high.
Switching to the UOB One Account for its simple bonus interest structure? You’ll need to pick up a UOB credit card to pair it with.
Worth considering: Maybank Save Up Programme
If you don’t mind putting some cash in insurance and/or investments, the Maybank Save Up Programme is worth looking into. Alternatively, you can take on a loan for home purchases or renovations, education, or car purchases. Pick any three transaction types to get a 2.75% bonus interest on top of the base interest rate, adding up to 3% p.a.
Spend S$500 on a Maybank credit card, pay bill(s) by GIRO (minimum S$300 in total), and you’re two-thirds of the way there. Even if you don’t wish to purchase an insurance policy or investment product, there’s still a respectable 0.95% interest rate to be had.
For the last one, you can insure with Maybank (min. S$5,000 annually) or buy a unit trust (min. S$25,000). If you happen to need a home, car, renovation or education loan, those count as eligible transactions too, as mentioned earlier. This makes the Maybank Save Up Programme a bank account worth considering if you feel that the UOB One Account’s interest rates are too low.
Bonus: Best zero-effort savings accounts
We get it. Not everyone is keen to hit minimum spending requirements or monitor their account balance every month. And with the influx of investment options recently, you might be channelling the bulk of your long-term funds there instead.
If you’re a lazy saver or simply want a second account to complement your primary high-interest savings account, here are the best bank accounts that reward you for simply putting your money away for a rainy day.
How it works
POSB SAYE Account
Up to 2%
– Commit to regular monthly savings (you specify the amount)
Standard Chartered JumpStart
– No action required
OCBC Bonus+ Savings Account
– Increase balance by S$500 every month
UOB Stash Account
– Stash S$100,000 to earn 0.95%
– No action required
You’ll notice that some of these savings accounts require you to not touch the funds in order to earn the advertised interest rate. If that’s the case, you might want to consider a fixed deposit account instead.
Should you switch savings accounts?
If you have a lot of savings in your account, you’re probably itching to take action and switch banks. This would be the best time to make a decision as the dust has settled and Singapore’s economy is picking up steam in the second half of 2021.
The best savings accounts still grant you a respectable interest rate p.a., so if what you’re putting your money in isn’t cutting the mustard right now, then it’s time for a swap.
However, banks do change their interest rates every now and then, so do keep your eye on the news. Furthermore, this is the first time that high interest savings accounts have gone through a recession. It remains to be seen whether their former interest rates will be reinstated. Stay up to date and compare savings accounts easily with SingSaver.
Read these next:
Standard Chartered Bonus$aver Review (2021)
UOB Stash Account Review (2021)
Best Cash Management Accounts In Singapore To Soup Up Your Savings
How Much Savings Should I Have At 35 In Singapore?
New Studies Show Large Retirement Savings Gap In Singapore, And Why Most Regret Not Saving Earlier
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