Tap and Save
One thing I’d learned while I was in the UK was the value of having multiple bank accounts. Although UK’s ATMs can mostly be used by customers of any bank (for free!), there are still advantages to being a customer of a different bank. Back then, I’d opened a Barclays bank account for the Visa debit card they’d issued, while retaining my HSBC account for access to their high-interest savings accounts (although that’s no longer a big incentive).
When I returned to Singapore, I got rather fed up of queueing for DBS/POSB ATMs, and started shopping for a new primary bank account. After some looking around, I finally settled on Citibank’s Tap and Save account, which I’m currently convinced is the best option around for a salaried employee. Here’s why.
- No minimum balance required, if you set it as your salary account – not a problem since it’s currently my primary account, anyway. Most bank accounts charge a nominal fee (~$5/month) if your balance goes below a certain sum (usually $500 for local banks), but that’s no longer a concern.
- Chequebook provided. Not many savings accounts provide a free chequebook, and I’ve found that I occasionally need to write a cheque or two, so this is really quite a nifty feature.
- Mobile-based authentication. I really detest the DBS iB Secure Device system which requires me to have that little dongle on my person in order to utilise internet banking – Citibank (and many other banks) offer the option of using your mobile phone for 2FA, which has worked pretty well for me so far (and is a lot more convenient).
- ATM convenience. Citibank’s strategically placed ATMs can be found at most MRT stations around Singapore, and the queues for those are usually a lot shorter than those for DBS/POSB. They might not be as numerous, but they’re convenient enough and provide for a shorter wait time for use.
- An awesome debit card. This is probably the main reason why people sign up for this account, and I do think it’s a great card. Firstly, it acts as an EZ-Link card and can effectively replace your old one, netting you (slightly) discounted rides in the meantime. Secondly, it’s a Visa, so it’s pretty universally accepted (although it can’t be used for internet transactions, sadly). Thirdly, there is a 1% cash rebate for all Visa transactions. These rebates are automatically credited to you monthly, so there’s no need to monitor accumulated points before they expire. Lastly, it still qualifies as a Citibank card for purposes of restaurant discounts, and I’ve found that to be really useful so far.
The main disadvantages are that it cannot be used for internet purchases and lacks NETS facilities, but if you have other cards and an account with a local bank (I recommend OCBC’s Fairprice Plus), they’re nothing you can’t live without.
In my opinion, if you’re already carrying an EZ-Link card in your wallet, you should seriously consider getting yourself a Tap and Save account.