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Best Place to Park S$2 Million for 3 Months

In today's tumultuous market, many hold the view that cash is king. It was recently reported that Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on a record cash pile of USD137 billion. The Sage of Omaha has not given any prediction of when a major market correction will take place, but the Buffett Indicator is at record high levels signaling an impending crash. Carl Icahn holds the same view and is hoarding cash too.

If you're watching the market from the sidelines, where would be the best place to store your dry powder? Locking funds in a long-term fixed deposit would be the last thing I'd do with interest rates hitting all-time lows. I'd also want flexibility in withdrawing funds to scoop up investments in a major market correction, which may come swiftly and suddenly.

Assuming you have sufficient cash to start a private banking relationship, it's a good time to take advantage of welcome rewards which various banks are dangling now. Most of these banks require funds to be maintained with them for at least 3 months before the welcome reward can be paid out. Some of them also reward customers for investing through them (eg. buying unit trusts through them). The Relationship Manager can also organize credit lines at preferred interest rates for you to tap on additional funds for your investments; effectively increasing your dry powder stash multiple folds.

Let's take a look at the various consumer banks in Singapore, and what their current offerings are for opening private client or private banking accounts with them. I've listed the banks according to how much you stand to gain after 3 months from simply depositing S$2 million with them, beginning with the one with the greatest gain:-

No. 1: HSBC Jade

- Eligibility: S$1.2 million

- Welcome Reward: S$3,800.00 cash when you deposit at least S$1.2 million and maintain it for at least 91 days. Additional cash incentives are given for making investments through them.

- Interest Rate: Everyday Global Account - 1.65%

- Notable Privileges:

(1) Complimentary green fees when you tee off at selected golf clubs.

(2) Complimentary access twice yearly to over 1,000 global airport lounges using the Airport Companion app.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months (91 days to be exact): S$12,050.00

- Eligibility: S$1 million

- Welcome Reward: S$4,000.00 cash credit into your OCBC Premier Private Client VOYAGE Card when you join with S$1 million in deposits and/or investments and become a cardholder. If you deposit a minimum of S$2 million, the cash credit will be S$8,000.00. Minimum maintenance period is 3 months. If you invest at least S$500,000, an additional S$500 cash credit will be earned.

- Interest Rate: 0.08%

- Notable Privileges:

(1) Unlimited access to Tower Club.

(2) Unlimited access to over 80 Plaza Premium Lounges worldwide.

(3) Unlimited airport transfers from home to Changi Airport.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months: S$8,400.00

- Eligibility: S$1.5 million

- Welcome Reward: S$5,000.00 cash when you deposit S$1.5 million and maintain it for at least 3 months. If the deposit is S$2 million, you get S$6,700.00 cash, and if the deposit is S$3 million, you get S$10,000.00 cash. Additional cash incentives are given for making investments through them.

- Interest Rate: Citi Maxigain Savings Account - 50% of 1-mth SIBOR (about 0.1% at the moment) + 0.05% per interest counter on up to S$150,000 / Money Market Account - 50% of 1-mth SIBOR (about 0.1% at the moment)

- Notable Privileges:

(1) Up to 8 one-way complimentary transfer to or from the airport or designated ferry terminals in Singapore.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months: S$7,218.75

Sandwiches at DBS Treasures Private Client Lounge, MBFC

- Eligibility: S$1.5 million

- Welcome Reward: S$6,000.00 cash when you deposit S$1.5 million and maintain it for at least 3 months. Additional cash incentives given for making investments, etc.

- Interest Rate: 0.05%.

- Notable Privileges:

(1) Unlimited complimentary limousine airport transfers when you arrive in Singapore, Jakarta, Surabaya and Taipei.

(2) Unlimited complimentary use of DBS Asia Treasures Lounges at Singapore Changi Airport Terminals 2 and 3.

(3) At Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Terminals 2 and 3) and Surabaya's Juanda International Airport, Airport Ambassadors will assist in immigration clearance. In Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, enjoy complimentary use of Saphire Lounge in Terminal 2 or selected restaurants in Terminal 3.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months: $7,000.00.

- Eligibility: USD1 million

- Welcome Reward: Nil

- Interest Rate: MayBank Prestige Savings Account - 1.35%

- Notable Privileges:

(1) Up to 12 one-way complimentary airport transfers when you arrive in Singapore.

(2) Up to 6 complimentary fast track meet-and-greet service at airports in China (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong), India (New Delhi and Mumbai), Indonesia (Jakarta), Malaysia (KLIA), Philippines (Manila), Thailand (Bangkok), United Kingdom (London) and Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh).

(3) Up to 6 complimentary JetQuay service. Can be accompanied by up to 2 travelling companions.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months: S$6,750.00.

No. 6: CIMB Preferred Banking [not private banking, but has similar offerings]

Taken from CIMB's Preferred Banking Lounge at Singapore Land Tower

- Eligibility: S$250,000.00

- Welcome Reward: Nil

- Interest Rate: FastSaver Account - 1.325% on the first S$100,000.00 / StarSaver Account - 0.8%

- Notable Privileges:

(1) Enjoy complimentary access of up to 4 times per year in Plaza Premium Lounges in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand & Cambodia.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months: S$4,131.25.

Cakes and cookies at UOB Privilege Reserve Suite at Orchard

- Eligibility: S$2 million

- Welcome Reward: Nil

- Interest Rate: Privilege Account - 0.75%

- Notable Privileges:

(1) 2 complimentary Grab rides to and/or from Changi Airport, capped at S$30.00 per ride.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months: S$3,750.00.

- Eligibility: S$1.5 million

- Welcome Reward: S$6,000 cash when you deposit at least S$1.5 million and maintain it for at least 6 months.

- Interest Rate: eSaver Account - 0.7%

- Notable Privileges:

(1) Airport limousine transfer: 8 one-way transfers in each 12-month membership period.

(2) Unlimited complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges in more than 130 countries using "Priority Pass".

(3) Enjoy fast-track access through designated APEC lanes and visa-free, pre-cleared entry to 19 economic regions.

- Amount Gained on S$2 million after 3 months: S$3,500.00. However, if you wait 6 months instead of 3 months, the welcome reward kicks in and the amount balloons to S$13,000.00.

All private banks pamper their clients with perks like Instagram-worthy birthday cakes, mooncakes, gift baskets for Christmas, epicurious meals, free use of a Ferrari for a day, shopping vouchers, tickets to events, etc. Travel privileges like airport transfers and airport lounge access are commonplace too.

Even a preferred banking account with CIMB nets you free lounge access. Yet, UOB Privilege Reserve which has the highest joining criteria of S$2 million amongst the banks above, doesn't even offer something as basic as that. To add insult to injury, UOB Privilege Reserve sends a Grab car to ferry its high net worth customers, when other banks engage limousine service providers to pick their customers up in a Mercedes E200 or Toyota Alphard at the very least.

At the moment, I'd say the easy way to pocketing an extra S$12,050.00 after 3 months would be to head to HSBC to start a private banking relationship with S$2 million. Its minimum qualifying sum of S$1.2 million is also the second lowest in the private banking space in Singapore. Golfing millionaires will find their complimentary green fees attractive too.

Take note that the 1.65% interest rate on the HSBC Every Day Global Account is applicable for the 3-month block during which the account is opened though. After that 3-month block, if the rate cut is drastic, shift the funds out and terminate the account when it reaches 6 months old to avoid any early closure penalties.

There is nothing stopping from customers moving their funds from bank to bank to take advantage of the various welcome rewards. Spouses even refer each other to benefit from the generous referral fees. Just like mile chasers applying for various credit cards to get hold of promotional miles, the same can be done for bank accounts too.

After researching for my article, I did fill up account opening forms with HSBC. If you'd like to open an account with HSBC, e-mail me at so I can be your referrer and split the referral fee 50-50 with you! The referral fee for HSBC Jade is S$1,000.00. Not too shabby. Have lobang must share! Cheers!


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