Bank of China Smart Saver (Singapore) Review

Bank of China Smart Saver (Singapore) Review – that will be the topic of this article.

It continues our reviews of savings accounts after I looked at Marcus by Goldman Sachs , Emirates NBD, HSBC term deposit and an expat-specific solution.

The article will look at the positives and negatives of the accounts, although it remains our position to in an era of 0% interest rates, saving money in the bank doesn’t make sense.

For any questions, or if you are looking to invest, you can contact me using  this form.

Introduction:

Bank of China – ‘Bank of China’, is a bank among the 4 biggest commercial banks of China and is owned by the government of China. Bank of China is well-known for its banking and financial services in many locations all over the world. 

It was founded in the year 1912 by a person called ‘Chen Jintao’. Bank of China’s headquarters is located in Beijing, China and its services are offered worldwide. 

There are many branches of Bank of China all over the world. Some of the famous branches in the world include branches in locations such as Tokyo, New York City, Singapore, Canada, Luxembourg, London, Bombay, Calcutta, etc.

The major financial and banking services provided by Bank of China are Consumer Banking, Corporate Banking, Credit cards, Finance, Insurance, Investment Banking, Mortgages, Private Banking, Private Equity, Savings, Asset Management, Securities and Wealth Management.

Savings Account – Savings account is a type of bank account offered to the customers by banks and financial institutions. Savings accounts are helpful for people to generate profits from the money that has been deposited by them in their bank account.

Banks use the money deposited by the customers (into the savings accounts) and lend it to the people who apply for loans at that bank. Bank charges interest to the borrowers and pays some of the interest to customers who have deposited funds. Banks keep a fraction of interest earned from the borrowers for their own profits.

Savings accounts are generally considered to be one of the best available investment options as they are reliable, safe and secure. People, with the help of certain types of savings plans, are also able to withdraw the funds in their accounts whenever they want.

However, savings accounts only fetch a little amount as profits (interest) to the investors when compared to many other types of investment options. People who want their investments to be safe and avoid potential risks can choose to deposit money into a savings account.

Bank of China (Singapore Branch) – Bank of China (Singapore) was established in the year 1936 and is known to hold the Qualifying Full Bank License (QFB) in Singapore. 

Bank of China (Singapore) has 13 sub-branches, 10 self-service banking outlets, 200 ATM machines all over the island of Singapore. 

Based on the Bank of China group’s networks and expertise, Bank of China (Singapore) is known to provide a wide range of banking services to its clients. Their banking services include Corporate Banking, Personal Banking, Financial Market and Investment Banking. 

BOCSG (Bank of China, Singapore) also has an integrated service platform that contains Corporate & Investment Banking Unit, Asset Management Unit, Commodity Business Unit, Syndicated Loan Unit, Infrastructure Financing Unit, Transaction Banking Unit, Aviation Financing Unit, Innovative Payment Unit, Forex & Derivatives Unit and Wealth Management & Private Banking Unit.

Before coming to the Smart Saver savings plan offered by Bank of China (Singapore), let us have a look at all other services offered by them. 

Personal Loans – There are different types of services offered under the loans category by the Bank of China (Singapore). They are ‘BOC $mart Loan’, ‘BOC Debt Consolidation Plan’, ‘Overdraft Facility’, ‘Mortgage Loans (Housing Loan & Term Loan)’ and ‘MoneyPlus Line of Credit’.

‘BOC $mart Loan’ – Availing this type of loan lets the customer repay their loan which can be extended up to a period of 7 years. Some of the benefits include the lowest interest rate, fixed monthly repayment option, ability to save interest by reducing the balance amount, complimentary MoneyPlus Line of Credit, etc.

‘BOC Debt Consolidation Plan’ – With the help of the BOC Debt Consolidation Plan, customers can be able to pay off outstanding credit card loans or unsecured loan balances of higher interest at a lower interest rate.

Some of the benefits include lower interest rate, fixed monthly repayment option (up to 10 years), a complimentary BOC credit card, etc.

‘Overdraft Facility’ – Customers can avail the Overdraft Facility up to an agreed-upon limit at an agreed-upon interest rate. With the help of this feature, customers can be able to repay the amount (depending on their choice of when and how much). 

Along with that, the individuals are also able to avail of the facility again once the outstanding overdraft amount has been paid off. An overdraft facility is available to individuals as well as companies under certain terms and conditions.

‘Mortgage Loan’ – Mortgage Loans at BOCSG are of two types, they are ‘Housing Loan’ and ‘Term Loan’

The Housing Loan is for individuals who wish to purchase a property for their own residence, or who wish to make an investment into a new property/resale property. They can also avail of the refinancing services on their property with the help of BOCSG’s Mortgage (Housing) Loan.

The Term Loan is a loan available for individuals for the sake of their personal or investment purposes.

Both types of Mortgage Loans are available to individuals (including the Permanent Residents as well as Foreigners) under a certain age and income restrictions.

‘MoneyPlus Line of Credit’ – Customers having an income of at least S$1,700 per month are able to avail the MoneyPlus Line of Credit service offered by BOCSG. 

The interest rate is low, the ability to avail a line of credit of at least 4 times their income and the individuals can easily be able to withdraw the cash (online banking or BOC ATM machine, or transfer to a bank account). 

The money can also be repaid very easily with the help of Online banking, Bank Branches, Bank ATMs, Cheque, other banks’ online bill payments and many more.

Remittance & Exchange – There are many types of services related to Remittance & Exchange offered by BOCSG. They are ‘BOC Smart Remit’, ‘RMB Exchange’, ‘FOREX’, ‘Currency Exchange’, ‘RMB Pre–Settlement Remittance’, ‘International Remittance – Outward’ and ‘International Remittance – Inward’.

‘BOC Smart Remit’ – Customers having a BOC account in Singapore are able to remit RMB (Renminbi) directly to their BOC account located in Mainland China very easily. 

People having a Smart Saver account at BOCSG (having salary credited to their account) can remit an amount equivalent to their full salary of the previous year, which is subject to maximum declared amount of income tax.

For availing the BOCSG Smart Remit service, individuals must qualify for certain eligibility criteria that is given below:

  • The individual should be having the nationality of China and should possess a People’s Republic of China passport.
  • The individual should be a BOC SmartSaver customer and their salary should be credited every month into a BOC Multi-Currency Account. 
  • The individual should be an already existing BOC customer along with having access to a BOC Chinese Cultural Debit Card.

‘RMB Exchange’ – Customers get access to multiple currency exchange rates for currency pairs with RMB like SGD/RMB or USD/RMB. 

Individuals can also get access to a double selection of RMB cash exchange as well as an RMB deposit exchange. 

Transactions are done depending on a real-time exchange rate and they could not be canceled while being processed. Individuals are required to provide an ID card or passport, or other types of documents required along with providing cash as a mode of payment at the cash counter (if required).

‘FOREX (Foreign Exchange)’ – Foreign Exchange is a transaction made to convert a currency in one form into another. Same day rates are applicable for transactions, however, it takes up to 2 business days for the settlement after the date of the trade. 

Any person can be able to avail the FOREX services at BOCSG without any sort of specific requirements. Individuals just need a multi–currency account and after gaining one, they can trade by directly approaching the bank’s counter or calling the bank’s FOREX dealers.

‘Currency Exchange’ – At BOCSG, the currency exchange services are available for various types of currencies such as the Renminbi (RMB) also known as Chinese Yuan (CNY), Pound Sterling (GBP), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), US Dollar (USD) and others.

The mode of payment should be cash and the individuals are required to bring along an ID card or a passport.

‘RMB Pre–Settlement Remittance’ – this is the type of service provided by BOCSG to the individuals who would like to remit the Chinese Yuan (CNY) also known as the Renminbi (RMB). This remittance has to be paid in currencies such as Singapore Dollar (SGD), US Dollar (USD), etc.

Some of the benefits include a Fixed rate of exchange, Faster transaction process, Direct settlement and multi-currency payment option. However, individuals who would like to avail of this service are required to provide necessary documentation along with qualifying for the eligibility criteria.

‘International Remittance – Outward’ – Bank of China is known to have many branches located in various countries with a wide range of branches. Along with that, it has substantial network with overseas banks and branches all over the world.

International Remittance (Outward) can be done in two ways. They are ‘Telegraphic Transfer (TT)’ and ‘Demand Draft (DD)’

For transferring funds with the help of TT, individuals are required to provide details such as Amount of remittance, Payee details, Beneficiary details, SWIFT code, etc.

For transfer of funds through DD, the details that should be provided are Amount of remittance, Currency of remittance and Payee details.

‘International Remittance – Inward’ – Similar to the Outward International Remittance, the Inward International Remittance can also be done with the help of TT and DD.

For the TT method, the details that need to be provided are Account Holder details, Beneficiary Bank details and Swift Code.

Wealth Management – There are different types of wealth management services offered by BOCSG, they are ‘RMB Funds’, ‘Insurance’ and ‘Unit Trusts’.

‘RMB Funds’ – BOC is partnered with a various fund houses in order to provide a wide range of RMB share class unit trusts along with RQFII funds. Anybody who is of 21 years can be able to invest in the RMB Funds. 

‘Insurance’ – Many reputable companies have a tie-up with BOC in order to provide various types of insurance policies to its customers. People who are willing to grow their wealth or obtain an insurance cover can avail these services.

The insurance services at BOCSG are available for citizens, people with permanent resident status, Foreigners with a valid passport/Work Permit/Student Pass.

‘Unit Trusts’ – Wide range of Unit Trusts are accessible at BOCSG, which are provided by renowned and reputable fund managers. Personal bankers help the customers to choose unit trusts that are suitable for the customers’ investment priorities as well as financial goals.

Private Banking – BOCSG offers private banking services to its high net worth customers in Singapore. Their specialized private bankers and investment advisors help in providing exquisite wealth management services to the individuals.

The services provided to the individuals having a higher net worth in order to manage their financial assets are Tailored Investment Solutions, Strategic Investment, Advisory and Research, Active Portfolio Management, Financial Risk Management and Credit Solutions.

The services for creating and increasing family wealth are Family Advisory & Structures, Legacy & Wealth Planning and Wealth Equalization. Along with these, they also provide Corporate Finance Services for maximizing business profits.

BOCSG Private Banking offers a wide range of products for Investment, Wealth Planning and Financing. Those products are as follows:

‘Investment’ – Cash & Money Market, Fixed Income, Equities, Equity Linked Notes, FOREX, Structured Investments, Mutual Funds and Derivatives.

‘Wealth Planning’ – Financial Planning, Estate Planning, Universal Life Insurance and Private Investment Company.

‘Financing’ – Insurance Premium Financing and Residential Real Estate Financing.

Other Services – Other general services offered at BOCSG are ‘BOC SMS Alerts’, ‘MoneyPlus Fund Transfer’, ‘BOC Safe Deposit Box’, ‘Banker’s Guarantee’ etc.

Deposits – There are different types of deposit accounts available at BOCSG, they are ‘BOC SuperSaver’, ‘BOC SmartSaver’, ‘Gold Savings Account’, ‘SGD Savings Account’, ‘Multi-Currency Savings Account’, ‘Current Account’, ‘Time deposit Account’, ‘RMB Current Account’ and ‘RMB Time Deposit’.

‘BOC SuperSaver’ – This is a savings plan only available for the Current Account holders in order to earn a promotional interest rate on their account balance. This plan is in effect from 1st August 2020.

In order to be eligible for this, individuals must have 21 years and should be a Citizen or Permanent Resident in Singapore. They should also be able to maintain at least 3,000 SGD to be eligible for the bonus interest. 

The interest rates (per annum) for this savings plan are as follows:

First S$20,000 – 0.10%

Next S$40,000 – 0.80%

Next S$20,000 – 1.80%

More than S$80,000 – 0.60%

The estimated bonus interest earned per month by an account holder who has a balance of S$80,000 can be somewhere around S$57. 

The services can be obtained with the help of BOCSG’s Mobile Banking app instead of visiting the branch. The funds in the account can be withdrawn by the customer anytime without any restrictions.

‘Gold Savings Account’ – There are 2 components within the Gold Savings Account, they are ‘Gold Savings Account’ and ‘Gold Settlement Account’. Gold Savings Account is used for investment and trading of gold and the Gold Settlement Account is for depositing and settling the transactions done from Gold Savings Account.

Any person, even foreigners with an employment pass/work permit, are able to make use of this account. Individuals must be at least 18 years of age and are required to provide the necessary documentation.

‘SGD Savings Account’ – This is interest-bearing SGD passbook savings account with flexibility to withdraw funds. Funds can be accessed even via ATMs, Internet Banking and Telephone Banking.

Initial deposit should be made, which should at least be S$1,000 and individuals are imposed with a S$2 monthly charge if the account balance is less than S$2,000 in any given month.

Single accounts as well as Joint accounts are available. Individuals should at least be of 15 years of age to open this account at BOCSG and required to provide the necessary documentation.

‘Multi-Currency Savings Account’ – This is statement-based savings account accessing the local currency as well as 9 other currencies. Both single and joint accounts are available, and individuals should be at least 18 years of age.

An initial deposit of S$1,500 is required in the SGD sub-account and account balance less than S$1,500 will result in monthly charges of S$3. Anyone could open this account and are needed to provide the required documents.

‘Current Account’ – This is a statement-based checking account that does not provide any interest. It is available for the individuals in more than 11 currencies along with an Overdraft Facility.

Initial Deposit of S$1,000 is required and accounts with less than S$3,000 will be charged with S$7.5 monthly. Anyone can access this account and individuals must be at least 21 years old. 

There are some other types of accounts as well such as Time Deposit Account, RMB Current Account and RMB Time Deposit. 

Time Deposit and RMB Time Deposit Account are nothing but Fixed Deposit accounts, which are known to provide higher interest than the Savings Accounts. They are available for flexible tenures which can range from 1 to 12 months.

The RMB Current Account is a Current account with the currency as the Renminbi (RMB). However, it doesn’t have an overdraft facility and is a non-checking account.

Now, let us have a detailed look (including the pros and cons) at the BOC SmartSaver (Singapore). 

BOC SmartSaver (Singapore) review:

BOC SmartSaver – It is a savings plan from the BOC Singapore, which is available for the Multi-Currency Savings Account holders in order to gain bonus interest on their deposits. 

People who qualify for the age limit (at least 18 years) can be able to open a Multi-Currency Savings account and avail the services of this savings plan by making an initial deposit of at least S$1,500.

From 1st August 2020, individuals are able to earn bonus interest (excluding the prevailing interest rates) after being eligible for certain criteria. People can earn up to 3% (p.a.) on the first S$80,000 and 0.60% (p.a.) for a balance of more than S$80,000 up to S$1 million.

Types of Bonus Interests – There are 5 types of bonus interest rates in the BOC SmartSaver (Singapore) savings plan, they are ‘Wealth Bonus Interest’, ‘Card Spend Bonus Interest’, ‘Salary Crediting Bonus Interest’, ‘Payment Bonus Interest’ and ‘Extra Savings Interest’. Let us have a detailed look at each of them individually.

‘Wealth Bonus Interest’ – With effect from 1st August 2020, individuals can purchase products to meet the minimum required amount in order to obtain a wealth bonus interest of 1.5% (p.a.) for 12 months.

Instead of buying a random product, people can consult a relationship manager, who can assist in obtaining products that fulfill the customer’s financial needs with the help of FNA (Financial Need Analysis).

Insurance ProductMinimum Purchase

Single-Premium Insurance Plans: China Taiping Infinite Universal China Taiping Infinite Legacy China Taiping Infinite Harvest NTUC Income Legacy Solitaire NTUC Income Wealth Solitaire



Single-Premium equivalent to S$150,000

All Regular Premium Insurance Plans with 5-year premium term
(only for annual premium payment mode)


Annual Premium equivalent to S$24,000

All Regular Premium Insurance Plans with 10-year premium term
(only for annual premium payment mode)


Annual Premium equivalent to S$12,000

Wealth bonus interest is only applicable up to 1 year on the account balances of MCS (Multi-Currency Savings) Account. The MCS account should be designated as Wealth Bonus Interest crediting account. 

It is mandatory that the account holder should be the owner of the policy of the selected eligible wealth product.

For all the single premium or regular premiums, only the first premium of the required minimum amount is considered for awarding the wealth bonus interest. Any subsequent premium or multiple purchases will not be aggregated for consideration of the required minimum purchase amount.

If multiple wealth products are purchased, an overlap occurs and only either non-overlapped period or overlapped period would be eligible for the wealth bonus interest.

For the products having denomination in any foreign currency, the bank will calculate the amount of premium in the currency of Singapore as per the current rate during the time of policy-signing.

People won’t be qualified for the wealth bonus interest if a policy ends within 12 months of issuance of the policy. The paid wealth bonus interest will be deducted by the bank, which has already been paid to the customer.

Any wealth product which has been purchased with the help of the CPF investment scheme won’t be eligible for the wealth bonus interest.

The commencement of the interest computation for wealth bonus interest will start from the month after the free look period for the purchased policy or policy issuance date + 21 calendar days (whichever occurs last).

‘Card Spend Bonus Interest’ – Card Spend Bonus Interest is paid when an individual spends an amount of at least S$500 using a Credit Card or Debit Card in a respective calendar month. 

The interest rate is 0.30% (p.a.) for monthly expenses of S$500 to S$1,500 using a credit card or a debit card. If the expenses exceed S$1,500, the bonus interest rate will be 0.50% (p.a.).

Card Spend Bonus Interest will only be applicable up to S$80,000 of the individual’s MCS account.  To be eligible, an individual would have to be the primary cardholder of the Debit Card/Credit Card.

If an MCS account is a joint account, the individual should be the main account holder. Retail transactions made with a supplementary card would also be combined with the card spend of the primary card.

Retail transactions that are made within a calendar month would be made eligible for the Card Spend bonus interest. The transactions which have been voided, canceled, or reversed won’t be taken into consideration.

This can be done at the same time along with enjoying the privileges and benefits offered to a respective card. 

The transactions that won’t be eligible for the Card Spend Bonus Interest are as follows:

  • Cash Withdrawals.
  • Charges and Fees.
  • Transfer of Funds or Cash Advance.
  • Transactions or Installments that have not been successful or Flexi-Balance Transactions.
  • Transactions that are voided, canceled, or reversed.
  • Sam payments and AXS payments.
  • Other transactions, which are determined to be ineligible for the Card Spend Bonus. This can be done by the bank from time to time without any prior notice.

‘Salary Crediting Bonus Interest’ – This is the bonus interest paid on crediting of salary into the account. The interest rate for this depends on the amount of salary that has been credited into the account.

For an amount ranging from S$2,000 to S$5,999, the bonus interest rate (p.a.) will be 0.30% and for amounts equal to S$6,000 or above that, the interest rate (p.a.) will be 0.50%.

Like the Card Spend Bonus, the Salary Crediting Bonus is also applicable only up to the first S$80,000 in an MCS account. If multiple salaries are credited within a month, then all the salaries would be combined to calculate the interest rate. 

Genuine employment salaries, which have been credited with the help of GIRO (General Interbank Recurring Order) and have the transaction description as either “IBG-SALA” or “SALA” on the statement would only be eligible.

It takes somewhere around 1 – 3 days to credit salaries via GIRO and the date, when the transacted amount has been received by the customer, would be considered.

In order to make an MCS account at BOCSG into a salary account, individuals are required to provide the following details:

  • Last 11 digits of an MCS account number.
  • Bank SWIFT code
  • Bank Code
  • Branch Code

‘Payment Bonus Interest’ – Payment Bonus is also applicable only on the first S$80,000 only. In order to attain this bonus interest, individuals are required to pay at least 3 bills with the help of GIRO or Internet Banking/Mobile Banking’s Bill Payment Feature.

The minimum amount of each bill should be at least S$30 and the bonus interest rate offered is 0.30 (p.a.).

Bill payment by any other modes of transactions such as cash, check, cashier’s order, AXS, etc., will not be considered to be eligible for this bonus interest. In addition to that, payments that are canceled, reversed, or voided are also ineligible.

For the bill payments made with the help of GIRO, it may take up to 3 days and for any type of transaction, the date of deduction of funds from the account would be taken into consideration. 

‘Extra Savings Interest’ – The Extra Savings Interest is applicable to the accounts having a balance of more than S$80,000 and up to S$1 million.

When a person fulfills any one of the requirements (which are Card Spend, Salary Crediting, or Payment Bonus), they become eligible for the Extra Savings Interest with a bonus interest rate of up to 0.40% (p.a.).

Prevailing interest rates are applicable if the account balance exceeds S$1 million.

Application Process:

Individuals, who are citizens of Singapore or Permanent Residents, are able to apply for the MCS account at BOCSG by visiting their website. After that, they are required to provide all the necessary documents by approaching a nearby branch. 

The documents required are as follows:

  • For a Citizen or PR, an original Singapore ID would be required.
  • For Foreigners in Singapore, documents required are Original Passport, Employment Pass/Student Pass/Long Term Social Visit pass and Proof of Address. For Proof of Address, documents like bank statements or utility bills can suffice.

Everyone should notice that the interest rates would only take effect from 1st August 2020. Changes can be made to these without any prior notice.

MCS account holders enjoying other privileges such as ongoing promotions or dormant accounts are not eligible for the bonus interest.

A minimum monthly balance of at least S$1,500 should be maintained in order to enjoy all the benefits of the bonus interests. An individual is needed to be the main account holder if the account is a joint account.

Both the prevailing interest as well as the bonus interest are calculated on a monthly basis. Prevailing interest is credited at the end of a month and the bonus interest, after being calculated, will be credited before 15 days of the following month. The prevailing interest rate is 0.20%, which is applicable to the entire account balance.

Other Important Information:

The bonus interest rates before and after 1st August 2020:

Bonus CategoriesBonus Interest Rates from 1st April 2019 to 31st August 2020 (p.a.)Bonus Interest Rates after 1st August 2020 (p.a.)
Wealth Bonus InterestDidn’t exist1.50%
Card Spend Bonus Interest1.60%0.50%
0.80%0.30%
Salary Crediting Bonus Interest1.20%0.50%
0.80%0.30%
Payment Bonus Interest0.35%0.30%
Extra Savings Bonus Interest0.60%0.40%

Pros – The interest rate is very high when compared to many other competitors. This can be considered as a very huge benefit.

The application process is very simple and hassle-free, which relieves customers from unwanted stress.

Extra 0.40% savings bonus for monthly balances exceeding $80K.

Individuals with a salary more than S$6,000 and spend S$1,500 per month can be able to get an interest much higher than usual. Very beneficial for high-salaried employees.

Credit Card privileges apply even while the transactions are being counted for the bonus interest.

Deposits made in SGD denomination by the non-bank depositors are insured by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation for an amount of up to S$75,000 per each depositor.

Cons – The interest rates were even higher in the period from 1st April 2019 to 31st July 2020. The reduction in the interest rate for the bonus interest indicates that the bank can change the interest rates as per their convenience (They also happen to mention “without prior notice” on their website). 

The online banking experience is very poor according to the ratings and reviews that are given by many customers. Even the customer support is not quite effective.

Not everyone can be able to obtain maximum interest rates (including the bonus interest) as most people won’t be able to become eligible for all types of bonus interests (especially wealth bonus).

Bottom Line:

If you are a high-salaried employee and are able to spend an amount of at least S$1,500, then there is no denying the fact that you might be able to reap more benefits from the bank in the form of bonus interest. 

If you even opt for one of the wealth products that qualify for the wealth bonus interest, then you can be able to gain a lot of profits. 

However, if require a bank that is highly specialized in internet banking services and customer support, it is wise to think again. 

If you are individual in Singapore and require additional help or information regarding the BOC Singapore SmartSaver Savings Plan, you can consult us and avail of the expert banking, financial and accounting services offered by us.

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