Monday, April 05, 2010

I just want a checking account

I wanted to open a joint account with checking facilities (meaning you can write cheques) with my gf. The main purpose of it is to allow each of us to contribute a part of our income to pay for joint expenses like mortgages, groceries, furnitures etc. Since I was at suntec yesterday and OCBC had their branch opened on Sunday, I popped by to enquire.

It seems that we intruded on their private small talk because the lady serving us seemed very annoyed and impatient. I asked her some simple questions but she didn't seem to know her stuff that well (she was reading it in front of us), so my gf asked her some stuffs about the practice of other banks and she replied that we have to check it out ourselves. Okay, I seriously must thank her for her good advice to check it out ourselves. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known that even a simple thing as opening a checking account can have such a wide differences between the major banks in Singapore.

You must hear it from me - OCBC offers the worst deal if you ever wanted to open a checking account in Singapore. Out of all the banks I compared, OCBC is the only one that requires a $2 fee per cheque written. Do check out this table for more details:

The above table is correct as of 5th April, 2010. You know how hard it can be to navigate and understand those statements and fine print, so I did my best. If there's any objections or mistakes, pls pls correct me.

That includes you, OCBC.

After showering, I thought I was being unfair to OCBC. They do have an advantage over other local banks. It's the only bank that operates on Sunday. That is an extremely value added (costly, perhaps) service to busy people in Singapore.

If we compare local and foreign banks, you'll find that foreign banks generally offer more incentives to attract customers. It's the oh-so-valuable deposit money that is the lifeblood of banks. I suppose that the local banks already have high deposit ratios, hence they are not so eager to create new incentives to attract people to deposit. Just my hypothesis.

I'm not so excited over the 'high' interests in some checking accounts. A MMF fund easily beats it at around 1% per annum. Yes, it's a little tiny bit riskier and it's not guaranteed. Free cheque book is doesn't attract me much either, because I doubt I'll be using that often. It's one of those things that is good to have, in case you need it. I absolutely do not want to pay a fixed monthly fee, though a fall below fee is fine.

That being said, I think Citibank and Stanchart xtrasaver seems like a mightily good idea. Both are open on Sunday too, in case I need their services.


CreateWealth8888 said...

Do you really need to visit bank branches?

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

I have a checking account with OCBC not by choice. They ate up Keppel TatLee Bank. Again, I had a Keppel TatLee Bank checking account not by choice. Keppel Bank ate up TatLee Bank. Heard of TatLee Bank? Yes, I know. I'm a dinosaur.

I also have a checking account with UOB. This one is only a few years old. I prefer this to the one from OCBC but I've had the other one for so long and I'm too lazy to close it.

Derek said...

Hi LP,

I have been using Xtrasaver for a while now. I was looking to create another account just to pay all my bills and this account fits perfectly - no min. balance, no fees and a free 1st cheaque book.

If you can afford to have a buffer of $6K and pay a large amount of bills, the cash back feature works very well. I can't remember my friend's explanation but he pays several thousand monthly and he get backs at least $50 to a few hundred dollars.


Royston said...

I use a UOB current account for far no as it should ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi LP,

I am with Citi, its foc (a/c & cheque bk & credit cards) because I took home loan with them, presently, they gave me 2/3 of the loan interest on deposit in the account.

I also held their card since I first got my first credit card.


la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Nope, I don't need to visit bank branches. I'm thinking what if. It's an added bonus, not essential at all, really.

Hi AK,

Seems like all your bank got eaten up :) Thanks for sharing your prehistoric past with me, haha

Hi Derek,

Hmm, you gave me some interesting idea...cos next time, I do intend to use the account for paying household bills. I'll think about it seriously, thanks!

Hi Royston,

UOB...hmm...UOB is simple, fuss-free :) Thanks for sharing with me :)

Hi HH,

Ya, I think you told me that before :) Hmm, my choice now is between Citi and Stanchart :)

TheOracle said...

Cancelled by POSB cheque book several years back. Turned off with the $2/mth fee.

I'm on Citibank Step-up Interest for sometime now. Reach 12 step-ups. So it's at 1% interest now.

I understand they are revising down to 0.5% but it's still way way better than other local banks' saving accounts. It's fully liquid, so it performs as my 6 mth 'emergency fund' interest bearing account. Perfect for me.

la papillion said...

Hi oracle,

I've a feeling I won't want a fixed monthly fee too. It's small, but it adds up in the long run. Knowing how troublesome it is to change a new account, I rather spend more time finding a hassle free one now :)

For me, I'm not going to use that as a savings account, hence the interest is not that impt to me. Good to have, but not essential.

My emergency fund is actually placed in the Money market fund under phillips. It can be withdrawn within 2 days (usually 1 day is sufficient), so that should be good for me :)

Thanks for sharing!

Createwealth8888 said...

Do you really know the value of your time units while doing bargain hunting?

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

To answer your question ...

First, I spent 10 mins in the ocbc branch at suntec. I happened to pass by, and just took a look.

Second, I spend 1h 20 min reading on the various accounts by the banks. So, the total time spend is 1.5 hrs.

Thirdly, staring at numbers blinking in the watchlist isn't as time saving as spending 1.5 hrs researching on banks.

dsea said... other way. use the overdraft facility, but trsf funds into it before you write the cheque.... :P

Lemizeraq said...

Hi LP,

Yeah, banks can be a pain in the a**. But like what dsea said, you can open an overdraft or what they call credit line account. But before writing the cheque, transfer from your savings first before it is drawn down.

When the annual fee comes, say you want to cancel. If you have some relationship with the bank. Like use them as CPF account and that is active or others, they are likely to waive it off.

But not sure if they have for joint account for credit line account though.

My wife and me have a joint savings account where we use to giro common expenses, and we transfer money there for these while keeping our own individual accounts. I use the credit line to write cheques where needed.


Trillion said...

thanks for your post - yes totally agree with you!!! I cancelled by POSB chequeing account as i realised i was being charged $2 / mth for the current account facility....the bank doesnt even pay me $24/year on interest!!. I opened a citibank Step up account as it provides free cheques and somewhat more interest.

Ah Kow said...

I am totally pissed off with Citibank. Opened a trading acct with them together with a Step Up acct with checking facility. That was mid of last year.

After a month or two, I did not hear from them. Went down the same branch to check, was told my application form was missing or something like that. Waited again.

Till today, I have not received my online trading acct password (although the acct has been linked to CDP) and I have no idea if my Step Up acct is active or not. I also have not received my cheque book.

Recently, the credit card call centre seems to be undermanned. I had to wait more than 20 minutes and gave up waiting.

Anonymous said...

Aiyoh, I have never paid for a single cheque and checking account in my life.

The most recent method i used this few years, just use the OCBC Easicredit, every year the annual fee come, just tell them to waive it, no need to beat around the bush, don't even need to theatened to cancel the account.

Transfer $ to the Easicredit account after you issue the cheques so that you will not be drawing down any credits. Just like wat "Lemizeraq" mentioned.

Anyway, all banks are the same, they want to lend you money when you are rich and have reservation when you need money the most.

But whatever it is, my personal preference is NO DBS/POSB account, I always laugh at people queuing to withdraw money at DBS/POSB ATM.

la papillion said...

Hi dsea,

Hmm, overdraft? I get what you mean by that. I'm not too comfortable with that. But how long does it take before the draw down?

Thanks for sharing this with me...never thought of using that :)

Hi lemi,

Haha, you do overdraft too? I intend to keep my separate account and have a joint account with my wife. It's not a secret individual account though, it'll be kept transparent between us.

Thanks for sharing :)

la papillion said...

Hi crumbs,

Haha, you should have checked it out first :) Anyway, maybe you can try asking them to waive it off :)

I still haven't decide on stanchart or citi. Will discuss with my significant other and go have it done by this week, probably.

la papillion said...

Hi Ak kow,

Wow...seems like you have a bad time with citibank services. I learnt this from many bad experiences...always get the name card of an individual person who can serve you. This way, you can check and refer.

It's so much easier to get hold of an individual than thru a call centre.

(I've got the name card of the banker at stanchart ;) )

la papillion said...

Hi anon,

Thanks for teaching me this tip :)

Hmm, I agree with you! I think everyone should have another bank besides posb/dbs. The Q for the atm is just horrendous...

TheOracle said...

As with what CreateWealth8888 said, time units are lost (easily) by those who Q to use POSB/DBS machines, both to withdraw and nowadays many also Q to deposit cash (eg. taxi drivers).

la papillion said...

Hi oracle,

I usually try not to withdraw money from dbs/posb atm. Really a lot of people. I use UOB :)

Createwealth8888 said...

how often you guys go to ATM to draw money? I only do it twice a month to top up my home "atm"

ff said...

Hi LP,

Yeah. OCBC has really bad service.

When I opened a savings account there a few years ago, I was asked by the counter staff:

"Why do you want to open an account here for?"

in the most condescending way.

I have since closed the account.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

On average, around once a week?

la papillion said...

Hi FF, seems that ocbc gave a lot of people very bad service. I hope someone who works there sees my post and do something about it.

Everycentcounts said...

Me too. I dun believe in paying service charges. I've been issuing cheques using unsecured credit facilities. As I signed up for it
during promotion, the bank actually credited me $30 free. Have shared this in blog.

la papillion said...

Hi everycentcounts,

I eventually signed up with stanchart xtrasaver's account. I had received their free check book already. I don't think I'll be using a lot of checks in the first place, so it should work good for me :)

Thanks for sharing your experience in this :)