Showdown of Premier Banking Accounts

I recently wrote about starting private banking relationships to take advantage of their welcome rewards. Welcome rewards are similarly available at the premier banking level, albeit less attractive than private banking ones, but definitely better than nothing!


Let's see how the various premier banking accounts match up against each other in this low interest environment. I've listed the banks according to how much you stand to gain after 3 months from simply depositing S$500,000.00 with them, beginning with the one with the greatest gain:-

No. 1: HSBC Premier

- Eligibility: S$200,000.00

- Welcome Reward: S$400.00 when you deposit at least S$200,000.00 and maintain it for at least 3 months. If you deposit at least S$500,000.00, the cash reward increases to S$1,000.00. Additional cash incentives are given for making investments through them.

- Interest Rate: Everyday Global Account - 1.65%

- Notable Freebies:

(1) 50% off green fees at 27 golf clubs in the region through HSBC Premier Mastercard. No annual fee is payable on this card.

(2) HSBC Premier Mastercard also gives you unlimited free wifi through Boingo at over 1 million hotspots worldwide.

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$3,062.50.



No. 2: Maybank Premier Wealth

- Eligibility: S$300,000.00

- Welcome Reward: Nil

- Interest Rate: MayBank Prestige Savings Account - 1.35%

- Notable Freebies: Nil

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$1,687.50



No. 3: RHB Premier

- Eligibility: S$200,000.00

- Welcome Reward: Nil

- Interest Rate: RHB Premier Plus Current Account - 1.28%

- Notable Freebies: Nil

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$1,600.00

No. 4: Citigold


- Eligibility: S$250,000.00

- Welcome Reward: S$600.00 for S$250,000.00 in deposits, S$1,200.00 for S$500,000.00 in deposits, S$1,800.00 for S$750,000.00 in deposits, S$2,400.00 for S$1 million in deposits, and S$3,000.00 for S$1.25 million in deposits. The minimum maintenance period is 3 months. 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 Freebies: Nil. There are some privileges (eg. airport lounge access, 4th night free at hotels, Boingo wifi, etc.) by using the Citi Prestige Mastercard, but they're not exactly free because an annual fee is payable.

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$1,343.75

No. 5: CIMB Preferred Banking

- 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 by flashing your CIMB Preferred ATM card.

(2) The CIMB Visa Infinite credit card gives you 3 complimentary airport lounge access per year when you link the card to the Airport Companion app. No annual fee is payable on this card.

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$1,131.25.



No. 6: OCBC Premier

- Eligibility: S$200,000.00

- Welcome Reward: S$400.00 when you deposit at least S$200,000.00 and maintain it for at least 3 months. If you deposit at least S$350,000.00, the cash credit increases to S$1,000.00.

- Interest Rate: 0.08%

- Notable Freebies: Nil. There are some privileges (eg. Plaza Premium lounge access) by using the OCBC Premier Voyage Card, but I won't cover them here as an annual fee may be payable.

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$1,100.00.



No. 7: Standard Chartered Priority Banking

- Eligibility: S$200,000.00

- Welcome Reward: S$600.00 for depositing at least S$200,000.00, S$2,000.00 for depositing at least S$500,000.00 and S$3,000.00 for depositing at least S$800,000.00. The funds have to remain in the account for at least 6 months.

- Interest Rate: eSaver Account - 0.7%

- Notable Privileges: Nil.

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$875.00. However, if you wait 6 months instead of 3 months, the welcome reward kicks in and the amount becomes S$3,750.00.

No. 8: UOB Privilege

- Eligibility: S$350,000.00

- Welcome Reward: Nil

- Interest Rate: Privilege Account - 0.7%

- Notable Privileges: Nil.

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: S$875.00.


No. 9: DBS Treasures


- Eligibility: S$350,000.00

- Welcome Reward: Some rebates for making investments, etc.

- Interest Rate: 0.05%.

- Notable Freebies: Nil

- Amount Gained on S$500,000.00 after 3 months: Omigod! Don't even bother!

Premier banking accounts are nice-to-haves. They're the golden ticket to comfy lounges all over Singapore stocked with newspapers, magazines, cookies, chocolates, cold and hot drinks. In non-Covid times, one of my favourite past-times is lounge hopping. Who needs Starbucks when you can have a cuppa gourmet coffee served to you for free at these lounges? Some are conveniently located within shopping malls. You can plonk down your shopping bags and rest your feet whilst taking sips from a free bottle of sparkling water. However, with lounges all closed now due to the pandemic, lounge access is no longer relevant in considering which bank to choose.


Privileges afforded to premier banking customers are rather thin at this moment as well. When global travel was possible, CIMB's 7 free airport lounge passes a year certainly made it a shining star. With travel plans curtailed by the virus, these passes to airport lounges are just as irrelevant as bank lounge access.


This leaves the quantum of the respective banks' welcome rewards coupled with their interest rates. It's quite clear that HSBC is heads and shoulders above the rest of the field in wooing new premier and private banking customers at the moment. Perhaps, the local banks are too flushed with SGD and don't need more?


Do 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. 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. By rotating funds systematically this way and repeatedly taking advantage from welcome rewards, some people can really have their cake and eat it! Just a thought, not something I've done before, I swear!

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