Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The COMPLETE Lo-Down on the OCBC 360 Account, Maximising Your Benefits!

12/5/14 Update: Received my bonus interest for the first time, OCBC 360 is awesome!

WAKE UP YOUR MONEY FOLKS!

Hey there, this is MoneyHoney here to give you a review preview, the complete lo-down, the 411, the in's and the out's of this newly announcement promotion on this account that has been around for a while. (while having yet to actually see any of the benefits, the promo just started and I just opened my account)

Now before we start getting into the details of this OCBC account, the first question you should ask yourself is: Why bother with this? Is this even the best account on the market?

With that, I will answer to you a resounding YES!

Fixed deposits in Singapore gives promotional rates of between 1% and 1.5%, depending on lock-in period and also a minimum lump sum. I'm not dissing the FD as a cash management tool, but I think that this 360 Account can be a very strong supplement for your first $50,000 cash. Since the account only gives 3.05% interest on the first 50k, if you like to hold on to more cash than that, it makes sense to park it in a fixed deposit.

Now, what about other current/savings/hybrid bank accounts running around? I did a brief comparison of the DBS Multipler and the SCB Bonus$aver just last week. However, for the sake of brevity I will recap the main points of each account.

DBS Multiplier
- $50,000 eligible for bonus interest
- 0.98% interest with $7,500 cashflow a month
- steps up to 2.08% interest with cashflows above $20,000 a month
- cashflows ONLY include Salary credited by GIRO (PAL or SAL code), Housing Loan, Credit Card payment and Dividends cashed into the account.

SCB Bonus$aver
- $25,000 eligible for bonus interest
- 1.88% interest with $500 SCB credit card spending a month 

As you can see, SCB is really no-frills, but there is a lower cap on the amount eligible for bonus interest. For DBS, the amount cap is same as OCBC, but the requirements are much more complex. You need a rough income of about $7000 and a housing loan to realistically hit the lower tier AND live. Yes, you still need to live, getting 0.98% interest is nothing to hoot about.

So, okay, whatever. Those are the other banks requirements. What are the requirements to get the 3.05% interest on this 360 Account? Nothing in life is free, so we also know that there is some catch to it.



The catch is just fulfilling 3 criteria. You will get 1% interest for every criteria that you fulfill, and a base 0.05% regardless. So the 3 criteria are:

1) Salary credited by GIRO
2) Spend $400 a month on your OCBC Credit Cards
3) Pay any 3 bills every month

Now, you can apply for the account very easily. At the bottom of their 360 Account page, they even list down the ways very simply.


Even though there are 3 ways, I'm going to assume that all you folks here at my blog are IT-savvy enough to apply online. Interestingly enough, there are 2 ways to apply online. You can apply either through your browser and uploading the required files as attachments, or you can download an OCBC App that was created just to apply for this account!

I must admit though, I tried using the App, and it was very clean and intuitive to use. Sadly, the App kept crashing when I tried to submit my information. In the end, I just applied the old fashioned way online. I applied for the account on Tuesday last week. One day later I received an SMS telling me that my account has been successfully opened and I will be received a mail package in a few days! I already have an OCBC Frank Card with a security token, so I was a bit worried that they will send me a whole new token and I will have 2 separate accounts, one for my credit card and one for my 360 account. However, OCBC is very smart and they of course recognized that I have an credit card with them, so when I logged into my iBanking, I immediately saw that my 360 Account has been added to my home page, success!

That was it folks. I applied online and attached the relevant files, it took me less than 30 mins. The next day my account was approved and opened, and the day after that the bank account was linked to my iBanking. Very fast, very simple, very easy, I like! The best part about it was that I didn't have to go down to any branch, bring down any documents, wait in a queue or do anything like that!

Now, back to MAXIMIZING YOUR BENEFITS!

First, Salary by GIRO.



It's a bit self explanatory, but I will just write it in my own explanation. Maybe you like my English better! Your salary must be processed by your company and paid with the correct transaction tag of SAL. If you are being paid in cash, cheque or old-fashioned Interbank GIRO from your boss (it could be a small business, it is possible), then unfortunately you will not be able to get this 1% bonus interest!

However, for most people working in companies with a more structured HR department, the next hurdle is making sure your salary being credited is more than $2000. Please take note, that this is the net salary that will be credited to you, after you have been deducted for CPF, SDL and donations! That means your take-home pay must be more than $2000 to qualify! I know there will be some people now that will also not be able to qualify for this 1% then.

I think that this 1% from crediting your salary is the easiest 1% of the 3 criteria to get, so I would encourage everyone to try and credit your salary properly through your HR department! Also, if you take-home salary is not $2000, I hope you can get a promotion soon so that you can meet this criteria!

Second, spend $400 on OCBC Credit Cards

Now, I have a big big secret for you! This $400 on your OCBC credit card expenditure per month can be for MULTIPLE credit cards! That means you do not have to try and purposely shift your spending from one OCBC credit card to another OCBC credit card to cumulatively spend $400. As long as the total amount spent on your credit cards is over $400 a month, you will qualify for the extra 1%.

Please note that when they say OCBC credit card, they mean OCBC credit card. Other banks credit cards will not count. Debit card spending will not count. Also "fake" transactions will not count, such as balance transfers, fund transfers, cash advance and other similar group of "transactions". As much as we want to beat the system, I think OCBC also knows what is not really transactions, and will therefore not give you the bonus 1% if you "real" transactions do not add up to $400.

Even though I did not explicitly ask, it is my understanding that your supplementary card holders spending will be recorded under you, as the principal. So if you give supp cards to your wife, girlfriend, children... all their spending will make up the $400 spending that you need. Not very hard to achieve right?

Thirdly, pay any 3 bills every month

Now, here is the biggest way to "game" or "cheat" the system! I know someone that used to work for OCBC, and he told me that every different OCBC credit card cards is recognized as one unique bill payment!

WAIT, WHAT?!

YES!

EVERY OCBC CREDIT CARD COUNTS AS ONE UNIQUE BILL PAYMENT!

Therefore! For all those people who are currently paying their recurring bills through other means and methods, they can continue doing so. The easiest way to rack up 3 unique bills and pay them hassle-free is to apply for 3 different OCBC credit cards, and remember to charge a total of $400 in total through the 3 different cards!

Some people will say, "Hey, MoneyHoney, like that not very boliao meh? Still must manage the credit cards, force yourself not to be tempted to anyhow spend, plus must make the annual waiver phonecall." And to you, I say that I agree. I think it's damn lehchey to do keep track and manage 3 different credit cards. Also, you will look very silly with 3 credit cards from the same bank, plus your wallet will become so thick. People with thick wallets don't need penny pinching, interest-maximizing methods, right?

Okay, don't have 3 credit cards then. We will just have 1 credit card (we will need one no matter what, to get the $400 credit card spending 1% bonus!). However, being 24 and living with my parents, what bills do I pay? My father also settles all the recurring household bills for the family though the allowance I give. What then can qualify for a bill payment?

Good news though, I also have more information to share! After calling up the customer service hotline at OCBC, I also got confirmation on some super easy transactions that most people can apply for to be able to get some simple monthly transactions posted on your account!

The first one is Income Tax! This one is bopian, no choice, must pay. However, if you are not being rewarded by any of the other banks to GIRO with them, why not move your GIRO arrangement to OCBC to settle this instead then? Of course, choose the monthly installment plan. It is interest-free, and it also creates a monthly transaction for you, which is exactly what you want!

The second is Insurance Premiums! I was quite unsure about this, so this was the first question that I asked the service agent. She initially said insurance premiums will not count, but after checking again, she said that they would. As long as it is a monthly GIRO arrangement that deducts from your account, it should register as a bill payment! I have AVIVA insurance, and for my product, there is no benefit from paying premiums annually in a lump sum, so this again works out perfectly for me!

So for me, those would be my 3 bill payments. My income tax, my insurance and my credit card spending. All of them can be arranged to be automatically paid through GIRO every month, so you don't have to worry about missing bill payments, as long as you have money in your account. And you will, since you are crediting your salary into the account!

Other possible bill payments which I have thought about is getting a supplementary insurance through DirectAsia.com and also to make monthly GIRO donations to a charity of my choice. However, I have to disclaim that I did not check with anyone if these transactions are considered "bill payments". It is likely that the DirectAsia monthly premiums will be considered, but I am unsure about the donations. Can anyone comment?

If you have a $50,000 cash balance in your account, every successful 1% hurdle that you complete will give you $500 a year, or $41.60 a month.

If you have more than $12,500 cash in your account earning interest and you would like to get the bonus 1% for making 3 bill payments, I would suggest exploring into arranging monthly GIRO donations, but first checking if it counts as a bill payment. At $12,500, you will be getting $10.40 interest a month. If you donate $10 a month, you will still gain 40 cents, but you also would have made a donation to charity! Not only will you feel good about yourself, but you will also be eligible for a tax deduction when tax assessment comes around :) As your wealth increases, you will earn more interest too, but you are also sharing your wealth! It is a win-win situation! The charity helps make up one monthly GIRO "bill payment" and get a monthly donation, you will get the excess interest earned and also help out a charity! Maybe all 3 transactions could be charitable donations if you have enough recurring transactions and pay your bills with other banks!

In Conclusion

I would like to encourage anyone who is serious about saving money in a relatively risk-free way to consider this account, especially for those young working people. As I have demonstrated with my examples, hitting all 3 criteria to get the maximum 3.05% bonus is not actually as hard as it looks!

The account opening process is simple, fast and easy. The product is currently the best on the market. What are you waiting for? Wake up your money and make it work for you!

I would like to add that the DBS Multiplier and SCB Bonus$aver should be tools used after maximizing your benefit in your OCBC 360 Account. Especially if you have any excess cash that you would like to still have in cash equivalents, but still earn higher rates than current fixed deposits. However, as I mentioned earlier, with more accounts and more credit cards, your life can get more tiring and very messy trying to keep track and manage all these accounts and expenses. For now, I think most people do not have $50,000 liquid cash, so this OCBC 360 Account should be very useful for most people!

Disclaimer: I have still not received my OCBC 360 Account package as of 15/4/2014, which is the timing of writing. However, I should be receiving it within the next few days. I am not paid by OCBC or anyone in any form to speak or share my opinions on their product. This post is entirely my personal opinion on this subject and you should do your own research to supplement the "things you read on the internet". I have not enjoyed or received any of the bonus interest payments offered by OCBC yet. I do not know if any the transactions that I plan to incur monthly will qualify as bill payments, so please do not do anything rash without checking with relevant people. I do not promote any of the other products that I have spoken about here, and I do so only for the purpose of sharing the information that is made available to me. I am not trying to misrepresent nor profit from this post or the content in it. Please see ANOTHER disclaimer on the left bar of my blog, thank you.

3 comments:

  1. This is quite a late post but anyway... if you have $50K in your account and racked up about $360 in credit card spending, go ahead and hit $400 because meeting the 1% CC criterion gives you $41.60 (50,000 x 0.01/12). The $40 is "effectively free".

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